Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Neil Ardley

Harmony of the Spheres (1979) ...

Neil Ardley's follow-up to Kaleidoscope of Rainbows... Dismissed when it was released because of its use of synthesisers, which upset jazz-fusion fans at the time, it features John Martyn on guitar, Ian Carr and Nucleus and Barbara Thompson.  The synths are used for the central piece, Soft Stillness and the Night, and the rest is a suite around ancient Greek ideas of mathematical ratios between the planets...

Glittering Circles ...

Neil Ardley, arp odyssey and omni synthesizers;
John Martyn, rhythm and lead guitar;
Billy Kristian, bass;
Geoff Castle, keyboards;
Richard Burgess, drums and percussion;
Barbara Thompson, flute, soprano sax;
Tony Coe, clarinet, soprano sax;
Ian Carr, trumpet, fl├╝gelhorn;
Pepsi Iemer/ Norma Winstone, vocals.

allmusic.com ...
Harmony of the Spheres ...


The Harmony of the Spheres is the sound that rings throughout the heavens - a celestial music that the ancient Greeks believed was given out by the planets as they float through space.
In about 500 BC, the Greeks reasoned that the planets would emit musical notes related to their orbits. In keeping with their desire to see beauty and order in all things, it followed that these orbits would lie at such distances one from another that a perfect harmony must resound throughout the heavens. Although no such music has yet charmed astronauts' ears, the Harmony of the Spheres has long been a symbol of man's desire to find order in the complexities of the Universe.
This simple and beautiful idea intrigued Neil Ardley and led him to wonder what the Harmony of the Spheres would sound like if indeed it existed. He set about converting the orbit times of the nine planets in our solar system into musical notes. Hence Pluto, being the farthest from the Sun and the slowest-moving, would produce the lowest note, and Mercury being the nearest and fastest-moving planet would produce the highest note.
By a remarkable and interesting coincidence, the ratio of the orbit times of Mercury and Pluto is virtually identical to the ratio of the frequencies of the sounds at the upper and lower limits of human hearing. The Harmony therefore covers the complete range of human hearing and, extending beyond the range of acoustic instruments, it can only be produced on a synthesizer. Having finally converted the orbits of the planets to musical notes, Neil was delighted to find that the resulting chord was 'appropriately both mysterious and dramatic.' Spurred by this discovery, he set about composing music based upon the Harmony of the Spheres and this album is the result.
The actual Harmony is heard at the conclusion of the track entitled Soft Stillness And The Night.

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