The Organ in Seventeenth-Century Cosmology

Kerala J. Snyder

in The Organ as A Mirror of Its Time

Published in print August 2002 | ISBN: 9780195144154
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199849369 | DOI:
The Organ in Seventeenth-Century Cosmology

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At the beginning of the 17th century, the idea that the universe worked like a clockwork machine pervaded society. This clockwork universe was almost universally called the macrocosm. At this same time, Johannes Kepler's (1571–1630) view of the harmony of the spheres was revolutionary because it created a system that was polyphonic and affirmed the contemporary view of the thirds and sixths as consonances rather than dissonances, as they were in the old Pythagorean system. Contemporary polyphonic music could thus be understood as an imitation of the celestial harmony. This idea of cosmic harmony was applied by many authors to the study of music, among them the Jesuit writer Athanasius Kircher.

Keywords: cosmology; Johannes Kepler; cosmic harmony; Athanasius Kircher; polyphonic music

Chapter.  5291 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Musicology and Music History

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