“Music is a perfect trinity of Harmony, Melody and Rhythm; they are completely one, yet uniquely distinct. Melody is Harmony revealed while Rhythm is inseparable from them all. There are 12 different tones. The natural scale has 7 tones. The basis of tonality is the triad, a combination of 3 tones that vibrate in perfect harmony. Every other tone of the 12 longs to go home to this triad, which is the very driving force of tonality. The dissonant interval of 6 tones is called the devil’s interval and just has to surrender and resolve into the triad. The second tone of the triad can by descending and ascending call the entire musical mood and when the triad starts moving 3 steps up the scale of 7 our hearts melt as total musical bliss manifests itself in our psyche.”
God is a mystery and unimaginably beautiful, that means no human can ever completely understand, define or even appreciate God.
God is also majestically real and rational because we, the universe and rationality itself exist because of Him.
To most people within our postmodern western culture, in which I also was raised, these two statements seem either completely irrelevant to normal life or even demonstrably wrong. Especially prevalent amongst intellectuals and the cultured class is the notion that they belong to an exclusively religious realm of thought, as opposed to being connected to any kind of critical reasoning, artistic thought or just plain common sense, three qualities certainly held in high regards by this influential group. I would maintain nevertheless that both statements are not only justifiable but they represent the necessary basic assumptions for honestly and consistently setting up the balanced and rational world view which is desperately needed in this world. For rational inquiry itself and having a truly human and a much needed common sensical interpretation, as well as an artistic interpretation of the human experience rests on these very axioms.
This experience includes waking up every morning and realizing that you are conscious, an I looking at the world. This fact of life though hardly ever discussed should be the starting point of every attempt to making sense of life, simply because without this fact nothing could be said at all.
This human experience facilitated by consciousness obviously includes the universal super-power of emotional persuasion called music. It is in fact music, which ran as a common thread through my life that helped persuade me to embrace biblical metaphysics. It will also be the common thread running through this personal manifesto as music’s existence and nature will proof extremely comparable to the tenets of christian theism.
I’ll continue by pointing out that these combined statements express a justifiable standpoint if for no other reason than being a prerequisite for a realist view of understanding itself and so provide the absolutely crucial starting point for even beginning to understand the nature and existence of music in any meaningful way. Therefore as a happy side effect to the initial purpose of this book they also provide the fertile ground for starting to make realistic sense of life itself and the utter miracle this life in my opinion demonstrably is.
A small disclaimer is in order here: Should the reader incidentally be perfectly at peace with assuming that the meaning of music, the meaning of words and our sense of self itself are all completely illusory, that this universe popped out of nowhere, for absolutely no reason and that the human body and mind, in the final analyses, are the expected crappy yet somehow brilliantly functioning result of incalculable futile cosmic accidents senselessly lining up into the pointless past, this book might not be appreciable due to an overdose of academic brainwashing. (Although one could argue that since this person lost all capacity to think critically the conclusions of this book might be quite easy to accept as well.)
If on the other hand one belongs to the vast majority of people that, despite the relentless propaganda of the materialistic world view inquisition, still struggles with the big questions humanity has always struggled with this book will almost certainly be worth reading.
And if one, despite our marketing oriented postmodern culture, is deep down still in search for real answers on the three most fundamental questions of life without which life would be utterly pointless indeed, this book will be a joy.
These three most essential questions are as unfashionable as they are imperishable, timeless like true art and truly foundational.
Three questions foundational for the wellbeing of absolutely everybody throughout all generations: What is True?, what is Good? and what is Beautiful? The first corresponding to the philosophical field of epistemology, the second to ethics and the third to aesthetics and it is my contention that in order to even begin to bring these fields together (as rationality would suggest), leaving God out is not a rational option. Music obviously exists in the realm of aesthetics but can hardly be separated from truth and beauty as these realms relate to each other as a trinity. This -as we shall see and in accordance with a persistent pattern in nature- makes music a trinity within a trinity.. within a trinity.
Because this is a written attempt to make rational sense of music (and language obviously implies rationality), I thought it merely appropriate to start with defending the forgotten but certainly not refuted notion that rationality itself, a term I use in a broad and only positive sense, hinges on the correctness of the hypothesis that a personal being -having the attributes traditionally ascribed to God in the theistic sense- simply must exist and that the contrary would be either impossible or absurd, because it would simply destroy the logical basis for rationality, which at least partly explains the philosophical predicament in which our culture finds itself. Starting this book by pointing out the theistic imperative with regard to rationality makes all the more sense knowing that rationality -being all fundamental reasonableness and intelligibility of life-, is still highly regarded (and I think rightly so) and surely its existence (and music’s for that matter) its potency and value are not (yet) disputed by our culture. And yet this still quite reasonable culture has all but broken off its christian theistic roots, leaving its still -thankfully- highly regarded reason and indeed both its art and music, floating in philosophical mid air. That is, completely disconnected from the reasonable roots that both art and science grew out of and that actually made logical sense of them both. Because (however academically and indeed culturally distasteful this notion might currently be) it is precisely this theistic outlook which, as I will argue, that is not only a rationally defensible starting point, but indeed rationality itself, especially as the truth-finding tool we all still expect and treat it to be, is only logically tenable after presupposing the veracity of the christian theistic assumptions and the more and the deeper one thinks through their implications, the more one embraces the intelligibility of both art and indeed science, and the more one in fact embraces the full life experience it self in all its fabulous complexity.
Needless to say these assumptions were rejected for any reasons other than logical ones, which means that they were rejected for emotional reasons, more or less ranging from church trauma and peer pressure to the widespread aversion to the idea of a higher moral authority them one self. Subsequently this resulted in the incoherence of a complete intellectual disconnect between experiential realities like emotions, personality, morality, relationships and in fact the whole of reason itself (at least in theory as the practical abolition of reason leads to death rather quickly). And this mental disconnect became a reality once the whole experience of having emotions was entirely equated with meaningless and emotionless chemical reactions and thus deemed illusory with regard to objective reality. And this absurd essentially personhood denying and therefore in fact reality-denying mental disconnect has been propagated in academia for many decades and eventually made its way into popular culture through movies, songs and countless other media. Media that always repeat the fantasy that science has all but proven that universes just pop out of nowhere for no reason, life, although dwarfing human technology in creative ingenuity, just appears on planets without a designer and conscientiousness is a meaningless adaptation just emerging spontaneously from brains. And brains btw are like very, very..very advanced computers, that is, these mind bogglingly complex and somehow self aware computers are of course undesigned. Because there can’t be a Designer, that’s a holy rule of our post enlightenment culture, a rare holy rule, it’s a sign of intelligent, academical and “scientific” thought in a postmodern world that in reality has switched of the light of sound logic…
Because only in the utter darkness of irrationality could a culture accept the following fallacy: Because science works nothing exists except that which is scientifically testable.
So since science has “taught” us that God is irrelevant at best or (preferably) non-existent, the common sensical notion of the design of biological life would of course be impossible… So it must simply all have “evolved”, a popular and ambiguous term here referring to our culture’s preferred creation myth that naturally filled the origins hiatus after the designing Agent was declared dead by its high-tech human product. Unfortunately it is even a meaningless concept on its own terms, being a logical tautology without going even into the Darwin controversy and piling up the detailed …………………………………………………………………..arguments against darwinian evolution (something which according to mainstream media, like God, doesn’t exist) an impotent concept altogether with regard to the origins of any biological structure. Because in its most basic logical structure Darwinism merely says: what ever survived apparently evolved and what apparently evolved will survive..but Darwinian evolution remains nevertheless the only chance at some kind of rationality in atheism. This predicament is apparently solved by declaring biological evolution a fact and by consistently mistaking it for the amazing adaptability of the already existing genome we can maintain the preferred atheistic worldview. And in conjunction to an enormous amount of actual rational and useful stuff, this is what is taught on our universities
and -what is worse- actually believed by our rather gullible culture.
Quite ironically in actual reality, both our culture and our universities were not only build on theistic assumptions, but the latter was actually endowed with the particular task of bringing theoretical unity in (the diversity of) the human experience on the one hand and objective reality on the other, as the name “university” beautifully denotes.
But despite the good intentions of the enlightenment that gave us our institutions to find truth, truth itself became suspect and was eventually murdered and common sense followed soon thereafter. Abandoning the christian theistic presuppositions, to put it in C.S Lewis terms, resulted in the ‘abolition of man’, that is, his personality, his meaning and something of the utter most importance to any human being regardless his or her world view and -as we shall see- deeply related to the essence of music: his search for ultimate love on the one hand in conjunction with ultimate truth on the other, because without searching for these two mankind effectively ceases to exist.
But in defense of the academically distrusted and currently even suppressed notion of common sense and to the delight of the eager and honest student of either science, art, philosophy or of life itself; rationality is very real, persons are real and emotions are also real. As a matter of fact, objective meaning and morality are also as real, as real as a sun rise, a song or a good intention. Because, ultimately there certainly is unity in diversity as the theistic assumptions will -despite current cultural preferences- proof both completely defensible as well as necessarily true and will in this book in particular make more and more sense as we dive deeper into the tangibly mysterious and mysteriously natural Miracle of Music, which, amplified by logic and common sense, clearly cries out for the miraculous nature and origin of the whole of nature itself.
Notwithstanding the culture’s rather unsophisticated but cavalier attitude toward these assumptions and its vehement dismissal of them, it is precisely these that perfectly accommodate the possibility of combining the two basic modes of (human) understanding into an unified and coherent view of reality. A coherent world view which in turn enables the possibility of intellectual integrity and consistency, qualities which are unfortunately indeed almost entirely missing from our postmodern culture. And they are missing for one thing because secular thought, in so far as it denies a personal creator, is incapable of this one absolutely essential feat for solid and actually defensible rationality: combining the aforementioned twin modes of human understanding, which are of course ‘subjective knowing’ and ‘objective knowledge’, and convincingly uniting them.
The relevance of this at first sight awfully abstract, but actually quite elemental argument to the subject of music and how it relates to the case for God might not be be fully seen at this stage but will hopefully become apparent in the course of the book, if not already in the next couple of pages that discuss the relevance of a theistic world view to the whole of life and art in particular.
This theistic argument from the need for trustworthy and dependable unity between objective reality and subjective experience, once at least the fog of our culture’s believe system is identified and blown away, is not only an extremely obvious one, but also logically relevant to the human experience as a whole, which of course includes the making and appreciation of music. Still it is by no means the only strong logical theistic argument but one of a great many ranging from the very mundane to the very abstract. Admittedly this one is, (quite like music itself) a fairly abstract one, but also an extremely forceful one, again; once it is grasped.
In fact it is only deniable at the high price of rationality itself. Hence I will boldly argue that all aspects of reality, if properly understood, point to the ontological reality of God. Although admittedly absent in a direct and physical sense, but very conspicuously absent and indeed the great necessary, uncaused and personal Being. Indeed necessarilyuncaused because of the otherwise infinite regress of causation which is a generally recognized problem across the board, thus making the believe in at least something uncaused simply mandatory for all world views, including the secular one(s). And certainly personal lest God be missing an attribute even we posses. But also because of exactly this painfully obvious piece of data that we genuinely are personal beings and any attempt to reduce us to something non-personal will lead to epistemic insanity (which I will argue and expound upon briefly later) and subsequently to moral incoherence, as morality is necessarily tied to personhood and makes no sense at all without it. Therefore this full reduction of human personality to purely impersonal forces and processes completely reduces all morality to non-morality. This atheistic believe in non-morality which of course has no bearing on reality is euphemistically called “moral relativism”. That is, only in theory as no one can actually live that way since reality does tend to contradict false moral theory persuasively as witnessed by history and the individual human experience. Therefore it is in essence, as I will argue, a quite laudable escape from reality rather than a critical and educated insight into reality as it is often marketed by and through academia.
And I might add, it is an equally unartistic escape from reality as moral relativism leads to moral cynicism which contradicts the very essence of art itself and music in particular.
At this point, before continuing my logical refutal of this popular and politically correct reductionism flowing out of atheism, I will stress the extreme relevance of the question of world views to the subject of music by making a first connection. As the atheistic assumptions rob life (at least theoretically) of objective meaning, real personhood, objective purpose and objective morality it obviously also reduces music to meaningless noise, at least if one is logically consistent. But logical consistency is, as I will stress ones more, not even possible without the proper, necessary theistic assumptions. A harsh statement which is verified and justified by the countless self professed atheists nonetheless experiencing personal meaning, purpose and hope, time after time, while listening to the music of Bach e.g.
That way they bare witness, despite and against their illogical atheistic believes of the objective meaningfulness of music and how it “speaks” to them as real persons. And like in real life, speaking itself and communication in general is inextricably linked to personality which is incoherent without a personal God, in music it is exactly the same. Only it speaks in a language of emotions. And like in real life, real meaning and real purpose are connected to absolute morality, in music it is exactly the same. Only in music we call it tonality, or better, “absolute tonality” which I will describe in detail. Because this unexplainable and mystifying “absolute tonality”
which makes music possible is elegant in its simplicity, universal and extremely power full in its experiential scope, moreover triune in its inner structure and thus betraying the fingerprints of the awesome God of reality.
The legitimacy of my harsh rejection of this academically highly propagated and therefore widespread reductionism can by the way easily be illustrated by demonstrating this necessity of objective and subjective unity with regard to human beings. One way would be to simply ask oneself if it is all right to either objectify or subjectify another human being. Since both clearly end up dehumanizing people, respectively by using them as an object or by denying them their place in objective reality, it follows that humans are an irreducibly subjective and objective unity. Since both types of injustice against the human being will be rejected (in principal if not in practice) by virtually every sane person on the planet, it doesn’t require a degree in moral philosophy -or better: even a degree in moral philosophy can’t prevent one to recognize that even the vaguest form of real human morality requires the existence of God who unites objectivity with subjectivity.
But rather than accepting the commonsensical view on morality which on the downside necessitated the acceptance of the existence of God, moral relativism became the accepted academical view. A view which still uses the word “moral” but obviously and for the above described reason denies its existence. showing another chilling example of the strange preference to deny reality in order to deny God.
In short and more practical the argument amounts to this: the more rigorous one explores, interrelates and embraces both objective and subjective reality, the clearer and at least theoretically less escapable the reality of God becomes. Or shorter still: genuinely embracing reality results inevitably in believing in God. But this particular argument, although directly related to human experience and -as currently known, naturally apprehended by every preconditioned child’s brain on earth, is a mostly overlooked and culturally obscure one and makes a fitting prelude to a philosophical book about the experiential reality of music, especially one addressing a culture that loves music and values reason, but by the same token denies purpose, creation and God.
Because, the mere fact that music is indeed an experiential reality means that it is inherently and irreducibly both an objective and a subjective phenomenon. And this is a first (and still purely logical) indication that music is a manifest and tangible miracle that defies the current academical believe-system of choice known as materialism. It is therefore, like morality, reason and people themselves also a prime example of a feature of reality that can in principal only make sense in a theistic context.
But before starting the ascent into the mysterious yet rationally approachable inner world and workings of music, I will again stress the importance of this argument from rationality. Precisely because it redeems rationality from irrational postmodernism which has seeped through almost all parts of our culture, and which for decades put a quasi intellectual fog over many subjects including music. And this argument is also more generally related and strongly opposed to the widely accepted postmodern view that absolute or objective truth doesn’t exist. It is quite obvious that this popular and indeed foggy idea is in fact self-refuting, as the statement itself, by its own affirmation, cannot be true. But despite its irrational and logical incoherence, it is a wide spread though ill founded believe (and believe is indeed the appropriate word) which furthermore necessarily implies the impossibility of any meaningful
interaction between individuals, as nobody would actually share the same reality to interact with and therefore lack common ground on which to stand and interact, relate, agree or disagree. Hence, this dire notion logically implies the inescapability of existential isolation and loneliness, which is unfortunately but not surprisingly a growing issue in postmodern societies. I will submit that even for a secular culture like ours, it is much more rational and simply commonsensical to believe in God’s existence instead of this rationality-undermining cultural creed. If for no other reason, because theism provides coherent reasons and rational basis for the reality of communication, interaction and relationships.
For it is quite clear that God solely and uniquely qualifies for the logically necessary job of uniting personhood with objectivity, which means: we are not condemned to existential loneliness and we can rationally defend the reality, purpose and meaning of interacting, of debating, of agreeing and also of enjoying music, not just in a isolated individual reality but together. So by merely recognizing God’s existence, we are able to logically account for the reality and significance of relationships, while denying or ignoring God’s existence leaves us unable to bridge the gap between individual isles of consciousness.
It is therefore not without sound reason that the most basic definition of (the monotheistic) God has always contained the notion of being the indispensable bedrock of objective reality as well as the ultimate source of subjectivity, precisely because he is personal in nature, hence the usage of the personal pronoun.
It is perhaps this personal aspect of God’s nature which drastically decreases his current desirability, at least for many people in our secular culture, but this is an objection which might at this point be recognized to be an emotional rather than a rational one. For the harsh reality is such -as also testified by music- that a personal God, in some (mono)theistic sense, is only escapable at the price of irrationality and unintelligibility.
A price some of the brightest and most influential minds of our culture are strangely enough willing to pay, all the while living as if rationality, personality, relationships and music are all real and intelligible, and thereby betraying a complete disjoint of believe system and every day life. Perhaps in favor of prestige or perhaps because of the envisioned happiness of perceived autonomy in a purposeless and amoral universe. Who knows, but thereby preventing the culture’s conception of reality from gaining coherence, a culture which thankfully still enjoys the benefits of its theistic (christian humanistic) roots. But, to put it extremely practical: only the theistic assumptions make it in principle possible to be logical and happy at the same time. That is being happy not by fleeing from reality, either by self-defeating, rationality undermining and personhood-itself denying scientistic reductionism, which is the current academic (secular) religion of choice, or by any other irrational religiosity, but by actually being in touch with reality, embracing it and starting all inquiry and life itself with the only logically coherent ground of reality: a living, personal, logical and eternal God.
We can only then indeed be rational and emotional at the same time without loosing integrity and coherence, which would make music, art in general, and in fact life itself loose all meaning and coherence as I will argue.
Although it is certainly possible to practice science, enjoy beauty and (a happy) life without a coherent view of reality, it is very hard to see why either art or even science would be even intelligible within postmodern thought or a (hypothetical) materialistic reality, as all data, both experiential and theoretical, would be either unrelated, unreliable or unreal, and certainly writing a genuinely -that is objectively- meaningful book about music would be rather futile as science nor art would be meaningful in any objective sense. But despite of our culture’s strongly preferred world view with its presuppositions that simultaneously degrade man to purposeless coincidence and elevates him to the highest authority, the fact is that rationality does exist and both art and science are very real, intelligible, objectively meaningful and even objectively beautiful indeed. This is obviously utterly antithetical to both postmodern thought (which denies objective truth itself) and materialism (which denies objective meaning and the knowledge of objective truth). It is hard to fail to see the self destructing (truth) claims about truth of both postmodern and materialist philosophy as they flagrantly undermine reason itself, and yet reason exists. It is even harder to fail to recognize that both philosophies have little or nothing to do with our actual reality as reality is clearly and readily available for rational inquiry. But culture can be a powerful, multi channeled and constant force numbing the mind to the degree that it can even fail to see the obvious.
Especially in the case of music e.g. it is abundantly clear that its undeniably universal power
to move, excite, emote and comfort people depends entirely on its objective emotional meaning, which apart from the theistic framework (or at least some sort of metaphysical dimension) would of course be entirely illusory (unreal) and completely
arbitrary. This despite the fact that the objective nature of music’s beauty is all but undisputed and generally experienced to be at least as real as the quality of a good meal. This moreover accounts for the musician’s irrepressible urge to think of music in qualitative terms and often also in terms of true and false in an abstract sense with regard to musical performance and composition. In this book I will try to persuade a postmodern, agnostic and increasingly atheistic culture that music is indeed what it overwhelmingly appears to be, namely objectively meaningful and abstractly true, for genuinely shedding light on this eternally fascinating subject of music will proof the opening assumptions valid and will reveal the creator’s message it carries for all cultures, which is hidden in its tonal heart of music.
A coherent world view is nothing more than an harmonizing of head and heart knowledge or theoretical knowledge and experiential knowledge or more precisely, to be both subjectively and objectively in touch with reality, which is -as I will expound upon hereafter- only made possible by adhering to the opening presuppositions, moreover these -and these only- make it completely logical and natural to expect science and art to be what they strongly appear to be, which is: real, reliable, intelligible, beautiful, mysterious and objectively meaningful.
The two fundamental modes of understanding that I alluded to earlier are of course this subjective knowing and our objective knowledge, which are equally indispensable and must be at least trustworthy for any meaningful and -frankly- simply human way of comprehending (and experiencing) anything at all and therefore absolutely essential for making any rational sense of life itself.
This glaringly obvious division of our reality is therefore directly connected to rationality itself, a connection which apparently got lost in this culture, hence its easy dismissal of the opening premises, in ignorance of the fact that these premises form the very bedrock of rationality and are the bare minimum of assumptions necessary to allow for a coherent view of both subjectivity and objectivity. God, who is the necessary being that brings together (simplistically put) both objectivity and subjectivity got nonetheless expelled from our culture, leaving a devastating hole in the middle of rationality itself.
For we clearly need our subjectivity (or first-person perspective) to come to know anything at all about objective reality, it is hard to deny that both are ontologically real in stead of emergent or illusory, without forfeiting the possibility of knowledge altogether. That means that objective reality and subjective conscience simply must be fundamentally connected in an ontological sense in order for anyone to know anything, which is a forceful indication for the logical necessity of a personal God who is the ground of objective reality. By merely stating that we exist and that we do know things, we implicitly affirm some sort of theistic premise. we can reasonably conclude that God exists. In fact these assumptions are clearly a necessary prerequisite for rationality itself, and rationality is something our culture thankfully does affirm, but without excepting the logical inference for God.
This makes theism, however unfashionable, still in principal the only worldview that is even compatible with the existence and certainly the reliability of rationality itself, which is not only and obviously connected to meaningful science but -as I will argue- most definitely to meaningful art as well.
Furthermore, it is again common sense and rationality, rather than religion, that demand a sufficient cause for objective realities such as our universe with its fine-tuned laws and its intelligibility, life with its mesmerizing semiotic complexity, consciousness and personality, the existence and immaterial nature of math, language, logic, art, story telling, esthetics, sports, cuisine, morality and last but not least the pivotal role of something called unconditional love to every life worth living.
Of coarse each of these marvelous things need an entire book to formulate a decisive argument for (some sort of) God as well as dealing with the counter arguments and indeed these books have been written, it suffices for me to mention them in the context of my goal of making sense of an equally unquestionable awesome thing we call music by showing it to be another strong pointer in the direction of the remarkably unfashionable notion of an intelligent meta creator.
And especially with regard to making rational sense of the phenomenon we call music, I will hopefully show that, by considering my two opening premises to be true, music’s nature and existence will become surprisingly intelligible. The opposite is equally true as I will argue that denying them makes the fact of music surprisingly unintelligible.
The extraordinary persuasive power of this particular pointer, which is the subject of this book and the one with which I’m most familiar, is also quite remarkable as it seems to defy any of the materialistic explanatory formulas like “natural selection” (organisms with the most survivability survive), “multiverses” (postulating an infinite number of universes in order to explain ours)
or “the anthropic principle” (we are observing this universe simply because this universe sustains observers) which are currently widely known concepts and they are almost invariably and with almost religious seal relied upon to defend the no-God scenario against the force of the many other pointers. Music however almost completely bypasses this type of debate on human and cosmic evolution because, as we shall see, the possibility of music was already embedded in the laws of physic (from the very outset) as if waiting to be discovered by not “merely” sentient observers, but by sentient as well as musically endowed beings, which makes the appeal to survival value, multiverse theory or the anthropic principle simply useless in explaining the factual existence of music, (let alone its striking internal symbolism which will be discussed in detail later). So the fact of music adds an entire new layer of explanatory trouble (for the materialist atheist that is) to the already troubling picture of reality as it seems to have the power to both rationally and emotionally persuade of the absurdity of appealing to mindless chance as a (so-called) rational explanation for existence. For in addition to the overwhelming subjective experience of listening to music, (by means of) its mysterious but undeniable emotional language-potential, it is actually objective critical thought that requires us to concede that the very existence of music itself simply magnifies the generally recognized fine tuning problem to absurd proportions.
It is therefore quite understandable that, apart from a few musically under informed speculations (especially with regard to the issue of musical tonality and its physical innateness) no serious attempt has been made to answer the interesting question music poses, let alone actually answering it in a completely reductionistic way as dictated by the scientistic creed of materialistic faith. Perhaps the atheist cause is indeed much better served by ignoring the subject of music and the philosophical problem it poses for materialism altogether.
To be glaringly concrete in stating the problem, the 9th symphony of Beethoven not merely needed a musically endowed creative (human) genius,
but it most definitely needed a meta-genius who created the outrageously well ordered universe carrying the extraordinary yet conspicuously superfluous potential of music as well.
Therefore, notwithstanding the current cultural zeitgeist, if a musically endowed person (i.e almost every human being) after enjoying a musical masterpiece, like the one mentioned, still persists in appealing to an at bottom random chance explanation for existence as a whole, I will strongly suggest that this merely betrays one’s extreme bias towards atheism and a willingness to sacrifice common sense and rationality in order to prevent a theistic scenario.
The most commonly given defense for this quasi scientific bias however is the quite arbitrary assumption that an acceptable explanation (for anything) should be one that is reducible to ever simpler explanations ad infinitum, which of course rules out the design hypothesis a priori and consequently makes the quite rational inference of a meta purpose for music completely irrelevant. But irrelevant simply because of the (actually self defeating) creed of a fashionable secular philosophy, that for some sinister reason prefers a mindless and purposeless ultimate explanation over an ultimately meaningful and personal one. And to make things worse, this cynical credal bias also boldly masquerades as the prestigious “definition of science” in an increasingly gullible and popularity driven society.
Of course I will concede there may be legitimate psychological or perhaps principally unknowable reasons for this bias which obviously go far beyond my understanding as there may be unknowable factors pulling in the opposite direction as well, this doesn’t undermine my overall case at all. In fact this important statement of partial ignorance, which e.g. acknowledges the divine trait of “free will” but accepts it to be principally beyond human comprehension, is both common sensical and entirely in line with my two opening premisses which together (hopefully) assure a modest (nonsectarian) yet firm epistemic basis for life, science and especially for the arguments in this book in which I unapologetically contend for the notion that music does indeed clearly point – both subjectively and objectively – in the direction of a metaphysical purpose for existence, whatever it might be.
The philosopher Peter Kreeft formulated a fairly short argument for God:
“There is the music of Bach, therefore God exists”
I think he would agree that Bach could theoretically be substituted by the Beatles, Beethoven, Bjørk, Brahms or any other great composer of your liking, I would suggest that you can leave out the composer altogether and just say: “There is (the possibility of) music therefore God exists.” In this book I will argue for the validity of this even shorter argument by carefully looking at how music itself actually works, which moreover logically connects Bach’s faith in (the biblical) God to his music as I will explain later. This makes the almost undeniably divinely inspired genius in Kreeft’s argument an extra almost miraculous addition to the already forceful argument from music itself.For music’s inner structure itself is expressly such that it will readily lay bare its allusive nature (i.e. it points towards God) and the strikingly theistic symbolism it uses to connect the objective facts of music with its subjective experience, a feat that is in fact necessary for any genuine grasp on reality.
As a first glimpse of light on the subject of this book I would point out that, as every musician intuitively knows, music is able to unite mystery and logic, as represented by the two opening statements, into a perfect marriage resulting in the potentially inexhaustible creative beauty which music is.
In fact this vigorous combination of logic and mystery is present in all the previously mentioned wonderful things. Take for instance a human being (like yourself), which is a very logical unit considering all the intricate functionality of its cells and organs
(and even sometimes its behavior) but in essence you are an undeniable mystery simply by virtue of being a person and therefore obviously irreducible to the logical functioning of your atoms. That is indeed obvious unless you are (faithfully) committed to the arbitrary, counterintuitive and in fact reason-undermining view that our most fundamental experience of reality (our self awareness) is in actual (objective) fact a mere evolutionarily advantageous illusion, which would clearly undermine all rational discourse as our “rationality” itself would be an accidental byproduct of the mindless evolution of some random gene-propagating survival machines known as homo sapiens sapiens (without any guaranteed truth-finding quality). Furthermore, in that
case the very word “you” would become void of any actual (ontological) meaning and reading a book would become the height of irrationality as no author would exist in objective reality and even thinking about this subject itself would become illusory as we quickly descent into philosophical insanity.. So to even maintain rationality one simply has to allow for some mystery, at least in the sense of allowing reality to transcend physics which instead of undermining logic rather confirms it (as it allows it to be unconditionally binding). Much in the same way music is completely rational and logical but at the same time irreducible to the moving atoms and oscillating air pressures which it surely also involves, because of its subjective dimension for one thing and its universal and cross-cultural emotion carrying capacity for another, which already makes music at least in some sense magical for sure. Again and again we see that in the real world rationality and logic don’t contradict subjectivity and mystery at all, they much rather go hand in hand and are in fact -as common sense would demand- inextricably linked. This means that in order to make any rational sense of realities like music (or indeed ourselves) we have to look for a world view that provides noncontradictory foundations for both.
Consequently each world view that denies, neglects or puts too much emphasis on either the material side or indeed the spiritual side of reality is dangerously off balance (and therefore simply deficient) as it is unable to put the essential parts of human understanding of reality like rationality and sense experience into a coherent framework of thought. This is basically the same as sacrificing rationality altogether (which is of course preposterous and few would actually be that consistent). In the case of atheist materialism this final slaughter of rationality is most apparent in the proponent’s confession that he/she cannot be entirely sure that he/she (or anything) even exists. But on the other side of the world view spectrum this problem of coherence between objective and subjective seems to appear less obvious. So before I continue my case for a balanced world view that embraces a Creator God, first a few words about some other popular world views besides materialism. The main reason why monistic world views like Hinduism and Buddhism, although insightful in many respects, can’t be a reasonable or viable explanation for our reality is that by essentially equating God with the universe, as they do, although in slightly different ways, they essentially give up on rationality and logic by posing a clear contradiction as its foundation: The creation created itself. And in the case of Buddhism, a world view well represented among musicians, it is even worse, personhood itself gets sacrificed by reducing this arguably most fundamental part of reality to a mere illusion to be extinguished in nirvana.
But the third option of simply accepting our universe with its amazing characteristics as a brut fact without asking the “why question” with regard to its origins and all its amazing characteristics, including music, is probably worst of all. This option seems to me not only boringly unimaginative but, more importantly, it is also thoroughly irrational for it actually takes pride in the absence of rational thought when it comes to the fundamental world view questions, which is unfortunately quite commonplace in our postmodern. The proponent of this view, that simply considers the why question irrelevant or silly, often remains without any rational foundation at all and risks the unheroic possibility of merely riding the waves of popular opinion.
We can however ask the why question and I think we should.
And common sense and rationality can come to our aid if we choose so and let it dismiss a purely impersonal, unmoral, unmusical, unconscious and unloving cause for these universally experienced wonderful realities, making an appeal to something (at least very much) like a Creator God hardly a leap of faith but rather a necessary premise as literally nothing makes sense without Him.
“the knowledge of god is the beginning of wisdom”
But merely establishing the reasonableness or even the necessity of the theistic assumption (God exists) isn’t enough for my ambitious task of explaining the nature and the reason for the existence of music. The nature and character of this God also needs to be at least (again) partly understood. So I’ll proceed by confessing that
the “Him” (which should be understood without its male human connotation) is referring to the Triune God that vividly emerges from the pages of the most read (and unread) book in history, namely the bible. One simple reason for this is that this particular deity, unlike all others to my knowledge, has the right attributes to account for all the amazing facts of life as listed earlier. All other candidates lack either transcendent greatness or a consistent character, or both. If this is true it obviously entails that the biblical God, per default, is the only serious candidate even worth considering. Another reason (which is more relevant to the purpose of this book) is that the bible shows a bizarre connection to music (theory) which is my particular field of expertise and has been my life’s passion from my childhood.
To continue this introduction which finally needs to make a case for the biblical deity, this personal God, uniquely equipped with the necessary greatness to even qualify for the job of being the Prime Reality (a job that needs to be filled anyway, regardless the worldview one prefers) He is also a
reasonable source of our subjective reality i.e. consciousness and personality. This God is furthermore presented to us in an astonishing, all time best-selling epic, multi authored throughout multiple millennia, encompassing both origins and final destinies, like a breathtaking meta-symphony, filled with authenticating prophecies like leitmotifs, thoroughly rooted in verifiable history making the book mysteriously complex as well as painfully honest in its description of human nature (as also witnessed by the unique and ferocious criticism of its own people!) and staggeringly coherent like nature itself and telling the truth like the greatest piece of art ever produced. It is precisely this remarkable relationship of the bible with our shared (human) nature, with the essence of art and with nature as a whole which let billions to the believe that this, actually logically necessary God somehow authored both the bible as well as the “book” of nature.
Despite the fact that this view (which in my opinion is therefore unique in its logically grounded appreciation of art in general and music in particular as we shall see), is horribly at odds with more fashionable world views like agnosticism and atheism, I will argue that this world view was never really refuted, but merely abandoned and still holds as the only truly coherent and certainly the most fruitful way to look at reality. Especially when we realize that this view, not least because of its logical and moral coherence, gave birth to modern science, modern medicine, universal human rights and some of the most beautiful art, literature, architecture and music humankind has ever produced.
The “two books world view” like no other harmonizes (for lack of a better metaphor) the “left brain” with the “right brain”. That is, love, emotions, creativity and mystery on the one hand, with rationality, knowledge, reason and logic on the other, precisely because of the simultaneously loving and logical nature of the Author of both books that fittingly call Him the Logos and the Reason for everything that exists, but who’s love according to the same two books is beyond comprehension and who’s thoughts are higher than ours.
Again merely touching upon the subject at hand, I would suggest the possibility that music, as a wonderful section of the book of nature, exists to reflect its Creator by harmoniously combining the inseparable divine attributes of love and logic (in some way also reflected in the well known creative formula of masculine/feminine) and roughly corresponding to the two cranial hemispheres that are conspicuously present in all human recipients of the gift of music. This view therefore entails that we all should join Abba in singing:
“Thank You for the Music” because we were build for music and music teaches us something essential about God Who is the Prime Reality.
However counter cultural this idea is, the God who, in the aforementioned epic masterpiece revealed Himself as Jahweh, which aptly means “I exist”, is also called the beginning and the end (Alpha and Omega) as well as the Reason for everything else that exists; He Himself is also the main Character of the two books making everything else derivative of Him. This humbling thought is, paradoxically, directly connected to the notion of the reality, meaning, eternal worth and significance of all
human beings (regardless of culturally ascribed status), their unique personalities and eventual wellbeing. The reason for this is found as the main theme woven through the entire epic and is again solely understood hidden in the identity and nature of reality’s main Character who is mysteriously but quite aptly identified as Love Himself. This mysterious word and concept the Creator also put into the two hierarchical and life giving protocols, empirically tested (and deemed golden by most cultures), and also revealed in writing for all of humankind: First to love the Creator above everything else and second to love one’s fellow human being as one self. And according to this cosmic love epos, actually containing detailed foreshadowings of the promised Redeemer by historical types and events in the old testament as well as the actual eyewitness testimonies in the new, He showed us the deepest meaning of this mysterious word as well as the ultimate practice of these divine protocols by freely and unconditionally giving Himself away in order to pay the inevitable price of lovelessness committed by the recipients of life and freedom. Because he not only obeyed the divine protocols to perfection, He did it out of pure adoration of the truth, goodness and beauty of His Father, in stead of the fear and pride normal people tend to need as a motive for virtue.
In other words, He showed us to love unconditionally, for the
benefit of others, that is the whole world, even to enter into a loving relationship with Him. Humbling the proud by their need for grace and forgiveness at the same time lifting up the broken by proving them infinitely beloved.
This is the ultimate love which Music alludes to and the same longing, fighting and adventure to find ultimate rest, forgiveness, ecstasy and fulfillment in the God portrayed in scripture is the same rest, longing, struggle, adventure, ecstasy and fulfillment in God emotionally described and portrayed in music. And music’s anatomy actually bears witness to this fact.
Our divinely sparked minds can understand increasingly more about Him as we
study and love the book of nature (us and the universe) as well as His written book (the bible) which portrays Jahweh consistently as Triune which makes enormous sense in light of all the above and as we shall see with the nature of music.
He Himself proofs to be the divine Author of the two books of reality not least because of the experientially verifiable fact that Love, Freedom and Humility are conspicuously crucial in both books.
The two books do indeed tell an astonishingly consistent and complementary story, subtle enough to be ignored if so wished but ready to be experienced as a multilayered
interactive twin masterpiece riddled with meaningful moral metaphor, refining relationships, painful practice, humbling joy
common sense, both mystery and solid history whispering the ultimate invitation into the greatest Love imaginable.
It is exactly this ultimate love to which music alludes.
Wittingly or not, by it, people all over the world are overwhelmed with a
deep sense of purpose, comfort, and joy even through
Music is one of these interactive layers which the Creator provided to
subtly but un mistakingly hint at His loving presence which transcends all sorrow.
In this short essay
i will try to explain the fundamentals of music and argue for its non other than Divine origin by showing its metaphorical blueprint as it
uncannily reflects its Creators biblically revealed attributes while making us, whether we realize it or not, long for the rightful object of our love: the triune God.
All of nature is born of God3. As is the bible and that’s why they reflect Him. That’s also why the
bible is filled with symbolic imagery from nature, not because God is like nature but nature
looks like Him and betrays His utter brilliance as the ultimate Lover and Teacher that He is.
Music is a fabulous chapter in the book of nature that in a deeply emotional yet uniquely
abstract way reflects His Wisdom, Love and even His redemptive plan. Without God you cannot make any sense of the fact of music but like its Creator Himself (and
all great things that He created4), music is a big mystery that can be at least partly understood and should
be marveled at without end.
Let there be Music
The super-structure of music
As we commence exploring the mysterious chapter of music, we discover that, like the book of
nature as a whole (which could be divided into energy, space and time), music is comprised of harmony, melody and rhythm also bearing the
likeness of its triune Creator revealed by the second book to be fundamentally one Being, yet three unique Persons.
God’s triune fingerprint in music starts to become more evident as we discover its three elements
to be irreducible yet inseparably intertwined and even specifically comparable to the bible’s Three
Divine Persons Themselves; The way harmony and melody relate shows close resemblance to
the relationship between the Divine Father and His Son. For melody (the Son) comes eternally out of
harmony (the Father). In that sense harmony is greater than melody although they share the same essence;
Melody will always imply harmony
because they are One. In other words as soon as a melody sounds, harmony is mystically present, for melody
is harmony made personal, tangible or singable.
This fits uncannily well with the verses describing the relationship of the Son with His Father and even helps understanding them.
” He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you
say, ‘Show us the Father ‘? 10″Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me?”
The one who looks at me is seeing the one who sent me.
“.. the Father is greater than I.
The Son is the image of the invisible God.
The third element Rhythm resembles the Holy Spirit and is the most elusive one indwelling both melody and harmony as the omnipresent “time” which rhythm is. One only has to realize that a tone, which is the basis of both melody and harmony, is actually a rhythmically pulsating ripple of air pressure. So at some level it is true that: music equals rhythm. In the same way it is true that God is Spirit. Therefore the one truly unforgivable musical “sin” is against rhythm itself and
to complete this analogy, rhythm is the one musical element able to give incredible power, urgency and joy to music piece thus igniting music’s full potential to be the great emotionally persuasive director towards the Triune God of the bible.
The Musical Universe and the Cross
So how does this mysterious Music come into being? Let’s try to begin to partly understand it.
What we call sound is the disturbance in the air hitting our eardrums. As one of the results of
the mind blowing accuracy of the Fine Tuner and Upholder of the laws and constants of nature5, this
disturbance creates waves in the air pressure that strictly obey eternal mathematical rules.
This obedience of nature to the nonphysical laws of mathematics is a widely recognized mystery in itself, but as
we shall see, Music greatly adds to the mystery by turning these objective waves with abstract and recurring ratios
into subjective esthetics with concrete emotions, almost like turning water into wine, or even Truth into
Beauty for us to behold and enjoy. Two famous lines come to mind that we need to combine.
“ The Word became flesh and we beheld His glory”
“Mathematics is the alphabet in which God has written the universe.”
For those who see it, Music seems to be a mathematical reflection of the story of the incarnation and the
incarnation seems to intersect the story lines of Two Books like a Cross. The story of the Cross will reemerge as we learn more about music.
But before we continue on the symbolism of Music let’s first get back to the physical part of the Musical
Enigma and look at how sound becomes “alive” in Music.
The Redemption of Sound Part 1 Pitch
As we all intuitively know not all sound is Music like we know that not all material is food. Sound has to become organic too for it to become food for the soul which Music is. First sound has to be given an extra dimension: pitch.
If the sound wave’s are chaotic like the ones produced by a jet engine we experience random noise. But acoustic systems like a cello string or a birds vocal cord vibrate cleanly to produce clear waves that we recognize as sound with pitch according to its resonance frequency which is the speed at which the system will naturally wiggle after plucking it or blowing through it. The slower the wave frequency the lower the note sounds to us, the faster the higher. Our incredible auditory system is able to accurately identify almost infinite different frequencies at the same time, a biological hyper design that enormously adds to the accumulating case for divine fingerprints in Music.
The Redemption of Sound part 2 The revelation of tonality
Once there is sound with pitch the real magic begins..
It is nothing less than astonishing that an organic and cyclical structure of related pitches we call tonality exists at all. It is even more exiting that this system which enables real music, is thoroughly embedded in biblical numerics and symbolism.
We already learnt that Music itself is a perfect trinity of Harmony, Melody and Rhythm; they are completely one, yet uniquely distinct. Melody is Harmony revealed while Rhythm is inseparable from them all. Tonality, probably music’s most important dimension reveals that:
There are 12 different tones. The natural scale has 7 tones. The basis of tonality is the triad, a combination of 3 tones that vibrate in perfect harmony. Every other tone of the 12 longs to go home to this triad, which is the very driving force of tonality. The dissonant interval of 6 tones is called the devil’s interval and just has to surrender and resolve into the triad. The second tone of the triad can by descending and ascending call the entire musical mood and when the triad starts moving 3 steps up the scale of 7 our hearts melt as total musical bliss manifests itself in our psyche.
Let us now find out how this biblical/musical landscape emerges from acoustics.
A very interesting acoustical fact to be appreciated to this end is that a doubling of the frequency or wiggle speed f, 2f, 4f produces tones that sound identical to our ears. That is, they sound identical but higher to the subjective mind of each human being. This quite unexplainable mathematical link between our perception (ears, brains and consciousness) and physical nature forms the basis for the possibility of tonal music.
If we take a seat behind a piano we notice that this octave is divided in 7 white keys and 12 white and black keys. This obvious connection to the “holy” biblical numbers is very interesting because it flows out of the laws of nature and is therefore an universal musical truth. The next part will to attempt explain this.
And as shown on the right, an acoustic system, like a string or an air column, is never a singular vibration, but like an image of unity and multiplicity it actually wiggles in obedience to a beautifully simple mathematical pattern: 1 times its natural or resonance frequency (f), (the wave covers the entire length of the system) and at precisely 2 times this frequency: 2f (the wave is cut in half), and precisely 3f and 4f and 5f etc..
This series of frequencies that make up one tone we call the overtones and they are a mysterious ever ascending string of tones, simply “read” from the book of nature.
Traveling up this ladder of overtones we discover that the audible ones almost precisely divide the octave into 12 equal parts.
The ladder has 3 supreme and constantly recurring ones at its base (1f, 3f, and 5f) and if we climb the first seven steps (1f,2f,3f,4f,5f,6f,7f) they happen to produce a remarkable chord, which is the basis of all western harmony. Because it has the surprising attribute that itlongs to resolve into another chord, it really seems to be a logically ensuing chord in a musical story line. This next chord of 3 Supreme overtones with its fourth “longing” tone and its 12 step ladder, we actually find 3 steps up another somehow sevenfold scale of interrelated frequencies that also divides up the octave by connecting these three Supreme fundamental harmonics. (Simply by dividing and multiplying the fundamental frequency by 3 and playing the three Supreme harmonics of the three resulting frequencies.) Now we have a scale that is so embedded in our souls, so familiar to all of us that few people even realize its presence in virtually all of music.
This mysterious and universal scale of seven notes really divides up the universal octave in the musical sphere like the seven visible colors divide up the rainbow in the sky. And few people, even few musicians, truly understand the possibly worldview changing implications of this sevenfold tonal surprise which frankly surpasses even the rainbow in the sky in its symbolic significance in connecting the book of nature to the bible.
If we follow the earlier mentioned nature chord (1f,2f,3f,4f,5f,6f,7f) as it naturally climbs up the harmonics ladder we ones more discover that it travels a slightly irregular but distinctly 12 step cycle before it returns home.
And because the scale of seven tones strings together the three supreme overtones in such a simple, harmonious and beautiful way, while also almost perfectly coinciding with this 12 step division, it is quite clear that dividing the octave into 7 as well as into 12 is nothing less than the only right solution to a God given musical puzzle.
In fact the slightly irregular distances between the 12 steps (called the chromatic scale) actually only poses a problem to be solved in the case of making instruments with a fixed and absolute pitch, like a piano. Singers, violin player and wind player will naturally obey the three supreme harmonics (embedded in the scale of seven) in tuning rather than honoring the absolute division of 12 equal parts. This makes the 3 and seven fundamental and the 12 relative to them.
In summary, it is almost impossible to overemphasize the musical significance of this scale of 7 divided by 12 interrelated vibrations sprung from nature itself that make up all great melodies ever sung. The biblical numbers 3, 7, and 12 are in fact the very heart of tonality.
But the musical connection between the two books gets even more detailed at a deeper level of analysis. Next we will discover how tonality transforms sound into living and meaningful music.
In fact we will start to understand why tonality is the live giving force of music.
The three Supreme overtones are the first overtones from the harmonics ladder and played together they happen to produce a beautifully sounding triad in absolute peace and harmony.
The root note (1f) is revealingly repeated three times
(1f, 2f and 4f) and subsequently the Tonal Trinity (1f, 3f and
5f) emerges from nature’s fabric, while instantly creating the
world of tonality as it is enjoyed throughout human history. It’s also noteworthy that the absence of this triad based tonality in music transforms it back to meaningless sounds, devoid of the soul moving layer that tonality provides.
As we will see, the tonal trinity reflects its Triune Creator in still more detail for we can even
identify a tonal father, son and spirit by comparing the Two Books again, firstly looking at
the order of revelation in Genesis 1:1-3 of Father then Spirit then the Word, which
corresponds to the tonal Book of Nature: 1f (father) 3f (spirit)
and 5f (son).
Sounds farfetched? Let’s see.
A creation within a creation
As we enter the world of tonality we discover a mirror image to creation as a whole as
it also completely depends upon its causal trinity: it not only exists because of it but only
complete submission to and relationship with this trinity will create (musical) meaning, beauty
and freedom in this creation within creation.
The mysterious music metaphor continues as the musical trinity creates a tonal realm that
divides up into 7 parts, reminiscent of the creation week in genesis and reinforces the
symbolic function of wholeness (or holiness) permeating both the book of nature and the bible.
But that’s not all, it turns out that evenly dividing the sevenfold tonal realm into the just as
biblically significant number of 12 we unleash the full potential of musical meaning and magic
as utilized by folk, pop, rock, classic and jazz musicians alike: Coltrane as well as Nirvana,
Bach and the Beatles.
Just like the biblical gospel can be treated by a theologian as stuff for beginners, tonality can be assigned to the back of the composers mind in precisely the same way. Both are fundamental mistakes emptying out the mind-blowing meaning and beauty of both life and music wherefore both can and should in stead be marveled at for eternity.
As stated, the tonality mirrors the whole of reality as the trinity is at the center of it. As tonality is founded on and totally intertwined with the tonal trinity, the natural sequence of chords is equal to the most moving and uplifting sequence possible.
Realizing that reality is in fact God’s reality this makes complete sense even if it is to our utter amazement reflected in the musical realm which is the gospel of human emotion.
The great exchange, the righteous in place of the unrighteous, which is an essential part of the gospel, is equally essential in tonality. In tonality it is the unexpected yet utterly soul moving resolve into an substituted minor one uplifting step above the – screaming to be resolved– chord.
Just like life’s dissonant chapters are more than resolvable when put in the eternal context of the triune God, whereafter they proof not only painful and uncomfortable but indeed no less than crucial as life’s complex beauty unfolds. In music the same theme is woven throughout tonality’s inner structure. Dissonant’s
when still in relationship to the very consonant tonal trinity, however faint, only add to the beauty, story and meaning of the music. Whereas dissonant’s (and consonants for that matter) entirely removed from a tonal context, lose all meaning whatsoever as they only portray superficial complexity at best and bored apathy at worst.
On the other hand, tonality without dissonance (and organic complexity) results in rather unconvincing music detached from and without doing justice to the complex reality of the human experience, Thai pop music pops up in my mind.
Shifting to the act of music making itself we discover another deep and mysterious confirmation of the biblical world view.
The brilliant musician seems to be a channel rather than the originator of the music, and still, the musician surely does it, on stage as well as in ferocious practice, and might say a beautiful combination of works and grace. This beautifully shows the bible’s grasp on reality as it reflects the christian paradox of works and grace, free will and God’s total control. As in real life freedom comes by surrendering one’s (illusory) independence, musical authenticity only comes after surrendering one’s false sense of importance.
Everything we think we have must be let go of in order to receive even more than we could have imagined the theologian might indeed say in unison with the musician. In music it is something of a trade secret and in life an universally acknowledged spiritual truth. Both in the realm of music as in human life, we stand empty handed and powerless before the great Artist (or Creative force) and any illegitimate interference on our part diminishes the potential beauty, our potential identity and our musical freedom. Out of fear (to loose control) and frustration (of feeling inadequate) of nothing truly beautiful, free and original arises. Or in other words, one needs genuine trust, humility and surrendering of ego in live as well as music.
(In music there is however a tragic way around this principal as shown by the life’s of many jazz greats. A complete lack of care due to drug or alcohol abuse can mimic this selfless state of music performance, but will however result in a telling discrepancy between the beauty of their music and the ugliness of their self destructive life’s.)
In music the artist should reflect a Christ like combination of modesty and hidden beauty. Not being regarded and yet bearing witness of a beauty that transcends all worldly esteem.
The Joy of the Lord
Just the fact of being conscious is miraculous enough to persuade one to direct his/her conscious mind to the most supreme and most miraculous concept thinkable, namely God.
These seven notes were put into the fabric of a universe which already was fine-tuned beyond comprehension, ready to be discovered by creatures endowed with the gift of music. Let this sink in and consider the intelligence of the Artist who could and would do this and feel the dizziness of awe.
And nature somehow provides a musical fantasy land based on the biblical numbers 3, 7 and 12. A land that is filled with harmonic and melodic story lines that somehow make sense because of these numbers: having e.g. the nature chord (first 7 harmonics) travel 3 steps up the universal scale of seven, this will somehow create the feeling of eternal blissful resolve and longing. Whereas the usage of different numbers will create a more random feel. Good music of course, like a good story, utilizes both.
God, muziek en de bijbel
Superlatieven schieten te kort als het over muziek gaat. Muziek is iets ongelooflijks. Tot zo ver zijn we het allemaal met elkaar eens, ongeacht ons geboorteland, we- reldbeeld of geloofsovertuiging. De eenvoudige reden daarvoor is dat we het allemaal hebben erva- ren. Iedereen kan zich momenten herinneren waarin muziek in alle uiteenlopende stijlen ons blij maakte, ons ontroerde. Ons een gevoel van onbestemd verlan- gen, hoop of zelfs onverklaarbare troost in lijden gaf. Dit is een al- gemeen bekend fenomeen dat ook de filosoof Friedrich Nietzsche moet hebben ervaren.
DOOR PAUL VAN DER FEEN
Muziek is in staat iets uitzonder- lijks met ons te doen en juist in een wetenschappelijk tijdperk schreeuwt dat om een redelijke verklaring. Want hoe langer je er namelijk over nadenkt hoe mys- terieuzer het wordt. Vanuit neo- darwinistische hoek zijn een paar pogingen gedaan die zo mogelijk
In muziek mogen we Gods vingerafdruk zien.
Foto’s: Robert Hoetink
gedachte die veel vragen eigen- lijk ongeëvenaard redelijk beant- woordt. Namelijk door zowel een Schepper als een schepping te er- kennen én door lichaam en geest te erkennen, gebruikt deze visie zowel het verstand als het gevoel. Het verbindt de theorie met de er- varing en dit geeft nu juist logica en samenhang. Hierdoor kunnen
Verlangen naar de Drie-eenheid
“Zonder muziek zou het leven een vergissing zijn.”
is de mysterieuze taal van het ge- voel met een onuitputtelijke schat aan nuances en – als we alleen al de wereldwijde herkenning van
woord te kort schieten en zal er altijd ruimte blijven voor de woor- deloze verwondering die muziek verdient. Echter, twee decennia le- ven voor en door (en van) de mu- ziek brachten mij tot de volgende overtuiging: Een eerlijke studie naar de essentie van muziek doet de fundamenten het groeiende materialisme verwoestend schud- den en laat zelfs een regelrecht wonderbaarlijke connectie met de Bijbel en zijn Auteur zien! Een in- zicht dat overigens werd gedeeld door misschien wel de grootste componist uit de geschiedenis (J. S. Bach) en dat mij, een eenvou- dige musicus in onze materialis- tische cultuur, motiveerde om dit artikel te schrijven.
Christenen zeggen weleens dat God twee boeken schreef, het boek van de natuur en de Bijbel. Dat is zeker een vruchtbare theologische
nog onbevredigender zijn dan de pogingen om de menselijke taal te verklaren en die door weinigen echt serieus worden genomen. Muziek is om te beginnen name- lijk ook een taal, maar weer een heel ander soort taal dan de (even wonderbaarlijke) woordentaal. Het
mineur (als droevig) en majeur (als vrolijk) onderkennen – zelfs voor- zien van een objectieve en univer- sele betekenis! De vraag is: hoe is dit mogelijk?
Natuurlijk zal ieder menselijk ant-
kunst | 35
wetenschap, moraliteit en kunst goed met elkaar worden verbon- den, hetgeen ook bevestigd wordt door de geschiedenis(sen) van de wetenschap, de universele men- senrechten en ook de kunst. Tot zover is er gelukkig veel christe- lijke literatuur voor handen die dit fantastisch uitlegt. Maar God schreef niet slechts deze twee boeken, Hij voegde ook een luis- terboek toe: Muziek. En terwijl er over het boek van de natuur genoeg theorieën bestaan hoe dit boek zichzélf geschreven kan heb- ben, blijft het angstvallig stil als het over het luisterboek muziek gaat!
Wat is muziek?
Maar wat is muziek nu eigenlijk? Is het een uitvinding van mensen? Is het een noodzakelijk bijproduct van het heelal of het leven? Nee en nee. Het ís namelijk niet materia- listisch te verklaren.
Want volledig ingebed in de na- tuurwetten, en – zoals we zullen zien – vol van Bijbelse symboliek en reflecties van de drie-enige Auteur, is muziek in staat zelfs de eigenwijze en de gewonde men- selijke ziel te overtuigen van bo- ven-wereldse betekenis en hoop. Muziek is de ontdekking van een tijdloos wonder dat zich door de hele geschiedenis heeft geopen- baard als een drie-eenheid van Harmonie, Melodie en Ritme. En hoe meer we ons verdiepen in muziek, hoe duidelijker Gods re- flectie zichtbaar wordt. Harmonie, melodie en ritme zijn volkomen uniek en toch kunnen ze niet los van elkaar gemaakt worden, ze zijn één. Harmonie is de bron, de muzikale ‘vader’ en heeft zowel melodie als ritme in zich, melodie is de muzikale ‘zoon’ en komt uit de harmonie, maakt hem bekend en is de leidende (en lijdende) held van het verhaal; hem volgen vervult de tonale wetten, ritme is de muzikale ‘geest’ hij is alles in allen en geeft onvoorstelbare kracht aan muziek.
De Bijbelse connectie met muziek wordt nog verbluffender als we inzoomen op de meest wonder- lijke maar ook de meest bekende dimensie van muziek; de tonali-
Muziek brengt mensen in vervoering.
teit. Want ieder kind dat een liedje leert zingen ‘begrijpt’ deze dimensie en laat zo zien dat God het was die muziek aan de mens gaf. En juist hier is de reflectie van de drie-enige Schepper de blauwdruk voor muziektheorie, waardoor het onderwijzen van de beginselen van de Bijbelse theolo- gie hand in hand kan gaan met de muziekles! We zien bijvoorbeeld dat de basis toonladder uit het Bij- belse aantal van zeven tonen be- staat en dat er het (even Bijbelse) aantal van twaalf tonen in totaal voor nodig zijn om het hele tonale systeem prachtig in elkaar te laten passen. Ook Gods tegenstander lijkt symbolisch vertegenwoor- digd in het duivelsinterval met zijn wrange klank die is geschei- den door zes halve noten. Maar het absolute zwaartepunt en het klop- pende hart van de harmonieleer is de tonale drie-eenheid zelf, een- voudig ‘gelezen’ uit het boek der natuur, waardoor iedereen met een basiskennis van tonaliteit én theologie de leden van deze drie- eenheid zelf kan identificeren: de grondtoon, de basisfrequentie, of- tewel de tonale ‘vader’ is het begin en einde van de muziek en omvat alle tonen in zichzelf. De terts en overduidelijk de tonale ‘zoon’ is de meest emotionele melodienoot,
hij is ook de leidtoon en kan zelfs ‘sterven’ waardoor het akkoord objectief vrolijk of droevig kan klinken!
Tenslotte is er de kwint of tonale ‘geest’ die de meest ongrijpbare en meest dienende stem is, hij wijst altijd op en verlangt altijd naar de ‘vader’ en de ‘zoon’.
Maar hoe werkt het nu? Hoe krijgt muziek zijn objectieve betekenis? Waarom worden we meegesleept met een melodie en krijgen we kippenvel of komen er tranen van ontroering of blijdschap door te luisteren naar een liedje of mu- ziekstuk, vinden we troost zelfs in uitzichtloze situaties en ervaren we een onbeschrijfelijk verlangen naar het ultieme, het eeuwige, het hemelse?
Muziek raakt ons omdat elke noot steeds verlangt naar de tonale va- der, zoon of geest; de drieklank waarin de noten steeds rust vin- den. Dit tonale verlangen naar rust en thuiskomen in de tonale drie- eenheid ís de emotionele connec- tie met onze ziel. Want hoe ver- der de noten verwijderd zijn van de tonale drie-eenheid hoe meer dissonantie, onrust en ‚verlangen naar‘ wij ervaren in de muziek. Alleen verbondenheid met deze
tonale drie-eenheid geeft een noot betekenis in een muzikaal verhaal en het afwijzen van de tonale ‘god’ (zoals volledige atonale muziek dat doet) resulteert slechts in klanken van vervreemding, zin- loosheid of horror.
Hoewel er nog zoveel te zeggen (en te beluisteren) is, laat deze korte reis door de wonderlijke we- reld van de muziek wellicht íets van Gods vingerafdruk zien als de schepper van alles en het liefdes- verhaal dat muziek vertelt. Ten slotte kan ik niet nalaten te wijzen op het feit dat deze majeur drieklank, Gods drie-enige vinger- afdruk in muziek, waarbij de tona- le zoon is ‘opgestaan’, het laatste akkoord is van iedere grote sym- fonie. Ik zou willen verdedigen dat muziek een intellect omzeilende, in natuurwetten geschreven lief- desbrief is van Hem, die de ultie- me Kunstenaar is en behalve mu- ziek ook Zichzelf aan ons gaf.