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Swans, symbol and metaphor for harmony

The harmony ( ancient Greek ἁρμονία harmonía "symmetry", "harmony", syllable ar or har : Indo-European. Herc. = Union of opposites to a whole) denotes:

  • general agreement, harmony, harmony, balance;
  • in art and aesthetics see harmony (art) ;
    • especially in painting see harmony (painting) ;
    • especially in music a part of harmony . Here with harmony, which encompasses "every spatial coexistence of tones, the order of the interrelationships", often a generalization of chord (multitone) is meant; the “harmony” in C major can e.g. B. can be realized by the chord CGec 1 , but also by ceg, egc 1 or others. Chords in which notes occur that are also overtones of the fundamental are perceived as “harmonic” in the narrower sense ;
  • a harmony of thoughts and feelings in interpersonal communication .

The term “harmony” is particularly used where, in addition to a certain regularity in the arrangement of individual objects or their parts, one believes there is a sense of value, to be noted.

Concept history

When the term was developed in ancient times, “harmony” referred to phenomena of symmetry . The concept of harmony was initially placed at the center of philosophical considerations by the Pythagoreans . One saw the harmony in the beautiful proportion as a unity of measure and value. This thesis , initially supported by mathematical knowledge and with the harmony of tones, was extrapolated into the mystical .

It was claimed that the movement of the heavenly bodies followed certain harmonic numerical relationships and produced an (inaudible) " music of the spheres ". Heraclitus tried to dialectically understand the term “harmony” as a unity of opposites: “The reluctant unite, the most beautiful harmony arises from the opposing (tones), and everything happens along the path of conflict.” Plato also relied on the Concept of harmony as evidence of his theory of ideas. So he developed thoughts of the "atoms", which consist of triangles, of the harmony of the cosmos, of tones, etc. and also transferred them to the theory of the state.

Ancient medicine, in particular, tied in with this natural philosophical harmony. She derived health from the harmonious mixing ratio of body fluids and illness from an imbalance. The galenic theory of temperament also applied this theory to the human character .

Ancient harmony has two sources:

  1. the mathematical proportions of the ancient pythagoreans and the theoretical music of the theory of harmonic proportions that developed from it
  2. the dialectical philosophy of nature , which looked for the mediators of the fundamental opposites and saw harmony as the mediation of all opposites

Numbers that are in harmonic proportion must satisfy the equation (a - b): (b - c) = a: c. (See also golden ratio )

Boethius proposed the influential theory of the three different types of "music" ("music": the epitome of the totality of harmonic proportions):

Boethius assigns the dominant role to the musica mundana . Man has the duty to recognize this and to lead a regular life himself. Medieval astronomy endeavored to give an explanation of the celestial movements with the model of harmoniously coordinated spherical movements.

For use in history

In the teaching of Thomas Aquinas (* around 1225 - 1274 ) the soul is separated from the body after death and continues to exist ( anima forma corporis ).

Johannes Kepler (1561–1630) based his astronomical research on the idea of ​​the existence of a " harmony of spheres ". One of his main works is entitled " Harmonice mundi " (1619). As a convinced Copernican, Kepler explores the question of what connections exist between the planetary movements and the harmonic relationships, as they are familiar from music and geometry.

Marin Mersenne gave a physical basis for the musical sound system in his work “Harmonie universelle” (1636). The harmony up to Leibniz was based on the requirement of the existence of a system consisting of non-interacting elements. With the development of a new system concept, especially that of Newtonian physics, material interaction became a prerequisite for the existence of systems. Thus the harmony lost its original significant influence on the conception of nature. In the form of the doctrine of " elective affinities " as the basis of chemical compounds, however, it remained influential into the 19th century .

In Leibniz '(1646-1716) doctrine of "universal harmony" is the view of the continuous legality of the world expressed. To solve the specific problem of determining the relationship between body and soul, Leibniz introduced the term “pre-established harmony” of body and soul: body and soul should harmonize with one another like two independent clocks.

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770–1831) used harmony to describe a certain phase of dialectical contradiction , namely that in which the qualitatively different is not only presented as a contradiction and contradiction, but rather forms "a coherent unity". Within his doctrine of the proportions, Hegel defined the harmonies occurring in the musical and chemical relationships as "exclusive elective affinities, the qualitative peculiarity of which, however, just as much dissolves again into the externality of a merely quantitative progression" (in: Science of Logic). But here, too, the concept of harmony is ultimately superseded by the analysis of the specific chemical interactions.

  • After Sigmund Freud , the libido as life instinct (psychic energy) had defined (that it directs along with I and superego the perception and behavior of humans), found his contemporaries William James and William McDougall in 1920 numerous other instincts or basic needs, including ' Striving for harmony '.

The concept of harmony played and continues to play a major role in the endeavors of biology and taxonomy to establish a closed system of species, genera and other organisms in botany and zoology. The idea of ​​harmony is a guiding principle, especially for the authors of the "kinship tables" of living beings and for the supporters of "natural systems" in taxonomy.

Methodology and theoretical function

In the natural sciences, the term has been replaced by terms such as symmetry, wholeness, system, structural law, etc. The concept of harmony has a meaning as a heuristic principle if it is understood to mean the request to look for structural laws in the variety of objective characteristics and relationships.

In addition to this methodological function of the concept of harmony and its almost theoretical uselessness in the natural sciences, however, it has a positive theoretical function in those sciences in which the subject-object dialectic is itself the subject of science, in which values ​​and norms as factors of the objects designed or to be designed by humans are examined.

Harmony then primarily means coordinating the shape and function of all parts of a whole in such a way that the function of the other parts and, above all, the function of the whole are maximally fertilized.

Today the concept of harmony has its relevance in aesthetics , art studies (music, architecture, painting), in education ( the all-round developed personality ) and others

See also


  • Jan Brauers: World Formula Harmony. Baden-Badener Verlag 1998, ISBN 3-9805935-6-8
  • David Stiebel: The tactics of arguing. Conflict strategy instead of harmony addiction , Krüger Verlag, Frankfurt 1999, ISBN 978-3-8105-1908-5

Web links

Wiktionary: Harmonie  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wikiquote: Harmony  - Quotes

Individual evidence

  1. Wieland Ziegenrücker: General music theory with questions and tasks for self-control. German Publishing House for Music, Leipzig 1977; Paperback edition: Wilhelm Goldmann Verlag, and Musikverlag B. Schott's Sons, Mainz 1979, ISBN 3-442-33003-3 , p. 104.
  2. ↑ In addition, for example, the urge to move, curiosity, jealousy, saving, thirst for knowledge, family, order, play, sex, contact, aggression, achievement or sympathy. W. McDougall: An Introduction to Social Psychology . Boston 1921.