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In the fifteenth chapter of Iamblichus’ 'The Life of Pythagoras', which deals with the 'first education of sense', with 'how Pythagoras reformed the souls of his disciples with music and how he had, in the same way, reformed himself’, we find one of the written traces of great interest for the comprehension of the science-art of Euphony.

Iamblichus begins his discourse as follows:
'Believing that the first concern for man ought to be the development of sensitive perception - of beautiful forms and figures, beautiful rhythms and melodies - he considered musical education as paramount in treating human character and emotions by means of definite rhythms and melodies, leading the faculties of the soul back to their original equilibrium. He furthermore devised methods of overcoming and healing physical and psychic illness'.

For Pythagoras the first contact was Beauty: sensitive perception of forms, figures, and sounds, as a path leading to the contact with archetypes of consciousness. The relationship between simple perception and primeval time is so close that no other means can lead more promptly to our native equilibrium.

A principle of inner consonance causes essences of apparently different character to correspond. But nothing can be evoked that is not already in some measure possessed. In the 'sympathetic' response there is the principle of true education, which allows the gentle flow of the immense potential existing in each one of us. When Pythagoras 'educates musically', he does nothing other than attain the supreme synthesis of the older practices of Euphony that in ancient India and Egypt had already reached a climax of initiation.

The Muses, particularly those related to sound, are for Pythagoras live essences enfolded within the human soul. The man who rises inwardly towards Space and knows these nine daughters of Zeus and Mnemosine (memory) is divine. In fact spiritual memory is a basic assumption of Pythagorean / platonic education, where learning consists of remembering what the soul has lived. That the Muses should dwell on the mounts of Elicona and Parnassus is a simple expression of the idea of the spiral evolution of consciousness, as well as of the eternal beauty and power of the 'Para-desh', the higher realm, the euphonic Space.

Clio, Calliope, Melpomene, Thalia, Urania, Terpsichore, Erato, Euterpe and Polyhymnia relate to all vibratory modes expressed in Sound, from the songs of heroes to poetic intonation, from the tragic accents on the word to the comedy evocative of souls, from the didactic poetry and astronomy to love songs, from musical instruments to sacred and magic song.

In the psychological sense, the Muses represent all inherent potential of the human being; these are to be developed through a particular kind of 'musical education' that allows them to reveal themselves in the Person. 'But above all this - continues Iamblichus - it is worth considering the so called musical "treatments" and "adaptations" which he arranged and organised for his disciples. With extraordinary talent, he would invent musical combinations, in the diatonic, chromatic and enharmonic modes, whereby he used to change and reverse in their opposites the emotions of the soul with the utmost ease, which had arisen in the disciples and increased in a rash and irrational way: moods of sorrow, anger, compassion, jealousy, absurd fears, desires of every kind, excitement and depression, relaxation and impetuosity of soul. He corrected each of these emotions according to virtue, by means of appropriate musical harmonies and healing medicinal mixtures'.

The musical "adaptations" and "treatments" set out by Pythagoras reflect a perfect and profound knowledge of the law of Analogy. Plotinus says: 'Since analogy is the law of all things... the things of the world cannot be independent; there must necessarily be a certain relationship between them'. (Ennead 3, book 11, chapter 18). The effects obtained by the skilful combination of diatonic, chromatic and enharmonic genres, given the close relationship existing between the internal structure of the scales and the movements of the soul, were administered in precise doses as tonics for the nervous system.

In the evening, when it was time to sleep, he (Pythagoras) freed his disciples from the worries of the day and purified the uproar of their agitated minds, making their sleep tranquil, bearer of good and divinatory dreams. At the moment of awakening, he freed them from the night torpors, and from their languor and drowsiness with special songs and melodies, played with the simple accompaniment of the lyre or sung by the voice alone'.

It is worth reflecting carefully on how these 'very special' songs and melodies not only contributed towards keeping the mind steady and clear in the waking state, but also influenced the lesser-known states of consciousness, such as dreams and deep sleep. On the one hand the preparation for the daily passage from waking to dreaming; on the other the purification of all psychic remains produced in the process, eliminating both drowsiness and languor. There is no doubt that only a global knowledge of the human being and of his relationship with macrocosmic energies can help synthesise the laws of nature in musical sounds, attuned to an inexhaustible source of nourishment. Innumerable elements are already concentrated in these teachings that involve such thinkers as Damon, Plato, Aristotle, Plotinus, Boethius and Odo of Cluny. These, and other elements of knowledge about the mysteries of being, will fade with time, thus loosing their contours, exactness and credibility.

Iamblichus, the neoplatonist who reveals profound knowledge of the euphonic realities as 'lived philosophy' in his 'Egyptian Mysteries', continues in the Master's biography stating: 'But for himself the great man produced the same result in a different way; that is, by means of instruments and of voice; in fact, with the help of an arcane and inaccessible divinity, he would lend his ear and fix his mind on the supreme harmonies of the cosmos: he alone - as he would say - would perceive and understand the universal harmony, the consonances of the spheres and heavenly bodies moving therein. Such harmony creates a purer and more complete music than that of humans. In fact, the motion and circulation that result from unequal and diverse sounds varying in speed, power and length of intervals, placed however reciprocally according to a perfect musical proportion, sound extremely harmonious, and, by the same token, very beautiful in their variety. He nourished his mind with this music, submitting it to an ordered discipline, exercising it, as it were, as an athlete does his body; but at the same time he meant to provide his disciples, as best he could, with models and representations of it, imitating such cosmic music with instruments or the solo voice'.

Excerpt from Euphony - "The Sound of Life" by DANIEL LEVY.


 

 
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