Begin by clicking on Play Music to the right above. Allow the music to provide a contemplative background for your reading of the first few paragraphs of this essay.
Transformative art serves as a portal to higher consciousness. Such transcendent art propels the readied psyche to dimensions higher than previously experienced, to epiphanies. These epiphanies involve inspiration, a fusing with the universe, transcending of time-space-ego, infusion with knowledge and awareness, and gaining a sense of endowment. Psychic upheaval and transport to higher awareness can occur in any area of human life at a multiplicity of levels.
"Music opens to man an unknown region, a world that has nothing in common with the world that surrounds him, in which he leaves behind all ordinary feeling to surrender himself to an inexpressible longing."
E. T. A. Hoffmann, Essay on Beethoven
Illuminating art has been with humankind since its beginning, guiding humans in their evolutionary ascent. Hermes, an ancient Egyptian savant, was seen as the founder of the musical arts. As to the antiquity of these musical arts among the Egyptians, Plato said that songs and poetry had existed in Egypt for at least ten thousand years, and that these were of such an exalted and inspiring nature that only gods or godlike men could have composed them.
"The origin of music lies far back in time. It arises out of harmony and it is rooted in the Great One. The Great One gives rise to two poles: the two poles give rise to the powers of darkness and light. That from which all beings arise and in which they have their origin is the Great One; that whereby they form and perfect themselves is the duality of darkness and light. As soon as the seed-germs start to stir, they coagulate into a form. The bodily shape belongs to the world of space, and everything special has a sound. The sound arises out of harmony. Harmony arises out of relatedness. Harmony and relatedness are the root from which music, established by the ancient kings, arose."
Chinese text: The Spring and Autumn Annals, 722 BCE
The distinguishing feature of Perennialist 1 art--including music--is its power to encourage a prepared mind to move to a higher dimension. Perennialist art includes the conscious transmission, production, or arrangement of words, sounds, colors, forms, movements, or other elements in a manner that enables a person to comprehend Justice, Truth, Beauty, and the other Forms in the Higher Realm.
"The essence of art is insight of a special kind into reality."
Wallace Stevens, American Poet
A Perennialist musical composition contains various levels of spiritual meaning. Only a small number of musical compositions are actually Perennialist in reference to their meaning and source--created by a Perennialist artist. Some musical compositions--"high musical art"--contain the essence of Perennialist music while other musical pieces contain Perennialist strains only.
An artist's--soloist's or conductor's--rendition of a Perennialist or "high" music composition can be at any of the various levels, depending on his or her degree of spiritual awareness. Only an artist who has an understanding of the highest level of meaning of a musical composition can reveal the true essence of the piece. A soloist must be a master of his or her instrument to perform a rendition of the composition which is at the highest level.
"Each adept has a particular grade in listening to transformative music and the feelings which he gains therefrom are proportionate to his grade. Listening to transformative music is like the sun, which shines on all things but affects them differently according to their level: it burns or illumines or dissolves or nurtures.
"Seers in listening to transformative sounds penetrate to the reality. When a man attains so high a degree as this he hears spiritual truths from every object in the universe."
Hujwiri, The Revelation of the Veiled Mysteries
Persons must participate in specific preparatory exercises for Perennialist music or other art forms to be able to induce transformative experiences in them. To an unprepared psyche, Perennialist art appears lackluster or bizarre and no heightened state of consciousness is realized.
"As with all valuable things, however, Beethoven's music is not to be enjoyed for nothing. We must on our side contribute something to the
enterprise, something more than simply buying a ticket to the
performance. We must study his work in the right spirit, and place
ourselves in a receptive attitude when listening to it to understand his
message. Often metaphysical, particularly in the work of his later
years, his meaning will be revealed only when we devote to it earnest
and sympathetic study. No other composer demands so much of one; no
other rewards the student so richly for the effort required.
a fact the subject of thought vitalizes it. It is as if the master had
said to the aspirant: 'I will admit you into the ranks of my disciples,
but you must first prove yourself worthy.' An initiation is necessary;
somewhat of the intense mental activity which characterized Beethoven in
the composition of his works is required of the student also. There is a
tax imposed for the enjoyment of them."
George Alexander Fischer, Beethoven, 1905
Reading and following the directions in this essay in the appropriate mind-frame is an indispensable "exercise" in preparation for transformative experiences. The exercise includes listening, in the manner indicated, to the musical pieces provided in the essay.
"For a Sufi at a sama', 2 prepared readiness involves a special attentive listening. In the Muslim tradition, hearing is the most highly valued sense, the ear the way to spirituality and gnosis. One does not read scripture silently to oneself; one listens to it being recited by others, or recited aloud by oneself. The habitus of the Sufi listener at a sama' in New Delhi begins with the listener's understanding of the passages in the Qur'an that remind the faithful of the need to be a careful listener. . .
"Sufis are concerned to bring about a transformation of ordinary consciousness to make receiving spiritual knowledge possible. Attentive listening is the path."
Judith Becker, Deep Listeners: Music, Emotion, and Trancing, 2004
At this point, begin to read the words of this essay aloud to yourself. Press the stop button in the control panel above to halt the music (if it is still playing).
A genuine Perennialist art object--musical composition, musical performance, painting, literary work, sculpture, cathedral, etc.--is the terrestrial embodiment of a Perennialist savant's apprehension of a transcendent element.
There is explosive power in such manifestations of celestial elements because they represent the compression of Divine energy into an earthly synthesis.
"The moment at which a composer's experience is projected on his
unconscious mind is an archetypal encounter of external and internal, of 'life'
and 'art'; this encounter is experienced at its most concentrated form within
the process of composition itself, where the composer's 'innate' inspiration
collides with his 'learned' technique."
Jonathan Harvey, Music and Inspiration, 1999
Before examining specifically how Perennialist music produces a special type of upheaval which leads to heightened consciousness, we'll explore how music affects the mind and emotions in general.
One of the major difficulties facing humankind at present is its false belief that art and cultural elements in general have little if any effect on the human psyche. In his book Music, Its Secret Influence Throughout the Ages, Cyril Scott explains:
"The prevalent notion holds that styles of music are merely the outcome and expression of civilizations and national feelings--that is to say that the civilization comes first, and its characteristic species of music afterwards. But an examination of history proves the truth to be exactly the reverse: an innovation in musical style has invariably been followed by an innovation in politics and morals. And what is more . . . the decline of music in [Egypt and Greece] was followed by the complete decline of the Egyptian and Grecian civilizations themselves."
One of the first proofs of the negative effect of degenerate art is the rapid deterioration in the quality of popular music, movies, art, and social enjoyments and distractions--without most persons in the culture being aware of the deterioration.
Plato's Understanding of Music
This is one of many areas of human life in which our failure to study and practice Plato's philosophy has resulted in cultural degeneration. Plato was so aware of the positive and negative effects of music on the human psyche that he stated:
"Let me make the songs of a nation and I care not who makes the laws."
Plato understood that the degeneration of Athens had been caused in part by citizens losing awareness of the effects of music. It was, he claimed, through ignorance that Athenians affirmed that music has no truth, that it is neutral and, whether good or bad, can only be judged by the pleasure of the hearer. Plato outlined the contribution music made to the moral decline of Athens and denounced the ignorance of "men of genius."
"They were supposed men of genius, but they had no perception of what was just and lawful in music . . . And by composing licentious works, and adding to them lewd words, they have aroused the multitude to lawlessness and impudence, and made them fancy that they could judge for themselves about melody and song . . . In music there first arose the universal conceit of omniscience and general lawlessness. Dissoluteness followed these pretences and men, fancying that they knew what they did not know, no longer felt awe, and the absence of awe begets shamelessness. For what is this shamelessness, which is so evil a thing, but the insolent refusal to regard the opinion of the better person by reason of an over-daring sort of license?"
Plato, Laws III
"At MTV, we don't shoot for the 14 year olds, we own them. The strongest appeal you can make is emotionally. If you can get their emotions going, make them forget their logic, you've got them."
Bob Pitman, founder and one-time president of MTV
"Atmospheres are going to come through music . . . You can hypnotize people with the music and when you get them at their weakest point, you can preach into the subconscious what you want to say."
Rock "music" provides the most graphic illustration of what Plato is saying: how degenerate music degrades a culture--in this case, American society. The noise that Alan Freed called "Rock and Roll" in 1955 has spawned a diverse progeny: Heavy Metal, Rap, Punk, Alternative, Grunge, ad nauseum.
One of the common elements in this type of freakish dissonance is the heavy pulsating beat blasted out through electronically amplified instruments, especially the guitar.
The degeneration of the American population that has occurred over the last sixty years can, to a significant degree, be attributed to debased music and art (e.g. mind-destroying TV sit-coms, movies celebrating barbaric murderers, etc.). Most Americans have become illiterate and ignorant, which means among other things that they're incapable of seeing reality or even being interested in knowing what's going on in the world.
Hard Rock-Heavy Metal-Rap
"Rock, properly understood, is music warfare waged upon an unsuspecting society by guitar-gunners who are frequently fully aware of what they are about.
"More than any other form of the misuse of sound, it is rock with which we must deal today. There is no question but that rock is intimately related to the kind of state of consciousness found in vast numbers of
young people — young people who are to be the 'mature' adults of the future world.
"Rock has unquestionably affected the philosophy and lifestyle of millions. It is a global phenomenon; a pounding, pounding, destructive beat which is heard from America and Western Europe to
Africa and Asia.
"Its effect upon the soul is to make nigh-impossible the true inner silence and peace necessary for the contemplation of eternal verities. Its 'fans' are addicted, though they know it not, to the
'feelgood', egocentricity-enhancing, para-hypnotic effects of its insistent beat.
"How necessary it is in this age for some to have the courage to be the ones who are 'different', and to separate themselves out from the pack who long ago sold their lives and personalities to this sound and the anti-Aquarian culture which has sprung up around it!
"I adamantly believe that rock in all of its forms is a critical problem which our civilization must get to grips with in some genuinely effective way, and without delay, if it wishes long to survive."
David Tame, The Secret Power of Music
We're criticizing debased forms of music and art--including rock noise--not in the mind-frame of religious bigots preaching against Bible-denounced evil--or literary bigots such as Tolstoy 3 who mistakenly denounced Beethoven's Kreutzer Sonata as libertine. Any thinking person must denounce degenerate music, not out of a sense of religious presumptuousness, but because artistic corruption of all types leads to the debasement and ultimate decimation of our entire culture.
"Music can be intoxicating. Such apparently slight causes destroyed Greece and Rome, and will destroy England and America."
Henry David Thoreau
Our censure of modern depraved music is more in line with the thought of Carl Orff (1895-1982):
"Elemental Music is never just music. It is bound up with movement,
dance and speech, and so it is a form of music in which one must participate,
in which one is involved not as a listener but as a co-performer . . . Elemental
Music, word and movement, play, everything that awakens and develops the
powers of the soul builds up the humus of the soul, the humus without which
we face spiritual soil-erosion. When does soil-erosion arise in nature? When
the land is cultivated in an unbalanced way, when the natural hydrological
cycle is disturbed by over-cultivation, when forest and hedge are sacrificed on
utilitarian grounds to the drawing-board mentality--in short, when the balance
of nature is undermined by one-sided encroachment. And in the same way we
face spiritual soil-erosion when man estranges himself from the elemental and
loses his balance."
A Renewed Understanding of Music
Through rediscovery of the Perennial Tradition's teachings about music, we can regain our understanding of how music affects individuals as well as the whole of society--and how High Music can induce Heightened Awareness.
Plato saw music as a means of developing the human soul:
"Instruction in music is a more potent operation
than many others, because rhythm and harmony find their way into the
inner regions of the soul, with which they forcefully interconnect, imparting
refinement. The soul of one appropriately educated becomes graceful."
Plato, The Commonwealth, III, 401.d
"Plato depreciated the notion that music was intended solely to create cheerful and agreeable emotions, maintaining rather that it should inculcate a love of all that is noble, and hatred of all that is mean, and that nothing could more strongly influence man's innermost feelings than melody and rhythm. Firmly convinced of this, he agreed with Damon of Athens, the musical instructor of Socrates, that the introduction of a new and presumably enervating scale would endanger the future of a whole nation, and that it was not possible to alter a key without shaking the very foundations of the State. Plato affirmed that music which ennobled the mind was of a far higher kind than that which merely appealed to the senses, and he strongly insisted that it was the paramount duty of the Legislature to suppress all music of a . . . lascivious character, and to encourage only that which was pure and dignified . . . Popular taste, being always tickled by sensuous and meretricious effects, was to be treated with deserved contempt."
Emil Nauman, The History of Music
Deeply influenced by Pythagoras and Socrates, Plato recommended that only two musical modes be used in a society' education of its young people: the Phrygian and the Dorian. These two types, Plato maintained, instill morality and discretion. Plato suggested that music which encourages mindlessness and ignorance, all music that threatens rational self-control, be eliminated from a culture--to avoid societal degeneration.
Anicius Boethius (480–524 CE), a profound student of Plato,
wrote in his On Music:
"Music can both establish and destroy morality. For no path is more open to the soul for the formation thereof than through the ears. Therefore when the rhythms and modes have penetrated even to the soul through these organs, it cannot be doubted that they affect the soul with their own character and conform it to themselves."
Perennialist teachers do not claim that music automatically produces virtue or vice; it merely disposes one toward the acquisition of moral and spiritual qualities and experiences--or the opposite.
"Music can only suggest, encourage with its delights, not force anyone to act contrary to their best convictions, yet, many suggestions can undermine felt and reasoned convictions over a prolonged period of time."
Basil Cole, Music and Spirituality
Hildegard of Bingen's (1098-1179) statement, "Music is the echo of the glory and beauty of heaven. And in echoing that glory and beauty, it carries human praise back to heaven," resounds in the contemporary world through Julius Portnoy's 1963 Music in the Life of Man: "Music is the releaser into the material world of a fundamental, super-physical energy from beyond the world of everyday experience."
The ancient Chinese text, Li Chi states: "The harmony and sacred proportion of heaven is viewed as entering the earth through the mediation of music and ritual . . . Music is the harmony of heaven and earth while rites are the
measurement of heaven and earth. Through harmony all things are made known; through measure all things are properly classified. Music comes from heaven; rites are shaped by earthly design."
All civilizations are confronted with a choice between art and music that leads to social degeneration or that which induces toward transcendent values and cultural health. Human history shows that
the introduction of corrupting art and music leads very quickly to social degeneration and dissolution.
So-called musical "modernists" John Cage, Arnold Schoenberg and the Second Viennese School, and Philip Glass, among many others, have had appalling effect on the state of serious music in the late twentieth and early twenty-first century. Cage defined music as noise--and proceeded to produce noise (by knocking things off tables onto the floor) which he deemed music to prove his point. Much of Glass's music is best titled: Cacophony in B flat minor for two trash trucks.
"For the advocates of atonal serialism and their aesthetic brethren, the Platonic concept of value in art being the result of the union of beauty, truth and goodness was viewed as a quaint vestige of a bygone era."
These self-appointed innovators twisted tonality, the chosen syntax of composers for roughly three-hundred years, into chromaticism and extended tonal and poly-tonal nonsense. Their only real purpose was to create the bizarre for the sake of the bizarre, which they masked as the achievement of greater individuality and expressiveness.
The capitalist musical impresarios--record company and movie studio executives, etc.--are quite happy to see classical musical values destroyed by the rock-and-rollers, the rap thugs, and the atonal "modernists."
This fits in with their desire to obliterate all transcendent values in their creation of an amoral, dog-eat-dog totalitarian world police state culture.
Paul Hindemith saw through this "modernistic" anti-music and denounced composers "who flatly deny the ethic power of music, nor do they admit any moral obligation on the part of those writing. For them, music is essentially a play with tones, and although they spend a considerable amount of intelligence and craftsmanship to make it look important, their composition can be of no greater value, as a sociological factor, than bowling or skating."
Hindemith understood that the composer who has become aware of the transcendent values of harmony, beauty, truth, and justice "will then know about musical inspiration and how to touch validly the intellectual and moral depths of our soul. All the ethic power of music will be at his command and he will use it with a sense of severest moral responsibility. His further guides will be an inspiring creative ideal and the search of its realization; an unshakable conviction in the loftiness of our art; a power to evoke convincing and exalting forms and to address us with the language of purity."
As Americans have devolved to a state of ignorance, they no longer comprehend the essentials of music composition and performance. Encouraged by plutocratic cultural terrorists, the new anti-music thugs preach a counterfeit egalitarianism that allows no norms by which to evaluate music.
Dolts such as Leonard B. Meyer became the pseudo-philosophers of the new atonal music school.
Meyer explored the relationship of Game theory to musical composition, resulting in incoherent mumbo-jumbo. Meyer pontificated:
"Making explicit value judgments about individual works of art is considered invidious and elitist . . . because privileging any work or style is non-egalitarian."
In the insane domain of modern rock, rap, and atonality, the music of Beethoven is considered to be no different--or better--than Ice-T's noise.
"The commercial use of rock music, combined with the prominence of visual media -- television, cinema and video -- contributes to what Meyer refers to as a condition of 'presentism-cum-consumerism,' where living for the moment without regard for the future (clearly an adolescent mind-set) is the prevailing attitude in contemporary society. This 'presentism' is manifested in a myriad of ways, from individuals living on credit cards to corporations seeking quick profits over long term investments (one need only to look at the conglomerates that run the classical record industry) to governments that are more willing to spend surpluses rather than pay down debt or invest in ways that can sustain growth.
"The adolescent desire for instant gratification in this 'live-for-the moment' culture has led to a condition where there is little tolerance for music that cannot be digested with a minimum of effort or involvement. Serious 'art music' is marginalized in this environment as our attitudes and listening habits grow more passive."
David Eaton, "The Influence of Music on Self and Society - Values in Music in Eastern and Western Cultures"
One classical composer, Claude Debussy, was able to create genuine "new age" music--what all the "modernists" have striven for and have failed--because they were not true musicians. His String Quartet in G Minor, Opus 10 introduced a completely new style of music.
The Transmission of Perennialist Music
As we struggle against demonic oppression and degeneration in the twenty-first century, we find a powerful example in late eighteenth century Europe of how music can be used as a transformative, revolutionary, humanistic force.
"The Revolution sought to transform French music into a moral weapon in the service of a momentous historical mission. The frivolities and sensuousness of galant music were abjured, and the 'scholastic' contrivances of Baroque and Classical forms were done away with;
music was assigned, in the words of music historian Jules Combarieu, 'a serious character which it had not had since antiquity outside of the Church.' In brief, the Revolution introduced an explicit ideological and ethical function into music, which was later to become one of the characteristics of Beethoven's 'public' compositions. Revolutionary music was utilized in official ceremonies and celebrations of various abstract Revolutionary ideals. And one of its major functions was the apotheosis of its fallen heroes through funeral hymns, marches, and cantatas."
"Beethoven's . . . 'Joseph' Cantata's dramatic theme, the death of a good prince, seems also to have given Beethoven leave to express deeper feelings than those possible within the manner and modes of his imitative and 'obedient' instrumental music. The cantata speaks of shared grief, of love between a ruler and his subjects, of the battle of reason against ignorance and fanaticism, of a hero who dies in humanity's service."
Maynard Solomon, Beethoven
From Beethoven's famous Ode to Joy in the magnificent Ninth Symphony, adapted from Friedrich Schiller's poem, the chorus sings:
In the Joy, thou source of light immortal, Daughter of Elysium
The word "Elysium" refers to Eleusis, an earlier Greek portal to another world.
Through his reading the Enlightenment philosophers Schilling, Schelling and Schlegel, all of whom were heavily influenced by earlier Eastern and Greek thought, Beethoven developed an interest in oriental philosophy.
He came across an inscription in The Paintings of Egypt, by J. F. Champollion (the scholar who decoded the Rosetta Stone), which he copied, framed, and hung over his desk.
"I am that which is. I am everything that was and is and shall be. No mortal has raised my veil. HE is himself alone, and to this Only One all things owe their existence."
"The American Revolution became
an accomplished fact during Beethoven's boyhood. Nearer home, events were fast
coming to a focus, which culminated in the French Revolution. The magic
words, Liberty, Equality, Fraternity, and the ideas for which they
stood, were everywhere in the minds of the people. The age called for
enlightenment, spiritual growth . . .
"Beethoven's birthplace, Bonn, no doubt proved a favorable soil for the
propagation of the new ideas. The unrest pervading all classes, an
outcome of the Revolution, showed itself among the more serious-minded
in increased intellectuality, and a reaching after higher things.
"This Zeitgeist is clearly reflected in his compositions, in particular the
symphonies and sonatas. 'Under the lead of Italian vocalism,' said
Wagner, speaking of the period just preceding the time of which we
write, 'music had become an art of sheer agreeableness.' The beautiful
in music had been sufficiently exploited by Mozart and Haydn.
demonstrated that music has a higher function than that of mere beauty,
or the simple act of giving pleasure. The beautiful in literature is not
its best part. To the earnest thinker, the seeker after truth, the
student who looks for illumination on life's problem, beauty in itself
is insufficient. It is the best office of art, of Beethoven's art in
particular, that it leads ever onward and upward; that it acts not only
on the esthetic and moral sense, but develops the mental faculties as
well, enabling the individual to find a purpose and meaning in life."
George Alexander Fischer, Beethoven, 1905
How Perennialist Music Encourages Special Psychic Epiphanies
In this section of the essay, you need to pay very close attention to what you're feeling as you listen to various pieces of music. Note in particular how the music affects your mood, whether it, for example, startles, soothes, encourages reflection, etc. Do not merely listen to the music as you ordinarily would; listen with focused attention for the tones, movements, and harmonies within each piece.
We first need to distinguish the unique type of Perennialist psychic upheaval from ordinary phenomena: an uproar, racket, or tumult. You will likely have some familiarity with this first piece. Pay attention to the feeling it induces in you. Click on Play Music below to begin. Listen to this piece before reading further.
Along with moving you into a "martial" or warlike feeling mode as did the first cavalry sound, this piece pulls you along further and for an extended period of time into a militant, aggressive sensation. You feel "caught up" in a bellicose, hostile mood-state.
The first two pieces provided you with definite experience of how music can induce you to become "infected" with a mood. You now should have a sense of how music can and does affect persons in a negative way.
This next piece is in somewhat the same feeling-mode, though it is of an entirely different musical genre. Again, click on Play Music and pay concentrated attention to how this encourages you to feel.
This non-musical piece--that pretends to be music--is monotonous while including a mere crashing noise. It discourages reflection, gives unthinking persons a sense that they're listening to something avant garde and "modern." The piece has zero musical quality and consumes the time and attention of persons who might be listening to enlightening and transformative music.
We now move to a different type of music. Pay attention to how this encourages you to feel. Click on Play Music to start.
We've now moved to a more positive style of music, yet it is very simple and "elemental." This is a tune you are probably familiar with. This allows you to sense how music can be positive in its effect.
With this musical piece we move farther into the "positive" mode of music, with a more complex and elaborate content.
The final musical composition presented in this essay disposes you to a truly transcendent experience--what we have named "a special upheaval" or Epiphany. I encourage you to concentrate on the feelings it inspires in you and explore the degree of ascent you're able to achieve with the music as a "magic carpet" of sound.
"This life in and with music, being essentially a victory over external forces and a final allegiance to spiritual sovereignty, can only be a life of humility, of giving of one's best to one's fellow man. This gift will not be like alms passed on to the beggar; it will be the sharing of a man's every possession with his friend."