Bach; in other musical cultures, for example in the East, there is often no need to resolve the sounds or chords into each other, for they all have the same melodic and harmonicvalue, and there is no strict division of sound material into concord and discord. But even before the introduction of this new system of musical coordinates that created a strict harmonious grid, composers and theologians had been fascinated by the idea and the sound of triad.
For instance, St Ignatius of Loyola 16th c. He described it himself, in a contemplative third-person mode, in his autobiography Reminiscences , Section He used to have great devotion to the Most Holy Trinity, and so used to pray each day to the three persons separately. And as he was also praying to the Most Holy Trinity as such, a thought used to occur to him: how was he making four prayers to the Trinity? But this thought troubled him little or not at all, as something of little importance. And, one day, while praying the office of Our Lady on the steps of the above-mentioned monastery, his understanding began to be raised up, in that he was seeing the Most Holy Trinity in the form of three keys on a keyboard, and this with so many tears and so many sobs that he could not control himself.
The exact words that St. The analogy may be with how three individual notes can contribute to a chord. Indeed, a precise meaning and visual representation of what the visionary saw that day can scarcely be found. But there remains little doubt that what St.
Access to this music can be attained in special elevated states of mind by those who are eager to develop a universal hearing within themselves, or just have it as a talent by virtue of birth, like Pythagoras. According to him, it is possible for anyone with well-developed musical hearing to discern the angelic overtones produced by three male voices singing a triad together in a temple, with its carefully planned acoustic:.
High flute-like tones were undeniably audible, although none of us were intentionally singing them. I knew that the overtones were resonating back to me off the high walls, but it seemed also as if they were immediately present or even inside of my head. Overtones sound as if they happen in the midst of the group; they are often felt more than they are heard. Its performance by three wonderful young singers gives us a perfect opportunity to try to discern the angelic overtones described above:.
Plena est omnis terra gloria ejus. Tres sunt, qui testimonium dant in coelo: Pater, Verbum et Spiritus Sanctus: et hi tres unum sunt. Sanctus Dominus Deus Sabaoth. The whole earth is full of his glory. There are three who bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit: and these three are one. Holy is the Lord God of Sabaoth. The singers transmit the dynamic interchange of energies occurring within the Trinity, only to unite in a breathtaking unison, supported by an organ punctum:.
Music seems to be the best means to convey the mystical dynamic interrelations occurring between the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. No wonder that already the early church fathers attributed such an immense importance to the living human voice in praising the Lord. Hildegard of Bingen — for whom the highest expression of human praise of the Creation was harmonious music, uniting in the act of singing the Heavens and the Earth, the Above and the Below.
Let us listen to her hymn antiphon in praise of the Trinity, Laus Trinitati , from the collection Voice of the Blood :. Latin text: Laus Trinitati, que sonus et vita ac creatrix omnium in vita ipsorum est, et que laus angelice turbe et mirus splendor archanorum, que hominibus ignota sunt, est, et que in omnibus vita est. English translation: Praise to the Trinity—the sound and life and creativity of all within their life, the praise of the angelic host and wondrous, brilliant splendor hid, unknown to human minds, it is, and life within all things.
Note that the word vita life is repeated thrice, emphasizing the life-giving and life-sustaining nature of the Trinity being praised in this hymn. Campbell, explains the musical meaning of this repetition:. To Hildegard, this vita is not specifically attached to any of the persons of the Holy Trinity: they all contain this ineffable life-force, streaming abundantly into our minds and onto our existence. Another great luminary of the church, St. Augustine of Hippo who lived centuries before St. Besides his other well-known merits, St.
The Mystery of the Seven Vowels in Theory and Practice
Augustine also wrote a six-book treatise De musica — , where he discusses music as one of the liberal arts, emphasizing its ability to affect the human soul and, thus, human morals and behavior. These ideas, having their source in the depths of ancient mystical traditions, survived throughout different cultures up to the present day. Not mentioning the abundant Western Christian tradition which would be more fitting to discuss separately, I would like to quote two interesting medieval Jewish sources reflecting the same ideas.
Another prominent Jewish thinker from the same period and region, the Neoplatonist Isaac ibn Latif c. Scelsi is known and admired especially for his explorations of the immense powers and possibilities of the unison , i. Apparently his gentle soul could not handle all the physical and spiritual atrocities of this massacre; in addition, as he himself claimed, he was made ill by the tone music he had been involved with before, and needed a period of musical asceticism and purification. So he stopped composing for a few years altogether and resorted to the powerful remedy of sound vibrations.
Perhaps trying to reclaim the purity of the first days of creation, he spent day after day playing a single note on the piano, listening to its fading overtones. He was, in fact, finding his path. In , he came out of this auditory isolation, inspired as ever. By , he was able to compose a truly groundbreaking work for a chamber orchestra of 25 musicians, Four Pieces on a Single Note Quattro pezzi su una nota sola , where each of the pieces centers on a certain pitch: F, B, A flat, and A.
Some ten years later, in , he changed his musical path once again to plunge back into the divine simplicity of tonality. This composition is interesting to us in and of itself, due to its triple composition; but even more fascinating in the Trinitarian sense is the rendition of this piece made by the Voxnova Ensemble.
Scelsi, Byzantium, The Alchemists. Now we have heard three musical pieces from entirely different ages and contexts that allow us to approach the Sancta Sanctorum of the Trinitarian mystery, each from a specific angle. For Bach, the number three was exceedingly important as the holiest number in Christianity—and, as we have seen, in various other traditions since antiquity.
The Holy Trinity is, indeed, the source of creative multiplicity, the never-ending spring of life and inspiration, urging us to open our hearts and minds and respond to its calling with our own voice. As beautifully expressed by Nathaniel M. Rather, the Trinity is a vocation to move outside of ourselves, to share our life, our love, our music, and our creativity with others.
Revised edition. Dissertation, The Symbolism of Freemasonry, The inherent connection of not only Greek and Hebrew alphabets, but of the two theological and cosmological systems, as applied to Freemasonry, is brilliantly covered by Frank C. Stolen Legacy, Fragment translated from Russian. Athanasius Kircher, Musurgia Universalis. Personal Writings. Munitz and Ph.
London: Penguin Books, Meditation and Kabbalah. The Duo Seraphim illustration is on p. See this observation made by a group of otolaryngologists: Floriani A. The Trinity. Edited and translated by Edmund Hill, OP. New York: New City Press, Quoted in: Bertoglio, Chiara, Ibid.
The Mystical Experience in Abraham Abulafia. Translated from the Hebrew by Jonathan Chipman. Materials on Giacinto Scelsi , originally posted in , edited by Classical. Read previous article in this series here…. This year marks an important date in the chronicle of a very famous portrait. Its prominence stems from its legendary subject, Johann Sebastian Bach Painted in in Leipzig by Elias Gottlob Haussmann , this work has had a remarkable history. In it landed in the US, where it spent the ensuing decades in the house of a great Bach scholar and collector William H.
Scheide , a Princeton graduate and the first American musicologist to be published in the Bach-Jahrbuch in In , Mr Scheide died at the age of , and, since he had generously bequeathed the portrait to the Bach Archive in Leipzig , in June the portrait returned home. This is a significant event in the life of, not only one work of art, but also global culture. There are several portraits of Johann Sebastian Bach that have survived. The main focus of this discourse shall be on the one painted by Elias Haussmann in , that can today be viewed in the Altes Rathaus museum in Leipzig.
Haussmann made a total of two portraits of Bach, and the second one, painted in , has been, since June , in the collection of Bach-Archiv Leipzig, after a long record of private ownership. This second painting was, however, believed by Albert Schweitzer, the greatest Bach expert and biographer, to be a copy, and not an original work by Haussmann.
The mystery of the seven vowels : in theory and practice (Book, ) [roqyduwy.tk]
A compelling piece of historical evidence is offered by the Bach portrait painted by C. Regarding this portrait, of which only photo reproductions remain, Albert Schweitzer writes:. It is interesting because it is clearly not derived from either the Peters or the St. Thomas school portrait, and so pre-supposes another original. It shows Bach en face, sitting at a table with some music paper, as if about to run through, on the adjacent piano, some composition that he has just finished.
London: Forgotten Books, It hung over the piano, between two windows. Thomas school- Ed. Good Lord! I see you have our cantor Bach hanging there; we have him also in Leipzig, in the St. Thomas school. Kirnberger now has the picture taken down and cleaned, the chair of the Philistine washed, and the picture, covered with a cloth, again put back into its place.
When anyone asked him what the cloth was for, he answered, 'Never mind! Back to the portrait painted by Elias Haussmann , that is now on display at St. Thomas school Thomasschule in Leipzig. The circumstances that led to the creation of this portrait are connected with a remarkable personality in the history of music and musicology. This was the first-ever musicological society in Germany , and existed in the free form of circular correspondences, with no official meetings nor headquarters.
In , the young doctor announced a cycle of lectures on mathematics, philosophy, and music at the Leipzig University. Handel was elected its honorary member. On our way, we paid a visit to the chamber composer Reichardt in his charming villa situated in a picturesque landscape. One of them was the portrait of J. Bach painted from life, the other one — the portrait of Gluck by Duplessis. Bach, this great scribe and master of counterpoint, is depicted as a fat-cheeked, broad-shouldered man with a wrinkled forehead, wearing a formal civil dress, holding a score in his hands: he is, as it were, inviting us to decipher this sophisticated six-voice canon.
Gluck, in a house coat, is playing keyboard: his head is raised in a spirited manner, the forehead is clear, his eyes radiate a heavenly shine, his lips are gleaning with likable kindness, his whole complexion expressing beauty and warmth — the joy of art. I cannot describe to you clearly enough how struck I was with such a remarkable difference in the appearance of the two men.
Bach und Gluck. Indeed, it seems that in this portrait, Bach offers this canon for us to decipher: the way he holds the score sheet, turned towards the viewer, and lets us read it easily. All the three voices of the canon are written by the composer himself, and even in this form this piece is already harmonious. In other words, by finding the right counterpoint i. The only clue that Bach gives are the moments when these voices need to start, but it still remains unknown which of the many existing rules needs to be applied in order to find just the right counterpoint.
Here is this canon the way it is written by Bach in the copy of Goldberg Variations and depicted in the portrait:. In , in a French private collection, the original manuscript of Goldberg Variations was discovered completely unexpectedly. It contained an appendix — fourteen canons employing the first eight notes of the bass voice of the theme Aria of the Goldberg cycle.
This sensational find was immediately announced as the most significant addition to the known corpus of works by the Leipzig cantor. Artist, you are a priest: Art is the great mystery and, if your effort results in a masterpiece, a ray of divinity will descend as on an altar. If Notre-Dame is profaned, the Louvre will officiate… Humanity, oh citizens, will always go to mass, when the priest will be Bach, Beethoven, Palestrina: one cannot make the sublime organ into an atheist!
Brothers in all the arts, I am sounding a battle cry: let us form a holy militia for the salvation of idealism…. For the organisation of this first, spectacular Salon, he had issued a call to artists some months earlier, with the aim of contravening the academically accepted art of his time, which he despised and frequently railed against in his articles in the French press.
The Order forbids any contemporary representations, rustic, military, flowers, animals, genres such as history, and portraits or landscapes. But it welcomes all allegories, legends, mysticism and myth, as well as expressive faces if they are noble, or nude studies if they are beautiful. The result was an immense impact on the Parisian art world, and eventually, on the whole Symbolist movement. The first Salon welcomed over fifty thousand visitors, intrigued by the curious poster depicting three women at various stages of initiatory revelation that had covered the walls of Paris a few weeks earlier, as well as by regular articles, announcements, and controversies printed in Le Figaro over the preceding year.
The Salons included musical and theatrical performances alongside the exhibitions, giving an unparalleled impetus and unity to the Symbolist movement. Yet, the Salons and their instigator were as notorious as they were intriguing, and following numerous public controversies, within a few short years, both Salons and Mage were forgotten, to be recalled only as a utopian fantasy of an eccentric buffoon. This curious man who in the s went by the name Sar Merodack and claimed an ancestry of Babylonian royalty, left a spectacular legacy of over books, several thousand articles, and was responsible for inspiring a generation of artists and authors as far afield as Russia and South America.
His oeuvre is vast, and can be disheartening on account of the florid lyricism of his novels, and the turgidity of his theoretical prose. Pansophy is understood as a way of combining all human knowledge according to analogical principles, and viewing human history through a form of allegorical hermeneutics, whereby events are interpreted as part of a larger narrative in which events within the human microcosm reflect the celestial macrocosm, and can be revealed through myths, legends, and their correspondences.
In conjunction with an emergent quest for a new understanding of human civilization and origins that led to fierce debates over the course of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, a kaleidoscope of fantastical philosophical and metaphysical theories provided rich sources of inspiration that fuelled, first Romantic, and later Symbolist creativity. The only thing this creature lacked was self-awareness. However, this was forbidden by God, because the primordial androgyne belonged to a different order of being, and thus, allowing it access to higher spiritual knowledge through self-awareness contravened natural law.
The story of the snake and the apple from the Tree of Knowledge is thus reinterpreted, not as an encounter with a cunning force of evil, but as an act of mercy and love on the part of the angels. Nonetheless, they were nonetheless punished along with their creation, since the androgyne had received a small glimpse of the immensity of the macrocosm, and the first stirrings of self-awareness had begun. This is the moment when time began, according to this retelling. His fixation on the arts, and visual representation in particular, derived from his belief that humans were created by angels casting their shadow, and then tracing its silhouette in order to shape the human form.
The beings delegated by Being Elohim conceived their creative oeuvre by decreeing that humanity would be manifested delineated according to their shadow. The Elohim were spirits, individualised emanations of the essence. Since the shadow is a decreased form of light, the shadow of essence is substance, and the shadow of substance can be notjing other than matter … The prototype of man, king of the sensible world, is the angel … One can define beauty by looking at angelic forms … We know the Greek legend of the origins of the art of Drawing.
On the eve of their parting, the daughter of Butades, the potter of Sicyon, delineated the shadow of her lover with charcoal on a white wall. So, for the fervent memory of our angelic origins to remain in our soul, we must maintain our understanding and our sense of the desire to return, some day, to those who gave us perfect love, as they gave us reality and life. Some must do this by creating works of art, others by understanding them.
Artists had been gifted with the talent to create those works of art that could spark the spiritual evolution he believed necessary for this process, and his mission was to inspire them to do so, while also attempting to attract the general public, and helping them to understand the content of this sacred art.
Art is the totality of the methods of realising Beauty. Beauty is the essence of all expression through form. Techniques are nothing more than the means to an end. If Beauty is the objective, and art the means, what is the rule? The Ideal. Therefore Idealist art is that which reunites within a work all the perfections that the spirit can conceive on a given theme.
This, he suggested, was to be achieved by a combination of three aesthetic principles: Intensity, subtlety, and harmony, combined in such a way as to hint at their symbolic nature, symbolism being a mode of expression that is subtle by definition. The Idea, in its turn, should not be allowed to be seen deprived of the sumptuous lounge robes of extraneous analogies; because the essential character of symbolic art consists in never approaching the concentrated kernel of the Idea in itself. So, in this art, the pictures of nature, the actions of human beings, all concrete phenomena would not themselves know how to manifest themselves; these are presented as the sensitive appearance destined to represent their esoteric affinity with primordial Ideas… For the precise translation of its synthesis, it is necessary for symbolism to take on an archetypal and complex style.
This obliges the viewer to engage intellectually with the work in order to begin to decipher it, and the use of archetypal and allegorical imagery, subjectively deployed but based on a shared frame of reference, should help the viewer to translate apparently mundane representations into their Ideal forms.
One such telling example is the Assyrian Sphinx, or Lamassu, a hybrid, protective deity with the body of a bull, wings, and a human head.
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This motif appears repeatedly in many aspects of his work, from the frontispieces of his books and the emblem of his organisation, to the numerous reiterations of his philosophy:. What is Art? Human creation. God made the universe macrocosm , man made the temple microcosm , from where arts emerged…. What is a monument, if not a calculation of lines and volumes for the expression of spiritual will? From the forest path and from the cavern to the cathedral, human work appears colossal.
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What is a figure such as the sphinx or the winged bull with a human face, if not a philosophical combination of natural motifs for the manifestation of an idea? From the cat to the sphinx, from the savage bull to the genius that guards the temple threshold, through quasi-divine operations the artist raises himself to the level of creator. He explained the significance of this symbolic entity as follows, in one of the several theoretical handbooks that he wrote as guides to self-awareness designed to help his contemporaries achieve their spiritual potential:.
That which the intelligence has conceived, the soul executes…. Study this symbol; the human head wears the royal crown with three rows of horns, a privilege of the gods, and signifies, initiate, [that you should] no longer obey, for you are a king, if you think. A king does not seek to reign, the triple horns have destined you for the sole conquest of eternity. While the verbal description is linear by necessity, the visual depiction retains its stratified nature, and allows us to perceive the meaning that it houses in a flash of insight, complete rather than in stages.
Thus, each line and detail becomes an ideogram to be deciphered by the viewer:. The line in itself is as abstract as the alphabet, it does not exist in nature; literally it is an ideogram, a hieroglyph which, for human intelligence, translates the sensible world; it is, therefore, in its highest form, the only thing that is independent of technique and where genius can show itself; all the rest belongs to talent…. Drawing is the art of writing by means of living forms treated by the abstract process of the line, augmented by the contours.
This idea of initiation was at the heart of occult thought of the time, and it refers to awakening, discovery, and the development of dormant human faculties which are available to all, but are in a state of dormancy. To evolve spiritually and purify themselves from their evil, Titanic elements, humanity was bound to live through many incarnations until they achieved full self-awareness.
As the legend has it, when they died, humans were obliged to drink from the Well of Oblivion Lethe , and forget their mortal life before they reincarnated, and so in their next incarnationn they would begin afresh, with no memories to guide them. Among them, Ram, Moses, Jesus… and Orpheus.
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Only then can an initiate, initiate [another]…. Therefore, initiation was, then, something very different from a hollow dream, and something far greater than a simple scientific theory: it was, then, the creation of a soul out of itself, its evolution on a higher level, and its flowering on the divine plane. And Orpheus is their patron saint.
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The Mystery of the Seven Vowels in Theory and Practice
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