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Music And Metaphysics

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Posted by Aurino Souza on April 4, 2002 14:10:19 UTC


As you might already know, some famous Greek philosopher (Pythagoras?) spoke of the "music of the spheres" some 3,000 years ago. The Greeks believed that the movement of the planets in space produced sounds in the same way moving objects produce sounds on earth, and that those sounds exhibited harmony similar to what we perceive as music. Something like that.

It's also a curious coincidence that the Greeks knew of only seven celestial bodies and our musical scales, which they invented, have seven notes. One would be tempted to think that their knowledge of astronomy influenced their musical ideas, but that's not really the case. The reason we have seven musical notes is entirely justified by mathematics and acoustics, a fascinating fact in itself.

As to Beethoven, I think in order to understand what he really meant you'd have to understand music as well as he did. Of course we're not up to the task, but even getting a glimpse at his own musical genius, as well as that of a handful of composers, is enough to convince there's more to music than meets the ear.

Beethoven's last words before he died were "applaudi amici, la comedia e finita" (applaud, my friends, the comedy is over). I'm quite convinced he was enlightened.



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