“There is geometry in the humming of the strings,
there is music in the spacing of the spheres.”

: Pythagoras

One of things I like most about designing,
is delving in to researching,
finding stories and being inspired by elements in the story..
In following the connections
to find something I didn’t know.

Then relaying those elements
through the details in the shoe,
and the stories they convey.

Being curious helps.
My hope is that it adds depth and meaning.
And that it inspires others.
That these elements arouse new thoughts,
and new ideas…

During the development of the Sunrise sandal in Italy,
we visited a small workshop in the hills of La Marche.
It was to have the metal discs attached to the suede upper;
for the central section of the sandal.

When it came to the placement of the discs,
I left it to the craftsperson to place them
in their own random order.
Even though the placement looked out of order,
something about it resonated;
it felt right.
I realised it reminded me of Salvador Dali’s
The Harmony of the Spheres,
painted in 1978 –
one of the paintings I’d been recently looking at.

A tenuous link maybe,
it moved me enough to explore more.

A Most Beautiful Idea

Unable to find much about the meaning of the painting.
I searched for the meaning of the title instead.
This led me to the Greek philosopher and mathematician Pythagorus.

Pythagoras influenced the philosophies of Plato and Aristotle,
and by virtue of them, western philosophy.

The relevant story is of when
he noticed the different sounds when a hammer
struck an anvil while passing a blacksmiths.

He was also
 credited for discovering that the pitch
of a musical note depends upon the length
of the string which produces it.

His discoveries in the fields of music
and astronomy led him to propose
what author Jerry Brotton describes as;
“one of the most beautiful ideas ever;”
“A story of when music and science were one,
united by astronomy…”

… The Harmony of the Spheres …

That planets and stars move
according to mathematical equations,
which corresponded to musical ratios,
therefore producing a symphony.

German astronomer and mathematician Johannes Kepler
was inspired by Pythagoras.
In his book Harmonices Mundi (Harmony of the World),
he describes the distances between the planets as musical ratio,
and what he saw as a chorus of ‘independent planetary melodies.’
Each based on the speed and distance of the planets in relation to the sun.

Circular Nature and Singing Stars

Brotton tells this fascinating story that takes us from Ancient Greece,
via the classical music of Handel and Rameau,
to thoughts on spheres from Anish Kapoor;
who describes them as being ouroboric
– symbolic of the cyclical nature of life –
of representing an inner state; of peace …

… on music with Carleen Anderson and Erykah Badu;
“The planets rhythm is embedded deep within our DNA.” …

… to Jem Finer of the Pogues,
who combines both in to his LongPlayer project.
Mapped out like a map of the solar system
– six concentric circles on which
are continuous singing bowls.
A thousand year composition that has a circular nature,
so that every thousand years it arrives back at the start.
“An ever lasting composition.”

He also spoke with Tim O’Brien,
the astronomer who works at the Jodrell Bank Observatory.
Using the mighty Mk II radio telescope, 38m in diameter,
they listen to the galaxies and hear this orchestra of pulsars –
which are actually dead stars –
the most spherical objects we know of  in the universe.
As they spin, they beam out radio waves from their magnetic poles,
and if they spin really fast you can get a precise note of a higher frequency.
“These spinning dense spheres around the universe
all producing their own notes,
all playing together in this cosmic symphony.”
: Tim O’Brien (astronomer)

If you like music, astronomy, and have a curious mind,
Jerry Brotton’s fascinating feature is here for you to listen to.

“Look for the music on all things, and life will be a symphony of joy.
My music is best understood by children and animals.”

: Igor Stravinsky

Thank you for reading.

Have a beautiful night.

Anthony Stoker

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