Why music?

Discussion in 'General Freemasonry Discussion' started by hanzosbm, Nov 18, 2015.

  1. hanzosbm

    hanzosbm Premium Member

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    In the second degree we are taught of the 7 Liberal Arts. The argument could easily made that they can be seen as a progression of wisdom. Upon understanding common language and grammar one can express thought and clearly convey ideas. With this skill in hand, one is then able to use that language to give depth and persuasion to their words from which we get rhetoric. Moving on from there, rhetoric must be tested and can be used to logically argue a point if the next liberal art is utilized. With logic in tow, the language of the universe, founded upon logic, can then be understood in the form of mathematics. Math, when coupled with the three dimensional world in which we live, gives way to geometry in explaining shapes. These shapes however are static. In terms of engineering, the next progression from static is to dynamic and understanding the way in which things move. What grander movements are there to understand than those of the heavenly bodies, and thus we have astronomy.

    But what of music? It's is beautiful, it speaks to our emotions, it can be translated in a mathematical fashion, but as art, it is not dictated by logic and therefore seems to fall out of line with the rest. Furthermore, the order that the arts are given to us in make music all the more enigmatic. It seems to be an unfinished tangent, and even then is rather clumsy when attempting to insert it into the progression of the others.

    Were the creators of the ritual needing a seventh and therefore tossed this in, even though it is a poor fit? If so, why the importance of 7? Were the arts given out of order indicating that after understanding the fabric of the cosmos that one should then look inward to the soul and how it is moved by music? Or does it stand in its rightful place yet is misunderstood?

    What are your thoughts, brothers?
     
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  2. Warrior1256

    Warrior1256 Site Benefactor

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    You bring up very interesting points that, with my limited Masonic experience, had not occured to me. Will be watching this thread to see what others have to say.
     
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  3. dfreybur

    dfreybur Premium Member

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    The trivium and quadrivium were imported into Masonry not created by Masonry. As such we can just point to the outside source and see what they have to say. But where the fun in doing that? ;^)

    Masonry is supposed to complete the entire man. To tie it all together to make us a better man. To keep our eye on the possible but rarely achieved goal of being a perfect ashlar.

    Humans are emotional creatures. In lodge we offer the hand of fellowship to build love. We subdue our passions learning to harness our other emotions to power our actions.

    Music is emotional. In lodges lucky enough to have a musician we include music in our meetings. It is said that music tames the wild beast. We all have in us that wild beast.

    There's a further level that was likely well known in the past that is no longer well known. It's the physical skill aspect of music. All operative Masons knew the physical skills of carving as well as the intellectual skills of design. Back in the day when recorded music meant sheet music more men knew musical instruments than is common now. There is a cluster of composition, sight reading music, playing music, listening to music, feeling the emotions of music that is not as common as it was a century ago. That cluster parallels designing a structure, writing them on the trestle board, sight reading the plans, carving the stone, feeling the emotion of building a cathedral.
     
  4. hanzosbm

    hanzosbm Premium Member

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    I completely agree with you in regards to music speaking to our emotions. In addition, I think one could argue that there is a need to understand the first 3 arts, maybe even the 4th, to truly understand music. This could be seen as a progression all on it's own and a branch, after mastering those first 3 or 4, speaking to the emotional side with geometry and astrology speaking to the logical side. But again, it is placed AFTER geometry, which doesn't make a lot of sense.

    As I've been writing this, I'm considering a different avenue of approach. Each of the arts independently are nice, but it is clear that they are meant to be a progression. That being said, maybe we ought to look at this more like a tree than a vine. I think we all see the progressive nature of the trivium, but, after the trunk of the tree is established with those 3, maybe the quadrivium are to be seen as independent branches.

    While today, we view a knowledge of mathematics to be the foundation of geometry, that was not always the case. Yes, the two are related, but with practical knowledge and certain tools, geometry can be performed without mathematics, at least in its rudimentary levels. Consider the ancient problem of squaring the circle; the entire challenge was to do so with geometry and excluding mathematics. Likewise, the movement of the stars, while now known to be dictated by physics, can be observed, recorded, even predicted via logic and without true mathematics. Perhaps the quadrivium are all independent of each other, yet all requiring the common foundation of the trivium.
     
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  5. JamestheJust

    JamestheJust Registered User

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    The rhythms of music are implicit in the knocks
     
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  6. hanzosbm

    hanzosbm Premium Member

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    Doing a bit of reading on Wikipedia (dangerous, I know) I found the quadrivium discussed. Proclus, a 5th century philosopher said:

    The Pythagoreans considered all mathematical science to be divided into four parts: one half they marked off as concerned with quantity, the other half with magnitude; and each of these they posited as twofold. A quantity can be considered in regard to its character by itself or in its relation to another quantity, magnitudes as either stationary or in motion. Arithmetic, then, studies quantities as such, music the relations between quantities, geometry magnitude at rest, spherics [astronomy] magnitude inherently moving.

    This idea of the study of relations between quantities is an interesting one and brings to mind a special I saw awhile back discussing the seemingly constant examples of mathematic ratios in nature. Part of the special also talked about music and how certain ratios (I.e. notes and their combinations) were more pleasing to the ear. It could be argued that music is essentially an auditory representation of geometry, and if viewed again as a progression, it would be necessary to have at least some understanding of geometry to progress. Just a thought.
     
  7. JamestheJust

    JamestheJust Registered User

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    The word "music" is an adjective and not a noun.
     
  8. hanzosbm

    hanzosbm Premium Member

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    I must disagree with you. Not only from a grammatical perspective (there's that first liberal art) but also from a practical one. It is one of the liberal arts, those arts being nouns, it is, therefore, a noun.
     
  9. JamestheJust

    JamestheJust Registered User

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    The noun is Muse, the adjective is Music
     
  10. hanzosbm

    hanzosbm Premium Member

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    Once again, music is a noun, not an adjective. Musical and musically are both adjectives, but music is a noun. Furthermore, I'm currently holding the monitors for 2 separate jurisdictions, neither of which have anything even remotely close to mentioning a muse. They both, however, refer to music as a liberal art, a noun.
    I asked for thoughts, and I am fully interested in hearing different ideas, but those ideas need to be based on something. If I'm missing what that something is, please enlighten me.
     
  11. JamestheJust

    JamestheJust Registered User

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    You may perhaps recall that Richard Wagner distinguished a "tonal performance" (most common) from a "music performance" (rather rare).

    The confusion perhaps arises in the labeling of dimensions of divine creation by the names of 9 daughter of Zeus. Look past the allegory of the goddesses to connect to the intelligences of divine creation. When one of more of those divine intelligences attends a tonal performance then it becomes music.

    The same concept appears in Masonry when we refer to "the 7 Masons" that make a lodge perfect. This is not "any 7 Masons" but "the 7 Masons". Some of them are depicted standing on top of pillars in the EA TB. Again this is a symbolic representation of the divine intelligences.

    Only a few times in my Masonic career has even one of the 7 Masons visited. His looking in made me quite nervous - I was in the Chair at the time
     
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2015
  12. Classical

    Classical Premium Member

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    Nice discussion! I have a Bachelor of Music, so I'm pretty sure it's a noun....

    The ancients considered music a discipline on par with mathematics and other human rational/emotional endeavors. Many religions have tried to restrict music and/or ban it outright in human worship of God for just the reasons we are speaking of: In that music affects the heart in ways that are not easily understood by objective means. This scares the hell out of many fanatical religions and I think we can see why.

    Actually, now that I think about it, ALL of the seven Arts are pretty scary to petty minds and doctrines of human control. I think this is what Pike was hinting at in his first chapter of Morals & Dogma.
     
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  13. Mel Knight

    Mel Knight Registered User

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  14. JJones

    JJones Moderator Staff Member

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    This is why I always assumed music was a liberal art. Octaves, frequencies, and so forth, are very mathematical in nature. I sort of suspect the creators of our ritual had this in mind.
     
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  15. Bloke

    Bloke Premium Member

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    Tell me more :)
    I vote music is a noun.
    Every thought it was cause Solomon was a rock star of his day ? He is attributed with the Song of Solomon which appears in some of our VSLs :)

    (I'm in a silly mood, though there is a comnection there. ..)
     
  16. Classical

    Classical Premium Member

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    Just make sure you dial it up to 11!
     
  17. Warrior1256

    Warrior1256 Site Benefactor

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    I like this!
     
  18. hanzosbm

    hanzosbm Premium Member

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    I read on Wikipedia that originally, when the ancients spoke of the art of 'music', they were really talking about harmonics. That would certainly make sense regarding the mathematical nature of music having to do with ratios and how they affect harmonics. That being said, it's Wikipedia. Does anyone have anything that could be added along those lines?
     
  19. Browncoat

    Browncoat Registered User

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    "There is geometry in the humming of the strings, there is music in the spacing of the spheres." — Pythagoras

    Yes, THAT Pythagoras. He was very much into the study of how mathematics relates to music.

     
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  20. Emjaysmash

    Emjaysmash מחפש כל האור Premium Member

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    Let me throw this idea out there: I think we can all agree music has mathematics as a foundation. Could the jump from geometry to music possibly have to do with creation beyond the physical? Geometry employs mathematics to physical means: shapes, angles, all or which need to be physically created (be that in building or on the trestle board). Music takes that one step further- creation of mathematical patterns that are not necessary confined to a physical apparatus (although often is in order to be re-created by others) but are fleeting and momentary. Could this not point to a GAOTU that created from nothing? Could it also serve as a reminder of our fleeting creation and that all are to meet death eventually?

    Something to think about.
     

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