So this just came to me today, as I was playing piano.
I realized that between the renaissance and about 1900, artists, musicians, and poets were instinctually worshipped as though they were demigods, in the same way that scientists were (in fact, often moreso).
This is primarily because, these artists were seen as revealing the mind of God, just like the scientists.
Let me explain: between 1500 and 1900, most people in the West believed that the Christian god had created the universe, and made it according to a definite and logical set of laws, which however remained to be discovered by humanity. Many believed after 1500 that it was the purpose of mankind to discover these laws – this would make him more reasonable, more perfected, and he could thereby overcome some of the ill-effects of the fall. Pico even said that by discovering the laws of god, we became gods ourselves – and many secretly agreed with him, even if it was blasphemous to say it outright.
So, the point is, that scientists, such as Galileo, Newton, the inventors of the telescope and microscope, etc., were seen as ‘revealing the mind of god.” I.e., God was one with the universe – he created it, he was it, he was in it, all around it, but he was also the universe itself. So the idea was that if you discover the laws of nature, i.e., the laws of physics, you are discovering the laws of god – even, perhaps, how his mind itself works.
And, at the same time, it was known that musicians were discovering the laws of harmony, which were considered to be related to the “music of the spheres,” i.e., the mathematics which made gravity and the laws of physics work – or rather which ordered them, and explained them, and were the building blocks of them. So, the laws of music, the laws of harmony, of major and minor scales, of thirds, fifths, and the rest, were considered to be the same laws that were written into the code of the universe – and this is why some notes are inherently pleasing (e.g., a fifth), while others are inherently jarring (i.e., a half step, or a series of notes out of scale). (more…)