Correspondences between Tarot and Music

Mama Fortuna

The Trionfi deck, the game of Tarocchi and the development of musical harmony all came about during the period of the Renaissance, according to my understanding of the history which immediately preceded the development of the Tarot decks.

What I am wondering is if any systems of correspondences have been established between music and tarot?

I have started teaching piano recently ( I am from a very musical family from my mother's lineage, and haven't played music since my teens ) Over the past decade or so I have delved into tarot, divination and various forms of magical correspondence systems. I am noticing many magical components within the musical system, as I revisit the ventures of my youth.

What I am seeking is a way to move comfortably between traditional musical academia and tarot reading.

The things that are coming to mind is that the 12 keys are divisible by 4, and may have some correspondence to the minor arcana, also the progression from 1 to 12 may fit loosely into a development from ace through court. There are also various correspondences within the musical keys themselves, as a student of music will know.

Also 88 keys of the standard piano keyboard are comfortably within the same range as 72 cards of the traditional tarot or 97 cards of the minchiate.

Does anyone know of an existing system?


I don't know about earlier, but I think the Golden Dawn assigned musical notes to cards, check Liber 777, it is free for download. I think I remember Paul Foster Case mentioning something.


Notes of the tempered twelve tone scale are attributed to the Trumps, but octaves are not distinguished, so there are duplications. For example, both the Hierophant and the Chariot are C#.


Music & the Marseilles Tarot

Hello everyone,

Author of The Sacred Code Of The Tarot and of the Tarot of Marseilles Millennium Edition : I'm doing some research on the relation between music and Tarot on scientific bases. Indeed, music, as the Tarot, is absolutely related to the archetypal geometry. The relation of music to geometry has been theorized by the Greek philosopher Pythagoras, and brilliantly discussed by the musicologist Richard Merrick, in his book Interference :, among other researchers and musicologists.

As demonstrated in my own book, the sacred geometry matrix, the very source of all things embedding geometrical equivalences of the music structure and harmonies, is the very integral matrix of the Marseilles Tarot. In fact, as the archetypal grid of the universal matrix defines all aspects of the Marseilles Tarot (the number of the cards, of the groups, their interrelation, their global organization, the graphic design of the cards…) , many aspects of the Marseilles Tarot prove to relate to music.

For instance, the Marseilles Tarot constitutes an analogical model of DNA , demonstrated by scientists to relate to the sacred geometry and music (just type "DNA music" in a search engine, and see), and the Rota, or wheel of the Tarot – a moëbius strip – is actually animated by a double sine wave running through it all along. As a matter of fact, the recovery of the geometrical equivalences of music leads to rediscover scientifically the "hidden" musical equivalences, or musical harmonies of the Marseilles Tarot, which seems to relate to music from the very start. Indeed, the Marseilles Tarot tradition is akin to that of the Grail romance and Troubadour music, of neoplatonician inspiration and played on instruments actually designed according to the very same sacred geometry matrix as the Marseilles Tarot. This relation is not fortuitous.

If some of you have knowledge of the geometry of music, your help will be greatly appreciated !

All the best,

Wilfried Houdouin


Well, what you are talking about sounds a lot like the Flower of Life books...Melchezedek...and Bob Frisell...from the way you speak, I'd say you are already familiar with them; there's some great stuff in Doczi's "Power of Limits" (sacred geometry, both of these) and then Partch's "Genesis of a Music" which is about microtonal and "just" intonation.

In regards to the query of the thread, the GD correspondences to note and color can be found in Case's Tarot books..and in Regardie's Middle Pillar book. These are for melody...not that the "melodies" that come out of them (judging by the ones in the back of Regarie's book) have any musical value.

Most of the work and intuition that have come thru for me come from Hermetics, and apply to melody, of a very simple, almost folk nature...diatonic, one-note at a time, or else the harmonic series, overtone singing, singing bowls, music healing things.

I can recommend the books of Jonathan Goldman or Bill Douglas for the healing power of music.

Scriabin was a classical composer who was very tuned into color, and wrote with color in mind.


But usually music/pitch hooks up to tarot thru an intermediate correspondence, usually color or planetary.

But consider "Justice"...or Crowley's adjustment. This is a picture of tuning. Everything must be tweaked fact, the natural scales (not our modern out of tune DID know your piano is deliberately put out of tune, didn't you? like our modern world!) natural scales are frequently referred to as 'JUST' INTONATION, meaning opposed to our modern equal temperament (read: Temperance).


When dividing an octave into 12 semitones, an interval of 6 semitones forms a Tritone - a distance between 2 notes equivalent to half an octave. A harmonic and melodic dissonance, the tritone was referred to in medieval western classical music as the diabalos in musica, or “Devil in Music”. The appellation comes from the expectation that, in dividing an octave (2:1) into two equivalent halves, the tritone (√2:1) should in some way reflect the perfection of the Holy Trinity. As it produces more of a horror show sound instead, the devil stands accused of maliciously sneaking into the measure of musical space and thereby confounding our ability to harmonize.

XV = 1+5 = VI
Prior to the widespread use of 12-tone equal-temperament, the irrational value of the tritone could be approximated by ratios like the eleventh harmonic (11:8) or, if you fancy fishing, XVII/XII


P.F. Case (who was a musician) makes it clear that he is using equal temperament, since, for example, he specifies that G# = Ab, etc. Our ears have become so accustomed to this customary tuning of keyboard instruments, that instruments such as bagpipes (having just temperament) sound a bit weird or "off." However, the natural harmonics generated by musical instruments do not conform to equal temperament, so what sounds normal and natural to our ears is therefore actually unnatural, a mathematical construct which we have imposed on the octave in order to accommodate keyboard instruments.


Silhouette in A♭

12 tone equal temperament, like Pythagorean tuning, possesses a specific mathematical structure which may be modeled geometrically. Insofar as Tarot can be utilized as a cipher for solving the puzzle box of letters posed by the Qabalah tree, its architecture is determined by the geometry of these two distinct music scales 'coming together'. As if a caduceus were flying toward a star tetrahedron nested within a cube.

As such, the individual cards do not represent specific notes, but rather partition in ways which delineate these forms. The hidden Tarot is unveiled once the Eye sees how these forms (combining music, math & geometry) apply to our measure of space and time.


The book 'Who Are You In The Tarot' has a chart of musical correspondences with the Tarot cards.


At the time of the known 'birth' of the Trionfi (15th century), systems of musical harmonic structure were well established and already influencing composition and temperment. But the 15th century also gave us composers like Dufay and Dunstaple and Ockeghem, who paved the way for Josquin, who is generally considered the first "modern" composer in the sense that he was able to perceive melodic and harmonic structures simultaneously during the composition process.

A few things to consider, for the historical perspective on music/tarot: the arrangement of musical notes in the 15th century did not take into account a 12 tone scale, nor was it structured on a diatonic 8 note octave-based scale. Just as the letters of the alphabet ("alpha+beta") were arranged in an order, so were the notes of the "gamut" (Gamma Ut, the lowest note, which corresponded to the low G line of the bass clef), then arranged in series of overlapping "hexachords" (ut, re, mi, fa, sol, la) which allowed for modes accounting for B flat or natural. There were twenty of these notes, according to the Guidonian Hand (10th century) and as late as Thomas Morley's "Plaine and Easie Introduction to Practicall Musicke" (1597), although by then, musical composition had exhausted the confines of medieval structure and was using more and more notes that were, shall we say, "out of hand."

Neo-Pythagoreanism is a significant theme of tarot as well as medieval and renaissance musical aesthetics, in that the central theme is that of harmonic relationships. Simply put, the Pythagorean tuning system emphasizes a perfect 5th, which, as a pianist, is not recommended as the circle of 5ths will not close, thus the notes must be "Tempered" (Arcanum 14) so that all the keys may be adequately represented (example: try a C major chord on a harpsichord or organ tuned in quarter-comma meantone, which emphasizes a pure third. Sounds nice! Now, try a D# major. Ugh! But this is further evidence that the 15th century did not have a tuning system that even allowed 12 tone scales; the goal was intervallic purity).

Besides the Thomas Morley book mentioned above, another good read on this matter is "Music in Renaissance Magic" by Gary Tomlinson, pub. University of Chicago Press. Though there is no mention of Trionfi or Tarot, this [very dense and difficult] book has a wealth of apropos information that may supplement the connection between tarot and music, particularly in an historical sense. The "Healing Power of Music" book has since been debunked and discredited, and I don't recommend it.

On a personal note, as you may have figured, I am an 'early music specialist,' as well as an aficionado of historical tarot. I like to use specific cards as a 'visual mantra' of sorts when I perform on the lute, or pipe & tabor, or medieval sinfonye, or what have you. My favorite is the Mantegna Tarocchi, since it has so many representations of instruments.