English physician and polymath Robert Fludd (1574-1637) had interests spanning from scientific knowledge to occult disciplines. His approach to sciences, in accordance with Hermetic principles, would follow the belief that a human microcosm corresponds to a universal macrocosm.
Fludd’s theories cover mathematics, music, architecture, astronomy, philosophy, engineering in an attempt to define the connections among different realms of human logic. A huge number of engravings punctuate his books and lavishly illustrate the author’s complex theories, providing visual guidance through intersecting ideas. In this sense, Fludd follows occultism’s belief that thought, words and pictures would be connected by magical relationships.
Several of Fludd’s inquiries construct bridges among disciplines employing the language and motives of one to reach scopes in another. His “Temple of Music” is an architectural folly which adapts the logics of structures, ornamentation and cladding to materialise musical relationships and compositional techniques.
Contained in Fludd’s encyclopedic work Utriusque Cosmi Maioris Scilicet et Minoris Metaphysica, Physica Atque Technica Historia (1617–24), the temple synthesizes his musical theory focusing on the use of consonance and dissonance and on rhythmic proportions.
Fludd explained that “if you examine keenly the parts of the temple, you will be a sharer of all its mysteries and an extremely experienced master in this preeminent knowledge.”
As such, the temple represents a mnemonic device specifically conceived to associate musical principles to architectural elements as in the “art of memory.” The symbols and allegories described on the temple (like Apollo or Pythagoras) act as imagines agentes, images able to aid the recollection of memory in relationship with a specific place (locus) identified in a “palace of memory.”
Roseen h. Giles, The Inaudible Music of the Renaissance: From Marsilio Ficino to Robert Fludd, 2016