Alchemy involves Music or at least a weird succession of sounds. Maybe more of all this. Atorène provides a course on musical, or ponderal, proportions.
How many researchers in Alchemy are familiar with music theory? They are most likely accomplished in philosophy and chemistry. And, again, the Last Cooking has always been kept aside for adepts. But he/she who doesn’t know the basics of music theory will fail to understand why sometimes the Philosophers Stone has been called a “Cosmic Resonator”. And perhaps a new alchemical world will open up in front of us.
The time has come to give a new category “Alchemy & Acoustic-Musicology” an autonomous path, independent from the Western Cabbalah classification which so far has protected and hidden it. There is a reason this article opens the new category: the sounds discharged by the Philosophical Egg represent a non-philosophical but objective physical element, in fact, those whistles could be heard by anyone attending the event. Thus, for the moment, let’s start with what we experimentally know, before getting towards a Terra Incognita I haven’t a slighted idea where will take us. My research doesn’t mean to remain confined to authors who have a reputation for Alchemy. Among them, Francesco Zorzi, Heinrich Khunrath, Robert Fludd, John Dee, and Johannes Reuchlin were perhaps the ancient authors who have more than others undertaken this path with the decision. But also Michael Maier and René Schwaller de Lubicz have given some hints.
I don’t know if that was also the intention of Atorène, surely the Canseliet’s apprentice here wanted to lay the theoretical foundations to go beyond his Master. The pages I have translated from “Le Laboratoire Alchimique”, 1981, are a real and comprehensive music theory course to provide solid foundations to figure out the variations of sounds from Canseliet’s Philosophical Egg during the famous seven whistles, and the philosophical and mathematical implications of the resulting musical scale, through the ponderal (weight) accretions. Atorène had already presented and integrated the work of his teacher in Brouaut’s Frontispiece, the Organ Pythagorean Proportions, and promised to make even the reader less familiar with music theory to understand what was so thrilling in the detection of the weights difference ratio.
The course starts with the presentation of the Philosophical Week, which is the musical interval of the Last Cooking, then continues with the musical notation and Law of Attraction. Before getting to the Egg’s Densities Variations, and Degrees of Fire, Atorène provides the reader unfamiliar with the mathematical laws of the proportions of the sound with the construction of notes, intervals, and scales, and Pythagoras, as well as Zarlino’s, range. Readers unaware of music theory are recommended not to skip the theoretical parts to jump to the chapter on the Rhythms of the Universe, as, incredibly, the egg behaves just like a music resonator. And only by knowing the music theory, we might come to understand what Canseliet did not say.
Music Theory Course for Alchemists: The Week
From ancient Egypt, answers Dio Cassius Cocceianus (Nicaea in. 155 – in Bithynia. 230). He’s right, Egypt is the melting pot of the Week and the passage of the witness up to our civilization was carried out mostly by Jews.
Monday is the day of the Moon, Lunae dies; Tuesday day of Mars, etc. Saturni dies is very deformed and was adopted by the Jews on the Sabbath (latin: sabbatu, greek: sabbaton, the Jewish sabbath, the day of rest, Spanish: sabado) and Sunday is the Lord’s day (latin: dominica, implicit diem: day of the Lord, Dominus). The English here is clear: for Saturday: Saturday, the day of Saturn; and on Sunday, the day of the Sun: Sunday; or, in German, sonntag (day: dies in latin, day in English; tag in German. Sole: solis, in latin; sun in English; sonne in German).
So we have the sequence of the celestial bodies Moon, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus, Saturn, and the Sun. A priori it seems to be before a common disorder, as the progression gives heliocentric Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, etc, while the classification using the ancient wisdom is: Moon, Mercury, Venus, Sun, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn.
A large number of investigators question this point. We will provide them with an explanation from the range of Pythagoras on.
We have the planets in the order in which, according to the Tradition, they dispense their influences on the athanor, and associate the sounds emitted by the philosophical Egg. To simplify, let’s call them according to the usual succession of notes in the solfeggio (without seeking a rigorous value).
Day of Moon 1 sound do C
Day of the Mercury 2 sound re D
Day of Venus 3 sound mi E
Day of the Sun 4 sound fa F
Day of Mars 5 sound sol G
Day of Jupiter 6 sound la A
Day 7 Saturn 7 sound si B
Let’s continue now, as the master of Samos, the great Pythagoras, by successive fifths, with a reduction of the octave. We get, starting from do:
do x 3/2 = sol
sol x 3/2 = re
re x 3/2 = la
la x 3/2 = mi
mi x 3/2 = si
si x 3/2 = fa ( being strict, fa sharp)
And ordering the planets that govern the area in relation to the succession of fifths, we immediately obtain the exact order of the days of the week. They are, in some way, the “chorded days” of the Hebdomas Hebdomadun, the week of the weeks:
do = Lunae dies = Monday
sol = Martis dies = Tuesday
re = Mercurii dies = Wednesday
la = Jovis dies = Thursday
mi = Friday dies = Veneris
si = Saturni dies = Saturday
fa = Solis dies = Sunday
We have seen that the seven notes indicated by Canseliet in his letters do not match what we have read above. So let’s go on to find out.
The Musical Notation and the Law of Attraction
A B C D E F G.
The transition from the Greek to Roman letters, which are also currently used in Anglo-Saxon influence countries, is attributed to Boetius (480-524 AD). In his fundamental work De Institutione Musicae (500-507 AD), Boetius defines the elements of the music according to the Pythagorean tradition and adopts Alipius notation, replacing the Greek letters, with the first 15 of the Latin alphabet.
Is due to a Benedictine monk, Guido d’Arezzo (a. 990-1050 AD), the current name of the notes; he made use of the first syllables of each verse of the St. John hymn to facilitate the study to his students when he taught at the Abbey of Pomposa.
This song, very well known at the time, and it seems foolproof against hoarseness, was written around 770 by Paul Deacon:
To the faithful to sing loudly the wonders of your business, clears the error of the unworthy lip, oh St. John.
The name Ut became do only in the seventeenth century. It appeared only in the XVI, some 500 years after Guido d’Arezzo. The fact is that the good fathers feared this note, whose relationship with fa generates a feeling of lasciviousness. Was not in the Middle Ages, the interval FB called diabolus in musica? is called the tritone/three tones (the si united to fa), abnormal fifth interval. It is ignored the name of the debauched who invented it, the initials of Sancte Ioannes: maybe Anselm of Flanders, or François Lemaire.
In his method, the learned theorist Guido d’Arezzo adds syllables (ut, re, etc) to the traditional letters only to clarify different aspects of the range, for example, G. sol. re. ut. Likewise, mi-fa designated all semitones, hence the solfeggio range Ut:
C D E F G A B C
ut re mi fa sol re mi fa
But, before they used two species of B, differentiated by St. Odo of Cluny (878-942) in two written representations. One, the A quadratum (angular, square), corresponds to our si natural; the other, the B rotundum (rounded, soft), corresponds to our si flat:
Si bemolle (flat) = Si B molle (rounded, soft, flat)
The range of ut above is therefore sung with B quadratum. If B is flat, always solfeggio from C to C, one writes, moving semitones:
C D E F G A Bflat C
ut re mi fa re mi fa sol
We see that the notation is cumbersome: only much later the method was simplified:
C D E F G A Bflat C
do re mi fa sol la si flat do
This series is one of the eight modal ranges of cantus planus, as was called the real proper liturgic singing as opposed to the figurative and mensurato singing. The cantus planus has severe nature. The eight Gregorian chants are (next to the more proper name there are put in brackets the traditional Greek names still in use): 1 Protus Authenticus (Doric); 2 Protus Plagalis (ipodorico); 3 Deuterus Authenticus (Phrygian) 4 Deuterus Plagalis (ipofrigio); Tritus Authenticus (Lydian); 6 Tritus Plagalis (Hypolydian); 7 Tetrardus Authenticus (Mixolydian); 8 Tetrardus Plagalis (Ipomixolidian).
This series in the late tenth century, to a regrettable mistake, was wanted to play with the Greek names of the great perfect system (“GPS”), after being Latinized. So our range, which is the Tritus Plagalis (what amounts to flat number three in the severe form), was misnamed Ipolidian, while its equivalent in (“GPS”) should be instead the Lydian (Tritus Authenticus).
On the other hand, we must consider that the Greeks of the fourth century b.C believed the Ionians and other ancestors as barbarians; their music, moreover, no longer possessed the exotic feature that at the time justified the severity of Plato (Republic, Book III):
… the only harmonies we need to preserve are the Dorian and Phrygian
… the Ionian is made for drunkards
… the Lydian is dangerous for women, whose duty requires proper behavior, and so even more for men …
Despite all the cultural influences, it nevertheless remains a similar use in the Tritus Plagalis of the Middle Ages clergy. To escape the lure of pleasure, good fathers musicians had to invent endless subtleties.
In this strange range lies the Law of Attraction. Agamemnon was not ignorant of that. Before leaving for the siege of Troy had very recommended to its musicians not to play that in Doric or Phrygian. During his absence, Aegisthus hired them to play in Lydian, and that was how Clytemnestra took his lover.