law of gravitation

"lower effect than the fifth; the seventh, B, has a higher effect than the sixth; but the eighth, C, has a lower effect than the seventh. If the effects of notes or chords depended wholly on the mathematical primes by which they are measured and located, or the ratios inherent in them, then the effects of the tonic, subdominant, and dominant chords would have been alike, for these chords are measured by exactly the same primes, and have exactly the same ratios. It is the position of the tonic chord which gives it its importance and not any special primes by which it is produced, nor any special ratios inherent in it. Notes by the power of 2 have a pure unmixed and invariable character. Notes by the first, second, and third powers of 3 have different degrees of centrifugal force; and the character of the notes produced by the first power of 5 depends on the character of the notes from which they are derived. The final character of notes and chords is determined by the amount of force which they have acquired from the way in which they have been derived, and from their position in the system. And no matter where these notes may be afterwards placed, like chemical elements, they never lose their original forces and tendencies. What Tyndal says of the inorganic chemical elements of the brain is true of the inorganic notes of music, "They are all dead as grains of shot." It is the organic state which gives the notes and chords their gravities and levities, and these two tendencies, the one upward and the other downward, constitute the vital principle of music. It is true that the mathematical operation is required to give birth and life to music, and that the mathematical system gives the knowledge of causes down to the law of gravitation, yet the artistic effects are fully realised from the tempered system deriving its organic harmony from this vital principle of music. The centrifugal tendencies of the notes of the subdominant, are too strong to be at all disturbed by the system being tempered. The enormous power of these chords corrects the effect which might otherwise arise from tempering, as the enormous power of the sun corrects the perturbations of the planets." [Scientific Basis and Build of Music, page 29]

The law of gravitation is the law of Music as well as of Astronomy. The cycles of the distances, that is the intervals, in Music correspond to the cycles of the periods in Astronomy. In Astronomy the distances and quantities of matter are primary, and determine the periods; in Music the periods and quantities are primary, and determine the distances or intervals. In Astronomy the distances are commensurable; in Music the periods are commensurable. In Astronomy the periods are incommensurable; in Music the distances or intervals are incommensurable. In Astronomy, because the simplicity is not in the periods, the conjunctions are very few at one time; in Music, because the simplicity is in the periods, the conjunctions are very many at one time. And herein lies in the one case the harmony and permanence of the solar system, and in the other case the harmony and beauty of the musical system. The periods and distances in Astronomy and Music are inversely related. [Scientific Basis and Build of Music, page 30]

Helmholtz falls into a mistake when he says- "The system of scales and modes, and all the network of harmony founded on them, do not seem to rest on any immutable laws of Nature, but are due to the aesthetical principle which is constantly subject to change, according to the progressive development of taste." It is true, indeed, that the ear is the last judge; but the ear is to judge something which it does not create, but simply judges. Nature is the maker of music in its scales and modes. The styles of composition may vary with successive generations, and in the different nations of men; but the scientific basis of music is another thing. It is a thing, belonging to the aesthetic element of our being and our environment; it is under the idea of the beautiful, rather than the idea of the useful or the just; but all these various aspects of our relation to creation have their laws which underlie whatever changes may be fashionable at any period in our practice. If the clang-farbe of a musical tone, that is, its quality or timbre, depends on the number and comparative strength of the partial tones or harmonics of which it is composed, and this is considered to be the great discovery of Helmholtz, it cannot be that the scales and modes are at the caprice of the fickle and varied taste of times and individuals, for these partials are under Nature's mathematical usages, and quite beyond any taste for man's to change. It is these very partials or harmonics brought fully into view as a system, and they lead us back and back till they have brought us to the great all-prevading law of gravitation; it is these very partials, which clothe as an audible halo every musical sound, which constitute the musical system of sounds. [Scientific Basis and Build of Music, page 78]

See Also


Created by Dale Pond. Last Modification: Sunday November 22, 2020 04:57:07 MST by Dale Pond.