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The Organ as A Mirror of Its Time$
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Kerala J. Snyder

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780195144154

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195144154.001.0001

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The Organ in Seventeenth-Century Cosmology

The Organ in Seventeenth-Century Cosmology

(p.78) The Organ in Seventeenth-Century Cosmology
The Organ as A Mirror of Its Time

Kerala J. Snyder

Oxford University Press

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

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