Wednesday, August 31, 2016

The Gematria of the Gods, Part 3: Harmony and the "Music of the Spheres"

The mystical study of the relationships between music theory, Hebrew gematria and Kabbalah have been pursued for centuries. I have to admit that I'm new to these ideas, but something I discovered in the English alphabet and how it relates to the Solfeggio tones of do, re, me, etc. has inspired me to look deeper.

In the 7-tone, 8-step musical scale of Western music, the fundamental sequence follows the same pattern that has been established since the dawn of humanity.

The first and last A's are actually different pitches of the same tone. In music, the combination of  the 1 and 8  produces a ratio of 2:1, also called an octave. Pythagoras is credited for discovering that a string divided into equal sections will produce all the tones of the scale when held down on the markers of the mathematically determined ratios.

A Renaissance woodcut depicting Pythagoras'
 string experiment
Yet, as the article linked above shows, humans were making simple flutes capable of producing music 40,000 years ago. The oldest discovered so far is in virtual unison with A=432 hz, otherwise known as Verdi tuning, the most celebrated tuning pitch of all time. Handel's diaposan tuning fork was set at A=422hz, which is noticeably lower than the stressful A=440 hz used today. This was done undoubtedly to help Handel's singers with the athletic singing parts he wrote for them. Once again, genius yields to nature.

In like fashion, the English alphabet had to be adapted to how it was spoken, and not the other way around. The way the vocal cords, the wind-pipe, tongue, and other organs of human speech function is always a constant in the way languages evolve.  Some sounds, particularly the vowels -a as in ola, -o as in echo, and
-oo as in blue have open and sonorous tones. Other sounds like the short -i and hard consonant -r in the word ripper put more friction on the airflow. Speakers have to bunch up the tongue to produce those sounds.

When we come to music, pronunciation and airflow are even more important. The acts of singing and chanting are a kind of tonal language that  has a powerful effect on the human psyche and physiology.  The ability to experience spiritual joy through music and language is unique to our species. The way we end up getting initiated into music is even more personal. Our aesthetic "choices" are often incomprehensible to others, which is the way it should be, I imagine.

In contrast to music's endless variety, the sequence of the first seven letters of the alphabet has remained remarkably intact ever since the first Canaanite/Phoenician alphabet of circa 1400 B.C. I discussed the history and gematria of that process, here.

The seven tones are based on the natural laws of mathematical proportion. They literally are an order unto themselves, eternally distant in the world of abstract ideas.

The scale of natural notes from A to A is in the key of A minor or the Aeolian mode.  With all the connections just noted, the following gematria is significant.
"Muse Tuning Two Lyres" c. 470 B.C.

Aeolian mode in English Ordinal = 94 
Aeolian mode in English Reduction = 49

Harmony in English Ordinal = 94
Harmony in English Reduction =  40

Resonance in English Ordinal = 94
Resonance in English Reduction = 40

Pythagoras in  English Reduction = 49 
Pythagoras in English Ordinal  = 130

Tonal language in English Reduction = 49 
Tonal language in English Ordinal =130

Epiphany in English Reduction = 49
Epiphany in English Ordinal = 94

All of these numbers reduce to the number 4,  which I'll have to spend some time on in the next post. .

In English language gematria, the name Zeus has much in common with the word GOD. The same numbers 17, 26, and 71  reduce to 8, the octave, as discussed in a recent post, here.

Zeus in English Reduction = 17 (8+5+3+1)
Zeus in English Reduction with the -s exception =26 (8+5+3+10)
Zeus in English Ordinal = 71 (26+5+21+19)
Zeus  in the English Gematria =1205(800+5+300+100)

It would seem that almost the entire English alphabet, and not just the first seven letters from A to G are part of a hidden musical code within gematria. I know that's an astounding claim, and to be honest I'm still working it out. But left me start with this observation. If you use the English Reduction, also known as Pythagorean reduction, for the name of Zeus, the letters and numbers look like this.

Z    E    U - S -- letters
8   5     3    1  -- Englsh Reduction
A   E    C    A -- A minor chord (Aeolian mode) 

Z  has a value of  8 on the high A on the Third Octave

E is the 5th letter. The perfect fifth of 3:2 the foundation of all Western music.

U reduces to 3,  which has the value of C in the Aeolian mode.

S  1 brings the progression back to A..

By reading the chart above from right to left, the chord pattern creates a second inversion triad with 8-5-3-1.
When I play that progression on a Les Paul through a maxed out tube amp, it sounds like ZEUS, that's for sure! It's very archaic and powerful.  These ratios  work out even more harmonically for the C major scale or the Ionian mode. The C major triad of C - E - G is the most fundamental chord in music and one of the easiest keys to sing in.

I'm going into more detail about this in the next post, but in Greek architecture, the concept of measuring out the dimensions of temples and amphitheaters according to the ratios of musical chords is widely known. The guild of architects and stone masons who built them were the Dionysian Artificers.

The three octave grid consists of 24 steps and 23 -notes, since -H and -J are both on middle C. The grid also leaves out the 9th letter -I and the 18th letter -R. They're perfectly fine letters. Important letters. Still, I can see why they'd be left out in a tonally based gematria.

As stated earlier, those sounds are somewhat stressful, and not so "musical" in relation to other tones. For instance, I have yet to hear a song, even a particularly brutalizing Death Metal one end on an -rrrr!

The short -i is identical to the long -ee sound in the way one has to lift the jaw to flatten out the vocal cords. Singers are taught to compensate for the -i  and -r sounds by morphing those phonemes into less constrictive ones. Songwriters are often advised to use these sounds sparingly in order to make their lyrics more open sounding when sung.

If there is something to this theory, it seems significant to me that two of the most troublesome syllables to sing are in the 9th and 18th ordinal positions of the English alphabet. In this way they can be counted in the gematria when adding, but left out of the matrix from the standpoint of acoustic resonance. I know that's a reach, but stay with me.

The harmonic dimension of gematria that one finds in the 8-5-3-1 numeric sequence for Zeus is the pattern for the Fibonacci numbers. Mathematicians love elegant looking equations and that's great. However, I'm going to explain Fibonacci numbers the English major way. So, look out!

The beginning of the sequence looks like this

0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8 , 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144...

Zero and one are still One
Yet, a grand Design was begun
Each number plus the one before
Called Golden numbers from the Score
One and one, that yielded two
Back to one plus two equals three
Twas just a few, that's true
Behold! Numbers grow
Almost exponentially
Nothing was conquered by Unity
In the sequence of Fibonacci
It's shown so beautifully
Symbolized by letter Phi
A string that stretches from the sky
Ringing out forever its vibration
The constant song of Creation
The ratio is the Golden Great
One point six one eight
Music is the sound of the Fibonacci numbers in harmonic resonance with each other. Dissonance and cacophony are simply a lack harmonic resonance caused by not being in tune with the Universal vibration symbolized by Φ.

 I have to close with this. In many countries St. Cecilia's Day is still celebrated on November 22. She is the apocryphal inventress of the organ and the patron saint of music. I think about what happened on that day in 1963. If there was ever a day that was meant to destroy Concord and Peace, that was it.

I have more to show as support for the speculations entertained earlier, but I got carried away. And, this post is probably too long already. I didn't get to everything I wanted to, but there's always tomorrow.