A Mystical Contemplation on Music Theory

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A Mystical Contemplation on Music Theory

#1 Postby Phillip » Tue Jun 03, 2014 11:12 am

Upon contemplating music theory in the lines of spiritual teaching, I am interested in the knowledge about emotions and our emotional being that music educates. We know that each key conveys a particular emotional tone, and each note or chord within a key or progression conveys an emotional tone, which is quite commonly agreed upon. There isn’t much debate on the emotional texture that these keys, notes and chords convey. There may be something intrinsic to them, at least as these bodies relate with these sounds.

Yet these keys and progressions are utterly mathematical in nature. This seems to contradict with much of society’s thinking about emotions. We imagine them to be irrational, chaotic and whimsical, and yet the sounds that communicate, convey and even often have the power to direct such emotions are the product of a mathematical relationship between sounds.

In this vein, I wonder if the apparent “chaotic” quality or “nature” of emotions is more a product of a misapplication of our thinking around emotions, and our way of relating to them. Perhaps we are thinking about them in the wrong way, and so they seem to have a “chaotic” nature because we are thinking about them in a frame that doesn’t apply, to whose rules they don’t obey, and yet they may operate under a set of rules as rational and orderly as musical notes, chords and progressions.

Consider this: When obsessing on a particular event or thought and emotions around it, we can have the tendency to allow this perspective to color our view of the world around us. Our entire mentality and world view can be “colored” by this emotional tone/texture, and a thought-matrix arises to explain things according to it. We can awake from this as from a dream, and it can be as though the birds are chirping on a new morning, and what seemed to be the horrible state of the world for all time is simply a bad day, in the past and a new, more hopeful reality now takes hold. What is the difference energetically?

Imagine keys in connection to this. In any key, the name of the key is the root note, the sense of resolution abides in and rests in the root note. The same is true for chord progressions. The root chord is where the emotional tension of the other chords resolve themselves. A song that ends on a chord or note other than the root note feels unresolved. A song that does has a feeling of “DONE!” Musicians know this and have been playing with it for thousands of years. A minor key in a progression also follows this rule, but it resolves itself in an inherently unresolved place. A song in the key of A minor, for instance, will find it’s “resolution” in A minor, but will always have an unresolved feel, due to the inherent nature of minor chords. They have this unresolved quality.

So, is this then not a wonderful metaphor for such obsessions? When a mentality of a hopeless world takes us over, are we not essentially trapped in a minor key? Are we not, on some level, placing that event, circumstance or thought at the "root" position of the key, and allowing it to direct our world-view? All the same notes and chords in the key of A minor exist in other keys, but their order and “unresolved resolution” is a product of their existence in that progression, they key of A minor. In this sense, the key conveys a mentality. Can we take the same details and simply inwardly enact a key change?

Jazz is famous for musicians engaging in key changes mid song, and many musicians have played with this over the course of human civilization. They take the same notes and begin to play upon them in a different key, and before you know it, the entire tone and texture of the song changes, yet they haven’t broken any rules, they simply play upon certain notes and chords in one key and shift to another seamlessly. Can we perform the same magic with consciousness? Is shifting mentality and emotional patterns simply a matter of key changes, and can we learn to think in this way in relation to our emotions and mentalities and thus re-envision events/circumstances and experiences in such a way to uplift our own energy and the energy of others? Do we over-complicate the process of shifting out of emotions because we don't understand their nature, and can music help us understand the true order of this faculty of consciousness and how emotion participates in the generation and sustenance of any particular mentality?

May The Lord of Hosts bless us and keep us!


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