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And why does each o f the worlds music systems seem to have its own unique effects on consciousness? The musicians o f antiquity understood scales to be either cycles o f simple intervals China , arrays o f varying intervals around a central pitch India , or a combination o f the two Greece. Those scales, Danielou argues, not only reflected but also influenced the spiritual values of their parent civilizations.
A l a i n D a n ie lo u , the founder of the International Institute of Comparative Musicology in Berlin, elucidated for tens of thousands of readers the meanings of the arts and religious traditions of both East and West. Revised edition first published by Inner Traditions International, All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in w riting from the publisher.
Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 1. Musical intervals and scales. Music—Philosophy and aesthetics. Danielou, Alain. Introduction to the study of musical scales. T itle. M L D28 The major tone ' 22 2. The minor tone 23 3. The diatonic half tone 23 4. The harmonics of C Sa 28 5. The spiral of fifths 38 6. Cyclic division into twelve 40 7. Scale of fifths the sixty lii 44 8. Some correspondences of the first twelve lii SO 9. Correspondences of the degrees of the scale 52 T he seven tetrachords of the diatonic scale 67 T he twenty-two srutis 80 T he U vejatis 85 T he srutis and their expressive qualities 86 Division of the octave into fifty-three intervals and twenty-two srutis 92 T he Pythagorean great perfect system T he seven series of fifths This is by no means common.
How many musicologists, even the most famous, are not musicians! How many, indeed, are antimusical to the point of embodying the very negation of what constitutes a musician! This is why I was wondering how Danielou could be a musicologist, since he is a philosopher, a gifted linguist, a writer, a delightful painter, a composer, and an artist.
This last quality is so obvious in him that it includes all the others. The sum of so many distinguished achievements reflects nothing more nor less than an equal sum of hard work. Even if such a solution appears an inspiration or a gift of grace, it remains linked to a constant life of study. There is no question of shortcuts nor of the rediscovery of ancient roads long abandoned. It cannot be seen as a continuation of previous work.
It is strictly current and completely modern, and in many cases its conclusions appear definitive. They are presented here in one short work of a moral value worthy of Leopardi, covering a field that would normally require several inflated volumes from Doctors of Music, in which they would develop the most boring theories.
Danielou attacks the immobility of the West from the perspective of the Far East. From there, it is paradoxically the West that appears to be a static and contemplative world, one that has been asleep for millenia. The substance of his theories rests on an experience, deeper than one might imagine, of the essence of music as it is found in the East. This crucial parameter has obvious implications in most aspects of present-day music. Instruments such as the violin or accordion produce, together with each note, a large number of harmonics, often louder than the note itself; other instruments such as the flute or the isolated string of a piano possess relatively few audible harmonics.
Each sound forms with its own harmonics a complex chord possessing in itself a precise meaning. One often hears stupidities from people incapable of observation; it is with relief that one reads these considerations of luminous clarity about facts we tend to ignore but which represent a sacred and attractive threshold.
This is the first marble step of an ascent toward the revelation of a higher world; a magic carpet near which we take off our shoes, ready to enter the sidereal space of liberated sound. On a trip to India in ,1 discovered the Indian edition of the book and devoured it at one sitting on a train journey from Delhi to Bombay. Here, it seemed to me, was someone who was answering with clarity and precision many of the questions that had been preoccupying me concerning the nature of music and its power to evoke in us feelings and images.
It was an approach both universal and specific, one that made sense of the cultural differences between musical forms as well as the underlying threads that link them all. He was delighted when I proposed republishing this valuable work and making it once again readily available in English. It was perhaps part of the charm of the original edition that it was written in English by a Frenchman living in India, but I felt that the language could be modernized without loss and that the resultant improvement in clarity would be worth the effort.
Tu non sei in terra si come tu credi;. Thou art not on the earth as thou believest;. Modern civilization has tended to reject the ways of thinking and scientific conceptions that formed its foundations. This is why sciences and arts originally understood as diverse applications of common principles have been reduced to a condition of fragmentary experiments isolated from one another.
The strange phenomenon by which coordinated sounds have the power to evoke feelings or images is accepted simply as a fact. Attempts are made to define the effects of certain combinations of sounds, but these effects are discovered almost fortuitously and no search is made for their underlying cause. This we obviously cannot discover by experiment nor decide by vote. In the universe nothing happens by chance, there is no spontaneity; all is influence and harmony, accord answering accord.
As Rene Guenon explains: The affirmation of the perpetuity of the Vedas is directly connected with the cosmological theory of the primordial nature of sound among sensible qualities sound being the particular quality of ether, akasa, which is the first element. The primordial sound is the divine Word, through which, according to the first chapter of the Hebrew Genesis, all things were made. J According to Ksemaraja: The b'tndu, wanting to manifest the thought it has of all things, vibrates, and is transformed into a [primordial] sound with the nature of a cry [:ndda].
It shouts out the universe, which is not distinct from itself; that is to say, it thinks it—hence the word sabda [word]. Sound [sabda], which is of the nature of ndda, resides in all living beings. But between those two aspects of manifestation, the relation remains close; there is fundamental identity between the principle of names and the principle of forms, as well as between words and objects.
Such a sound, of course, may not be audible to our rudimentary ears, but it does exist as pure sound. Since each element of matter produces a sound, the relation of elements can be expressed by a relation of sounds. He therefore, it is said, who mentally or vocally utters with creative force the natural name of anything brings into being the thing which bears that name.
W e can thus lift the veil by which matter hides from us all true realities. Therefore all psychological explanation of musical experience has to be discarded. Hearers can be differentiated negatively only by the relative acuteness of their perceptions, their greater or lesser deafness. He wanted them to regulate those immovable principles only according to the proportional and analogical harmony of numbers. And the history of Indian music, as that of Chinese music, is full of the legends of marvelous musicians whose voice could make night fall or spring appear, or who, like the celebrated musician Naik Gopal, compelled by the Emperor Akbar to sing in the mode of fire iraga Dipak , made the water of the river Jumna boil and died burned by the flames that issued from every part of his body.
The ancient Greeks, too, knew the science of connections between sounds and other aspects of manifestation, a science that for modem Westerners goes under the name of magic.
It is, for example, with the sounds of the lyre that Amphion built the walls of Thebes. This is why we shall find in music the same characteristics, the same geometry, the same particular numbers that are found in other aspects of the universe.
There is thus between them an admirable and marvelous proportion in the parts, the forces, the qualities, the quantities, and their effects, from which results a very harmonious music. There is also a kind of accord and musical concert between spiritual beings, among which the soul and the human intellect are included. In this way the scale of sounds has been formed, corresponding to the material world, to the five directions of space four cardinal directions and the center , the five elements, and so on.
This is the basis on which develops the whole system of the harmony of fifths, which through their cycles form first a series of twelve sounds, then a series of fifty-two sounds, and finally a series of sixty sounds within the octave. Plato, in his Timacus, noted that the soul of the world is divided into seven parts. And this is why it was the seven-stringed lyre that symbolized the beauty or the harmony of the spheres.
Each string of the lyre was related to a planet. W e shall also see why the twelve regions of the octave cannot be assimilated to twelve fixed sounds, as has been attempted in the tempered scale. Pythagoras, Timaeus of Locres, and Plato, when they gave the dodecahedron as the symbol of the universe, only restated the ideas of the Egyptians, the Chaldeans, the Greeks. The institution of the zodiac is the result of the application of the number twelve to the supreme sphere.
The number twelve, so applied to the universe and all its representations, was always the harmonic manifestation of the principles One and Two and of the way in which their elements were coordinated.
Music and the Power of Sound
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Music and the Power of Sound : The Influence of Tuning and Interval on Consciousness
Chapter One. All music is based on the relations between sounds, and a careful study of the numbers by which these relations are ruled brings us immediately into the almost forgotten science of numerical symbolism. Numbers correspond to abstract principles, and their application to physical reality follows absolute and inescapable laws. In musical experience we are brought into direct contact with these principles; the connection between physical reality and metaphysical principles can be felt in music as nowhere else.
Music and the Power of Sound: The Influence of Tuning and Interval on Consciousness