speaking of origins, or not

June 6, 2017 § 1 Comment

Here is something David Byrne writes in his book, How Music Works. Bode’s Law, formulated in the 1760s, proposed some constants that predicted where new planets would be found–where the next “harmony” would be. Just as one can predict musical overtones. Only Neptune, furthest from the sun, didn’t fit the pattern, so the law was pretty much relegated to the nonsense heap. That is, until Walter Murch, the sound designer and film editor, dusted off the discarded law and simplified the formula by doing away with the Astronomical Unit and concentrating on the ratios (which also had the effect of doing away with earth-as-center). That way, you could use the law for other orbital systems, and again and again you’d find the same sets of ratios–like musical ratios. Some systems occupy certain orbits, and “playing” the different orbits generates recognizable chords. That is to say, the series of orbital ratios offered up by Bode’s Law are mathematically identical to common musical intervals. Mostly, they’re variations on the 7th chord (C, E, G, B flat).

As Byrne writes: “You might say that the universe plays the blues.”

So, some blues:


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