8 thoughts on “Musical anomalogy

  1. I love it! But it’s made me think more deeply about time and absence/nothingness. What shapes both melody and harmony is silence. Debussy is credited with saying, “Music is the space between the notes.” This can be interpreted both diachronically and synchronically.

    Perhaps melody and harmony can be fruitfully thought of as patterns of sound and silence. Melody is a diachronic pattern of sound and silence, while harmony is a synchronous one.

    1. I’ve seen this same idea in Jewish thought:

      “When we think about a Torah scroll, we usually only consider the letters themselves, written in black ink. Yet, the Talmud (Menachot 29a) rules that every letter in a Torah scroll must be completely surrounded by parchment. This requirement is called mukaf gevil. In other words, the white parchment around the letters is an integral part of the Torah; without it, the Torah scroll is disqualified. In fact, the white space is a higher form of Torah. It is analogous to the white fire of Sinai — a sublime, hidden Torah that cannot be read in the usual manner.”


    2. This connects with the symbology of the Chinese coin.

      Rene Guenon says “It will be observed that this [circle with inscribed square] diagram reproduces the shape of Chinese coins, which also happens originally to have been the shape of certain ritual tablets. The part that the characters are inscribed on — that is, the solid area between the circular outline and the square empty space in the centre — clearly corresponds to the Cosmos comprising the ‘ten thou­sand beings’. The fact that this area is bounded by two voids is a symbolic expression of the fact that what is not between Heaven and Earth is for that very reason not a part of manifestation.”

      1. A dramatic (but techie) way of seeing the “equivalence” of melody and harmony as patterns of sound and silence is to consider digitized music/sound. A digitized song is nothing but 1s (presence) and 0s (absence). Each “word” (sequence of N bits) represents a harmony, ie a synchronized sound wave pattern (ie an instant of sound). The sequence of such words represents a diachronic melody (ie a sequence of sound instances).

        For me at least, thinking of harmony and melody as simply the presences and absences represented by 1s and 0s is a fruitful way of imagining “becoming”. Pure something is all 1s. Pure nothing is all 0s. Reality is the interplay of 1s and 0s.

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