Star music: the ancient idea of cosmic musicas a philosophical paradox

Masters Thesis

Heyning, E. 2017. Star music: the ancient idea of cosmic musicas a philosophical paradox. Masters Thesis Canterbury Christ Church University Faculty of Arts and Humanities
AuthorsHeyning, E.
TypeMasters Thesis
Qualification nameMPhil

This thesis regards the ancient Pythagorean-Platonic idea of heavenly harmony as a philosophical paradox: stars are silent, music is not. The idea of ‘star music’ contains several potential opposites, including imagination and sense perception, the temporal and the eternal, transcendence and theophany, and others. The idea of ‘star music’ as a paradox can become a gateway to a different understanding of the universe, and a vehicle for a shift to a new – and yet very ancient – form of consciousness. The ancient Greeks had a holistic form of consciousness, which was continually intermingling with a transpersonal dimension. This ancient state of consciousness was related to a musical understanding of the world, the Pythagorean-Platonic experience of the universe as an ordered cosmos.

My research is approached from two angles, namely from the history of ideas and from musicianship, exploring how music is reflected in the world of thought. By reflexive re-reading of the sources, new insights into the nature of musical consciousness are explored. The idea of ‘star music’ can be found throughout the history of music and thought in the West, including Plato’s works and that of other ancient philosophers, through the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, the Romantic era and the twentieth century up to contemporary New Age music.

As a conclusion, the paradox of ‘star music’ is connected to an experience of a shared transcendent meaning of music, which can be present in the moment of a musical performance. ‘Star music’ is a living paradox.

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Publication process dates
Deposited07 Nov 2017
Output statusUnpublished
Accepted author manuscript
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