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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

Chapter:
(p.30) 2 Isomorphic Resonance
Source:
Absolute Music
Author(s):

Mark Evan Bonds

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199343638.003.0003

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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