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Pythagoras's Theory of Harmony of the Spheres Essay

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Pythagoras is considered, not only as one of the greatest mathematicians in history, but also for his works concerning music, philosophy, astrology, and many others for all the discoveries made by him. One of the greatest discoveries attributed to Pythagoras is the discovery of the musical scale used nowadays. This scale was based on the principle in which all Pythagoreans base their thought: the existence of numbers in every single aspect in existence. A philosophical belief of universal creation based upon the perfect harmony between numbers and nature. From this argument, he built a whole theory about the harmonies (referring to musical harmonies) which exists in our solar system, which was later developed by several philosophers, physicists, musicians, and so on. He stated that the distances between the different planets had a direct relation with those discovered by him in the musical scale, and that each planet would make a special sound that combined with those of the other planets would create a perfect this harmony that is known as the “Music of the Spheres” (also called “Harmony of the Spheres” or “Universal Harmony”). Based upon his geocentric theory of the solar system, his theory about the celestial harmony created by the spheres, stated that those bodies, with smaller distances to the center of the solar system, or those bodies that orbit closer to the Earth, would make a lower notes that would stay constant and would produce and sound without an end.

Through history, as said before, many philosophers have supported and developed what Pythagoras first exposed to the world. One of the most important philosophers to support Pythagoras’s ideas was Plato. In some of his writings he discusses the creation of the unive...


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...d to the musical scale.

The ratio between the distances of the last planet of Kepler’s system, Saturn, is 107 in its aphelion and 134 in its perihelion making it very close to a relation 5:4. In the case of Jupiter, the ratio is almost 6:5; for Mars it is a 3:2 ratio; for the Earth it is 16:15; for Venus, which has the smallest gap is 25:24; and for Mercury it is of 12:5. The harmonic intervals, as we saw before, can be represented as ratios just as the proportions of the arcs traveled by the planets. Kepler established a direct relation between these two to show what the “melody” of each planet through its orbit was. In this cases, 5/4 (Saturn) corresponds to a mayor third or a difference of four semitones between two notes. Jupiter’s ratio, 6/5, is the same as a minor third or a difference of three semitones.



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Harmonices Mundi, Book 5, Chapter VII


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