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Chapter Summary

The nature of the universe is shown to be nothing but the most perfect music" (Kircher 1650, B364; this translation supplied by Robert Kendrick). Such cosmomusical symmetries were originated with the Pythagoreans and taken up by Plato and then the Neoplatonists. Boethius's notion of musica mundana, the music of the spheres, was a consequential contribution in the 6th century C.E. The author's personal favorite among musical cosmologies is the one proposed by an unwillingly semi-retired Italian tenor in 19th century Rio de Janeiro, in a novel by Machado de Assis. The cosmos is an opera, the setting to music by the devil of a libretto by God. After listening to the elaboration of this theme, the tenor's interlocutor comments "It's an amusing story".

Keywords: cosmomusical symmetries; God; music; universe

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