for shō & string sextet (2022-2023)
28 minutes | no.73

Aphrodíte is the fourth part of Kosmoscópio, a cycle in which each of the nine "Musica Universalis" components is depicted in a musical composition.

Sometimes referred to as the “Harmony of the Spheres”, this ancient Greek philosophical abstraction contemplates the various proportions in the movements of celestial bodies. It was Pythagoras who proposed that the sun, moon and planets all emit their own unique drone based on their orbital revolution, incorporating the metaphysical principle that mathematical relationships express resonances of energy which manifest in numbers, angles, shapes and sounds – all connected within a pattern of proportion.

Referred to by their Greek names, and in superseded geocentric order of appearance, Kosmoscópio includes the following celestial objects:
Earth, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Sun, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, and all fixed stars.

Aphrodíte represents the planet Venus and is scored for Japanese mouthorgan (shō) and string sextet. The work consists of fifteen consecutive sections, the first being an otherworldly approach (kefáli), and the last one being an evaporating departure (ourá). In between we follow thirteen orbits (trochiá): a cosmic observation of the ‘pentagram of Venus’, the apparent path of the planet as observed from Earth.

The successive conjunctions of Venus repeat with an orbital resonance of 13:8, meaning Earth orbits eight times for every thirteen orbits of Venus. The pentagram is sometimes referred to as the petals of Venus due to the path's visual similarity to a flower.

In an ideal performance the members of the sextet are positioned in a circular space, facing inwards, with the shō in its centre, and the audience all around them in an amphitheatre setting. At the end of the coda, each member of the string sextet walks offstage, one after the other, whilst performing an ostinato, leaving the shō behind, all by itself.

Image: Astronomy explained upon Sir Isaac Newton's principles by James Ferguson (1756) – Plate III (coloured in)


violin 1
violin 2
violin 3
viola 1
viola 2

written for

Naomi Sato & Ives Ensemble


5 November 2023
November Music, Den Bosch (Netherlands)
Naomi Sato (shō) & Ives Ensemble


Score Excerpts