In my fictional setting, part of the civilization has a strong astronomical alignment. Religion and Science are hard to distinguish and new scientific discoveries strengthen it´s faith in the heavenly bodies. Photography has not yet been invented, so besides hand drawings, my civilizaton uses musical patterns as a method of recording and displaying astronomical movements and events. Instead of churches or temples, people use observatories to exercise their religion. And instead of an organ or such to accompanie liturgy (entirety of Christian and Jewish ceremonies and rites) , priests are dedicated to “program” a gigantic instrument, in order to display all (or as many as possible) visible celestial bodies and effects, each with a tone.
So there's a constant sounded backdrop in the observatory/church/temple constantly changing it´s sound patterns, abruptly or in small nuances. Long serving sound-priests develop such a fine hearing, that they can recognize how the nocturnal sky currently looks like, just be listening to the music. For the purpose of celebrating important but bygone astronomical events (e.g. supernovae, comets, planetary alignments), the star-sound-machine can somehow recap archived music sections or the machine can be reprogrammed by a sound priest.
Musica universalis or music of the spheres is an invention already made in pythagorean ages, but is not to be taken literally as audible music: “The Music of the Spheres incorporates the metaphysical principle that mathematical relationships express qualities or "tones" of energy which manifest in numbers, visual angles, shapes and sounds – all connected within a pattern of proportion.” A lot of references can be found in ancient, classical and modern music, but as far as I know, none took the approach literally and consists of REAL Music composed by the stars.
The question: How does the star-sound-machine work, how does it look like, how does it sound?
What it should accomplish and general conditions:
- just mechanical solutions, no computers or electric sound
- no orchestra or any instruments directly played by people
- I do not expect exact blueprints for the machine (not yet ;-) ), just the idea of how it might work.
- the music reproduced does not need to be a well structured 4/4 rhythm, but it should be perceived as harmonic in the broadest sense. (Although i guess a meteor shower makes a fast, weird and possibly boppy disco sound)
- the origin of a tone inside the observatory (I mean the localization; the spot, where it is produced and emitted) should be taken into account, as it makes the sound 3D and thus more complexity viable. The observatory should be used as a sound body and its architectural peculiarities support the tone’s nature, quality and localization. I like to think of it as 360-degree full-dome soundshow in a planetarium - just in the renaissance.
- the civ. has a sol-centric perception of the solar system
- My world is not earth, but for simplicity's sake let's take an earth centered (not centric) perception of the universe as basis for the idea.
- “Good” music is more important, than astronomical empiricism
- optional: the machine is quite big, and it's mechanisms are visible to the audience.