Sound and Emblemata
January 19, 2011 § 5 Comments
Willi’s latest post brought to mind the long tradition of alchemy and music. From the very beginning alchemy and sound have been tied together, through Pythagorean concepts of the harmony of the spheres, through Plato’s continued exploration of these ideas, and into the Renaissance when opera was developed as an art form capable of fully expressing the alchemical and Hermetic drama through sound, vision and storytelling.
The metallurgical drama is just one of the many facets of the alchemical Work. As Dennis points out, the Work takes place on all levels of existence. In the ancient system each metal corresponds to a planet, which in turn corresponds to a specific harmonic frequency. All of which, of course, correspond to the earthly and human microcosms.
Michael Maier’s Atalanta Fugiens is one of the most explicit examples of this. As Adam McLean details on his alchemy website, “Michael Maier’s alchemical emblem book Atalanta fugiens was first published in Latin in 1617. It was a most amazing book as it incorporated 50 emblems with epigrams and a discourse, but extended the concept of an emblem book by incorporating 50 pieces of music the ‘fugues’ or canons. In this sense it was an early example of multimedia.”
“The thing that hath been, is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.” – Ecclesiastes 1:9