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by Dane Rudhyar

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The Magic of Tone
and the Art of Music
by Dane Rudhyar
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Chapter Six
Melodies and Symphonies

The great dualism of musical manifestation expresses itself in the two complementary elements of melody and symphony. By the latter term, however, is meant not what Western music calls today a symphony but any composition based on the principle of organization of simultaneous tones, that is to say, based on what is understood nowadays both as harmony and polyphony. A melody is the cycle of unfolding of a single tone impulse; a symphony is an organism the cells or organs of which are tones. In this sense we can easily understand the assertion, viz., that European music is essentially symphonic music, while Hindu music is almost exclusively melodic music. Let us analyze briefly the main characteristics of these two types of musical expression.
      A melody can be several things, and it is very important that we should understand what these things are. In Europe a melody is a pattern of sound: it is an arabesque of intervals. It can be accurately represented by the shape made on the staves by a sequence of dots symbolizing the successive notes of the melody. It has a graphic, decorative value a form. This form may be quite objective or it may convey a subjective emotional feeling to the hearer. But it remains always a form. If it moves us it is because of its form value. The main characteristic of such a form is that it is made up of a series of intervals, not of a series of tones. A classical European melody conceived as a series of tones is hardly defensible from a philosophical point of view. For there is in it no continuity whatsoever. It is merely a series of jumps; there is no principle of cohesion whatsoever. Even tonality is wrongly understood as a system of relationship between tones; it is really a system of relationship between intervals. If it seems to many of us a relation between tones it is because Westerners have not yet fully understood the meaning of their musical system which, as I said before, is in fact a hybridization of two opposite conceptions; and because European folk music, which is basically even in its present distorted form melodic music, has never been fully separated from the typical symphonic music of learned musicians.
      I have probably insisted enough upon this point at various times; yet the conception that in Europe a melody is a series of intervals rather than a series of tones is not clear to most people. Because one note is struck after another they say that the melody is made of notes; in reality it is a succession of steps, ascending and descending. There is hardly any meaning given to the tones of the melody as single entities. It is the intervals which are correct or not correct; a note is either in tune or out of tune with another note. It is neither true nor untrue as a single entity. Even pitch has no absolute sense, whether it be relative to the individual singer's vital key note as in India, or to the Earth's key note as in China. It is the relation of interval to interval which creates melodic emotion, even in the case of romantic music; and, therefore, a melody needs usually to have a harmonic accompaniment so as to emphasize this relation of interval to interval, so as to make more precise the tonality and tonal modulations of the melody.
      Any melody which is dependent upon or, even helped by the accompaniment of changing harmonies, is a melody of intervals and not a melody of tones. When an Indian singer sings with his tambura or an Native American sings while beating his tomtom, such instrumental accessories do not constitute harmonic accompaniment; they, on the contrary, lay an emphasis upon the single tone or keynote of which the melody itself is the cyclic unfolding. The melody arises out of this single tone continuously reiterated as a stem arises out of a seed. The reiterated tone symbolizes the roots of the melodic plant, the sustaining power of its growth. It has no expressive intention. It is not part and parcel of the melody as European harmony is, for it does not change expressionistically with it. The single unharmonized melody is hardly to be found in European music, save in fragmentary instances where it is related to a larger symphonic organism. Therefore European music may be said to be ignorant altogether of what a melody is as such. A melody is conceived as the expressive part of a symphony.
      It is so even historically if we consider the evolution of sacred music in Europe and see how polyphonic choruses turned into harmonized operatic melodies during the sixteenth century or thereabout. One of the polyphonic parts became preponderant and the others clustered together as chords, as the harmony of the melody; a process which however was largely due to the spread of popular music of a more strictly melodic character thus the mixture of two different currents; thus the classical and romantic "symphony" of Mozart, Beethoven, Franck which took the place of the strictly polyphonic religious "motet" of the fourteenth to sixteenth centuries. But motet and symphony proper are merely two aspects of what we call generally symphonic music in contradistinction to melodic music; the motet being based on pure polyphony, the symphony reaching toward harmonic resonance, as we shall see presently.
      The real melodic basis of true Western or Pythagorean music is not, however, relationship of intervals. It is a relationship of tones conceived as single occult entities magically related to corresponding principles in the cosmos and in man. Such melodies of tones energized by will for magical or spiritual purposes are really incantations or mantrams. They are neither Western nor Eastern; they are absolutely universal. Of such melodic incantations was made the music used by Pythagoras, by the Vedic Agnihotris, by the great Chinese musicians, by the Egyptian and Syrian Gnostics, etc. Catholic plainchant was evolved out of such incantations called in Syria risgolo, which after being stolen and perverted by the Christian Fathers became hymns and the like.
      The substance of these incantations was made up of the archaic Hindu grama on the one hand and of the Pythagorean scale, so called, on the other hand. The purpose of archaic incantations was in general to bring down the souls of men or devas into effectual incarnation; therefore they were rooted in the descending Gandhara grama. While in the new era ushered in by the Buddha the most general purpose of these chants was to harmonize and purify the organisms of men, especially the psychic nature. It is probably to such an end that Pythagoras made use of magical incantations and we see his biographer, Iamblichus, describing them as follows:
"Pythagoras was of the opinion that music contributed greatly to health, if it was used in an appropriate manner. He was accustomed to employ a purification of this kind. . . He arranged and adapted for his disciples what are called apparatus and contrectations, divinely contriving mixtures of certain diatonic, chromatic, and enharmonic melodies, through which he easily transferred and circularly led the passions of the soul into a contrary direction when they had recently and in an irrational and clandestine manner been formed such as sorrow, rage, pity, absurd emulation and fear, all various desired, angers and appetites, pride, supineness and vehemence. For he corrected each of these by the rule of virtue, attempting them through appropriate melodies as through certain salutary medicines.
      "In the evening likewise when his disciples were retiring to sleep, he liberated them by certain odes and peculiar songs from diurnal perturbations and tumults, and purified their intellective power from the influxive and effluxive waves of a corporeal nature, rendered their sleep quiet and their dreams pleasant and prophetic. But when they rose again from their beds he freed them from nocturnal heaviness, relaxation and torpor, through certain peculiar songs and modulations produced either by simply striking the lyre or employing the voice....
      ". . . Sometimes also, by musical sounds alone unaccompanied by words, the Pythagoreans healed the passions of the soul, and certain diseases, enchanting, as they say, in reality. And it is probable that from hence this name epode, i.e., enchantment, came to be generally used. After this manner therefore, Pythagoras through music produced the most beneficial correction of human manners and lives."
We find the same musical ideal of purification and harmonization, of correction of human manners and lives, mentioned by all the ancient Chinese authors. The melodies used are meant to produce order and harmony in man or society and therefore originate in the principle of harmony, in the zodiacs of sounds. Thus the Pythagorean and Chinese scales are founded upon the cycles of fifths and fourths, as already mentioned (ascending fifths and fourth). They constitute the Music of Prakriti, which aims at producing the orderly arrangement of substance around properly coordinated centers or chakras, and eventually at rousing the fire of the Mother which enkindles all things, which breaks barriers and transfigures the many into a harmonized vehicle for the One.
      The archaic theurgical aspect of musical mantrams was perhaps different in general direction. Yet the principle of tone action is the same in both cases. It is that of sympathetic resonance. Every tone of the grama corresponding to a principle or magnetic center in man or the cosmos, mastery over the force looked in such centers was gained by uttering corresponding tones with will and occult knowledge. A perfect control of all natural energies was thus attained and used for beneficent or maleficent ends.
      In such cases melody meant of course something entirely different from what it degenerated into in Europe. A melody was an unchangeable formula of power. The knowledge of such formulas was a scientific knowledge with vast ramifications. It was the substance of the old Guhya Vidya, the science of mantrams crowned by the knowledge of the Sacred Word which was the very name of the Soul. Art then meant the practical application of scientific laws, and music was truly sacred science which formed the very foundation of education and of civic virtue, as well as of practical occultism. There was absolutely no personal nor even individualistic basis to it. The individual manifested his own power and individuality only in the degree of his will and knowledge, in the accuracy of his performance. Music and melody contained no element of self-expression in the ordinary sense of the term. It was an instrument of power, using sound exactly as modern engineers use electricity.
      European formalism in music is the materialization and devitalization of this magical science of musical engineering. What was vital became intellectual. The grama which was a brotherhood of living tones became ossified into a scale of abstract notes. Patterns flourished where once the organic harmony of a cosmos was aimed at for the purpose of moral purification and spiritual regeneration.
      In Europe the Gnostic incantations turned into diatonic melodies intellectualized into polyphonies, and the Pythagorean "music of the seven spheres" became the major scale after many transformations. In India the Vedic grama and its ascending counterparts developed into the many rags, the magical power of the former more or less degenerating into the individualistic and often personally emotional magnetism of the latter. When the power of occult motion becomes mere emotional energy there is indeed degeneracy, or rather a materialization. Degeneracy proper comes with the advent of sheer virtuosity, with the search for originality and the growth of ornament, grace notes and the like: with court music in general, exceptions notwithstanding.

The distinction between gramas or rags is an apparently subtle one, yet it is a very important one. In a sense we may say that every tone of the grama gives birth to a typical rag therefore the six great rags, the grama itself being their synthesis or rather source. The seven tones of the grama, let us not forget, are really the seven fundamentals or principles of sound as a cosmic element or entity. As each one of these tones is considered as the fundamental of a Harmonic Series, that is, as each sonorous soul unfolds itself as a series of melodic cycles, rags or raginis are constituted. These are truly melodic cycles; they are essentially dynamic, that is, founded on the principle of continuous melodic change, of sonal circulation which is truly sakti. Where there is change and creative motion, there is blood or sonal energy circulation; there also is emotion, ascent and descent; and there beats at the center a heart, a number 11.
      This heart is the keynote of Nature; it is the eleventh tone of the Harmonic Series, Nature's F sharp the tonic of the sruti cycle: Ma, the Sakti. In approximate European notation the eleven first tones of the series are:

If we take the odd numbers from 1 to 11, we have six tones (C G E Bb D F) which give us the basic tones of the grama. These six tones are the six fundamentals synthesized in the seventh; or rather let us say that the fourth B flat divides itself in the course of evolution into two tones, A and B natural, The sixth stands for what is considered in Theosophical classification as Buddhi, the sixth principle in man and in a sense the fourth principle in the cosmos. Being the fourth cosmic principle it is the tone of Nature and the source of all rags, the source of cosmic energy the heart. It is Madhyama, the second aspect of Vach, that of which beginning and end is unknown, the balance, the pivot of change; therefore in a sense at least the zodiacal sign Libra, the heart constantly beating from the center of the descending series characterized by F natural (Virgo) to the center of the ascending series G (Scorpio).(1) We have seen already that both heart and sun are characterized by the number 11.
      This natural Ma (of F sharp) is therefore the real fundamental of all rags. It had as a result to be considered as Sa, as a starting point, as soon as rag music became preponderant. Because the rags are born out of this Ma which is the eleventh tone of the Harmonic Series whose primary is Sa, we see clearly how the rags developed from the Sa-grama. While the original Sa-grama was founded upon the first six odd tones of the Series (as mentioned above), the rags were built out of the substance of the Harmonic Series above the tone number 11. From 11 to 22 the octave includes eleven double srutis (hermaphrodites in a sense); from 22 to 44, the octave gives birth to the twenty-two srutis (male and female).
      The music of the rags, manifestation of the rakti, power, is thus seen to be a secondary manifestation of the typical ascending Sa-grama music exactly as the mediaeval bhakti cults were secondary manifestations and usually distortions of the great spiritual movement begun by Sankaracharya in the sixth century B.C.. The same phenomenon occurred in Europe when the true Gnostic philosophy of Christ became perverted into mediaeval emotional devotionalism, and the true Pythagorean-Gnostic music of a Bar Daisan, of an Arius and many other "heretics" was turned into Church music bereft of all occult alchemical power.
      Rag music is thus a secondary manifestation of the magical music of the Mantra Shastras, as personal emotions are the secondary manifestations of soul energy. Yet as rag music becomes purified and regenerated by the power of its true fundamental, the six rags become one and thus the true Ma-grama, which is the very path of Fire that blazes forth and arouses the new Tone of a higher cycle, Nada in Sahasra, the Sound in the Light. Radha, who symbolizes this Ma-grama, synthesis of all the Gopi rags, becomes Nada, out of which is born Narada, the root center in the seed of the new cycle.
      Rakti is the power within all true rags; and rakti is the secondary manifestation of sakti, which is sonal energy. But while sakti is the energy of sound within each fundamental, rakti is the creative energy in material cyclic manifestation. The same difference exists between the archaic conception of Kamadeva, the first born of Brahma, cosmic desire on one hand and Kama, the god of love and of devotion on the other; between cosmic Motion and human or divine emotions. While cosmic desire is that which causes Change to be born out of the Changeless i.e., the root of Change), rakti is the energy back of all manifested changes. It is, therefore, substance of both the cosmic changes of magnetism (circulation of solar force throughout the yearly and daily cycles) and human emotions. Thus the rags can be understood in two senses: in relation to solar changes and in relation to human changes (in their lowest aspects, moods).
      Because the rags are related to solar changes each has been made to correspond to a month and hour, and each swara is considered moreover as the vehicle of a god (in a sense one of the seven planetary gods or one of the seven mystic Rays of the Sun). By singing a rag at its appointed time and consciously correlating it with the Force of which it is the manifestation, the singer acts as a sort of condensating agent or lightening rod and pours the solar energy radiating at that special moment upon those who hear him, upon Nature as well as upon humanity. Such a function is not fundamentally different from that fulfilled by certain birds who are truly connected with solar forces and actually dynamize Nature by their songs. Only man has the power to capture and condense all solar forces throughout the cycle of change (year or day), while the bird is only connected with certain energies which are of a less spiritual type.
      But this does not mean that any Force can be condensed at any time. A current of induction can only be established between the cosmic center and the singer at the time when this center is in a specific condition of activity. Wherever there is change there the principle of the permutation of rays will apply, there the value of time and the law of periodicity will be all powerful. Neither can a plant bring forth flowers in all seasons. Man can force its growth; but hothouse heat and light are only partial substitutes for solar energy. The material power of growth may be aroused within the seed (and this refers in music mostly to the zodiacs of sound, and in man to corresponding energies) by the desire and will of man (parasakti in man and its derivatives); but the magnetic-monadic energies are too spiritual to be so induced. They are functions of Time, subjective phases of cyclic eternity.
      I compared again musical processes with vegetable growth, for the analogy is true in every way. The plant life captures and condenses solar energy in and through the leaves (and possibly in some other way). It is the source of heat and food for the animal and human kingdoms. Music likewise, when cosmically understood and used, is the source of emotional energy. It brings to man rakti. It stirs magnetic forces within, the power of which can apparently be almost tremendous in certain cases, as all musician mystics know.
      But to sing the rags at the proper time is not enough. For a rag is, as we have seen, the energy aspect of a fundamental. What essentially characterizes a rag is that all its tones are direct overtones of this one fundamental, that therefore sonal energy can flow into the musical organism made up of the fundamental and overtones, as blood through a compact body. But the very first thing necessary is to arouse the energy latent in the fundamental of the rag. If the sakti within the fundamental is not awakened there will be no real rakti produced. There comes in the utterance (audible or inaudible) of the sacred name of the fundamental, that is within as Well as without. The single tone must be set resonating before the rag, which is the form taken by the cyclic evolution of the tone's energy, can acquire its full power.
      Thus the use of the tambura, which is a symbol and yet a pretext to spiritual inertia. The mission of the tambura is to sound the fundamental of the rag all the while the rag is being sung not only the fundamental but also the fifth or fourth above, which is the heart of the sakti. But the true tambura is not a mere instrument, it is the very body of the singer. It is the body of the singer which ought to produce and vitalize this fundamental in the phenomenon of root resonance. The body of the singer ought to be this very root of sound, because in this body the god of the fundamental ought to incarnate at the call of the singer's will. This is the meaning of the bowing and salutation made to the tambura, and of the humming of the rag before starting a song. The god of the fundamental must be called upon, the path of his sakti must be outlined, then the music may flow arousing the rakti fire. This fundamental is mystically Tum or Tom or Tam; thus the sacred meaning of the tomtom, of the name Tumburu also, which if properly grasped reveals what the tambura stands for. Again, let us say that the true tambura is within. No outer instrument of dead matter is necessary to one who has made of his own body a living instrument, the tabernacle of the God within. Such a one knows the secrets of living resonance. He is the cup of libation, the sacrificer and the libation.
      One more element must be considered as an important factor in the cosmic tuning of the rag: it is the dominant sruti. Whether the books which are at present available mention it or not, I cannot say. But it is obvious that as the sruti cycle is based on the eleven year magnetic circulation of the solar energy within the solar system, every year must have its two predominant srutis corresponding to the northward and southward motion of the sun. The systole of the solar heart lasts five years; its diastole five years; in one year the solar blood passes through the solar auricles. The latter corresponds evidently to Ma, that is, the Ma represented by the eleventh overtone. But who knows how to calculate correctly the correspondence in time?
      When the human heart is in tune with the solar heart, the variations of solar magnetism reflect themselves in corresponding emotional changes. This harmony which is evident in all animals and in primitive man, i.e., in man living near and true to Nature, becomes disturbed as mind, which is a-seasonal, predominates or at any rate reaches a sufficient strength to deflect emotions from their natural course, thus usually perverting them. In this condition of harmonization, which we find embodied so wonderfully in the old Indian civilization in which even the connubial life was regulated by the progress of stars, the rags express both cosmic powers and human emotions. Then music in the race is a yearly ritual; from spring to spring it flows from millions of hearts, led by the beats of the sun, leader of the orchestra of Nature and humanity.
      Soon, however, the true correspondences are lost, as men separate their emotions from their solar sources and become self-energized, the energizer being only the personal self, eager to sing its love, its griefs, its ecstasies according to its own rhythm unrelated to the rhythm of Nature. Expressionism proper is then born, or Romanticism. The human soul finds itself alone in utter darkness and suffocates in its bodily jail. Madly it yearns for the beyond, for God and for love which is of the Spirit. And it sings its despair, its agonies, its tortures. The tragedy of the human heart pours itself into melodies. The Christus is crucified. The Root is dripping with blood. In India such songs have formed the substance of the devotional music of mediaeval and latter day mystics yearning, some with powerful will, others hysterically, for union with God. In Europe, in the nineteenth century, the aspiration was directed mostly toward absolute love, toward redemption through pure love; and the most beautiful of all these aspirations is probably Wagner's Tristan and Isolde.

The romantic fervor which burst forth in Europe after the great revolutionary crisis at the end of the eighteenth century was, however, a reaction against the typical music of that continent. It was a desperate rebellion against the materialistic intellectualism and scholasticism of many centuries of feudal civilization; the rebellion of the human soul against conventions, prejudices and the bondage of social castes, and religious formalism also. This released the flow of melodic expressionism which had been stopped for long centuries. Music became intensely subjective, autobiographic, poetic. It really took the place of lyric poetry, which had become crystallized and atrophied. Music blended with words in the German Lieder. Then words were discarded altogether. Liszt's Symphonic Poems and Chopin's Preludes, foreshadowed by some of Beethoven's last works, opened the way to tone-poems of all sorts, especially to those in which Scriabin sang the mystic birth of a new humanity.
      Romanticism in the nineteenth century was essentially a Nordic movement. It was a reaction against a false Greco-Latin worship which was the degenerated aspect of an earlier expressionistic outburst which was then centered mostly in Latin countries, i.e., the Renaissance of the fifteenth century. The music of the Renaissance was expressionistic to a degree. It brought in the melodic ideal, which sublimized the masses of Vittoria and also of Palestrina and Roland de Lassus, which gave birth to Monteverdi's musical dramas, soon degenerating into the typical Italian opera.
      Europeanism proper in music, however, does not recognize melody as an expressionistic fact, as a song of the human soul any more than European society based on feudal ideals recognized the individual human being as an individual. European classes have been worse than Hindu castes, for there was no escape from the former, while the latter vanished before the spiritual quest of the yogi. In music tonalism represents what feudalism is in the State. European melodies are expressions of a system, i.e., of a tonality. The archaic melodies based on the grama (which is the spiritual prototype of the European major-minor mode) are expressions of tones naturally related. The former emphasize almost exclusively the forms; the latter consider the first and foremost the living entities within a group. After the individualistic crisis of romanticism and expressionism, we see the recent rise of Fascism in Latin and even Nordic countries, and of Marxian Communism in Russia. In both, the State is glorified above the individual, the system above the human being; whereas the basic idea of the old Aryan philosophy is that all forms and organizations, including the whole of Nature itself, exist for the purpose of the development of the soul and for nothing else.
      I insist upon this subject because it is an absolutely essential one. European music, harmonic and especially polyphonic, is rooted in the concept of form. A symphony (in our enlarged sense of the term) is a formula of dynamic resonance, a problem of balance, of adjustment of sound masses, plans, lines, etc., moving in a sort of time-space which is neither real time nor real space. In this lies the secret of polyphony. To write on paper the score of a polyphonic chorus or of a fugue is like writing the formula according to which certain metals have to be combined and the form of the mold has to be calculated in the making of a bell or gong. The several parts of the chorus are like so many metals and the form of the musical development like the typical shape of the bell. European bells have all more or less the same basic form, and so have most sonatas. The various tonalities and modulations in a sonata form are also the harmonic elements to be combined in certain rather definite proportions. The sonata is thus an object existing in the musical world based on this strange time-space already referred to, really the intellectual shadow of a spiritual reality.
      The bell of course is a purely spatial object, which has height, width and depth; yet it has really another dimension as a resonant entity, for its resonance is prolonged in time. The tone is throbbing, constantly changing, constantly renewed. Between the slowly moving vibrations of a resonating bell and the slow fluctuations of a Palestrinian chorus, there is really not much difference. Only the element of time which is somewhat empirical in the bell is treated scientifically and accurately in a polyphonic composition. The score is the formula embracing this extended time-space organism.
      While pure polyphony is essentially vocal, an ensemble of single melodies which are oscillations around a tonal or modal (in the mediaeval sense of the term) center, harmonic developments are more especially connected with instrumental music, above all with keyboard instruments. In India we had vocal melodies and instrumental rhythms; in Europe we had vocal polyphony and instrumental harmonies. It is only because of the impoverishment of mediaeval modes into classical tonalities, because of the increasing intellectualization and complexity of music, that voices could not keep pace with the demands made upon them, and that polyphony invaded the domain of the instrumental music proper. Another reason, perhaps the most essential, is that music has been aspiring to control a ceaselessly wider range of sounds. The tendency of Western music is to escape the limitation of the octave and to consider as its unit a far wider cycle of tones, viz., the zodiacs of sound.
      As a matter of fact, the polyphonic music of the fourteenth to seventeenth centuries is based, in a sense, upon a sort of zodiac of thirds. The third is the main interval used and the four octaves forming the limits of male and female voices can be considered as an approximate double zodiac of thirds. From this let us jump to the double zodiac of fifth and fourth embracing twelve octaves, and we shall find the substance of the polyphonic structures of the future. The first step, however, will be to limit the field to the seven octaves of the zodiac of fifths, which constitute approximately the instrumental field of Western music today and which is the positive active unit of the system. An American composer, Carl Ruggles, is already creating very extended polyphonies for string instrument ensembles, which encompass the entire zodiac of fifths and are built upon the new substance of music without any taint of tonalism. Eventually, new instruments will have to be created, and human voices will have to find a neW place within this extended musical universe, a universe of cosmic resonance through which may circulate some day the great mystic Fire which moves in serpentine fashion, which traces its spirals across the worlds Kundalini symbolized by the Kundry of Wagner's Parsifal.

What is the relation between the true melodic cycles of India and the great harmonic polyphonies of future Western music? The answer seems obvious in a sense, as it is clear that a polyphony being an ensemble of melodies, the nature of the polyphony is conditioned by the type of its component melodies. The polyphonic tapestries of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries in Europe were conditioned by the melodic threads evolved by the plain chant of the preceding millennium. Plain chant had become diatonic and somewhat rigid; the musical note had become intellectualized and definitively pinned on a staff by Guido d'Arezzo a sufficiently precise mode of notation had been evolved so that the threads were all ready for the polyphonic weaving.
      Let us imagine that the evolution of plain chant had taken another course. We would then have had an entirely different type of polyphonic composition in the fifteenth century. As a matter of fact, because during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries a new type of melodies based on tonalities, and no longer on the mediaeval religious modes, was evolved, we witness the birth of a new polyphony culminating in the works of Bach. Likewise, the melodic chromaticism of Chopin, Liszt and Wagner is becoming the substance of a new type of so-called "dissonant counterpoint," in Europe with Schoenberg, and in America, in a much purer and more intense form, with Carl Ruggles. If we go a step further and imagine that a day will come when the West will become fully acquainted with and discover how to handle the free and vital melodic material of the East, then the new polyphonies which will follow will take an entirely different aspect.
      In other words, if the East is the fountainhead of melodies and the West the fashioner of symphonies, it is evident that the symphonies will be great only in proportion as their melodic substance is great. Likewise, a brotherhood is spiritual in proportion as the individuals composing it are spiritually evolved and therefore able to live as brothers. A State is no greater than its citizens. If the United States today fail so painfully to live up to the standards of true democracy, it is because so few of their inhabitants understand or care to fulfill their civic duties. The same is true of India in a different sense. If a majority of Indians knew how to live the true spiritual life, as taught for instance in the Bhagavad-Gita, India would be free and great as a national unit.
      However, Western symphonies can hardly ever be made out of the substance of the rags, as understood in India today. Rags proper are essentially individualistic in their organism; they are the cyclic transformations of a single tone. But the gramas are fundamentally different, as we have already seen, The gramas being brotherhoods of tones can become the substance of future polyphonies. As a matter of fact, Palestrinian motets are near approximations to polyphonies based on true gramas. Free their melodic parts, vivify every tone thereof, reinstate the true modal relationship of the archaic Greek modes distorted by most mediaeval theorists and make of every chorist a spiritual soul instead of a religious devotee and real spiritual polyphonies will be heard.
      As for instrumental symphonies finding their substance in the full extension of the zodiacs of sound, aiming at building cosmic resonances, seeds of new worlds of tone, the problem is more complex. Sufficient it is to say that if one begins the zodiacs of sound at a certain pitch (which is about the highest note of the piano), one finds that the frequencies of the tones generated by progression of fifths are whole numbers, therefore overtones of the Harmonic Series founded on fundamental 1 (the true Sa). In other words, if the Music of Prakriti (zodiacs of sound) is subtle and refined enough, it blends with the Music of Purusha (Harmonic Series); then the marriage of Heaven and Earth occurs. The full resonance of the transfigured zodiacs of sound becomes the magnetic seed substance into which the Soul of Tone may incarnate. It becomes the Glorious Body of Christ, also of the symbolical White Horse, Vahan of the Kalki Avatar. Through the Whirlwind (zodiac of sound) the Voice of God (Harmonic Series) is heard as said in the Bible.

1. ln the European tonal system which is really based on the fifth, notwithstanding all that is usually said in textbooks, this pivotal function is played by the third, which is either major or minor; the minor being really a descending progression, though it is not used often as such.  Return

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Copyright © 1979 by Dane Rudhyar
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