Music and the Power of Sound: The Influence of Tuning and Interval on Consciousness Hardcover – Aug 1 1995
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"With his fierce, global intelligence, Alain Danielou was the first to wake up the West to the universality of musical harmony and its potential for planetary consciousness." (W.A. Mathieu, author of The Listening Book and The Musical Life)
"Our debt to his scholarship and humanity is immeasurable." (The Times Literary Supplement)
About the Author
Alain Daniélou (1907-1994) was without question a Renaissance man. Following his early years as an artist, dancer, and musician in Paris (Cocteau, Diaghilev, and Stravinsky were among his friends), Daniélou settled in India, where he spent fifteen years in the study of Sanskrit, philosophy, and music. After numerous university appointments in India, he returned in 1963 to Europe, establishing the Institute of Comparative Music Studies in Berlin for the reevaluation of Asian music. Daniélou wrote more than thirty books about the philosophy, religion, history, and arts of India, including Gods of Love and Ecstasy; Myths and Gods of India; Virtue, Success, Pleasure, and Liberation; While the Gods Play; The Phallus; and The Complete Kama Sutra.
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The basic principle is that an interval is the ratio produced by the frequencies of the two notes that define that interval. He tested and identified the psycho-mental effects of these intervals on listeners and connected them to three numerical elements appearing in such ratios (basically 2, 3 and 5).
But he further brings into his approach an important inspiration from the old Sanskrit approach of music. We have to note here he assumes that this Vedic tradition is the oldest human musical tradition, is the basic and sole because only possible musical approach, and it has been kept in later Hinduist music. We can see here he is totally unaware of the fact that Sumerian music is at least one thousand if not one and a half thousand years older.
Vedic music is not the original form of music. He also forgets that Hinduism is an old approach in India and he does not consider at all the Buddhist approach. All his symbolism with an ever present God as a creator would have to be challenged in the Buddhist understanding that there is no god and the world is not seen as created. Yet his symbolic approach that brings together musical notes, geometrical shapes, colors, animals, planets, basic elements, etc., ... and gods, is interesting if we let the divine elements out of a modern assimilation.
The book is a lot more interesting when he shows how an interval has to go through an acoustic trip from the ear up into the brain and the mind to be interpreted and felt. Then his formal approach can lead to a new question he does not ask: are the effects of the intervals what they are because of the correspondence between the functional structures of these intervals and the brain cells that process the acoustic stimuli, and the stimuli of other senses?
And further on, that could lead to the question: are the formal structural characteristics of sounds in agreement or disagreement with the same in a building (like in a church) that has perfect acoustics? In other words Danielou's agreement with the deistic and altogether rather purely experiential approach of the Hinduistic school limits his vision of his subject. What's more, that blocks him totally against any form of music posterior to let's say the romantics or at the latest Debussy.
He rejects all music composed over the last hundred years that does not follow the basic musical principles from the Renaissance to the Impressionistic era. In fact he states that all Vedic vision of music is the acme of music and he rejects the western principles of harmony that triumphed at the end of the 15th century. There is not much left then except going back to an exiled Tibetan monastery in some lost Himalayan mountain. I don't think anyone wants to be that regressive. It could have been a marvelous book with a little distantiation from his hinduistic absolute reference.
Dr Jacques COULARDEAU
Expand your knowledge here, as there much food for thought!
Although I have finished the book as of yet, I am finding it an enjoyable, you might too!
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