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Absolute MusicThe History of an Idea$
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Mark Evan Bonds

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199343638

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199343638.001.0001

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Isomorphic Resonance

Isomorphic Resonance

(p.30) 2 Isomorphic Resonance
Absolute Music

Mark Evan Bonds

Oxford University Press

Ancient retellings of the feats of Orpheus never identify the source of music’s power for the simple reason that no such explanation was necessary: music’s effect was understood to emanate from its very essence. Pythagoreanism explains the effect of music as the product of what might be called isomorphic resonance: the ratios that govern the intervals of music are the same ratios that govern the structure of the universe at every level, from the individual human to the cosmos as a whole. This tripartite morphological congruence, when set in motion through sound, creates a resonance that reverberates within humans, beasts, and even stones. This resonance also accounts for the varying degrees of music’s power at the hands of different musicians: Orpheus’s music is more perfectly tuned to the structure of the cosmos; the music of ordinary mortals, less so.

Keywords:   Isomorphic resonance, Orpheus, Pythagoras, Boethius

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