Sunday, November 27, 2011

Kircher's Planetary Music Theory

The distances between the sun, earth, and planets are such as to balance the sun’s heat with the moon’s coldness. For example, in summer the sun is strong, the moon weak, causing a variety and mixture of consonance and dissonance. The influence of the sun and moon is like a perfect octave. However, God has added Venus to give support with virtues such as vary the lunar influences; meanwhile, Mercury modifies that which is noxious in the sun. The changing distances from the earth bring about different effects.

Moreover, God has placed two dissonant bodies, Mars and Saturn, from whose pestiferous evaporations all the earth’s ills come. Yet between them is the benign star of Jupiter. The malefic planets act like caustic medicines which attract sick matter and liberate it, so that there is no ill in nature that does not turn to good.

In musical terms, Mars and Saturn are dissonances, tied in perfect syncopation to Jupiter, while Mercury sounds a dissonance between the concords of Venus and the moon. The seven planets together give a perfect “tetraphony” or four-part harmony

Joscelyn Godwin, Kepler and Kircher on the Harmony of the Spheres

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