Music Of The Spheres

Episodes

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01Music: The First Theory Of Everything20181001

1/5 Listen to the harmony of the heavens with astronomer Dr Stuart Clark

Essays from leading writers on arts, history, philosophy, science, religion and beyond

Could the wonders of the universe and nature of creation be explained through music? The music of the spheres was a serious intellectual idea that applied music theory to the search for underlying order in the natural world.

Conceived in the 6th century BC, the concept survived for centuries, influencing poets and playwrights, including Shakespeare and Milton, and artists such as Botticelli. It culminated in the 17th century when German astronomer Kepler used the music of the cosmos to give birth to modern astrophysics.

In these five essays, astronomer and award-winning science writer Dr Stuart Clark argues that the concept of harmony – still so prevalent in art – continues to underpin science as well.

Episodes feature original music, composed and performed by Carollyn Eden, to underscore the ideas being discussed. We hear Pythagoras’ scale for the nature of the night sky, the different mediaeval church modes associated with the cosmos and music based on the intervals that Kepler calculated for the planets – which still hold true today.

In this first essay, Stuart traces the origins of the music of the spheres. From a blacksmith’s shop in Italy, to the universal harmony sung by the universe – where the planets all revolve around the Earth.

The music of the spheres was the first theory of life, the universe and everything. But is it really so different, or far-fetched, to today’s theory that the universe is made up of tiny wiggling bits of string?

This series of essays is produced by Richard Hollingham and is a Boffin Media production for BBC Radio 3.

02The Sound Of The Moon20181002

2/5 Can you resist the music of the Sirens? Dr Stuart Clark continues his cosmic journey.

Essays from leading writers on arts, history, philosophy, science, religion and beyond

Could the wonders of the universe and nature of creation be explained through music? The music of the spheres was a serious intellectual idea that applied music theory to the search for underlying order in the natural world.

Conceived in the 6th century BC, the concept survived for centuries, influencing poets and playwrights, including Shakespeare and Milton, and artists such as Botticelli. It culminated in the 17th century when German astronomer Kepler used the music of the cosmos to give birth to modern astrophysics.

In these five essays, astronomer and award-winning science writer Dr Stuart Clark argues that the concept of harmony – still so prevalent in art – continues to underpin science as well.

Episodes feature original music, composed and performed by Carollyn Eden, to underscore the ideas being discussed. We hear Pythagoras’ scale for the nature of the night sky, the different mediaeval church modes associated with the cosmos and music based on the intervals that Kepler calculated for the planets – which still hold true today.

In his second essay, Stuart begins on the battlefield where warrior Er has been shown the true arrangement of the heavens. A Siren sits on the orbit of each planet singing a single pure note, which blends together into a glorious cosmic harmony. In the Manual of Harmonics, Nicomachus assigns notes to the planets but it doesn’t turn out quite how he expects.

While it’s easy to dismiss the music of the spheres as guesswork, today’s theory that mysterious dark matter holds the universe together might appear just as far-fetched.

This series of essays is produced by Richard Hollingham and is a Boffin Media production for BBC Radio 3.

03Our Inner Music20181003

3/5 What's your inner harmony? Dr Stuart Clark explores the first theory of everything.

Essays from leading writers on arts, history, philosophy, science, religion and beyond

Could the wonders of the universe and nature of creation be explained through music? The music of the spheres was a serious intellectual idea that applied music theory to the search for underlying order in the natural world.

Conceived in the 6th century BC, the concept survived for centuries, influencing poets and playwrights, including Shakespeare and Milton, and artists such as Botticelli. It culminated in the 17th century when German astronomer Kepler used the music of the cosmos to give birth to modern astrophysics.

In these five essays, astronomer and award-winning science writer Dr Stuart Clark argues that the concept of harmony – still so prevalent in art – continues to underpin science as well.

Episodes feature original music, composed and performed by Carollyn Eden, to underscore the ideas being discussed. We hear Pythagoras’ scale for the nature of the night sky, the different mediaeval church modes associated with the cosmos and music based on the intervals that Kepler calculated for the planets – which still hold true today.

In this third essay, Stuart explores the idea that music was the key to understanding the universe, from the movement of the planets to the core of our very being.

We hear that those who produce music are the lowest form of musician, as well as claims that others could change the seasons through playing music. We know that music has the power to move us but could it also control every aspect of our being?

This series of essays is produced by Richard Hollingham and is a Boffin Media production for BBC Radio 3.

04Music And Astronomy In Crisis20181004

4/5 The first theory of everything starts to fall apart.

Essays from leading writers on arts, history, philosophy, science, religion and beyond

Could the wonders of the universe and nature of creation be explained through music? The music of the spheres was a serious intellectual idea that applied music theory to the search for underlying order in the natural world.

Conceived in the 6th century BC, the concept survived for centuries, influencing poets and playwrights, including Shakespeare and Milton, and artists such as Botticelli. It culminated in the 17th century when German astronomer Kepler used the music of the cosmos to give birth to modern astrophysics.

In these five essays, astronomer and award-winning science writer Dr Stuart Clark argues that the concept of harmony – still so prevalent in art – continues to underpin science as well.

Episodes feature original music, composed and performed by Carollyn Eden, to underscore the ideas being discussed. We hear Pythagoras’ scale for the nature of the night sky, the different mediaeval church modes associated with the cosmos and music based on the intervals that Kepler calculated for the planets – which still hold true today.

In this fourth essay, as the ‘dark ages’ come to an end, we hear how the weight of evidence begins to threaten the music of the spheres as a theory of everything. With the discovery that the Earth isn’t the centre of the cosmos, new ways of explaining the universe – and new ways to define music – will have to be found.

This series of essays is produced by Richard Hollingham and is a Boffin Media production for BBC Radio 3.

05The True Harmony Of The Universe20181005

5/5 Kepler figures out what the universe really sounds like.

Essays from leading writers on arts, history, philosophy, science, religion and beyond

Could the wonders of the universe and nature of creation be explained through music? The music of the spheres was a serious intellectual idea that applied music theory to the search for underlying order in the natural world.

Conceived in the 6th century BC, the concept survived for centuries, influencing poets and playwrights, including Shakespeare and Milton, and artists such as Botticelli. It culminated in the 17th century when German astronomer Kepler used the music of the cosmos to give birth to modern astrophysics.

In these five essays, astronomer and award-winning science writer Dr Stuart Clark argues that the concept of harmony – still so prevalent in art – continues to underpin science as well.

Episodes feature original music, composed and performed by Carollyn Eden, to underscore the ideas being discussed. We hear Pythagoras’ scale for the nature of the night sky, the different mediaeval church modes associated with the cosmos and music based on the intervals that Kepler calculated for the planets – which still hold true today.

In his concluding essay, Stuart tells the story of Johannes Kepler and his efforts – partly through deceit – to explain the movement of the planets. As science rises, so the theory of the music of the spheres is abandoned.

But for scientists today, music still matters and the ideals of the search for the first theory of everything continues to be underpinned by the symphony of the universe.