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Hans Kaysers Harmonics Observed through Gregory Batesons Epistemology and Contemporary Brain Studies.

Stefan Pohlit

Istanbul Technical University Mzik leri Aratrmalar Merkezi - Center for Advanced Studies in Music

Correspondences concerning this article should be addressed to Stefan Pohlit, Mzik leri Aratrmalar Merkezi, Sosyal Bilimler Enstits, stanbul Teknik niversitesi, ITU Maka Kamps, Yabanc Diller Binas, Maka, 34376 ili, stanbul, Turkey. E-Mail:


This paper observes the discipline of Harmonics conceived in the early 20th century by the neo-Pythagorean theorist Hans Kayser. The analytical proceeding departs from a background in anthropology, Darwinian genetics, and cybernetics as they appear in Gregory Batesons ecology of mind. Kaysers proposed a regulatory scientific tool for an examination of musical meaning within the phenomenon of tone ratio. In the 1980s, the physiologist Gerald Langner introduced the concept of Periodicity Analysis that confirms Kaysers standpoints from a physiological perspective. His conclusions comment on recent interdisciplinary studies in ethnomusicology that have alluded to Darwinian evolutionary theory. Additionally, the article offers a critical summary of various approaches to Kaysers methodology some of which have touched Rudolf Steiners anthroposophy. In detecting the dangers of an incautious application of harmonicist tools, it is shown how an inquiry into tuning systems often includes speculative assumptions not covered within an observation of spectral harmony.

Keywords: musical meaning, harmonics, tone ratio, perception, periodicity, speculative musicology

I. Kaysers and Batesons Epistemologies

Our cognition of today is born from the world of palpation.1 Hans Kayser 1993: 9

In 1946, two years prior to Theodor W. Adornos Philosophy of New Music (Adorno 2006), Hans Kayser summoned an outline of his already well-defined science of Harmonics in a small introductory volume that he entitled Akrasis (Kayser 1973a). It was meant as an explicit response to the end of the Second World War that could easily be read as a legitimate alternative to Adornos sociological postulations that, since, have dominated major orientations of contemporary Western art-music in Western Europe. Comprehensive introductions of that kind have been given by other authors, such as Joscelyn Godwin (1982) and Rudolf Haase (1986b), furthermore by Kayser himself (1973a). Harmonics was formulated as a scientific tool neutral to any aesthetic or artistic postulation. In his account on 20th centurys new scientific achievements (1943), the Swiss cultural philosopher Jean Gebser placed Kaysers discovery as high as those of, e. g., Einstein, Bohr, and Planck (Gebser 1999). Harmonics departs from the empiric union that pitch relation and numeric proportion maintain within the natural overtone-series. 2 Kayser labeled this essential phenomenon as tone ratio (Tonzahl): A given division on a string or on an air column would always result in the same intervallic relationship in respect to the ground frequency of the given matter. It thus provides an essentially qualitative, sensual experience of a numeric proportion; quantitative, calculable matter (the length of an acoustic wave) and qualitative, humanly shaped perception (the resulting pitch) reside therefore in instant union within the phenomenon of sound. Akrasis (a term derived from its counterpart aisthethis / world view) alludes to a reconsideration of the sense of listening in the broader sense of an epistemology:

Trans. from: Unsere heutige Erkenntnis wird aus der Welt des Tastens geboren. A similar statement by Helmholtz is cited in Kayser 1993: 77.

Matter was bestowed with a psychic tectonics (a mental structure), and the mind, the realm of ideas, with a concrete support in the harmonical shapes and forms: a bridge between existence and value, value and soul, matter and mind had been found. (1973a: 13)3

As a scientific instrument, Harmonics has to do with looking at the cosmos musically, and at music cosmically (Godwin 1982: 373). Kayser (1973) declared that the origin of Occidental science once consisted in two methodological directions, its main utility being the monochord of the Pythagoreans. The impressions that the Pythagorean scientist experienced in the world were translated into numeric values. In return, measurable sizes allowed retransformation into mentally perceivable tone relationships. According to Kayser (1993: 42), this process drew on a phenomenon which was by no means speculative:
[] today, the tone is the only medium inside our sphere of sensation which allows precise numerical determination.4

This comprised that cognition, ethos and aesthetics constituted an inseparable reality. Any abstract arithmetic relation permitted concrete sensual understanding in the immediateness of tone-relations. This study will be clarified if distinguished from the epistemology of Gregory Bateson who approached the phenomenon of quality from a quantitative perspective. Batesons deep-rooted humanistic motivation resulted from an insight into the multi-dynamic forces within a social or environmental system (see Bateson 2000a: 61-72). A Pythagorean scientist, on the other hand, would actually feel morality, ethos, and aesthetics as a reality of perception in terms of tonal processes, which means: dissonances and their resolution. Both Kayser and Bateson, from opposite standpoints, found ways toward overcoming the Cartesian split (as well as the Kantian space-time-causality), by observing the world upon analogies. In Batesons universal ecology, the mind becomes a phenomenon applied to all matters. Profiting

Trans. from: Die Materie erhielt eine psychische Tektonik (eine seelische Struktur), und das Geistige, das

Reich der Ideen, einen konkreten Halt in den harmonikalen Gestalten und Formen: eine Brcke zwischen Sein und Wert, Wert und Seele, Materie und Geist war gefunden.

Trans. from: [] der Ton ist heute innerhalb unserer Empfindungssphre das einzige Medium, welches zah-

lenmig genau bestimmt werden kann.

from the tools of cybernetics and modern communication theories, Bateson detected mental networks in every connected structure that follows Darwinian laws for ensuring its continuation or survival. He compared the process of Darwinian evolution, its regulatory, homeostatic, and regenerative subsystems as principally being governed by the same rules that form such unit one would call a self (Bateson 2000e: 466):

[] you see, that I now localize something which I am calling Mind immanent in the large biological system the ecosystem. Or, I draw the system boundaries at a different level, then mind is immanent in the total evolutionary structure.

This allows parallels to Kaysers conception of the overtone-series as the timeless unfolding of a large historical and likewise evolutionary process. These parallels continue within the confessions that both stated about evolutionary theories (Bateson, referring to Lamarck, 2000e: 455). But in their scientific objectives, Kayser and Bateson conclude in diametrically divergent solutions. A helpful distinction, coined by Gilles Deleuze in his rhizome theory (Deleuze & Guattari 2008) may be employed to clarify this difference: Bateson puts an end to conceptions of nature that are characterised by the building of categories; he rather tends to show them in form of mere aspects of approach, whereas Kayser, actually, focuses on the shape of them. In this manner, Kaysers queries are profoundly related to Goethes efforts in defining a universal morphology (Kayser 1993: 215). Contrarily to the somewhat chromatic, continuous structure of a Batesonian system, the overtone-series constitutes an espace stri (a notched space, Deleuze ibid.). It is shaped by natural fissions that exist without scientific interaction or labelling. According to Kayser, these divisions and the mysterious qualitative meaning they contain form something what one could call a mind or, more precisely, its emanations in the physical world. These divisions do not only shape the bodies of organisms, but likewise the whole organic and inorganic world. They distinguish the vegetable from the animal kingdom in the same way as they build categories mirrored in the chemical elements as much as in mental processes and cultural periods. But the meaning of such divisions is neither analogic nor digital. And although this meaning does not reside in the tones alone but rather within their relationships, it is not completely rela-

tive in the superficial sense of the term. It is not merely coded by a theory but regarded as an intrinsic potential of meaning. Three factors support this potential: First of all and comparably to the DNA of a whole organism residing in the genetic information of every cell, to whatever (specialised) tissue it may belong , the overtone series is present in every single tone. Although exact timbre may be determined by a special composition of partials and the dominance it may give to certain segments of the theoretically infinite spectrum, the inner structure of every natural tone causes an endless network of possible relationships. The more partials two tones may share, the more consonant their relationship could be called. As a secondary factor of this phenomenon, Harmonics observes analogies that relate natural phenomena with similar numerical proportions to each other. For example, looking on plants divided by the number three (like many tulips and lilies), Harmonics may first compare common qualities in the form of these plants, the dimensions in which they grow or their manner of regeneration. The harmonicist would relate their numerical proportion to an interval (the natural fifth 2:3 in that case) and thus find ways for relating their shape and structural behavior to a common qualitative experience to which the ear could listen. Tonal laws become audible through the structure of sound. Every tone is generated by a something, not by nothing. (Kayser 1993: 41)5 A tone is produced from concrete matter. In order to extend the potential of this approach, the proportions of the overtone-series may thus reside not only in a tone produced by any vibrating matter; they are contained within the matter itself. For the ear, the tones are the same realities as the atoms for the sense of touch (Kayser 1993: 59)6. Kayser also demonstrated to which fundamental degree inorganic and organic matter are basically shaped by these proportions. Mendeleyevs Periodic Table shows basic octave- and other intervallic relationships that equally recur within the qualitative behavior of basic elements. Energetic relationships between elements likewise depend on something comparable to intervallic relations that their degrees of atomic weight maintain with each other. This Law of Multiple Proportions, proving the numerical resonance residing in basic elements, was discovered in the early 19th
5 6

Trans. from: Jeder Ton wird von einem Etwas, nicht von einem Nichts erzeugt. Trans. from: Fr das Ohr sind die Tne genau dieselben Realitten wie fr den Tastsinn die Atome.

century by John Dalton and named after him. Whereas most divisions in the living nature may normally not exceed the first five primary proportions, some chemical elements show more complex proportions divided by the number seven (Kayser 1993: 152), as well as more complex plants, such as some Cannabis plants, do. Consequently, a third determinant must be provided by the mental condition of the listening receiver. In a concert situation, the recipient of music somewhat resonates with the music in the same manner a harp or a piano (with open pedals) does when, e.g., a trumpet plays against its strings. The sounds that enter through the aural receptors would remain meaningless if it could not be supposed that there exists of a basic concordance between the perceived acoustic proportions and an inner mental condition that is able to relocate them. This mental condition should be supposed to be built upon the same proportional laws. Comparably to other observed matters in Batesons ecology of mind, an individual creature and its environment may equally form a unity. A Kayserian harmonicist is, therefore, supposed to rediscover herself as a part of a cosmic system of relations and upon the occurrences in nature through music, the pattern which connects (Small 1998: 109). Finally, another precondition should be provided by the individual in order to connect to this pattern: In some way, even if only subconsciously, the proportions shaping the mental state of the individual should contain analogies to those found in the perceived music. Normally, this requirement should not cause any considerations, since music evolves in response to and as an acoustic echo of the mental state, the habitus of a culture or an individual (Bourdieu 1977 & Cantwell 1993). This concept marks precisely what Suzanne K. Langer called the fabric of meaning(1959). In approaching phenomena of mythology by various reflections on music, Claude Lvi-Strauss (1990: 17) argued on a similar basis, although his opposing of cultural determinants from natural ones differs remarkably from a Kayserian view and shares a majority of beliefs with Leonard Meyers Arousal Theory (1959). If the concept of harmonic proportions is truly contained in every matter, it actually surrounds the individual as an omni-present experience within the natural shape that she may perceive. It embraces the listening human being in some way like a Sheldrakian morphologic field, and with-

out being principally divided from, but residing within the matter which it forms. Therefore, musical awareness may originate in a momentous, timeless experience that always answers on the same infinite series of proportions. According to Kayser, understanding anthropomorphic as well as individual musical awareness would neither necessitate an explanation upon historic or cultural sources nor a concrete catalog of the sounds heard during a lifetime (Reigle 2005). Following Kaysers reflections, music has basically to do with an acoustic unfolding of vibration, regarded through a broader conception as the exchange of energetic potential. From here, an analogy with electricity, magnetism and other kinds of waves can be drawn (Kayser 1993: 142-3). If, then, Batesons conception of form in nature can be summoned in the term of difference (Bateson 2000e: 457-8), Kaysers cosmic perception considers order. But this term is not given so easily. First of all, the overtone-series includes an infinity of numbers and their acoustic intervals and therefore relates likewise infiniteness and unity with each other. The splitting of the Pythagorean comma, for example, subsists equally in the overtone-series, since the basic dispositions of growth of the octave and of the fifth 2:3, one in constant doubling, the other as a cyclic and already two-dimensional experience, are totally alien to each other. Kayser extends his definition of harmony and its proportions from the overtone-series to a more general understanding of partialcoordinates 7. Therefore, the overtone-series is regarded as an appearance within a broader, more abstract phenomenon. Additionally, simple mathematical extrapolation permitted Kayser to visualize a number of secondary rows of proportions. Such a graph, although demonstrating no more than just one particular occurrence of harmonic behavior, is shown in form of a quadrant of partials (1993: 78-80), in which series of partials are built likewise on the x-, y-, and z-axes, maintaining basic and constitutive intervallic relationships with each other. Even this visualization could, indeed, be extended on more spatial dimensions. But the realm that the listener, at present time, truly inhabits in these proportions is reduced to an almost negligible basis: Taking in mind the infinite affluence of all possible dimensions of growth and spatial perspective that the overtone-series contains, only the first five primary proportions have found general use in the Occidental tonal tradition. Due to the fact that most proportions

Teilton-Koordinaten, see 1993: 45 (chapter I)

in organic nature are limited on primary numerical relations smaller than 7, Kayser, himself, pronounced objections against the perceptibility of more complex tuning-systems, declaring that they surpassed noticeably humans mental ability of connecting those proportions with sense. But harmony, understood through Kaysers methodology, is a dynamic system of regulation and potentials; it should neither be regarded as primarily steady nor in terms of simple enjoyment. It bears uncountable mysteries, especially when the harmonicist steps towards investigating into the human ability for the perception of numerical relations (id est: periods) on which the tuning-system of her cultural background is not founded. To the same extent like Bateson, Kayser regards the physical world and the mind as a continuum, and, in order to generalize the division of partials observed almost everywhere in the physical world, he deduced the term of prototypes both in analogy with C. G. Jungs archetypes and with the discoveries of modern quantum-theory (Haase 1986b: 283). Batesons universalist belief originates in the understanding that, on a structural level, all systems of interaction behave in accordance with similar basic rules and may, thus, be equated with communication (Bateson 2000b: 74). But there remains a gap, a possibly grey area in Batesons epistemological system. This is what Bateson was unable to define other than mysticism (2000b: 74), a term for which his idea of scientific approach and his monistic beliefs obliged him to apologies. Contrarily, Harmonics actually starts at a point where Batesons tools of labelling begin to loose their precision. The basic forces that shape the physical nature, the shapes of animals, cannot singularly be described by Bergmanns and Allens or other rules. Bateson may therefore fail if he uniquely explains the form of a shark in terms of its effectiveness regarding its locomotion in the sea (2000b ibid.). There remain other aspects of form in nature, usually neglected because they are taken as granted. These are the basic proportions encountered within those divisions and segmentations that Bateson observed and that he, most originally, compared to the phenomenon of schismogenesis in social systems. In these inspired equations, Bateson actually began to perform something comparable to harmonicist methods. But as he was lacking awareness for the phenomenon of harmonic intervals, his definition of shapes remained limited to one of mere technical functions. His system cannot provide explanations of the effectiveness of exact geometric proportions: Phenomena

of that kind include the hexagonal cells in a honeycomb, the exact temporal cycles that govern the migration of birds, or, the annually recurring mating season of primitive animal species like the socalled palolo-worm from Polynesia (Kayser 1993: 226). But Batesons system of thought cannot explain how the animals are able to keep these proportions with such precisions. The methodological legacy in which Kayser and Bateson put their systems allows some interesting comparisons: Kayser repeatedly referred his theories to Johannes Kepler (along with the lesser known Albert von Thimus), as his great predecessor. Lamarck played a comparable role in the evolution of Gregory Batesons epistemology. Although commonly known through their achievements in the hard sciences (Bateson 2000e), both Kayser and Bateson followed motivations that guided them into new considerations of mental structures. It was through harmonicist methods, in starting with observations on the monochord before looking at the sky, that Johannes Kepler found his third planetary law. Both Lamarck in his approach towards a Comparative Psychology (Bateson 2000e: 456, referring to the Philosophie Zoologique from 1809) and Kepler (De Harmonices Mundi, 1619) departed from the observation of external natural phenomena that they related back to inner psychic processes. Speaking about Astronomy, Kayser recounted the chordic and melodic structures deduced by Kepler upon the then known planets of our solar system (Kayser 1993: 178) and then completed these results in showing the periods of Aphelia and Perihelia from Mercury to Neptune, revealing that they maintain consonant (triadic) relationships with each other (ibid.: 192). The reader must be aware of the fact, that nature, much alike humans when building their tuning-systems, has made use of the phenomenon of temperament. Although they perform constant changes, the elliptic ways of the planets seem to readjust and adapt themselves to a steady flow in order to maintain consonant (and even diatonic) proportions with each other. Kayser supposed that the esoteric understanding of ancient times had been guided by a subconscious sensitivity for the awareness of harmony that the inorganic universe seems to maintain. It governed human feeling and helped creating numeral symbols of various kinds, as known from Indian Yoga-mysticism (1993: 238).


Objections have been raised upon Kaysers insistence on referring his whole system of inquiry to ancient Greece and to the Pythagoreans whose secret knowledge he claimed to have revived. But far from transporting any concrete conservative or nostalgic implications, this constant point of allusion was intended to re-locate humanity and to enable a regeneration of its values at a time when these values appeared to be lost (Kayser 1973a: 9-10). Kaysers personal friend, the composer Paul Hindemith (Haase 1973), may have contributed to common trivializations of Harmonics. Although he based his harmonic system on Harmonics, his Reihe 1 & 2 (Hindemith 1973) are conceived upon the conviction that humans are capable of harmonic comprehension only within the proportions within the primary numbers from 1 to 5 and their multiples. Paradoxically, his whole harmonic understanding remains deeply captivated in the tempered system that he attempted to surpass. An analsysis on his basic scale is included in Partch 1974: 420-22. Unlike Adorno whose conception of basic musical matter appears to be misled by socioeconomic preoccupations , Kayser perceived the harmonic triad as a condition of humanity and as one symptom of natural tone laws. If the mental machine of Nazi-propaganda had constituted somewhat comparable to a last monstrous apotheosis of tonal thirds-harmony at the wrong time, Kayser regarded this human catastrophe as obviously being caused by humans response to their natural sources and not as residing within the value-systems that he observed in nature itself. This may explain why he directed the foundations of his science so deeply into the origins of Occidental history. From this outlook, the phenomenon of partials becomes much more prominently perceivable than the triad that forms no more than one mere aspect of it. Harmonics is conceived upon the thoroughly dynamic network of an infinite variety of relations that correspond with the infinite shape of the series of partials and its neutral, culture-indeterminate nature. It does not proclaim any aesthetic preference and brings forth a theoretically unlimited potential of reasoning and perception. Kayser considered this as a systematic bridge for overcoming the fundamental partition that had separated arts and humanities (along with religion) from the hard sciences in modern times (Kayser 1993: 24). He aimed at creating a tool of socio-ethic regulation, in order to reconcile emotional and intellectual understanding. In simple words: the central objective of Harmonics was to reestablish an integer concept of human personality. He postulated a mind with the ability to feel and


to judge humanly, and, on the other hand, a soul capable of acquiring logical cognition about itself and its emoting processes. Harmonics as the conception of an acoustic way of understanding the world was supposed to cure the alienation that had arisen from the basic split between the clusters belief/feeling/awareness and education/knowledge. According to Kayser, the split of these aspects in the conception of modern times had grown from the record evolution of one unique sensual organ: palpation. In contrast to the purely haptical concept of todays sciences, it could equally be imagined to explain the world through a purely-visual or purely-aural phenomenology (1993: 34). Kayser did not attempt to go that far. He conceived Harmonics in order to integrate aural perception into the blind and deaf but extraordinarily sensitive epistemology that was ruled by the modern haptical sciences with their tools of measuring and counting. According to Kayser, haptical sciences had failed to produce a reliable tool of cognition and perception due to their incapability to enter deep inside the matter they studied. They suffered from an imprecision 8 that was caused by the absence of the concept of relations and precise sensation that, so Kayser, the sense of hearing could offer. Kaysers aim was no more than promoting a re-consideration of the ear in modern scientific thinking. Within his inquiry of tonal relations, he constructed the Lambdoma (Kayser 1973a, Appendix)9, a diagram that eventually constitutes Kaysers main methodological achievement. It relays divisions (represented by overtones) and multiplications (from where he deduced the undertoneseries as a proportional counterpart). MacClain, in his examination of ancient, tone-related symbolisms, equally deduced, the same set of numbers defines both frequency and wavelength (MacClain 1982: 235). The Lambdoma includes tone-ratios in form of divisions (corresponding to overtones) and multiplications (showing the undertones). The latter are not contained in the concrete sounds of the string but constitute a physical condition postulated by the system. The Lambdoma refers all partials back to an inaudible origin or generating tone (Zeugerton), which is the division 0/0. In this small but essential detail, in the difference between 0 and 1, Kayser explained his

In order to prove this profound criticism, Kayser cited a speech of Max Planck from 1929 (1993: 15)

The name derived from its form which, when seen from its origo, resembles the Greek .


profoundly dualistic worldview: Logically, all lines within the diagram of the Lambdoma lead back into zero, into the inaudible origo. This understanding may have equally been affirmed by the infinite nature of the series of partials which as 1 and as from a similar point may relate a physical universe to a dimension of experience that, somehow, opens itself into metaphysics. Contrary to Gregory Batesons structuralist monism, Kayser assumed the existence of a creator outside the studied system (= the universe). According to him, the awareness of tonal laws did not only relate concrete with mental matter. With Orphikon (1973b), an attempt comparable to MacClains cosmological investigations (1976, 1982, 1985) but less precise, he dedicated a whole volume to this mathematical fact, in trying to reassess a universal concept of comparative Theology.

II. The Neurology of Harmonic Perception

Our investigations imply that fundamental aspects of harmonic perception are by no means just culturally inherited. Instead the recognition of musical harmony, or consonance, is an intrinsic property of our brains. Gerald Langner 2005: 52

Refined approaches have recently begun to record brain activities in order to map the organic areas related to musical perception. A number of these inquiries (most notably those of Falk 2000 and Freeman 2000) have been undertaken, since approximately 1990, within the scope of biomusicology which was conceived through a new consideration of Darwinian selection processes. Seeking for the prehistoric origins of musical awareness in the least complex known cultures means also assuming that the beginnings of music must have been simple (Nettl, 2005c: 260), although many indigenous musical systems are likewise quite complex (ibid.: 269). Derek Gatherer (1997), in referring to Zentner and Kagan (1996), even suggested that humans might inherently prefer consonant to dissonant sounds. Kaysers Harmonics give an understanding how degrees of natural consonance could be measured. But how are they perceived?


Franois Bernard Mche observed universals upon the existence of hierarchy between the degrees of a scale (2000: p. 477), but these insights are so basic that they cannot enlighten the problem in ore general terms. From a Darwinian view, the evolution of musical abilities and refined aural senses must have provided advantages both in aspects of mating and survival (Wallin, Merker & Brown 2000: 11). The study of animal music, the songs of birds, gibbons, whales, etc. was, therefore, considered for shedding light on the genesis of singing and music in our own species (ibid.: 7). Notably, also Kayser had attempted approaches to the kingdom of animals: In Der hrende Mensch (1993: 22829), he mentioned the recorded case of a singing orang utan in the zoo of Budapest. He even saw the main distinction between animal species and plants in the facts that the former possess aural sensors, the latter do not (ibid.: 227). Other scholars, namely anthropologists, have concentrated their explanations on the rituals, social connectivity and the feel of group mechanisms (Sachs, 1948, Small, 1998, Wallin et al., 2000). Such observations have indeed started in the 19th century, concentrating on the mechanical advantages of working songs (Buecher, 1902) or on communication (Stumpf, 1886). Contrary statements, carried out, for example, by Freeman (2000), have denied any kind of common sense in music, in referring to the distinctions in taste and aesthetics that every individual brain structure may process. Gerald Langners inquiries into the brains of mammals (1983, 1988, 2005) have proven that the ability of perceiving periodic and harmonic sounds does not constitute a genuine property of humans alone. Recent experiments with musicians and non-musicians have started from the basic hypothesis that patterns of linguistics and musical understanding developed simultaneously in the evolution of humankind. Because music and language are so neurologically intertwined, it is hypothesized that they evolved together [] (Falk 2000: 197). Furthermore, it has been assumed that musicians are somewhat uncommon to the human community. But if they really were, it should be asked in which way musical talent should provide advantages in Darwinian selection, another common explanation in the biological approach to music. The conclusion could either be a) that musical aware-


ness used to be a broader, less specialized phenomenon in earlier times (Kayser 1993: 18) or b) that the reason for musical awareness does not reside in mating or survival strategies (because, otherwise, musical talents would already be extinct due to their alienation from common societies). It could be objected to Falks approach because his observation focuses on outstandingly gifted professionals in modern Occidental society. But then, what about the musical practice of amateurs and the omnipresence of music in almost all aspects of life in almost every civilization? Falk, preoccupied with the achievements of modern measuring devices and anatomy, does not mention the phenomenon of overtone-relations of which music and speech both make substantial use.10 As Falk (ibid.) assumes, the evolution of the vocal tract may have equally concerned musical and language capacities. But is music no more than a mere by-product in the evolution of language? If spoken language functions through the perception and use of overtone-structures, the same functioning could be postulated for music, although there may be varied exceptions. An answer to this argument could only be given by examining what really happens in the brain in the moment of listening. Musicologists, especially when defending the objectives of 20th centurys musics, have often argued that the experience of tonal relationships, consonance, and dissonance merely draw on cultural determinants and arbitrary historic coincidence. Standpoints have often departed from Adornos sociological perspectives in the Philosophy of New Music (1948, Adorno 2006). This argumentation has usually explained the experience of intervallic perception and tuning by the phenomenon of memorizing and coding. Thus, musical intervals are regarded as an essentially digital content. This explanation contains obvious holes if applied to the simplest intervals that almost every human being is able to intonate correctly after little exercise. Such coding is supposed to start in the cochlea of the inner ear. However, this information, when transferred to the brain, must be translated into the language of neurons which consists on simple action-potentials and their frequency. Gerald Langners experiments on rodents, cats and humans (1983, 1988, 2004, 2005, 2007) have suggested some very surprising additions to the al-


Although all normal people are competent in at least one language, not everybody is a proficient musician.

(Falk 2000: 189)


ready physiological concern of bio-musicology. Also, as the same phenomena have equally been verified on humans as much as on mammals, they even do not constitute a singularly human ability. Langners investigations have departed from the fundamental structure of pitches, taking in account particularities of acoustics (2007: 9):
Many acoustic signals in speech and music are harmonic sounds. From a spectral viewpoint, such sounds are combinations of a fundamental frequency and certain overtones, whereas from a temporal viewpoint, they are periodic sounds. Accordingly, they are analyzed in the auditory system in both the spectral and the temporal domain. While spectral analysis is performed in the cochlea, temporal analysis is performed in the auditory brainstem.

As commonly known, frequencies of different intensities stimulate respective areas on the basilar membrane of the inner ear. The fibers placed in that areas inside the cochlea react in firing action-potentials towards the auditory cortex. Additionally, fibers on areas related to overtones of a certain pitch may also be stimulated. Because of the limited frequency analysis in the cochlea, overtones are superposed with each other and, thus, co-create the perception of their respective fundamental period. For that reason, a pitch may still be clearly perceived, even if its actual fundamental is missing (2007: 13). But frequency and pitch of a sound are perceived as two aspects independent from each other (ibid.: 11). As a basic fact, both can only be perceived by collaboration between the perceptual organ and the respective areas in the cortex. While information on frequency and spectra is analyzed in the cochlea and gives rise to the perceipt of timbre, the periodicity of the very same signals is transferred temporally to the brainstem and analyzed as pitch in the midbrain. Other than frequency, the perception of periodicity (Langner 1983) takes place in neurons as the physical analogy of pitch perception: They respond preferentially to a certain pitch, but also to pitches related in simple integer ratios. A complex system of filter mechanisms, produced by various different types of neurons, interprets and processes relationships that are finally perceived as those of pitches in terms of temporal periodicity. Every pitch-related sound is based on a more or less periodic vibration: a wave with its temporal, constant recurrence.


The waves of stable sounds that maintain relationships in harmonic ratios with each other join at certain common points: If one pitch, for example, maintains the interval of an octave to another one, then half of its beatings will occur simultaneously with those of the octave below. The higher simultaneous occurrence of those beatings (and, in other arithmetic divisions,: of other harmonic relations) gives the resulting fundamental a natural dominance. This dominance means an advantage in processes of Darwinian selection over the total of perceived frequencies. In reality, these beatings may, of course, not always join into each other so easily. Therefore, an additional system of filters and inhibition mechanisms synchronizes the perceived variety of periods and summons them upon the most strongly perceived ones of them. This implies that the impression of perceived sounds might appear more periodic than the sounds actually and in an objective reality, unperceivable for human ears are. The auditory midbrain and the cortex represent information on sounds in terms of frequency and, with equal concern, of periodicity. Pitches are represented in a map of adjacent neurons that can easily be compared to a very refined sort of piano keyboard and its harmonics. This phenomenon of regional representation was labeled as periodotopy (Langner, 2004: 26, 2007: 12), whereas the frequency analysis of the cochlea processes tonotopy. Both representations are located in orthogonal relation to each other. In these two-dimensional maps, a neuron may, for example, react on a frequency range of 1000 Hz that is perceived as a high noise or sound, and simultaneously on a periodicity of 100 Hz which is perceived as a pitch. The temporal information from the cochlea is passed on both in delayed and undelayed firing of neurons. If the temporal distance between delayed and undelayed action-potentials coincides as an integer multiple of the signal period, the response of the following coincidence neurons will be favored. The auditory midbrain nucleus, named nucleus inferior, contains about 30 layers that organize this sort of representation. Periodic information is equally summoned by orthogonal connections between respective places on these layers (Langner 2004: 19-21, 2007: 12-16). Furthermore, the ventral nucleus of the lemniscus lateralis of various animals (and, as it seems, also of humans) is built in form of a double-helix (which points to a parallel with both the psychophysical pitch-helix of Shepherd and others). It consists of seven or eight turns that, with much certitude (Langner et al.


2005), correspond to the seven or eight musically relevant octaves. This means that neurons representing octave-relationships are also placed in close local neighborhood to each other.

III. Harmonics and Tonality. Speculations on the Evolution of Tuning Systems

Indeed, if there is anything really stable in the musics of the world, it is the constant existence of change. Bruno Nettl, 2005c: p. 275

Gerald Langners bio-physiological outcomes connect Darwinian and Pythagorean convictions to a final, universal pattern. Darwinian processes are then compared to survival strategies in a biologic environment. It has been observed that, in the regiment of proportions, simple integers experience a natural advantage in the mid-brain as a perceptory organ of pitch. Kaysers understanding of the cosmos, as shown in his study of planetary motions, would conclude in the postulation that the whole universe is ordered by the same natural hierarchy that the overtone series represents on every vibrating matter. The series of partials (as the infinite unfolding of such hierarchy) would then constitute a world formula. On the other hand, harmonicity constitutes a phenomenon re-created by our perception, as the brain generates them like musical instruments resonate with overtones. The overtones may certainly mirror this mathematic order in physics, but they are not the basis of our harmonic perception. This scientific result corresponds to the so-called third necessary determinant of Kaysers harmonic epistemology that was mentioned on page 7 of this inquiry. But how is it possible that the intervals in all recorded tuning-systems of the world differ more or less from this assumed universal reference? The insights given by Occidental historical musicologists have demonstrated prevailing ethnocentrisms due to limited explanations upon only one single the Occidental conception. The universals offered by ethnomusicologists have mostly avoided such discussions, and primarily, they sought for objections against such ethnocentrisms. The rare universals related to actual pitch material have been either very basic or staying on a foreground level such as a rather basic reference to scale structures that Harmonics has attempted to surpass. Assumptions on a worldwide prehistoric tuning-system (such as an archaic pen-


tatony as, e. g., proposed in Nettl, 2005c and Mche, 2000), although being remarkable finds, leave important open questions behind. The following comment shall enlarge this central query, in connecting Batesons basic distinction between somatic and genotypic change (2000e) with the Kayserian concept of shapes, as provided by natural partials. Both Kaysers and Langners explanations have shown that human abilities of perceiving and valuating tonal relationships depend a) on an inner precondition corresponding to the perceived music, and b) a basic similarity between the proportions of sound and of the psychic/perceptual condition of the individual listener. But this stated condition may be limited to quite simple integer ratios. Consequently, most spectral music in contemporary music does not sound more consonant or more tonal than other contemporary musics because it normally departs from very complex proportions of partials. As outlined above, the overtone-series a) does not yet constitute the conscious expression of a specific human awareness; b) it consists almost entirely of proportions unknown to the perceptory capacities of human qualitative understanding. In this notion, tuning-systems incorporate no less than the necessary translation and confirmation of numeric proportions acquired by a human culture of a certain period of time. The natural seventh, as an example, may constitute a relatively simple proportion. But a traditionally educated Occidental ear would still give priority to the dominant seventh 9:16 (as, in fact, Hindemith did with his Reihe 1, 1976) which, although deduced in secondary instance, is based on the multiples of simpler ratios. Tuning-systems process already culturally shaped sound in contrast to the external way in which traditional overtone-musics somewhat slumber in the plenty of overtone-harmony. Hermann Pfrogner called this latter state simply sound-ecstasy (1957: p. 10) and regarded it as a pre-musical experience of harmony. Kayser himself affirmed that the series of partials, at least until the 32th and 64th overtone (1930: p. 67), would not produce genuine scale-structures. In order to construct them out of the overtone series, he demonstrated a very original, empiric deduction. On a graphic representation of the overtone-series, he drew circles with a compass, a) directly on a tone-point or b) exactly between two of them. Following this procedure, he calculated the values of the acquired proportions. The requirement of a true scale-circle is that its periphery parts at least as much tone-points that,


in their summation, amount to a closed scale, and that the sums of their logarithms neutralize each other, i. e.: = equate zero11 (ibid., p. 69). This technique unearthed various unknown scales, and Kayser laid much emphasize on the fact that the heptatonic Major scale of the Occident is not generated unless a complex derivation through an octagonal shape was acquired with four interrelated circles. There exists, of course, another, commonly known way of creating tuning-systems. This means to construct a cycle by multiplying one single given interval of reference, as it seems to be the obvious case in the Pythagorean cycle on the natural fifth 2:3. In comparison with Kaysers technique, the analogy with the circle remains steady, as well as the role of a key interval: It appears that such an interval of reference moderates between the somehow sleeping, pure proportions of partials and the more distinguishable, sharpened form that they obtain in tonal music of whatever nature. According to the study of Occidental history, it seems evident that the fifth of the Pythagorean tuning-circle has neither been chosen randomly nor uniquely because of its simplicity. It may have shaped a way of collective subconscious as much as, on a discreet level, this subconscious participated in basic qualitative preconditions. In the overtone series, no numeric cycle of growth is ever ending, and no one even joins with another. If a circle with octave redundancy shall be acquired, it must be closed by the use of temperament. This explanation would certainly comprise that major, minor or whatever seconds as the basic intervals of scale-steps derive from proportions of an order higher than them. Human tonal experience would then depend on two levels: On the foreground, the specific context of a tuning-system defines the roles of intervals. A tuning-system is built on the preselection of a basic key interval upon which all other intervals are determined. It relates itself more or less alone to the underlying series of partials. This also explains that a search for just intonation would remain inappropriate within the search for tonal tuning-systems, since it is the key interval


Transl.: Voraussetzung fr einen echten Tonleiterkreis ist, da seine Peripherie mindestens so viele Ton-

punkte scheidet, welche in ihrer Summierung einen geschlossene Tonleiter ergeben, und da sich die Summe ihrer Logarithmen aufhebt, d. h. = Null wird.


that must be found and rightly attributed, whereas the secondary, resulting intervals originate in its superposition within a cycle. Naturally tuned intervals may surely sound more consonant especially to an uneducated ear than tempered intervals on a piano (Kayser 1993: 51). On the other hand, a dominant-seventh-chord would sound very uncommon if the seventh were tuned as a 4:7 within a framework based on a limit-5 system. As the very principle of the dominant seventh constitutes a different experience than the natural seventh, such procedure could be regarded as simply erroneous. Rudolf Haase (1986a) confirmed that the multiply definable pitches within Werckmeisters temperament already cover 80% of all recognizable intervallic contexts within the comprehending abilities of a present day Western listener. However, empiric tests have proven that the natural seventh 4:7 may be recognized as a consonance, although the senarius (the limit-5 human listening-condition) has no use for it.12 The key-interval governing a tuning-system and the (supposed) inner condition of humanity can, of course, not be randomly synthesized. It must stay embedded within an inner pre-condition of listening man (Kayser 1993). Changes can neither be predicted nor supported with conscious purpose. The culture-determined incidents of specified education-systems, styles, and the personal achievements of individuals could then be compared to phenomena of somatic change processes of modification within the range of flexibility provided by a higher, genotypic order. Changes on a somatic level are, in fact, not consciously inherited: There is no coupling from environment to genome (Bateson 2000e: 450), and for that reason, individuals cannot interact in such proceedings. The different styles of 20th centurys composers may, of course, react on various influences, in the same way as individuals of a certain species may somatically react on the changes of an environment. On the other hand, the tuning-system as the genotype of human pitch-awareness remains, therefore, unchanged, and within its actual use as a mere pitch supply, it does not bear enough en-


Also Ernest MacClain (1982: 234-36), in building the Platonian scale, demonstrated that just intonation of

both the basic fifths and the basic thirds of a scale unites two circles of different values and, with them, two spatial dimensions.


ergy for developing new tendencies of tonal growth. This also alludes to the fact that musical creativity before the 20th century mostly operated as an arrire-garde, not as an avant-garde: In all such systems [] it is important that the higher system of control lag behind the event sequences in the peripheral homeostatic circuit (ibid.: 355). This control as in genetics, from the terminology is taken should prevent the whole organism of Occidental music from too early and unnecessary changes and regulate its outcomes as a cybernetic entity. It could even be imagined that, around some decisive points in history, tuning systems may break under the dominance of a new key interval. In the way of a thermostat in a cybernetic regulatory system, it would transform and reinterpret the effects of all other related intervals. For example, a pentatonic circle based on natural sevenths would not even have any fifths. A grown major third in Romantic harmony may weaken the functional role of the fifth upon its own needs until the whole system collapses. It could equally be assumed that common theories of music within one culture-related musicology may be wrong and limited in the way that the universalist attitude of ethnomusicology has scrutinized it (Nettl, 2005c: 273). The elaborations of Martin Vogel (1962) and Bernd Asmus (1999: 145 sqq.) have postulated this. Both referred to major transformations in the paradoxical chord-structures of Wagners late Musikdramen. The conclusions of these inquiries show clearly that Wagners harmony had already stepped outside the traditional tuning-system, that his magical chords provide clearly perceivable false octaves and use the shifting of commas. Also the final movement of Jean Sibelius IVth Symphony (Pohlit, 2005), shows how a whole formal and melodic process enrolled upon the 7th and the 11th partials as two, deeply interrelated qualities, although the score was composed within a 5-limit notation practice. The outcomes of this analysis would certainly give enough support for Harry Partchs (1974) choice in extending tonal harmony upon an 11-limit system. In addition, it must be noted that the basic scale used in Scriabins Prometheus as well as Messins Triton Ajout (the Added Tritone, Messin 1944, vol. II, ex. 187) contained this connection, although still representing it within the confines of limit-5 music. Comparably to the dimension that third-harmony added to Pythagorean tuning in the early Renaissance, ratio 7 and 11 could announce a natural extension of key-structures. Surprisingly, they seem to uncover a new form of bitonality: If it is true


that the mediant degrees in late-Romanticist harmony became so strong that the oneness of the tonic degree was broken, it actually dissolved into a triangle of three interrelated roots based on the triangle of the former mediants (Pohlit ibid.). The only widely recognized introduction into Harmonics undertaken by a composer of the 20th century was offered by Harry Partch in his compound long-term project Genesis of a Music (Partch 1974). Partch did not mention any connection with Hans Kaysers publications which, for certain, he couldnt have known. But in many ways, the creative potentials of Harmonics found a very concrete materialization in this complex work, although being applied on purely practical purposes in the calculation and use of tuning-systems. Partch explained his concentration on a limit 11 tuning with purely practical restrictions. He was profoundly inspired by Kathleen Schlesingers imperative study on the ancient Greek modal system of 1939 (Schlesinger 1970). Partch outlined a full set of the newly gained chord-inventory that he regarded as tonal systems. Harmonics was officially adopted as a scientific discipline when, in 1965, Kaysers successor, Rudolf Haase, opened an institute for harmonicist research (the Hans-Kayser-Institut fr Harmonikale Grundlagenforschung) at the University of Vienna. Haase developed Harmonics into a universitary discipline and went on with applying and verifying it by the help of modern technology. Approximately at the same time, Ernest MacClains historically related investigations (as in the Rg Veda, MacClain, 1976) have somewhat revived neo-Pythagorean methodology for an English-speaking readership. It may be mentioned that almost simultaneously, in the early 1970s, both French and Romanian Spectralism were declared. In parallel evolvement, the founders of the FranzRichter-Herf Institute in Salzburg benefited from Harmonics in their conception of ekmelic music (Hesse, 1996). Despite this reference, their inquiries were mostly related to the calculation and deduction of microtonal tuning and notation practices.


IV. Neo-Pythagorean Views in Speculative Cosmology and Esoterics

The role of music in our concrete world is that of a mediator. It is no longer a primordial sound, nor a natural one, because since the dawn of creation it has become a conscious, manmade art. But the material that it uses remains the sound that reaches deep into our dark subconscious. Marius Schneider 1989: 90

Various related inquiries that were inspired by Rudolf Steiners Anthroposophy have related to the tools of Harmonics but equally prove the dangers of their speculative nature: As soon as the untrained adept of Harmonics begins to look for analogies of numerical or qualitative content in the environment, they appear so abundantly, that conclusions may either fall too early or with too little carefulness. Indeed, these analogies may well exist. But the undesirable consequences of too easily given interpretation would blur the priorities within such analogies and drive the process of logical reasoning into an amalgamation of randomly given hypotheses. Harmonics has been conceived as an empiric science and should not become the vehicle of an ideology. Instead, cautious use could provide insights that no other acknowledged scientific utility has offered. Many such inquiries have been carried out for the sake of a kind of mental understanding of what actually happened to humanity in the course of history. Others have asked for the deeper determinants that possibly conduct its very present existence. The phenomenon of temperament seems to provide an evident explanation of the occurrence of various number-related symbolisms, dating all approximately at the same (hypothesized) period of time and located in early Eastern-Mediterranean cultures. Numerical analogies between the twelve-fold structure of the tropical zodiac, the twelve tribes of Israel, twelve Apostles, etc. would then not uniquely be elucidated by concrete natural, but also mental foundations: It seems that the human mind was shaped in these symbolisms, in accordance to a hidden ratio (2:3) and its key interval (the fifth). Thus, even the division of the day into 24 hours demonstrates a remarkable overtone-structure, in relating the two-fold shape of the octave (am pm) with the circle of fifths


(twelve hours). It could then be hypothesized that the epistemology proposed by the simple interval of the fifth 2:3 would not necessarily mean an obligatory condition of all humans, but a cultural determinant of the Occident and the Near East. Its basic feel for opening and closure could equal a new awareness for a constitutive separation of the inner self from its environment. A basic tendency to hierarchies, comparable to the dominant-subdominant relations between fifths, could be observed, together with a lop-sided awareness either for a nocturnal (Egypt) or solar (Mesopotamia) facet of the hereafter. In such reasoning, analogies with the whole occurrence of the religions of the book, with their invisible creator and the entire concept of the Pythagoreans evolve so abundantly, that connections with the twelve-fold cycle of number 3 at least bear some probability. The Catholic statement that 3 = 1 becomes, then, one logic symptom of this condition. Some speculative theorists, among them Dane Rudhyar (1926 & 1932) and the German anthroposophist Heiner Ruland (1980) have associated Pythagorean methodologies with the epistemological tools of the Anthroposophist esoteric science. In this way, they applied the study of acoustic intervals on substantially qualitative speculations. As in the case of Rudhyar as well as Marius Schneider (Godwin 1986: p. 378-81), such affinity led to an equally strong interest in astrology. In contemporary linguistics, there exist a number of studies (Abelin 1999, Magnus, 1999) that suggest the existence of intrinsic meaning as residing in the phonemes of words and even in the grammatical structure of languages. The term of lexemes (Abelin 1999) has else inspired inquiry into universals of musical figures, such as melodic elements or other basic structures. Robert Reigle (2005) objected to these so-called musemes (a term coined by Tagg 2005, as cited in Reigle ibid.), because their examination already starts on fairly large objects. Dane Rudhyar (1932) built his whole overtone-mysticism on the basis of vowels as a source of an intrinsic connection between sound and meaning. As language is pronounced in form of the highlighting of overtones, he states that all words had to be music (1932: 199). Rudhyar himself gave a few examples of lexemes. He examined them free of the meaning that they obtain in the language-context, such as the syllable KRI in words like to create, to cry, Krishna, and Christus (ibid.: 204).


Rulands publication of 1980 plays a major role in todays musical education at German Waldorf-schools. It goes as far as ascribing a number of unknown possible tuning-systems to the evolution of specific pre-historic periods, in accordance to epistemological assumptions proposed in Rudolf Steiners anthroposophy. Some of these tuning-systems embody ways of human consciousness more unusual than any other related study has so far mentioned. However, their basic conformity with the laws of tone provide enough hints for an inner understanding of their mysterious way of expression. Hence, they deserve consideration especially for the creative use of composers. As Steiner adapted his spiritual science to Darwinism, his followers were led by a deeply felt monism in which every single aspect of mental phenomena was regarded in innate unity with concrete matter. The intriguing passages in Rulands work are based on his speculative conclusions on the historical unfolding of the phenomenon of harmony. His idea of a somewhat clearly shaped chronological evolution of history leads back to Steiner but evolved from practical study on the monochord. Unfortunately, Ruland was driven by a crude eurocentrism unacceptable for any academic approach. He expressed this in an undisguised enmity against Islam that he affirmed by false evidences (1980: p. 177) and too little insight. Where Harry Partch blamed the Roman Church for the decline of tuning-systems (Partch 1973: p. 18), Ruland used Islam for a similar purpose. But rather than the ideological claims of Rulands postulations, his tuning-systems express how various the perception of tone and the dimensions of its meanings could be. A circle built of the natural seventh 4:7 shows clearly how the key interval of a scale is able to transport natural harmony in segregating the tuning-system from immediate root perception: The pentatony that results from such cycle contains no single interval known to Occidentals. However, other than claimed by Ruland, the temperament necessary for such cycle is not slighter but largely exceeds by 6 cents per interval the twelve-tone temperament. According to Ruland, a supposedly subsequent circle shall have derived from an awareness of the root-based sixth (8:13). Not only does this interval represent an only slightly narrower shape than the seventh, its circle causes a simple doubling of the total number of pitches, thus consisting of ten steps within an octave. In a further analogy to this doubling, Ruland equally to Partch -


referred to the Greek undertone scales with their unusual determinants, as they were mentioned in Schlesinger (1970). Other than official Greek tetrachordic harmony being based on the forth 3:4 some of these circles were built on the 11th or 14th proportions. As Ruland shows, a tuningcycle built on the root-based fourth 8:11 (the so-called alphorn-fa), extends the common twelvetone inventory to its double: 24 (Ruland, 1980: p. 143). Anthroposophist observations of Occidental history have often referred to the only culturedetermining change of intonation that could be evidenced in the Occidental repertoire and that, as it seems, has only occurred in Occidental history: the transition from a fifth-based into a thirdcentering tuning-system, related to the turn from late Middle-Ages into Renaissance (Steiner 1991 & 1999). According to this view, early Renaissance was characterized by the constitutive transition of social patterns from a primary concern of complementary symmetrical relationships. Ruland ascribed the new numeric key-reference the 5 and the major third 4:5 to the growth of a new, typically Occidental awareness of individual self and attributes it to the beginning a grown anthropocentric consciousness mirrored in various interrelated achievements, such as polyphony, spatial perspective, democracy and secularism. A further turn into Baroque with its strange, distant rapport to nature, its dark shadows and vanity poetry may at least bear some evidence that cultural periods of the Occident didnt transform steadily, but in somewhat clear outlines, shifting between distinct patterns resemble Susanne K. Langers concept of symbolic keys. The Kayserian-Anthroposophist pedagogue Peter-Michael Riehm (1989) built a complex educational system that is widely used in German Waldorf-schools. In order to respond optimally on the inner evolution of a self- as much as a social consciousness, he alluded to direct connections between specific periods in musical history in relation to the growing self-consciousness of children that he examined empirically. This educational model considered that some initiations had to be set out carefully at the right time for having their full benefiting impact on the social awareness of the individual. In Riehms attitude, also the anthropological standpoint of Gregory Bateson recurs when he observed analogies between the development of children in specific societies and the segmentation on bodies: Each grade has its ceremonies and its secrets of initiation into that grade [] (1941: p. 84). Comparably, the growth of the human embryo passes through the states of evolution


of diverse animal species. This fact resounds in Dane Rudhyars pathetic postulations (1932: p. 196): Mans emotional nature contains potentially the emotional characteristics of all animal species. The continuous transformation of such condition may not only demand careful handling; instead, continuous proceeding may be a constitutive demand of such evolution.13 There may be, in fact, by no means, any need for rejecting such continuous process in the development of tuning-systems. In contradiction to Rudhyar (1932: 206), the European major mode appears unlikely to be a jumbled up version of supposedly purer form of the past. The European major and minor would then simply represent a new state of intervallic experience that appeared when the differentiation of Pythagorean tuning did not suffice any more. At present states, traditional third-harmony may be considered as the essential pattern which connects (Small 1998: 109) of most Western listeners. But it could be imagined that once, a new determinant may take its place. As this summary has shown, most of these cosmological and esoteric epistemologies have only used aspects of Harmonics in the request for a scientific approach to the phenomenon of qualities. One can also understand the world in the light of history, theology, or pragmatism. All these ways make it more comprehensible: all have their value and their place. Speculative music is another such mirror (speculum), and that is where it gets its name (Godwin 1982: 373). But most of them either departed from an already existing bias or developed into one during their procedure. As an adoption of harmonicist tools seems to comprise the risk of easily deterring into such prejudiced attitudes, only careful, multi-faceted application could make it useful in academic discourses. Despite the preciseness of tone ratio many such studies have indeed become simple channels for scientifically inapplicable and often private philosophies that have simplified rather than elaborated their investigations. They often blur scientific and purely creative methods. On the other hand, there is no doubt that Harmonics could not offer novel and purposeful insights for creative musicians as well as a scientific discipline. In order to protect it against pointless ideological abuse, it may be helpful that its application remained reduced to the matter that it primarily observes: music and tonal laws.

See also Ruland 1980: 170



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