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Harmonies of Heaven and Earth: Mysticism in Music from Antiquity to the Avant-Garde Paperback – Nov 1 1987
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"Through a rich, eclectic mix of mythological, philosophical, literary, and scientific references, the deeper meanings of sound and music are revealed." (Gnosis)
From the Back Cover
MUSIC / PHILOSOPHY What lies beneath the surface of music and what gives it its transcendent power? For many people, music is the primary catalyst for experiences of expanded consciousness. Musicians and lovers of music--all those who have ever reflected on its inner reality--feel that a true philosophy of music cannot deal with physics and psychology alone. It must include the universal and mystical aspect of which Plato, Kepler, Rameau, and Novalis wrote, and of which Wagner said: "I feel that I am one with this vibrating Force, that it is omniscient, and that I can draw upon it to an extent that is limited only by my own capacity." The spiritual power of music surfaces in folklore, myth, and mystical experience, embracing heaven and earth, heard as well as unheard harmonies. Joscelyn Godwin explores music's perceived effects on matter, living things, and human behavior. He then turns to metaphysical accounts of the higher worlds that are the birthplace of Harmony, following the path of musical inspiration on its descent to Earth, and illuminating the archetypal currents that lie beneath Western musical history. A final section gives the fullest account ever published of theories of celestial harmony, from Pythagoras to Rudolf Steiner and Marius Schneider. JOSCELYN GODWIN, Professor of Music at Colgate University, is the author of The Harmony of the Spheres, Arktos: The Polar Myth, The Theosophical Enlightenment, and many other books on music and esoteric traditions.See all Product Description
Top Customer Reviews
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Anyway, this book is brilliant. Vast amounts of information are thrown at the reader in a manageable and coherent fashion, and all the chapters follow a logical course of thought which supports the ultimate thesis that the universe we live in is a musical one, dominated by harmonies and melodies of untold beauty, not equations of mind-boggling complexity. His own 4 chapters are excellent forays into speculative music, presenting scientific evidence of the effects of music in the universe, as well as anecdotal/mythological excerpts to support the idea. At times, it seems as though fact and fiction are indistinct, and this would be an accurate view. But even Godwin himself notes this in Chapter 2. The ultimate relevance is that, whether fact or fiction, Godwin has touched upon some kind of truth (in my opinion), which his scientific evidence backs up, and his anecdotal/mythological evidence presents to us.
The final section is the clearest description of complex musical philosophies I have yet found. Certainly the scales and tone-zodiacs (not to mention ideas) he presents are hard to decipher, but he explains them well in layman's terms, so even without a music degree, one can figure out the gist of what is going on. Godwin's own Harmony of the Spheres sourcebook includes much of this in even more detail, some more clear, some less, but this is a great quick guide to many confusing musical philosophies and concepts. Truly mind-blowing stuff if you ask me, especially the stuff on Kepler and the last several pages of the book...
Ultimately, this book is a fantastic read, one that will make you question your existence, the realities you perceive, the nature of myth, and the power of music. Godwin opens minds...but try to get the 87 edition used, it has 2 passages he left out of the 95.
5 Stars. Without Question.
The author, Mr. Joscelyn Godwin, applies knowledge from folklore, and mysticism to the subject of music, introducing several themes including the linkage of music on matter, living things, and their behavior. He explores the affinity between music and the soul, and then he turns to medieval metaphysics, exploring the 'Chain of Being,' the birth place of music in higher realms of being and its descent to earth.
In his final chapters he discusses the musical scale and its correlations to planets, utilizing medieval conceptions of cosmology and their notions of the 'spheres.' For me, the most compelling part of this book was it gave insight into the medieval worldview and its ideal of a unified conception of the universe; a conception that was first shattered by Copernicus, then Einstein and the quantum physicists. We still await the unified theory that the medievalists believed they held in their grasps.
The downside of this book is there is little information on recent advances in science and the ways it would compel a re-conceptualization of music and its effects on matter. Instead, the reader wades through speculations on where Gurdjieff obtained his law of seven from, among other anecdotes that are not current science.
Still if one is interested in alchemy, hermetic knowledge, and esoteric lore this will make a nice edition to the library.
Its analysis starts from the very Pythagorean theory of the Harmony of the Spheres and extends to the beginning of last century.
Analysing each theory, the book provides the opportunity to people without any profound knowledge of music of philosophy, to understand some of the theories that shaped western music through the ages.