The Magic of Music
An investigation of the occult nature of music and its power for good and evil
In our article on the Magic of Art we said that an artist is a magician, regardless of whether or not he is conscious of the power he wields over other minds. His subjects may delight, repel, or merely bore us, according to individual taste or prevailing fashions. His technique may be good, bad or indifferent. Yet he is a magician, and as a magician his art exerts a good or evil influence over us. This is even more true of composers and musicians too, for Music is the greatest of all the Arts that speaks to the best and worst in us in ways words or pictures never can. Why this is so we shall discover as we develop our theme.
But ere we do so, we wish to make a few things clear. Firstly, this is an investigation of the occult nature of music, not the vast subject of music itself, which is well beyond the scope of this article. Secondly, the writer is not a musician and does not purport to teach music. Nor is it possible or practicable to discuss the many different kinds of music, or the various musical scales, both ancient and modern, in any depth. You can easily look these subjects up yourself if you wish to learn more about them, though we will mention them as we proceed. Having said this, it will be necessary to use some technical musical terms throughout this investigation, though we shall endeavour to keep these to a minimum for the benefit of those readers with little or no knowledge of music.
We shall proceed in our usual manner, first principles first, and building on these, come to some remarkable conclusions about the underlying occult laws and principles of Music and its power for good and evil, which we venture to hope will be of interest to all our readers, regardless of whether they are musicians or not. Along the way we will touch on many interesting subjects, such as the 'Music of the Spheres'—an ancient philosophical concept which demonstrates that the spatial relationships of the Sun, Moon and planets of our Kosmos form a musical scale of great importance in occult science. We shall also consider the occult correspondences between colour and sound, and how these affect all living things including Man, both physiologically, mentally and spiritually.
The Divine art
The dictionary tells us that our word 'music' is derived by way of old French Musique via Latin from the Greek mousikē, meaning the 'art of the Muses'—who were the inspirational goddesses of literature, science, and the arts in Greek mythology. The Greek word mousikē encompassed not only music but also dance, lyrics, and poetry. The word is essentially the same in all European languages, even Slavonic, where we find muzyka in both Russian and Polish. For the ancient Greeks, music was regarded quite literally as a gift from the gods, and the invention of specific instruments was attributed to particular deities, such as the lyre to Hermes—which significant correspondence we will return to later on. In Greek mythology the Muses personified the various elements of music (in the wide Greek sense of the term) and were said to entertain the gods on Mount Olympus with their divine music, dancing, and singing. This shows us that Music was regarded as something Divine from the very beginning.
It has been said that Music is the only art of Heaven given to earth, the only art of earth we take to Heaven, and this is true, for it connects us directly without any intermediary to the highest spiritual realms. This truth has been echoed by all the great classical composers. Beethoven said that Music is a higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy, adding that it was: "the mediator between the spiritual and the sensual life." Bach said: "the aim and final end of all music should be none other than the glory of God and the refreshment of the soul." Handel once complained: "I should be sorry if I only entertained them (his listeners); I wish to make them better." A similar sentiment was expressed a hundred years later by the 19th century virtuoso pianist and composer, Robert Schumann, who said: "To send light into the darkness of men's hearts—such is the duty of the artist."
Haydn, Bach, Mozart and Beethoven all considered Handel the greatest of composers which, if it tells us nothing else, tells us that the truly great are ever humble, for they know deep within whence their great gift comes. Handel himself acknowledged this when, on receiving a rapturous ovation after his last performance he cried out: "Not from me...but from Heaven...comes all." At the time he was 74 years old, nearly blind and ailing yet expressed his desire that he would die on Good Friday "in the hope of rejoining the good God, my sweet Lord and Saviour, on the day of His resurrection." His wish was granted for he died one day later on Easter Saturday, 14 April 1759. None of the composers we have mentioned were atheists. Although not all of them can be considered to have been religious in an orthodox sense, each shared an unwavering love and trust in the Author of All. Mozart said: "Let us put our trust in God and console ourselves with the thought that all is well, if it is in accordance with the will of the Almighty, as He knows best what is profitable and beneficial to our temporal happiness and our eternal salvation." Beethoven said: "I will place all my confidence in your eternal goodness, O God! My soul shall rejoice in Thee, immutable Being. Be my rock, my light, forever my trust."
Johannes Brahms, when interviewed by a journalist in 1896, had this to say about his inspiration: "I will now tell you and your young friend here about my method of communicating with the Infinite, for all truly inspired ideas come from God. Beethoven, who was my ideal, was well aware of this. When I feel the urge, I begin by appealing straight to my Maker...straightaway the ideas flow in upon me, directly from God, and not only do I see distinct themes in my mind's eyes, but they are clothed in the right forms, harmonies and orchestration. You see, the powers from which all truly great composers like Mozart, Schubert, Bach and Beethoven drew their inspirations is the same power that enabled Jesus to do his miracles. I know several young composers who are atheists. I have read their scores, and I assure you that they are doomed to speedy oblivion, because they are utterly lacking in inspiration. Their works are purely cerebral. The great Nazarene (Jesus) knew that law also, and He proclaimed it in John 15:4, 'The branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine.' No atheist has ever been or ever will be a great composer."
We agree with Brahms, though our readers are free to make up their own minds about this, but we caution them that disbelief in an anthropomorphic 'god' seated on a throne above the clouds, with or without a long, white snowy beard, does nor constitute atheism as we would define it. Those of you who have read our article Prometheus unveiled will recall that the Poet Shelley was called an atheist by his critics and is widely regarded as such by literary 'experts' today. With that important qualification, here is a short list of composers and musicians who, so far as we can tell, were atheists in the sense of disbelieving in any higher Power or Divine Authority. Bizet, Janácek, Charlie Parker, Prokofiev, Ravel, Rimsky-Korsakov, Saint-Saëns, and Shostakovich. This is not to say that any or all of the above were without talent, nor that their art has not brought genuine pleasure to millions of people. But there is a very great difference between what we may call music with a small 'm' which is a reflection of the culture and times in which it is created, and Music with a capital 'M' which is timeless and transcends all cultural and social mores. The former, however charming or inventive, is of the earth, earthy; the latter is from Heaven and speaks to our highest and noblest aspirations and longings.
It is not only composers and musicians who have left us their thoughts on the Divine Art of Music and its heavenly source. Many writers have done so too, pre-eminent among them, William Shakespeare, who has a very great deal to say about the occult or hidden side of music in his plays and sonnets.
The occult nature of Music
The three elements of Music are Rhythm, Pitch or Tonality, and Volume. Rhythm denotes the regulation of Accent (and its associated qualities of tempo, meter, and articulation). Pitch defines the precise frequency of any given tone, whilst Volume denotes the loudness and softness of Sound. These three elements find their exact correspondence in the visual arts, in which they are called Value, Hue and Intensity. Value describes the amount of light or darkness and ranges from brilliant white to deep black, just as Rhythm in Music denotes the regulation of Accent. Hue denotes the colour itself that essentially characterises it and makes it different to black and white, In Music it denotes the exact pitch. The term Intensity (also called Saturation) refers to the brilliance of any given colour. A colour may be said to be at full intensity when it is undiluted in any way (not mixed with black or white). Musically this corresponds to Volume—whether a sound is soft, medium or loud. A colour is called a Tint when it has been reduced by the addition of white pigment and a Shade when it has been darkened by adding black. Musically we should call these an Air with Variations.
Now what is Sound? The answer is Vibration. Sound is Colour and Colour is Sound, and both are vibration. Certain vibrations affect the drum of the ear and we call this Sound, another set of vibrations affect the optic nerves of the eye and we visualise Colour. Vibrations must be as numerous as 32 per second for the human ear to perceive them as Sound, similarly if they exceed 30 to 40 thousand per second they cease to produce any sensation upon the ear. This sensation or impression of Sound is merely part of the sense of hearing, in the same way that Colour is part of the sense of seeing. Everything was created by Sound, and when the great Cosmic Word—or VIBRATION—was uttered, three major streams of colour issued forth, which in blending produced another four, giving us seven streams of colour which we call the Colour Spectrum. Through this mighty vibration of Sound and Colour all manifestation was made possible.
The Bible tells us: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God" (John 1:1), and 10,000 years earlier an Egyptian Sage wrote: "God that made everything, whatsoever His mind planned came into being forthwith, and when once He had uttered the Word it came into being for all time." This leaves no doubt in our minds as to the meaning of the verse from the Gospel according to St. John. So we have now learnt that Sound and Colour are one and the same thing which comes to our realisation in two different ways. The 20th century occultist and clairvoyant, Geoffrey Hodson was able to not only hear sound but see the actual colours of the audible sounds, and several psychic musicians have and do possess the same supernormal—but not supernatural—ability.
Science calls this Chromesthesia, and although it has evolved several competing theories about it over the years, it has failed to come up with any satisfactory explanation of how or why it works. Franz Liszt was one of several composers who could see the actual colours of notes. It is reported that during his orchestrations, he would often draw the attention of his musicians to the colours their playing produced. "O please, gentlemen, a little bluer, if you please! This tone type requires it!" was apparently a common complaint, or: "That is a deep violet, please, depend on it! Not so rose!" We shall discuss the correspondences between Sound and Colour in more depth later on. Before then we need to consider the science of Music, the better to understand the different musical forms, both ancient and modern.
The science of Music
As we saw earlier, the three elements of Music are Rhythm, Pitch and Volume. The chief characteristic whereby musical sounds are distinguished from each other and from non-musical sounds is pitch, which the ear recognises as corresponding to a particular position in the musical scale. It is dependent primarily upon the frequency of the predominant sound waves; for example, middle C on the piano has a fundamental frequency or vibration of about 262 cycles per second.
We are forced to use notes according to Western usage, in which we find only 13 notes in one complete octave. This is actually a very coarse way of dividing the intervals of one octave. According to nature the octave should be divided into 53 intervals, as is done in the East; but it is impossible to attune our Western sense of hearing music to these very fine intervals. Moreover, within an octave one can discern more than 22 groups of sounds that have distinct expressions. If we wish to make use of the 53 intervals, then we have first to learn the various 'modes', as they are called, and only when we know how to use these can we find the perfect harmonic relations between the different modes and the 53 sound expressions in one octave.
Even in the West, we have more than 30 different scales, a scale being a group of pitches arranged in ascending order which span an octave. But we are getting into very deep waters here, which few, if any, of our readers will wish to explore. Even in the East there are different systems of dividing the octave, but here in the West our ears have been spoiled by the so-called 'equal temperament' in music, which it was necessary to invent if keyboard instruments, such as pianos, organs, harpsichords, etc., were to be tuned in such a manner that the higher registers of the tones were to be in harmony with the lower. All we can distinguish is the perfect octave, fifth and fourth intervals in music, and so our ears have lost that fine sense which is actually a natural sense of hearing tones; all we have left is an artificial sense of sound.
Musical intervals can be accurately defined in two ways; that is: either by means of vibrations, or by their psychological correspondences, when they invoke within our minds certain feelings and images. The Vedantists say truly that there is no sound without a meaning, but even with our 13 notes to an octave, the most wonderful pictures and ideas can be conjured up. Now Music is simply vibration as we learnt earlier. We all respond to vibrations, and we are masses of vibrations ourselves, and everything we sense vibrates. This is the reason why music can influence persons, and the more sensitive and refined they are, the more they respond to the higher qualities of music.
There are directional sounds, sounds based on absolute universal Laws, and they never vary. And there are also regional sounds, which vary endlessly according to place and time, and the means used to produce them. One thinker has stated that sound is the chemistry of the Universe; and he is right. Directional sound is used by such great Masters as Palestrina and Orlandus Lasso, in the construction of their religious compositions. These have a definite effect, and in the old Gregorian Chant (when it is pure, and not adulterated) we have the directional sounds of the ancient Egyptians, and again we come under a divine spell, which it is hard to break so long the music lasts. Regional sound is used more for pleasure, or when the composer wishes to paint human feelings and passions with his musical brush; in other words, worldly music of the earth which we referred to earlier when we mentioned composers such as Bizet, Prokofiev, Ravel and Shostakovich. Jazz, Blues, Rock, Country, 'Rap' and similar contemporary musical genres fall into this category too. In passing, we would mention that both Jazz and Blues make much use of so-called 'blue' notes—a note that is sung or played at a slightly different pitch than standard. Now it so happens that the note G corresponds to the colour blue and the human aura—which we might call the emotional 'atmosphere' of a human being that not only reflects our feelings but also receives the feelings of others and is especially susceptible to sound. This leads us to the fourth part of this investigation—the correspondence between Sound and Colour.
Sound and colour
In art, as in music, there are various ways of classifying colour harmonies which are taken from the laws of nature and found in the works of the great masters. First we have Dominant harmony, in which different values (levels of light and darkness) of the same colour are combined to form a scheme. Musically we should call this an Air with Variations. This is a very effective combination which leaves very little margin for error. Secondly there is Complimentary harmony where a colour and its complimentary are used in contrast, which musically we call Binary form, such colours are red and green. The third class is termed Analogous harmony where various colours that lie near one another in the colour spectrum are used, such colours are yellow and orange. This we should musically term Rondo Form, where a theme is used in conjunction with various other themes all placed in nearly related keys. Lastly we have Perfected Harmony where the three primary colours (yellow, red and blue) are skilfully blended together. In music this is Ternary Form.
All this demonstrates that Sound is Colour and Colour is Sound. There is nothing remotely 'mysterious' or 'mystical' about this fundamental fact, which is founded upon the Occult Law that all that we behold or experience by means of our senses is the result of vibration of some kind. The breaking up of Sunlight into its component parts can be determined easily in the rainbow, when the Sunlight, passing through drops of rain is refracted and broken up into 7 colours. Another way of breaking up light is to let a ray fall upon a glass prism. Thus it can be seen, that Sunlight is composed of a combination of 7 colours: Violet, Indigo, Blue, Green, Yellow, Orange and Red, and arranged in this order they comprise what is known as the Solar Spectrum. In Music they form the complete musical scale of 7 notes.
If we look at the colour spectrum, we find that there are three which stand absolutely alone—they are complete colours and cannot be broken up into any other component colours. These three are Red, Yellow and Blue and musically they form the Major Chord of C. With the remaining colours the result is different; they consist of blended rays, and we find that Violet contains a great deal of Red and a little Blue. Indigo contains a little Red and a great deal of Blue; Green contains some Blue and some Yellow; Orange contains some Yellow and some Red. Thus Red, Yellow and Blue are the only colours of the spectrum that cannot be broken up into other colours, and they are known as the three primary colours.
Some models of the colour spectrum employ 12 divisions, which make the changes of colour far more gradual. These added colours come in between the 7 already named and they are slightly tinged with portions of each adjoining colour. These represent the musical semitones, and they give us the complete range of sound as used in the West. Many different attempts have been made over the centuries to correlate Sound with Colour by composers, musicians and scientists. Among the former was the Russian composer Alexander Scriabin (1872-1915). Scriabin developed a Sound to Colour mapping system which correlated similar colours with notes that were a perfect fourth and a perfect fifth apart. Ingenious as his ideas were, they were wrong, so we need not consider them further.
Nearly 200 years earlier, Sir Isaac Newton concluded that white light was made up of seven different coloured rays. And these rays, as we saw earlier, are just one small part of the vast scale of Kosmic vibrations, or as science calls it, the electromagnetic spectrum, that we perceive as Colour. At either end of the colour spectrum lie frequencies we cannot see, as for instance, radio ways, ultra-violet and infra-red. Newton firmly believed there is a direct analogy between the primary colours of the spectrum and each note on the musical scale. Unlike Scriabin, he got it right, for his correspondences agree perfectly with the teachings of Occult Science. In Newton's colour wheel, the colours are arranged clockwise in the order they appear in the rainbow, each 'spoke' of the wheel being assigned a letter. These letters correspond to the notes of the musical scale, as shown in the diagram at left.
Unsurprisingly, modern science dismisses Sir Isaac Newton's conclusions with the usual specious argument that they do not fit the current theories about the nature of light. We need hardly add that we place greater confidence in the researches of this Divinely-inspired scientific genius than in all the speculations of his successors put together. Below we reproduce a further diagram showing the correspondence between the 7 notes of the musical scale and the seven primary colours based on Newton's colour wheel. It is noteworthy that the notes C, E and G correspond to the three primary colours—red, yellow and blue—in the colour spectrum. This is interesting, since according to occult scientists such as H. P. Blavatsky, these three colours have a direct correspondence with the physical body (red); the Soul—Higher Self in our terminology (yellow); and the human aura (blue). It is noteworthy in this connection that Beethoven composed his Pastoral Symphony in the key of F major—which corresponds to green—the colour of Nature, whilst the dominant note in Mozart's opera The Magic Flute is E flat major, corresponding to the Higher Self and the colour yellow. Coincidence? We do not think so!
From this it will be clear to you that there is a definite musical note and colour for each of the occult Principles of Man, which we have simplified throughout our website by referring to them as body/lower self, Higher Self and Divine Soul. We have given you three of these correspondences above to illustrate this. More cannot be said. Firstly, because such knowledge is a two-edged sword that might do great harm in the wrong hands, and secondly because without a thorough understanding of the 7 Principles of Man and their complex interrelationships it is impossible to explain these correspondences in ways which will not be misunderstood. Sound, as we have repeatedly stated in several of our articles, is the most potent of all occult forces and the most readily misunderstood and misused by those who know little or nothing of its occult properties and potential. It is the contemplation of the mystery of Sound which inspired the Greek Sage Pythagoras to formulate his theory of the 'Music of the Spheres' which we shall consider next.
The Music of the Spheres
The Pythagorean theory states that the distances of the planets from the sun, and the distances between all these bodies, are represented by musical intervals, of tones and half-tones, etc. In an ordinary musical scale of today, consisting of eight notes, which form an octave, the sum total of these intervals comes to six whole tones.
One of the best known systems, apart from that of Pythagoras, is that of the astrologer and mathematician, Robert Fludd (1574-1637), who, in his Musica Mundana, considers that the interval between the earthly element and the highest heaven is considered as a double octave, thus showing the two extremes of existence to be in disdiapason harmony. Thus the highest heaven (whatever he means by that), the Sun and the Earth, each have the same tone, the only difference being that of pitch. Thus the Sun becomes the lower octave of the highest heaven, and the Earth the lower octave of the Sun. There is some truth in this as some of our regular readers will know. The lower octave comprises that part of the universe in which substance predominates over energy. Therefore its harmonies are more gross than those of the higher octave, wherein energy predominates over substance. Regarding this, Fludd writes: "The monochord will give eternal life (if struck in the higher part); if in the more material part, transitory life." The monochord referred to is a form of musical instrument, drawn by Fludd, in order to illustrate his theory. The whole conception, like that of Scriabin mentioned earlier, is most ingenious, but we are sorry to say, not in accordance with the Laws of Occult Science, and therefore wrong!
It is on the number seven that Pythagoras composed his Doctrine on the Harmony and Music of the Spheres, calling a 'tone' the distance of the Moon from the Earth; from the Moon to Mercury half-a-tone; from Mercury to Venus the same; from Venus to the Sun one-and-a-half tones; from the Sun to Mars a tone; from Mars to Jupiter half-a-tone; from Jupiter to Saturn half-a-tone; and from Saturn to the Zodiac half-a-tone; thus making six tones, the diapason harmony. All the melody of Nature is in those six tones of seven notes, and it is therefore called the 'Voice of Nature'. We reproduce a 17th century engraving illustrating of Pythagoras' doctrine below.
This forms an extraordinary Scale, which, in the hands of a Composer of Genius might produce some strange results. Those of our readers who are professional musicians will note that the tone for Jupiter in the above diagram is the note C, which is also the key in which Mozart's Jupiter Symphony is composed. This is all the more interesting as Mozart was the most sublime, ethereal and refined composer of all times. He has been called 'the aristocrat of Music', and that he was definitely in attunement with the Higher Realms of Light is evidenced in the fact that he had the ability to see great musical works in the form of a brilliant beam of light, in which sounded in one gigantic chord the whole of such great compositions as he gave forth to the world.
Eastern and Western Music
Western musical 'taste' recognises certain combinations of notes as harmonious, and others as disharmonious. At the same time we must remember two things; that this is according to our Western ears, which have been educated to know one form of music as harmony and another form as the opposite, or cacophony. Eastern music, to us, sounds terrible when we first hear it, for there the same rules of harmony do not apply as a rule.
The Indian teachings tell us that the notes C, E flat, and F, are born from the family of Devas, or Angels. The note G is born of the ancestors; A is born of the Sages; and B flat is born from the family of demons. Notes are also connected in India with the continents, of which, they say, there are seven. And so there is a whole catalogue of what the notes mean as deities, celestial bodies, heavenly singers, the gods, learning, the passions, and so on. We only mention these things for the sake of interest, and to show that to the Indians, music means more than to us in many ways. Pitch itself is an important matter, but here in Europe there is such a confusion about the various pitches in music that few musicians are able to tell you the wrong from the right, or know one from another, except high pitch and low. But the Chinese know better, and they attach the highest importance to the exact pitch of the diapason, and have kept to this day their primitive pitch, which is the same as the Yekah, or tonic of the Arabs.
The Hindus know and use the complete octave of 358 intervals, which, through elimination of the less important fifths twelve by twelve, can be reduced to the minimum division of the third order, which consists of 22 intervals. The Hindus adopted this division for metaphysical as well as musical reasons. We mention this at this point, for many Westerners are ever ready to look askance at the octave of the Orientals, cut into so-called quarter tones, whereas within the ordinary western octaves there are no less than twenty-one different sounds, as any violinist who knows his instrument will tell you. For we have 7 naturals, 7 sharps, and 7 flats, and if we add the octave to these we get 22 sounds in the complete octave. Add now the double sharps and double flats, and we reach the number of 36 different sounds in the complete octave.
A still more interesting difference between Western and Eastern Music is the connection between musical modes and the periods of the day. Here we know that certain kinds of music can represent the morning, the midday, or the night, and there are plenty of Aubades, Serenades, etc., known to prove this connection. But whereas in the West we may hear Aubades played in the evening, and Serenades played during the day-time, the Orientals are more sensitive about such things! Music composed for the night, is never played during the day with them. The Hindu musicians go so far as to state that music played at the wrong time of the day can change the course of nature. And they say that when musicians have played night music in the afternoon or morning, that these musicians were surrounded by dark clouds.
The Hindus further say that the Sun has 116 rays; the moon 136, and Fire 108; and the total of these rays is 360. This is only two more than the 358 intervals, or sounds, of the complete octave of the Hindus. 360 is also the division of the day into 360 units of 4 minutes each. 6 of these form one Ghatika of 24 minutes, of which there are 60 in 24 hours. These again have been connected with the division of the octave in so-called commas, slight differences in pitch of the various notes. Twelve of these small units (Ghatikas) form one Muhurt of 48 minutes, of which there are 30 in a day, each of them being dedicated to a particular deity. Quite how old such musical theories are we should not like to say, though we incline to the view that they came originally from Atlantis.
All these elements had and still have their importance in determining the proper time for the playing of the different modes in Eastern music, principally regulated by the respective value of the notes in regard to the Sun, Moon and Fire. Thus at sunrise E natural characterises this part of the conjunction of night and day; and at sunset the note D flat does the same between the day and night. The first part of the day or night is generally characterised by the notes D, E and A. The second part of the day or night is characterised by the notes E flat and B flat. Between midday and midnight the predominant note is in the lower tetrachord, i.e., between C and E. Between midnight and midday the predominant note is in the upper tetrachord, or between G and C. But the augmented fourth belongs to the critical times of midday and midnight, sunrise and sunset, solstices and equinoxes.
It may also exist in the morning, but is then dominated by a flat E, not E flat, and this augmented fourth is the note F sharp. Sometimes the F sharp appears as an expression of fear or pain. It is interesting to note that this augmented fourth, which western composers call the 'diabolus in musica', is often used in the West for the representation of scenes of magic. Schumann uses it to describe the personage of Manfred, and Wagner uses it each time a Magician appears and Berlioz used it in his Symphonie Fantastique. Here we have the intuition of the true, inspired musician at work, who, without knowing the Indian rules, uses such effects by sheer instinct. There we must leave this fascinating subject and move on to the final part of this investigation—the power of Music to affect us for good and evil.
The power of Music
Today in both classical and popular music we have sound combinations which some find utterly beautiful, while others flee in horror from them. Messiaen (1908-1992) and Karlheinz Stockhausen (1928-2007) are examples of modern classical composers that are both widely admired and violently disliked in equal measure. Much the same applies to popular music. There have been and are popular musicians whose work appeals to the higher emotions and speaks to us, albeit in accents predominantly mundane, of beauty, truth and goodness, and the reverse is true of such genres as 'Heavy Metal', 'Punk Rock' and 'Rap' which, with the best will in the world, cannot be said to elevate the mind or teach us anything of the spiritual life as we and we hope you who are reading this, would understand it.
It has been said that 'good' represents harmony and beauty, while evil represents the reverse. But tastes differ, and what seems good to one seems evil to another; and this applies to Art in all its forms as well as to nature and man. So how are we going to decide what is good and harmonious and what not? If we listen to a Tibetan orchestra, never having heard this kind of noise before, we shall run away as fast as we can if our nerves are at all sensitive. Yet to a Tibetan that noise represents the highest form of art. And who shall say that there are not some refined and sensitive Tibetans who still adore their own art and reject ours as terrible?
It is also said that "deformity is unnatural, for, the sum of all things being GOOD, it is natural that all things should partake of the Good and be arranged in combinations that are harmonious." The song of a native Australian witchdoctor, when he is 'making rain', sounds far from beautiful to our ears; but no doubt his listeners consider it altogether divine! So where are we? Is it a matter of evolution? If so, why does some modern music sound even worse than the wailings of the Australian witchdoctor, or the blasts of Tibetan trumpets made from thigh bones? Or are we, as modern Europeans, retrograding in the art of Music, as well as in many other things? Think it over and come to your own conclusions!
Hymn to Ra—18th Dynasty
When Plato describes the antiquity of the music of the Egyptians, he says that this art, as well as poetry, had existed in Egypt for at least ten thousand years, and that these arts were of such an inspiring nature that only gods or godlike men could have invented them. Of course some will say, Plato was only a Pagan, so what could he know about Art! In the first part of our investigation we mentioned that the Lyre was considered sacred to Hermes by the ancient Greeks. This is not surprising as the Lyre was regarded as the secret symbol of the human constitution in the Greek Mysteries. Some of you may recall that we have alluded to this before, notably in our articles about the Magic of Poetry and in part nine of our Astral Conversations about Dreams.
According to the Greek Sages, the body of the Lyre represented the human body, the strings the nerves, and the musician the spirit. Playing upon the nerves, the spirit thus created the harmonies of normal functioning, which, however, became discords if the nature of man were defiled. This also gives us a clue as to what is 'good' in music, what is harmonious, and what is not. And thus it seems to us that when we listen to music that sounds so terrible that our nerves are stretched to breaking point and we turn away in utter disgust from such elementary noises, that we have evolved from the elemental and the material, while the person who revels in these devilish distortions of harmony is still embedded in the primeval ooze which gave birth to monsters.
If we wish to know if there was any 'Civilisation' amongst the—also very 'Pagan'—ancient Egyptians, then let us seek a church where the real Gregorian Chant can be heard, for that is the god-like music to which Plato refers. This is true Egyptian Art, and it probably arrived there from Atlantis. And if we wish to hear modern music (comparable to the ancient Egyptian) then let us listen to a good performance of Handel's Messiah, or to one of the great choral works of Bach, or to a Symphony by Mozart or Beethoven, and then we shall find harmony of the right sort; harmony that exalts and inspires, based on that mathematical foundation which enabled Pythagoras to restore, not raise, the art of music to the true dignity and beauty of the times before his quest for Truth in the East. For when Pythagoras flourished much of the ancient glory had departed, and it was one of his tasks to restore it as best he could. He was not the inventor of the diatonic scale, for that was known in Egypt, long before his time. But he did teach that the soul could be purified from its irrational influences by means of solemn songs, sung to the accompaniment of the Lyre.
Shakespeare knew this too, and in Measure for Measure we read: "Music oft hath such a charm to make bad good, and good provoke to harm." Congreve tells us: "Musick has Charms to sooth a savage Breast, to soften Rocks, or bend a knotted Oak."
Not so long ago, Transport for London (TfL) piped classical music through many of the stations of the London Underground in an experiment to reduce crime and antisocial behaviour. It seems that it did the trick! Within 18 months, robberies were cut by 33 per cent, assaults on staff by 25 per cent, and vandalism by 37 per cent. The idea is not new. As we saw earlier, over 2,500 years ago Pythagoras discovered that the seven 'modes' of the Greek system of music had the power to incite or allay the various emotions. Similar experiments have been tried in Montreal, in Canada in the 1990's and on the Metro system in Tyne and Wear in 1997, with equally good results.
As we might expect, scientists have come up with various theories as to why such musical therapy works, none of which are particularly satisfactory from the occult scientific point of view. One is that classical music isn't considered 'cool' by antisocial youths. This is possible. A less plausible theory is that teenagers can hear high-frequency overtones more readily than adults, which upset them. If that were true, we would expect classical music students to be equally 'upset', which is clearly not the case. When TfL did a survey of 700 commuters, they overwhelmingly agreed that hearing classical music made them feel happy, less stressed and relaxed, which may be a surprise to the social scientists, but not to us, nor would it have surprised Pythagoras! In this respect it is interesting to note that Asclepius, the Greek physician, cured sciatica and other nervous diseases by blowing loudly upon a trumpet in the presence of his patients.
But Sound has its limitations in the mundane sphere. It is true that certain articles such as wine glasses can be disintegrated if the pitch or key-note of their substance is known; but to suggest, as some occultists have, that every inanimate object from a grain of sand to a mountain can be disintegrated in this way is nonsense. It is such theories as these which bring occultism, or that which it is supposed to be, into ridicule.
On the other hand, as we have seen, there can be no doubt that music reflects worldly conditions. And this is another matter altogether. The manner in which music is expressed mirrors the times during which it is produced. Nowadays, as we discussed in our articles on the Magic of Art and the Magic of Poetry, we are deluged with many examples of gross and distorted forms of art. We read poetry in which every element of true beauty is absent; we listen to music without any melody, with perverted harmony, with distorted rhythm. This began many years ago, before the Second World War which had all the nations of the world in its grip of blood and flame and iron. Ancient cities and monuments were destroyed overnight; works of art raped from the museums, human beings tortured and slain mercilessly, and the world deluged with an ocean of tears and terror, ugliness and hatred, without any harmony left anywhere. And when we regard Music today, we hear reflected within it all these things, and we see with pity in our hearts that so many people like that sort of music, for it shows that they are one with all that distortion, thoroughly attuned in mind and heart to that period of ghastly horror that had held, and still holds all mankind in thrall. Here and there a feeble note of protest is heard; but who cares?
And high above the earth, and all around it there sail the planets, full serene and far away from all the discord here below, sounding forth the Divine harmonies of Heaven. A symbol that only a very few—such as Pythagoras—can understand, for the many are down here to fulfil their destiny of blood, sweat and tears, though surrounded on all sides by the poise and balance of God's creations, helplessly in the power of that lower octave of the material and transitory life mentioned by Robert Fludd we discussed earlier. Few seek the Peace Within, because it is beyond their comprehension, being too young in evolution to have an inkling of its beauty and saving grace. Let us pray that the Light will illuminate their minds and hearts when they return to this earth once more to try again.
© Copyright occult-mysteries.org. Article published 14 May 2018.