Musicians and Muses ~ astrological perspectives

This post is aimed at music lovers and at astrology enthusiasts. The music lover can find out how the nine Muses, a wonderful bunch of ladies from Greek mythology, influence musicians astrologically. Astrologers can learn more about the use of Phi-angles in the natal chart using thematically related asteroids.

Meet the muses
The Muses are nine inspirational goddesses who give a helping hand to poets, musicians, writers and even astrologers. There's a lot of information available online about the Muses, so if you want to know more about their history just google around a bit. Right now we'll just present the nine Greek ladies and the arts they 'rule'.

Euterpe: music and lyrical poetry
Erato: love poetry
Kalliope: epic poetry
Polyhymnia: sacred music
Terpsichore: dance
Thalia: comedy
Melpomene: tragedy
Urania: astrology
Klio: history

All Muses have an actual asteroid named after them. This means that we can try to trace their inspiration or 'influence' on musicians using astrological techniques. The technique that's used here is explained in some detail at the end of the post. It involves Phi-angles; a concept developed by Theodor Landscheidt. Basically, this is an easy method for comparing the quantitative 'influence' of celestial bodies in a chart. By counting the number of Phi-angles per Muse/asteroid we find which Muses are dominating a chart.

Thematically related asteroids
To get a more detailed picture of the musical element in a chart a few more asteroids were added to the nine Muse-asteroids. They are all related to the Muses and/or music:

Apollo: leader of the Muses and famous Greek god
Harmonia: Greek goddess of concord and harmony
Sappho: the famous poet from Lesbos a.k.a. the 'Tenth Muse'
Echo: Nymph who fell for Narcissus, lost everything but her voice
Orpheus: musician who could even charm a stone with his music
Parthenope: the Siren who tried to entice Odysseus with her voice
Loreley: Teutonic Siren who haunts the river Rhine (see below)

There are even more related asteroids like Musa, named after a mountain in Turkey, or Sirene, but you've got to draw the line somewhere. For this project the focus is on musical qualities.

So how do the sixteen selected asteroids, or mythological characters, influence musicians? To find out we looked at the natal charts of lots of musicians. It turns out that the modern astrological meanings we find are quite close to what you'd expect, with one exception: Klio. The Muse of history is not really an influence on a creative strength or on a preferred style or format. Instead, she points at musicians who carry a personal history around with them like perhaps traumas from early youth. All other asteroids can point at musical qualities although in the case of Urania the connection isn't always clear. The influence of Polyhymnia seems relatively weak. This might be a result of the selection of charts or maybe it's a (long term) cultural thing. The 'blues muse' Melpomene on the other hand is very common.

The influence of each Muse and mythological character is now demonstrated by musicians who receive their inspiration in relatively large quantities so to speak.

Euterpe ~ Songwriters

Bruce Springsteen ~ Great songbook
Tom Petty ~ Great songbook
Tori Amos ~ Great songbook
Bonnie Raitt ~ Great songbook
Prince ~ Penned quite a few hits
Mick Jagger ~ Penned quite a few hits
Snoop Dogg ~ Roaring lion

Erato ~ Supreme lyricists

Sly Stone ~ That's lovin' you
George Clinton ~ I wanna testify
David Bowie ~ Modern love
Miles Davis ~ My funny Valentine
Thelonious Monk ~ Brilliant Corners
Maurice Ravel ~ Daphnis et Chloé
Robert Schumann ~ The poet speaks

Kalliope ~ Epic scale

Ornette Coleman ~ Monster jams
James Brown ~ Get up (pts. 1, 2, 3 & 4)
Juan Atkins ~ Party all night long
Roy Orbison ~ Complex song structures
Liza Minelli ~ Cabaret
Karlheinz Stockhausen ~ Mr. Epic

Polyhymnia ~ Praise the Lord

Duke Ellington ~ Sacred concerts
John Coltrane ~ A love supreme
George Michael ~ Faith
Sting ~ Synchronicity

Terpsichore ~ Improvisation and musical trance

Ravi Shankar ~ Mad fingers
Bob Marley ~ We're jammin
Lee 'Scratch' Perry ~ Dub improviser
Tina Turner ~ Great live performer
Frank Sinatra ~ Great live performer

Thalia ~ Lighthearted folks

Iggy Pop ~ I wanna be your dog
Elvis Presley ~ A little less conversation
John Lennon ~ British humor
Bono ~ Joker
Le Monte Young ~ Fluxus

Melpomene ~ Singing the Blues

Nick Cave ~ Not exactly cheerful
Patti Smith ~ Not exactly cheerful
Rihanna ~ Disturbia
Joni Mitchell ~ Blue
Janis Joplin ~ Take another little piece of my heart
Jim Morrison ~ I've been down so goddamn long
Johnny Cash ~ I walk the line
Bob Dylan ~ A hard rain's a gonna fall

Urania ~ Esoteric

Richard Wagner ~ Der Ring des Nibelungen
Jimi Hendrix ~ Voodoo Chile/Astro Man
John Cale ~ Fear is a man's best friend
Brian Jones ~ Musical weaver

Klio ~ Issues from the past

Charlie Parker ~ Relaxin' on ward 11
David Bowie ~ A bit strange
Lady Gaga ~ A bit strange
Claude Debussy ~ Not your average Illuminatus

Apollo ~ The deified musician

Chaka Khan ~ I'm every woman
Maurice White ~ Shining star
Freddy Mercury ~ In the lap of the Gods
Derrick May ~ Techno God
David Guetta ~ God is a DJ
Justin Timberlake ~ Boutique in heaven
W.A. Mozart ~ Amadeus
Dmitri Shostakovich ~ Saint
Serge Gainsbourg ~ Saint and sinner

Harmonia ~ Remarkable harmonies

Grace Jones ~ Strange beauty
Evelyn Glennie ~ Look ma no hearing aid
John Cage ~ Stretching the concept of harmony
Olivier Messiaen ~ Modes of limited transposition
Ennio Morricone ~ Special harmonic fx
David Byrne ~ Mixing up new wave and Fela Kuti
Ray Charles ~ Mixing up gospel and r&b

Sappho ~ The sensual touch

Bob Marley ~ Stir it up
Otis Redding ~ I've been loving you too long
Eartha Kitt ~ Catwoman
Donna Summer ~ Love to love you
Cher ~ Do you believe in life after love?
Tom Jobim ~ Garota de Ipanema

Echo ~ Working in the background

Quincy Jones ~ Kingmaker
George Harrison ~ Supporting Lennon & McCartney
Sid Vicious ~ Never mind Johnny Rotten
Larry Levan ~ Great sound based on other people's records

Orpheus ~ Enticing sound

Brian Eno ~ Sonic guru
Donald Fagen ~ Sonic guru
Adele ~ Top class sound
Charles Mingus ~ Sounded as good as the Duke

Parthenope ~ Killer voice or enticing sound

Joe Cocker ~ Sheffield steel
Courtney Love ~ Ruff siren
Scott Walker ~ Deep siren
Freddy Mercury ~ Big sound
Bruno Mars ~ Big sound
Stevie Wonder ~ Wonderful voice and music
Igor Strawinsky ~ Wild voicings

Loreley ~ Killer voice or virtuoso player

George Michael ~ Big voice
Michael Jackson ~ Big voice
Madonna ~ Big voice
Shakira ~ Classic siren
Nico ~ Mrs. Loreley
Jim Morrison ~ Mr. Loreley
Herbie Hancock ~ Mr. Hands
Niccolò Paganini ~ Mr. Phenomenon
Woody Guthrie ~ Dust Bowl troubadour

Other kinds of astrological muses
There are lots of asteroids named after musicians. Mostly after classical composers, but quite a few 'popular' musicians also have a lump of rock named after them. These asteroids can also be Muses for musicians. And then there's the weird stuff. For example, Lee Perry a.k.a. the Upsetter has asteroid 18124 Lee Perry (named after Lee Taylor Perry, ISEF awardee in 2003) conjunct his natal Mercury creating a very strange loop. And in the natal chart of the Jamaican diva Grace Jones, asteroid Lee Perry is on Venus, while asteroid Regge (named after theoretical physicist Tullio Regge but pointing to reggae) is close to her Sun. Regge is also prominently placed in Lee Perry's chart. And so on.

The method that was used for this project is in fact the same method used in an earlier post about the interpretation of Phi-angles. If you want to replicate the results presented here, and you haven't read that post please start here. The method used for this project is the same, but there are three differences:
  • thematically related asteroids instead of planets;
  • the orb was tightened to 2,5° instead of 3°;
  • heliocentric scores are not included.
The reason for leaving out the heliocentric scores in this post is merely to keep things as simple as possible for non-astrologers. Having said that, the heliocentric perspective is just as important as the geocentric perspective. It can fill in a lot of information that may seem to be missing if you only look at the geocentric distribution. A good example would be the chart of George Harrison. The geocentric perspective shows a strong Melpomene and Echo (with a slightly less strong Thalia and Loreley) but the heliocentric view shifts to Thalia and Polyhymnia. Or take Bono: his geocentric perspective is dominated by Thalia, but heliocentrically Polyhymnia and Apollo stand out. Quite important!

Integrated view
If you want to get deeper into the Phi-angles technique you can combine the planetary results with asteroid-based results. For example, if we look at the planetary Phi-angles of Chaka Khan she has a strong geocentric Galactic Center and a strong heliocentric Jupiter. These would seem to point in the same direction as her geocentric Apollo-score in this project. In other words: the plot is thickening, Chaka Khan really seems to be a divine singer in some sense! The next step would be to look for conjunctions of planets and asteroids and the placement of the Muse-asteroids in the chart, and to combine these results with information that's available using other techniques. For example, Orpheus conjunct Sun might point to a 'born musician'. Harmonia conjunct Uranus might point to a highly individual or eccentric use of harmony. Terpsichore conjunct Saturn might point to someone with a talent for leading jam sessions. 

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