by Jamie Younkin, Assistant Professor of Humanities and Communication
Our careers are more like “callings”—we follow them because we are inspired to seek knowledge and pursue greater possibilities. We have affinities in our disciplines that compel us to seek this inspiration. My disciplines are music and history, but my inspirations come from the greater world of human accomplishment.
Around the year 500 C.E. a Roman philosopher and mathematician named Boethius asked “How indeed could the swift mechanism of the sky move silently in its course?” He noted that everything that moves makes sound, and since the planets also move they surely make sound. This meant that there must be a literal harmony sounding amongst the celestial spheres. For several centuries after the moment he wrote those words, music would be a part of the scientific curriculum alongside arithmetic, geometry and astronomy. Isn’t it strange that we now find it among the Liberal Arts?
Music was my career calling ever since I can remember, but just like Boethius, I couldn’t help but notice that music intersects with almost every other discipline because it is a physical phenomenon. More than that, though, music is an expression of the fundamental creative impulse that binds us all to one another. To find the lost songs of past civilizations is to find a window into the world that sang in the ears of our greatest heroes. Galileo Galilei was rocked in his cradle by a musician father and Albert Einstein found inspiration on the strings of his violin. As a music historian, the heroes of all disciplines are inspiration for me. My mission is to seek the muses that serenaded their achievements.