From the ancient Greek philosophers to our present era, composers
have often tried to elevate the musical process into
spiritual and philosophical planes.
Ancient Greek philosophers and scientists, like Plato, Aristotle, Pythagoras believed in the musical beauty of the cellestial spheres. In his treaty on harmonics (Harmonice), Nichomacus was the first ones to see a relationship between cosmological bodies and the Greek Tetrachord.(see Figure 1, showing the resonant frequency assigned to all terrestrial bodies, Planets and Stars in our Galaxy).
This, was confirmed by modern scientists who discovered that the
behavior of each planet and star exhibited a certain resonant quality.
For example, Earth has a resonant 'hum' frequency of Bb (B Flat).
Beauty and esthetics
Most composers consider their musical instrument as a sort of sophisticated
tool to fulfill certain aural tasks. A few of them, like to emphasize
the close relationship they have with their instrument. It is not rare to see it described in laudatory romantic terms : she is a trusty compagnion,
a confident and lover...
To illustrate this point, a good friend of mine called me up one
day, in 1975, to tell me that he had just bought an ARP 2600. I congratulated
him about his wise choice and asked if I could come and check it out in
"No! Not tonight" he answered me: "it is my wedding night and I want to be the first one to touch her"!
But, fantasizing about analog gear can take other forms. Some are
drooling about a huge Moog or Buchla 200 because it reminds them of the
cockpit of a Boeing 747...Others are fascinated by the red or blue LEDs flashing sequentially in the dark. And, then, there are other
synthesists who consider their analog gear as a secular altar to recover the Cosmos hidden aural beauty.
As everyone knows, a rough painting or a sketched drawing is, by
nature, a two dimensional work. By using a judicious mix of perspectives
and lighting (light/dark coloring contrasts) one can achieve a virtual
three dimensional work of art.
On the other hand, a bronze or stone sculpture is a full three dimensional work of Art.
Like sculpture, a piece of music is perceived, aurally, to be three
dimensional. However, by adding panning and cross-fading effects to the
musical material one can achieve a virtual 4D effect (i.e a 3D aural sculpture
Esthetics and Sensations
For Hermann Helmholtz, Music has a much closer connection to pure
sensations than any of the other Arts.
This is what he writes on Poetry :"It aims most distinctly of all at merely exciting the formation of images, by addressing itself especially to imagination and memory. It is only by subordinate auxiliaries of a more musical kind, such as rhythm and imitations of
sounds, that it appeals to the immediate sensation of hearing. Hence, its effects depends mainly on psychical action".
On plastic arts in general :"They address the eye almost in the same
way as poetry
addresses the ear. Their main purpose is to excite in us the image of an external object of determinate
form and color. Viewers enjoy only the beauty, without dwelling upon the means by which it was
On paintings :"It is only in painting that we find colors as an element which is directly appreciated by sensation, without any intervening act of the intellect".
On music :" In music, the sensations of tones are the material for
this art. So far as these sensations are excited in music, we do not create
out of them any image of external objects or actions". This theory of the
sensations of hearing belongs to natural science and is called physio-acoustics.