Guest lecturer Nicholas Johnson of Butler University presents "Retuning the Music of the Spheres: Johannes Kepler and the Transition from the Renaissance to the Musical Baroque." This lecture is free and open to the public.
From the ancient Greeks to the early Scientific Revolution, astronomers and theologians believed that a divine music was created in the heavens by the motions of the planets. For centuries, music theorists assigned specific pitches and musical scales to these movements, based on a geocentric universe in which the planets rotate around the earth. In the fifteenth century, however, as the Copernican heliocentric universe became accepted, the traditional understanding of the music of the spheres was directly challenged. Johannes Kepler, a leading scientific mind of the time and the founder of modern astronomy, did not abandon the music of the spheres, but instead incorporated a new system into his model of planetary movements. This lecture explores Kepler’s changing understanding of the music of the spheres, its effect on his three laws of planetary motion, and his influence on musical thought in the seventeenth century.
Nicholas Johnson is an assistant professor of musicology at Butler University. His research explores the interactions among the musical, mystical, and scientific communities in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries, and has been funded by grants from the Mellon Foundation and the Fulbright Commission. He has also worked on American popular music, and his articles have appeared in Musica Disciplina and Rock Music Studies. He is currently co-editing a five volume complete works of late Renaissance composer Carolus Luython to be published by the American Institute of Musicology in the Corpus Mensurabilis Musicae series. His current project is a monograph on the music theory of Johannes Kepler and its relationship with astronomical thought at the dawn of the Scientific Revolution.
Musicology lectures are held Mondays 4:30-6 p.m. in the Music/Dance Library, Room 205, second floor of the 18th Avenue Library at 175 West 18th Ave., unless otherwise noted.
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