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Dear Gramps,

I play a musical instrument, and it brings me much joy. I am wondering if I will be able to play it after I die. If I don’t have a body until I am resurrected, how can I play my instrument? Are there symphonies in heaven? It couldn’t be heaven without them.

Valerie, from Virginia

 

Dear Valerie,

We know of heavenly choirs, of angels sounding trumpets and of harps being played (Rev. 5:8; 14:2; 15:2). So I see no reason why other instruments would not be available also. However, we are talking about after the resurrection. In the post-mortal spirit world there will no doubt be music, but the spirits will not be playing physical instruments. However, this may not deter them from a full experience of musical expression. The scriptures are replete with references of singing to the Lord, both in the spirit world and in the resurrection.

However, while on the subject, let’s postulate for a moment on the possible nature of music in the eternal worlds. In mortality music is generated by actuating sound waves in the air. The human ear is perceptive to sound waves from a few hundred to a few thousand cycles per second.

The sounds we hear are the superposition of many frequencies that beat together to give sound its timbre, its color and its pitch. Sounds from several sources beat together to produce harmony or dissidence depending on the constructive and destructive interference patterns between the sound waves from the different sources.

But what will music be like, say, in the celestial kingdom? In the celestial kingdom we will not be breathing air in order to live. In fact, those in the celestial kingdom will live amid “eternal burnings,” as mentioned by Brigham Young,

“If the heavenly hosts were not one, they would be entirely unfit to dwell in the eternal burnings with the Father and Ruler of the universe.” (Discourses of Brigham Young, p.282)

So, if the music of the spheres is not generated from sound waves beating together, what would be its nature? (Please take the following notions as pure speculation, without any basis in the scriptures or from authoritative sources). I would imagine that we would musically interpret electromagnetic waves rather than sound waves as we know them. Electromagnetic waves, or light, exist in an astounding spectrum of frequencies. Our mortal eyes are sensitive to a very, very narrow range of the electromagnetic spectrum–from about 4000 angstroms-(blue light) to 7000 angstroms-(red light). Whereas the full magnetic spectrum ranges from about 30 cycles/second (i.e. a 10,000 kilometer wave length) to waves as short as 10-10 centimeters, e.g. 0.00000000001 Cm, or 1020 cycles/second! Now, can one begin to imagine the timbre, color, pitch and harmony that could be generated and perceived if we were sensitive to the full range of the frequencies of light?! So I think that you have nothing to fear about not being able to play your instrument after your mortal sojourn, but on the contrary, you will experience and be able to generate musical sounds that you cannot now begin to imagine.

Gramps the eternal worlds. In mortality music is generated by actuating sound waves in the air. The human ear is perceptive to sound waves from a few hundred to a few thousand cycles per second.

The sounds we hear are the superposition of many frequencies that beat together to give sound its timbre, its color and its pitch. Sounds from several sources beat together to produce harmony or dissidence depending on the constructive and destructive interference patterns between the sound waves from the different sources.

But what will music be like, say, in the celestial kingdom? In the celestial kingdom we will not be breathing air in order to live. In fact, those in the celestial kingdom will live amid “eternal burnings,” as mentioned by Brigham Young,

“If the heavenly hosts were not one, they would be entirely unfit to dwell in the eternal burnings with the Father and Ruler of the universe.” (Discourses of Brigham Young, p.282)

So, if the music of the spheres is not generated from sound waves beating together, what would be its nature? (Please take the following notions as pure speculation, without any basis in the scriptures or from authoritative sources). I would imagine that we would musically interpret electromagnetic waves rather than sound waves as we know them. Electromagnetic waves, or light, exist in an astounding spectrum of frequencies. Our mortal eyes are sensitive to a very, very narrow range of the electromagnetic spectrum–from about 4000 angstroms-(blue light) to 7000 angstroms-(red light). Whereas the full magnetic spectrum ranges from about 30 cycles/second (i.e. a 10,000 kilometer wave length) to waves as short as 10-10 centimeters, e.g. 0.00000000001 Cm, or 1020 cycles/second! Now, can one begin to imagine the timbre, color, pitch and harmony that could be generated and perceived if we were sensitive to the full range of the frequencies of light?! So I think that you have nothing to fear about not being able to play your instrument after your mortal sojourn, but on the contrary, you will experience and be able to generate musical sounds that you cannot now begin to imagine.

Gramps

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