Pythagoras lived a long time ago, born on a Greek island, Samos. That would have been enough for me: walking the beach, tilling the land, being with family and fishing for supper. But him, his daddy was a gem merchant so he got himself an education. One of his teachers, a woman called Themistoclea taught him ethics and he learned from various teachers, geometry, astronomy, arithmetic and a lovely study called “practical maxims for life”.
We have in our everyday scholastic language, Pythagoras’ theory which as we all remember is the square on the hypotenuse is equal to the sum of the squares on the opposite sides a2+b2=c2 in a right angled triangle. After school though there is not many of us that use the calculation.
One thing that Pythagoras noted was about music. Each note was interconnected, two strings of different lengths could be tuned to give a middle C and a high C. And just like other mathematicians used his theory to make their theories, so a few people in history have used his musical theories.
There was this guy Anicius Manlius Severinus Boëthius , in his lineage were Roman emperors, he was a philosopher who ended up executed for treason. During his life though he wrote four major works,
De consolatione philosophiae, De topicis differentiis, De arithmetica and De institutione musica. This last one – the formation of music touched on stuff that was not known, like little hints at something that had to wait another couple of hundred years to be discovered but he, Boethius described a system of harmonic ratios that united instrumental music, body and soul, and the workings of the heavens and the earth.
Every electron or subatomic particle of every atom of every molecule in this universe are made up of superstrings (which are toroidal vortices of energy). Superstrings are small (extremely tiny) donut shaped packages of energy that spin at a given frequency – or sing as in pitch. For those of you concerned with pitch and tone (not me obviously if you have heard me sing) this is awesome. Boethius had four types of music in his theory, musica mundana — music of the spheres/world, musica humana — the music of the internal human body or the harmony of human body and spiritual harmony, musica instrumentalis or musica quae in quibusdam constituta est instrumentis — sounds made by singers and instrumentalists or instrumental music and musica divina— music of the gods – for me this translates MUSIC OF GOD.
There is a youtube video manipulating these sounds to make a contrived performance of the ALL THE UNIVERSE PRAISING GOD TOGETHER. I believe that the universe does this but I don’t need a contrived performance. Listening to the wind whistle down a chimney, water rushing down a stream, birds singing, hearts beating and animals chatting. Boethius talked about the picture of sound, I talk about the sound of everything praising the Lord.
In other writings Boethius tackled, the trinity, Arianism and dissenting heretical forms of Christianity. He took Pythagoras’ musical theories and ran with them in conjunction with keeping within the bounds of his Christian faith. He took varying forms of dissent and mainstream discussion and honed them into valid Christian thought.
All the Levites who were musicians—Asaph, Heman, Jeduthun and their sons and relatives—stood on the east side of the altar, dressed in fine linen and playing cymbals, harps and lyres. They were accompanied by 120 priests sounding trumpets. The trumpeters and musicians joined in unison to give praise and thanks to the Lord. Accompanied by trumpets, cymbals and other instruments, the singers raised their voices in praise to the Lord and sang:
“He is good;
his love endures forever.”
Then the temple of the Lord was filled with the cloud, and the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled the temple of God.
2 Chronicles 5:12-14
Below is his prayer:
‘Builder of yon starry dome,
Thou that whirlest, throned eternal,
Heaven’s swift globe, and, as they roam,
Guid’st the stars by laws supernal:
So in full-sphered splendour dight
Cynthia dims the lamps of night,
But unto the orb fraternal
Closer drawn, doth lose her light.
‘Who at fall of eventide,
Hesper, his cold radiance showeth,
Lucifer his beams doth hide,
Paling as the sun’s light groweth,
Brief, while winter’s frost holds sway,
By thy will the space of day;
Swift, when summer’s fervour gloweth,
Speed the hours of night away.
‘Thou dost rule the changing year:
When rude Boreas oppresses,
Fall the leaves; they reappear,
Wooed by Zephyr’s soft caresses.
Fields that Sirius burns deep grown
By Arcturus’ watch were sown:
Each the reign of law confesses,
Keeps the place that is his own.
‘Sovereign Ruler, Lord of all!
Can it be that Thou disdainest
Only man? ‘Gainst him, poor thrall,
Wanton Fortune plays her vainest.
Guilt’s deserved punishment
Falleth on the innocent;
High uplifted, the profanest
On the just their malice vent.
‘Virtue cowers in dark retreats,
Crime’s foul stain the righteous beareth,
Perjury and false deceits
Hurt not him the wrong who dareth;
But whene’er the wicked trust
In ill strength to work their lust,
Kings, whom nations’ awe declareth
Mighty, grovel in the dust.
‘Look, oh look upon this earth,
Thou who on law’s sure foundation
Framedst all! Have we no worth,
We poor men, of all creation?
Sore we toss on fortune’s tide;
Master, bid the waves subside!
And earth’s ways with consummation
Of Thy heaven’s order guide!’