The Harmony of the Birth of the World

December 20, 2006

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This just in from the University of Glasgow Special Collections: Ever wonder how God created the heavens and earth in six days? Our ultra-alter-hero Athanasius Kircher wrote MUSURGIA UNIVERSALIS (1650) to help we mortals try to figure these things out.

The plate shown above depicts ‘The Harmony of the Birth of the World’ (Harmonia Nascentis Mundi), represented by a cosmic organ with six registers corresponding to the days of creation. The legend “Sic ludit in orbe terrarum aeterna Dei Sapientia” (thus plays the wisdom of the everlasting God in the earthly orb) appears under the keyboard. The six scenes follow Genesis as drawn by Robert Fludd, showing seas, earth, plants, planets, animals and man.

So now you know. I doubt this model is in production any longer but perhaps a software emulation has been made by this point.

And for all of you who wondered where Bach and Beethoven and Olivier Messiaen got all those bird calls in their music; shezaam! It’s from the same publication! It’s like a cheat-sheet for composers who like birds.

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