Living Tones or Intellectual Notes
Every complex organism is made up of a multitude of units, a human body of cells of various types, the universe of solar systems of various orders. The many units considered as a whole form the substance of the organism. The same is true of music. Every race or every great racial cycle witnesses the growth, maturity and decay of a certain musical culture or musicality, which is in every way similar to an organism; that is, it has a certain substance and an animating Spirit or soul. The soul of the old Aryan or Chinese or European musicalities is an aspect of the Race-Soul evolving during these periods, an aspect of the Aryan or Chinese or European civilization. Philosophers and musicians have at times speculated about them. But very few are those who have concentrated upon the substance of the various musicalities, upon the units or cells of the body of this or that music. Because many have failed to understand the specific character of the musical substance, they have been led into misconceptions or superficial speculations as to the Spirit of the musical culture functioning through such a substance.
To put it in simpler language; we speak about symphonies or choral works or cycles of Hindu melodies; we contemplate the inspiration which produced them, the spiritual power in the individual composer or in the race which manifested through the works, but we do not give much thought to the musical units of which these works are constituted. We almost take it for granted that these units are sounds used either in melodic succession or simultaneously in harmonic and polyphonic combinations. We do not realize that there are sounds and sounds, as there are individuals and individuals; that exactly as a society fails or triumphs upon the merit of the human individuals who compose it, so a musical work. Eastern or Western, is ultimately what its units are, whether we call these units musical notes as in the West, or lyus in China, or swaras, surs or whatnot in India.
But, one may object, is not the sound produced by a string instrument of the violin type for instance the same whether you call it Do or Sa, whether played by a European or a Hindu musician? To which we will answer: what do you mean by being the same? Are an uncultivated peasant and a real yogi the same thing because both bodies appear somewhat alike in feature and general ethnic type? Was Krishna the same as any plain shepherd boy? You call Krishna an avatar, a manifestation of the Supreme Spirit. But for the ancient Hindu musicians, and still for a few living ones apparently, the tones they uttered or produced were also avatars of cosmic deities or forces of Nature. Western intellects usually scorn such ideas: for them a sound is the result of the impact of air vibrations upon the ear. Obviously it is that, and in many cases indeed nothing but that; yet potentially every sound is a tone, as every human Organism is a god incarnate and not only a mass of cells, of tissues and bones, more or less badly managed by a brain-born intellect.
But what do European theorists know about a sound? Nearly nothing. They see that something occurs in the air, when you hit a gong and they can trace and follow the disturbance thus caused until it reaches the ear and the hearer notices a sound. The only thing they can analyze is this disturbance of air; but, as we shall see later, they are at a loss to explain what takes place when instead of air the sound travels through amass of metal of any length. As for the sound itself, it does not really exist for them. Hardly does it exist either for the majority of
composers or hearers.
A single sound has very little meaning for most Westerners. All that they may say of it is that it has a lovely quality or that it is harsh, pleasing to the ear or displeasing. But what really matters to them, and to a vast number of Hindu musicians as well we must add, is only the relationship between this sound and other sounds, in other words a certain sequence or group of sounds. Music is often called the art of ordering sounds. But while much attention is given to the process of ordering, hardly any stress is laid today upon the sounds themselves, their nature and their inherent power. European music has gone so far in this direction, impelled by various factors necessary to its development, as to have become a sort of applied algebra; that is, a series of formulas and equations, the terms of which, the musical notes and scales, are considered as mere abstractions almost totally devoid of the living quality of tone, which is resonance.
As a matter of fact, European music went one step further. It practically ignored sounds altogether, and considered only the relationship between sounds. It ceased to be a music of intervals, therefore a combination of abstract patterns a decorative art, like the art of rug weaving or tapestry. The European notes of music are merely the edges of intervals. They have in theory hardly any substance at all: they are exactly like mathematical points which have no dimension and therefore are mere abstractions. It is true the musician knows that a sound will be produced corresponding to the note, but the mathematician also knows that a point has dimensions on paper, that every point or line is a surface. Yet he does not think of it as a surface, but as a point. Likewise the polyphonist of Europe, especially during the period of scholasticism in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, does not think of musical notes as tones which are entities of a certain character and pitch but only as dots in series. The shapes of the sequences of dots, what they call melody but what in fact is only a series of abrupt jumps from dot to dot, are the main thing.
Music of patterns, I said; therefore Western music is essentially an art of space, not of time; an art based on geometrical principles and not on the occult science of numbers, numbers which are not merely speculative concepts but living realities of the world of pure energy, monads in themselves. In Europe however this geometry of music, which is one of the two great aspects of music, has been conceived exactly as geometry has been understood: from a purely intellectual point of view. In archaic times the geometry taught in the sanctuaries, and also by Pythagoras, was another thing altogether; exactly as the Pythagorean monad was different from the number 1 of modern arithmetic. It was one of the deepest keys to the mysteries of Life and had to do with the surveying and parceling of Space space being no mere emptiness as now conceived but the very fullness of being, what the Gnostics called the Pleroma. On such a kind of mystic geometry of Life the true and yet unrevealed music of the West will some day be founded. Our European music is nothing of the sort, it is the mere shadow of such an ideal reality; and it is so because its units, the musical notes, have no meaning in themselves, are spiritually and in classical times even emotionally dead.
Take a note B for instance. It can be anything. It has no pitch in itself. It can be a low B or a high B; any instrument can produce it and in all cases it will still remain B. Moreover take a work of music, transpose it a third higher, and few people will notice the difference; even if they do, they will not consider that the music has changed, for B will retain its peculiar relationship to the notes which came before and after; the pattern of the music will not have been altered in any way any more than that of a rug changes whether you hang it on a high wall or a low wall.
In other words B as a musical note has no definite connection with any particular sound or pitch; it has not even any symbolical meaning, either in relation to the performer or to some general cosmic harmony. It has no relation to anything save to the other abstract notes preceding or following it or being produced at the same time. European music proper is a music the actual sound of which matters little, and in some cases not at all; a music of intellectual, empirical proportions. A proportion between what? An interval between what? The answer is a secondary matter. It may be one thing or the other. Therefore it cannot be anything living.
Any living organism has a certain key-vibration of its own which may perhaps raise or lower itself under certain unusual conditions, but the idea of "transposing" the atomic vibrations of a cat a fifth higher would certainly appear singular. Would the cat still remain a cat? One might answer: who would notice it if the entire universe were keyed up in the same manner? Which may or may not be a satisfactory answer, according as one believes in a metaphysical system or another. But mark this well: when a European musician transposes a musical work indifferently a third or fifth higher, he does not transpose himself a third or fifth higher; which proves conclusively that he does not think or feel music in terms of life, in terms of subjective, sonorous experience, but as an objective pattern which can be shifted around at will. The musician may react sensorially and emotionally to it; but, and here is the important point, he will react to it as to a form, not as a living energy, not as to a soul.
European music is an architectonic of sound, a by-product of architecture. Its notes are like stones; its structure is symmetrical and rigid like a French garden of the seventeenth century. It is Aristotelean and scholastic, rational, balanced, well proportioned, but not alive. Its notes have no individual power of life. They do not grow into a fuller life, nor multiply themselves into secondary sounds. They are cut and dried figures, rocks. The melody does not flow between those rocks, but jumps mechanistically from the one to the other, fearful lest it should fall into the dark abyss of "wrong notes".
For between European notes there is but musical emptiness. Whereas Hindu melodies glide between tones which are like pulsating hearts, European melodies follow the motion of a man's walk, which is essentially a succession of arrested falls. There is no continuity to be found, only automatism. Melodies do not grow like trees, or flow like the blood uniting the cells and organs of the body. There is no circulation of sound, no flesh; only a skeleton. European music is like an X-ray photograph. It shows only bones. It is a music of holes, some larger, some smaller, yet all equally empty, like bare rooms where no one is living soulless, as far as its substance is concerned at any rate. Mind erected the majestic walls of its structures, but no woman came to dwell therein and to transfigure the emptiness of its holes into a home effulgent with love. At one time the structure shone with some inner and calm light as if it were some great convent filled with cells physically bare in their austerity yet devotionally alive at the time of Palestrina, Vittoria; but this was only for a short while, a foreshadowing of
the greater realizations of a future civilization when religion will not soothe and appease, but rather transfigure man into a living god.
A sensorial intellect transfigured into a divine mind; a tamasic or rajasic personality transformed into a living god; a European note of music transmuted into a real swara in which dwelleth Ishwara, the Self, or from which at least radiates the power of Will, Ichcha, of some cosmic Intelligence; these are basically one and the same process. But how many modern Hindu singers know the mystery of Tone?
A tone is a living cell. It is composed of organic matter. It has the power of assimilation, of reproduction, of making exchanges, of growing. It is a microcosmos reflecting faithfully the macrocosmos, its laws, its cycles, its centre. Concentrate on a cell, and the mysteries of the universe may be revealed to you therein. Concentrate on a tone, and in it you may discover the secret of being and find Ishwara, the Christ within. A tone is a solar system. It is composed, as we will see later, of a central sun, of planets, and of a magnetic substance which circulates rhythmically within the limits of the system and relates itself to the magnetic substance of some vaster system. Because of this, a tone is not a mere mathematical point without dimensions or density, but it is a living reality, a sound. It is defined by various sets of characteristics, pitch and quality being only the outer one. It is situated in time and space, related to the entire universe, affected by season, day, hour, by the magnetic condition of the solar system at the time it is born (i.e., produced by the musician). All these elements are either glorified, essentialized and made patent by the will power or emotional energy of the singer or instrumentalist, or else remain as unrevealed potentialities if the tone-producer does not energize them into activity. For the self within the tone can only become fully active when the Self within the tone-producer is also active.
Thus a tone is not only a living energy but also a symbol, because of its having an inherent meaning. The note B to the European is a symbol, but in the strictly mathematical and abstract sense of the term; it has no spiritual or universal content, only a conventional significance. But the tones of the Hindu grama have really universal meaning or at least they had universal meaning. It is not a mere fanciful imagination which attributed each swara to a god or goddess, which gave it a corresponding color, specific temperament, a planet, climate, day, hour; nor can we call a fairy tale the tradition which relates every tone to an animal species, as we shall see presently. All these correspondences if the archaic and true ones are considered and not, as usual, their various perverted substitutes were real; they were based on the knowledge of cosmic laws, on the laws of tone and sound, as well as of the occult physiological nature of the human body.
These cosmic correspondences are not to be found only in India as every one knows. In China, music was built also on real tones; but these were somewhat different from Hindu tones; or at least they became so after the musical reformation which took place around the third century B.C. and after which we see the classical system of the Cycle of Lyus fully operative. Each of these twelve lyus had a definite cosmic significance and was related to modifications of the two great principles, yang and yin, positive and negative, masculine and feminine; as also to seasons, months, days, hours, etc. But Chinese music was founded upon the principle of duality and most probably was the outcome of a direct Pythagorean influence, whereas Aryan-Hindu music rests upon the principle of unity, of the Self; sound or tone being the power, or sakti, of the Self, i.e., Swa-ra, ra being always connected with the creative power of Will or cosmic desire.
But even Western music originally knew of such cosmic correspondences and had its real modes, very much similar to the Chinese in their origin and function, and essentially based on spiritual Alchemy. It was so at least in Syrian music which is the very source of all Christian mediaeval hymns and chants.
One of the greatest minds of Syria, Bar-Hebraeus, a man of encyclopaedical knowledge and great power who lived during the thirteenth century, in his book Ethicon ("On the natural cause of modes") states that all ecclesiastical modes were built at first upon the various combinations of the "four qualities which are: cold, hot, humid, dry". By relating these four qualities two by two we get four dualities; but by considering that in each duality one of the elements predominates in turn, we get eight modes the original eight modes of plain chant. If moreover we add to these, four more combinations in which the two elements are perfectly balanced we get in all twelve modes, which Bar-Hebraeus tells us were used by the "Persian musicians" (probably of the old Magian-Chaldean tradition).
Every one of the eight ecclesiastical modes was especially adapted to the great feasts of the Catholic ritual throughout the year. For instance it is said: "Because the biting hot element is to be sensed in the fifth mode, the Canon of the Ascension has been composed in that mode, for, that very day when our Lord parted from His disciples and ascended into Heaven, they became enkindled with the fire of love, burning with the desire of Him and consumed with love for Him, and without the weight of their bodies they would have fled through the air with Him." He concludes with these illuminating words: "Such are the foundations upon which the artful ancients built the modes. But those who followed after them did not reach to the height of their knowledge. They have desired to attain fame while developing this art and they have composed Canons on any mode whatsoever, even if they did not correspond."
Words of universal application these are! The same could be said of Chinese or Hindu musicians. Lack of knowledge and desire for personal fame brought degeneracy in all epochs and in all lands. Christian music became degraded with Christian teachings in general. Its cosmic, alchemical foundation being destroyed, it soon grew more and more intellectual and sensorially inspired, till tones of power became mere musical notes, as the magical incantations of old were turned into empty formulas repeated mechanically by an ignorant priesthood, with very few exceptions.
Here again we come against this duality of knowledge and selflessness. Where knowledge is lacking and ambition or vanity prevails degeneration necessarily sets in. Music falls into the personal art of ordering in striking, pleasant and original ways devitalized tones very much in the way in which the art of cooking is today based on combinations of devitalized food products. The tonic power of food is lost as well as the tonic power of sounds. In order to have foods, which can be used at any time, in and out of season, which can be indulged in abundantly, which tickle the sense of taste, the wholesale denaturation of cereals, of fruits, of vegetables, takes place, and meat is served to coarsened appetites as well as strident and blatant brass bands which delight not only Western patriots celebrating wars and festivities, but also Eastern potentates. Purification means to free one's aesthetic or physical diet from such perversions, to go back to Nature and Nature's laws metaphysical as well as physical Nature. Regeneration means that the tonic power of that which feeds the spiritual, moral and physical nature of man is absorbed, so that the Self and life may sing again in the tones we hear and in the things we eat, or read, or love in all that we assimilate, in all, therefore, that we become "similar to".
To get at the tonic power in all that comes out of us as well as in all that we put into our body (physical, emotional or mental) this is what has been called Syntonism. On the receptive side Syntonism deals with Food in the most universal sense of the term, that is with the law of assimilation: what you assimilate so you become. On the creative side the Syntonic Reformation finds its most patent and most symbolical manifestation in a regeneration of music, both Eastern and Western, for the one is the complement of the other. Music must regain the tonic power which it has lost, or of which it knows but a materialistic emotional shadow; and this can be attained only by means of self purification and knowledge very much what Mahatma Gandhi means by Satyagraha, it we understand him aright the self-purifying effort toward Truth, the truth of one's own selfhood, the tone of one's own being.
For the centre of the Syntonic Reformation is the individual; in the realm of music, the musician. What musicians of old lost by lack of sufficient knowledge and because "they have desired to attain fame," musicians of today must regain by real and selfless study, by a life-concentration of Tone, on "Ishwara, the Master, whose magic power causeth all things and creatures to revolve mounted upon the universal wheel of time". On these famous words of the Bhagavad-Gita is founded the entire reformation of music which the world needs today. For Ishwara is Tone; His magic power is what we called 'tonic power' in all things and in all types of music which are real. As we understand the revolutions of the 'universal wheel of time,' that is of the cycles of Life and lives, we at the same time master the laws of musical composition. We become able to produce tone-organisms which are truly organic and vital, whose tonic power may regenerate our fellowmen and rouse in them the fire. In other words we shall know how to call down Ishwara into our songs by the magic of the lost Gandhara Grama and how to kindle in others the flame of spiritual regeneration by the power of the rag Dipak, also lost.
Knowledge of the laws of sound, purification through union with the Soul of the archaic Aryan music, concentration on the Tone within. These are the three paths to the musical regeneration of India, and of the world. Only while the Soul of music may mean to the Hindu, Narada, to the Westerner it means rather Pythagoras, the Father of Western civilization.
Let us take at first the case, very simple yet very vast in its implications, of the artisans of old, and even of today in some places, who spent years casting and fashioning some temple gong so that the tone of the gong might be a revelation to all the devotees who would hear it filling the holy spaces. In old Europe, likewise, we hear of bell-makers foiling in love and devotion to produce the bell that would toll and resound over towns and fields. What made such gongs or bells the living things they really were? What gave them the power to exalt the humble farmers, to conjure up visions and ecstasy in a Joan of Arc, to rouse in all the sense of the Divine, not of a far off Divine but the spiritual sense of God dwelling in dawns, noons, sunsets, smiling in the daily labor of all men? It was knowledge first, the knowledge of the exact proportion of metals to be melted, of those shapes, which would. Westerners would say, give out the best acoustical resonance, some Hindus would say, harmonize themselves perfectly to the archetypal form of the life of the deva who was to incarnate into the tones. It was knowledge, but also the projection of spiritual devotion into the work, the magnetizing of the metals by human will and love, the concentration upon the messages perhaps which the bell or gong would bring to human souls. Simple and naοve possibly as the faith of the artisans might have been, yet a real faith like that of the carvers of the thousands of Buddhas in rocks, in woods, in temples, all very much alike some people say, all very marvellously selfless we would answer, prayers of work, the only true prayers.
Why did we mention gongs and bells? Because in a sense they represent an aspect of the highest and most spiritual music, that of single tones which are one and many, which throb and live, which are at times the perfect dynamic bodies of celestial entities, the chakras of the Deity. Single living tones! Of these there are really two kinds: those uttered by the human being, audibly or inaudibly, the AUM of each being; and those produced by gongs and bells cast according to hieratic forms.
As the tone of the individual being is one and many, so the tone of a gong is one and many. Touch it lightly at the center, then farther, farther away until you reach the outer edge. You hear an infinite gradation of sub-tones usually within the limit of a fifth or fourth (Sa-Pa or Sa-Ma) all of which concur to form the compound tone of the gong. In other words you have a great hieratic brotherhood of tones, each tone an individual being yet all bound in a perfect metallic solidarity, all blending their voices into the great tone-entity, the Nada, heard when the center is struck. In a single lone you have a complete organic symphony. Such a tone is the beginning and end of music, the seed of all music.
How could a singer produce such living tones unless indeed he himself had become a single living tone, unless he had unified to some extent the multitudinous cries of his lives, cells and organs into a great, full and vibrant tone? All songs to be real, from the old Aryan point of view, must be based upon the one fundamental resonance of the singer himself or herself; all swaras must be grasped as modifications, according to the cyclic transformations of Nature within as without, of the Ishwara in the heart.
But how can such a resonance be produced if not in the same way in which the gong maker fashions his gong? The proper human and emotional metals or substances must be blended in correct proportion, then all melted in the great sea of fire within; further, the inner Body must take its archetypal form calculated so that the tone, Nada, may resound with full power, that is, as a complete synthesis of all the little subtones of the brotherhood of the Body. Thus we realize the need of a very definite alchemical process at the source of all living tones. We may understand what one should mean by the phrase, the Alchemy of Music. European culture degraded this conception and believed that musical alchemy was merely the proper mixture of notes in the form of chords and symphonic combinations. Today Western musicians are all hypnotized by the ideal of orchestral alchemy, by the search for new combinations of instruments; and solving problems of orchestral technique seems to many the supreme task of modern music. But that is but the objective materialistic shadow of the true alchemy of tone which takes place not without, in a group of instrumentalists who are playing music as a business in a mechanical and soulless way from a printed score which tells them all what to do, but within the singer himself. Tone-alchemy is not soul-alchemy, for tone and soul are one. If tone and soul are not one, then we have no real tones, but mere musical notes, sonorous shells.
Alchemy means purification. It rests upon a basis of ethics. Tones must therefore be lived by the individual musician, especially by the singer, whose body is the very instrument wherein the tones are generated. Correct intonation, absolute pitch, ought to be understood in terms of life, in terms of firmness, correctness and steadiness of character. Where instruments of fixed pitch are used, there cannot be heard the real Aryan music which is based on self-intonation and the power of the individual soul. Aryan music is not cosmic music, as in China of old, nor is it group music, communal music, as in the West. It is the music of the individual soul, of Ishwara in every being. Each singer must find therefore, his or her own fundamental, or Sa, and tune the tambura accordingly. Happy those whose fundamental is the tone of Nature!
Likewise the use of a musical score, as Europe understands it, can but bring about the degeneration of Hindu music, for it transfers the dynamic center of music from the living individual being to dead intellectual formulas. A musical score is nothing more than a dead intellectual formula, if it pretends to indicate to the instrumentalist the very minute gestures and inflexions which he must perform. It can only be used in a culture where music is based on abstract patterns and not on living tones, where it is considered as something objective, and not as a subjective experience.
Western musicians today are worshipping musical scores, little patterns of black dots on paper, as Western civilization in general is worshipping other little printed pieces of paper. As dollar bills represent no actual wealth but credit based on trust, so the musical score is not really music but represents only the trust that its signs will eventually turn out to be sounds which you can hear, therefore music. A score is like an architectural plan which may materialize into a building some day, but which has no life-value in itself. If it has an immediate life-value it is as a drawing perhaps, but not music, for music which is not actually heard, either by the physical or the spiritual ears is no music. Musicians tell you they hear a score by looking at it. But they really do not. They remember associations of sounds by means of a brain process which relates certain signs to the memory of auditory sensations. And if such a remembrance seems to them as real as actual hearing, then it means only that they do not know what true hearing is, what a tone experience is and many indeed do not.
Yet Western music by virtue of its abstractness and its lack of connection with real sounds is in fact well represented by a score. The score faithfully records the patterns, and supplementary marks indicate the personal will of the composer. A musical work being essentially an objective thing, the composer, as a musical artisan, fashions it once for all. If you carve a rice bowl out of a beautiful tree and give it to a friend telling him that it is a rice bowl, the properties and use of the object are settled once for all. If you had made a correct drawing of it, indicated the kind of wood which had to be chosen and the way it had to be used, the plan or description thus given would have entirely defined the object. A musical score in Europe is exactly this kind of description. The composer tells everything which must be done, as the author and owner of the musical object, and either the performer follows his instructions and the musical object is well produced, or he does things which he was not told to do and the musical object is considered imperfect. The performer is thus nothing more than a mechanic. The music produced has really nothing to do with his own self. The more he becomes subservient to the autocratic will of the composer who yet is but a conceiver and not an actualizer the better is his job done. No wonder that instrumentalists lose all initiative and become mere machines! For they are chained to
the score and its injunctions, as slaves to the oars of some ancient galley.
Such an attitude has become definite to this extent only in recent years. A couple of centuries ago in Europe the score was not the greedy monster it has become now. Music becoming more and more popularized and increasingly complex, the need was felt for a still more absolute impersonalization of performances, and the process culminated in mechanical reproducing instruments, in which the human equation is totally absent from the rendition of the musical work. Musical works, truly they are, for Western music is based only on doing and not on being, like the entire Western civilization. It conveys the ideal of mental or emotional activity, of matter mastered, of multiplicity painstakingly resolved into a sort of choral harmony. It is not something heard within but something done without. In a very definite manner, the composer is like an artisan, a gong maker, toiling at the casting and beating of the gong. But in the West, the gong is made up of human cells: it is a vast choir of men and women singing, blowing, bowing, hitting: it is the entire orchestra, the ever elusive mass of sonorous substance to be cast anew for each performance according to the formula given by the composer-alchemist, the score, under the direction of the toiling leader beating the air with his magic wand as if he were hammering sounds.
The Western orchestra as a supreme gong; but that is only the future. For a gong is a perfect brotherhood of tones perfectly united and blended, as a vehicle, or vahan, for some cosmic entity. In it the law of cohesion manifests fully. It is a mass of atoms and molecules: it is a host of tones, of cosmic lives. It is a concentric and organic body, through which the energy of sound flows uninterrupted; and, in some cases at least, it has not only an elemental soul born out of this cohesive principle, but a spiritual soul as well brought down into its mass by the concentrated devotion of its maker.
The big modern orchestras are far, very far indeed, from fulfilling all such requirements. They have become wonders of intellectual and technical ability. Instrumentalists have become perfect machines under the direction of master craftsmen. What is produced is a beautiful object; beautiful but usually only a gorgeous body, without a spiritual soul. Is it even a body? Hardly so, because it has no unity, or very little of it. The sonorous substance does not flow consistently: neither melodically nor harmonically. Western composers have not yet fully learnt how to produce an organic body of sounds, though Wagner and a few recent composers have come very near it, especially Scriabin. They will hardly ever attain to such a mastery of sonorous metallurgy as long as Western melodies are series of jumps from note to note with sonorous emptiness in between, as long as they will not use as a foundation to the orchestral structure, instruments with sustained resonance, like gongs, bells, etc., or even like groups of pianos or harps.
Even so, this would only make of the orchestra a perfect body with an elemental soul; it would not give to the music a spiritual soul. In order to give a soul, one must be first a soul. The manasaputras brought manas to the human Race only because they were perfect manasas themselves. Tones become alive in the music produced only as the musician's tone brings them its own spiritual fire. Tones are kindled in every sound uttered by the "toneful" being. Thus Ishwara's "magic power causeth all things and creatures to revolve mounted upon the universal wheel of time". This universal wheel is the great Gong of the universe, the Mahachakra of the cosmos. Life circulates within it when its center is struck by the magic power of Ishwara.
But every man has within himself a replica, an image of this mahachakra which is like the fiery wheel described by the Hebrew prophet in the Bible. What lights the fire and sets the wheel ablaze and rotating? Manas, the individual soul, reflecting the universal Spirit, Atma. Manas, as said in Hindu books, emanates a ray which strikes at the seat of the bodily fire and sets the breath a-whirling through the various centers of tone-production. This breath or maruta is what I will call 'sonal energy'. Passing through the musical organ of the magnetic body of man and its nadis, it produces nada or tone.
Thus tone is experienced within; and tones can be experienced only within, whether born directly of the inner self or projected by the Ishwaric will of the musician adept. We hear sounds with our ears; we read musical score with our eyes; we experience tones with our heart. Thus originate the great types of music: sensorial, intellectual, spiritual; or in general philosophic terms: materialism, the eye doctrine, the Heart doctrine sensualism or animalism, selfishness, divine compassion.
Hindu musicians should realize these divisions; they should above all understand that there are two kinds of musical knowledge: eye knowledge and ear knowledge. While they have been on the whole saved from the evils of the former kind which has intellectualized and devitalized European music, they have but too often stopped at mere ear knowledge and forgotten that such is to be but the prelude to Heart realizations; nay more, they have even allowed the ear knowledge of the srutis to become perverted. As the twenty-two srutis are no longer correctly perceived, the twenty-two nadis are no longer functioning and nada is no longer experienced. The divine revelation within, the true Veda, is lost.
Music as tone experience. This is the fundamental doctrine, the center, of the Syntonic Reformation. The Western world has forgotten tones and worships at the intellectual shrine of musical notes which compose the intricate patterns of the musical score. The greatest part of the Indian world but faintly remembers tones and repeats almost without real understanding traditional songs, more and more degenerating from contact with Western civilization and its deadly weapon, the harmonium.
The Syntonic Reformation can come only from within: by purification from adharma and the return to the true dharma of Hindu music fundamentally different from that of Western music; by knowledge of the laws of sound as of the laws of Self; by fervent devotion to the Ishwara within. From the knowledge of the laws of sakti, from real bhakti which alone makes this knowledge true and spiritual, is born the creative power within the heart, rakti, the magic power of living tones.
By permission of Leyla Rudhyar Hill
Copyright © 1979 by Dane Rudhyar
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