POTD: Music Lesson

Music Lesson
Bozeman, Montana

…to my listening ears
all nature sings
and round me rings
the music of the spheres.

–Maltbie E. Babcock

The music of the spheres, more formally known as musica universalis (universal music) is a concept traceable to the ancient Greeks.  Pythagoras, in an extension of his finding of an inverse relationship between the pitch of a musical note and the length of the string that produced it, claimed that the sun, moon, and planets also emit unique harmonic sounds based on the speeds of their orbits. Further he claimed that while the sounds are not detectable to the human ear, they did somehow affect the quality of life on Earth. Some proponents of the theory  claimed we can’t hear the sounds because they’re there when we are born and thus indistinguishable from silence.

Aristotle later discounted the notion in explaining his own model of the universe yet the ideas persisted. Much later the noted astronomer Johannes Kepler expressed belief in the concept and folded it into his own theory of the connection between music and astronomy. He claimed that while inaudible to the ear the planetary music produced a “very agreeable feeling of bliss.” (Some of us must not be listening carefully enough!)

The concept is still popular today, although mostly in music rather than science–and now of course in this new composite photo I created.

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