Elestial motion is thus nothing but a continuous multi-voiced music ...
(Johannes Kepler, "HARMONICES MUNDI", Linz 1618)
The current composition is based on Johannes Kepler's fascinating work HARMONICES MUNDI (The Harmonies of the World), in which the 17th-century astronomer strove to assign unique sounds to the various bodies in our solar system. Kepler, in this treatise on planetary motion, was inspired by the idea that tonal qualities could be ascribed to the gravitational forces that keep the sun and planets in balance with each other and that analogies could be found for the celestial bodies in the field of music.
In my version of HARMONICES MUNDI, the major cast members from our solar system are also given their counterparts: The sun, as hot and humming energy-giver, is played by the string orchestra; the earth interpreted resoundingly by four female percussionists on a wide variety of percussion instruments. The five planets known to Kepler - Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn - are represented by five distinctive voices from far-off cultural circles. The vocalists, who come from the USA, Tuwa, Tunesia, India and Brazil, have already adorned and enriched Austria with their presence for many years.
Naturally the inner musical structure does not follow the harmonic-melodic translation Kepler presented in HARMONICES MUNDI nearly 400 years ago. Instead, I have taken Kepler's acoustical perception of the Universe and its
eternal order as the point of departure and a continual source of inspiration to create this soundscape of my own.
This music is dedicated to my father who suddenly and unexpectedly passed away early this spring when I was already working on this composition. His overwhelming love of music has been a source of encouragement to many.
Christian Muthspiel, June 2001; translation by Karin Kaminker