“Only connect,” as E.M. Forster advised. There seems to be a lot of synchronicity going around in musical circles at – one hopes – the end of a long, hard winter. It began, or at least I picked up the end of the thread, when I met a friend, Shirsten Lundblad, at a concert of the Portland Symphony Orchestra.

Shirsten, who holds a master of divinity from Harvard, performed our marriage ceremony here at the farm. She is also a member of Inanna, Sisters in Rhythm, and an excellent singer and drummer. One of her specialties in practice as a therapist is the healing power of music, percussion in particular, and she organizes drumming sessions for people with Alzheimer’s disease.

She mentioned that she had recently joined the Vox Nova Chamber Choir, founded by Shannon Chase, and that its next concert would be entitled “Music of the Spheres.”

The revelation that musical notes were determined by the length of vibrating strings and that the notes were in mathematical ratios has fascinated mankind since Pythagoras, and led to the idea that each of the planets had its own vibration, and that together they created the “music of the spheres.”

The relationship of music to mathematics has always fascinated me too, but I was unable to attend the Vox Nova concert. I did obtain a copy of the program with the texts of the songs, including one Tarik O’Regan setting of a poem by Edgar Allen Poe whose subject is the ability of the angel Israfel to silence the harmony of the heavens with his own song – the sweetest in all creation, according to the Koran.

Then I received an email from Shirsten, asking me to participate in her experiments with a new form of musical therapy that involves the music of the spheres.


The Acutonic system is based upon the application of tuning forks to points defined by the Chinese medical system of acupuncture. Acupuncture has been proven in clinical trials to ease headaches and some pain-related disorders. Acutonic would certainly appeal to people who are afraid of needles.

The forks are larger than normal and vibrate longer, but they are tuned as usual to the true pitches of the musical scale, not to the tempered notes of the piano. Two forks provide a perfect interval, for example a fifth, which is known as an “opening” chord. The practitioner can create a “chord” within the body (I’m only giving my impression here; don’t try this at home) by applying a different fork to each of two acupuncture sites.

But wait, there’s more! One can also purchase forks tuned to the vibrations of each of the planets in the astrological system. In other words, the idea is that the music of the spheres can be used to heal yourself right here on Earth.

Does it work? That’s what Shirsten wanted to find out. She is a pragmatist, concerned primarily with what will benefit her patients.

I have had a bad ankle since a horse jumped on it many years ago, plus other assorted aches and pains, and a combination of the modified acupuncture method and some planetary vibrations actually alleviated the pain for several days. Placebo effect? Maybe, but it’s nice to think that one is attuned to the music of the spheres, at least for a little while.

Christopher Hyde is a writer and musician who lives in Pownal. He can be reached at:


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