The resounding Enneagram: the seven note musical scale as a model of the universe

Crispin, Judith M. (2007) The resounding Enneagram: the seven note musical scale as a model of the universe. In: 12th International Humanities Conference: All and Everything 2007, 18-22 Apr 2007, Loutraki of Korinthia Peloponnese, Greece.


[Abstract]: Gurdjieff, in his chapter on the law of Heptaparashinokh, utilizes the musical seven-note scale to illustrate the two primary laws governing the unfolding of cosmic processes, the laws of seven and three. These laws, fundamental to Gurdjieffian cosmology, also underpin the structure of western diatonic music. A consideration of the functional musical scale engenders a deeper understanding of the law of Heptaparashinokh, also represented by the Enneagram.

An explanation of complex musical ideas becomes very simple with recourse to actual sounds, as opposed to words alone. Similarly, Gurdjieffian ideas, such as the role of semi-tones in a scale, are simplified when, by virtue of an audible demonstration, the ear quite literally perceives the physical tendency for a particular note to rise or fall. And, again, the movement from a lower octave to a higher has a special significance in music, and can be effectively demonstrated only by sound.

The seven-note scale is comprised of a tri-chord and a tetra-chord, separated by a semitone. The scale itself is separated from the scale above also by a semitone. The interval formed by the outside notes of the tri-chord is a major third, whereas the interval formed by the tetra-chord is the tritone, or augmented fourth. When one listens to these intervals the unstable and ambiguous nature of the tritone is immediately apparent when compared to the major third. The Gurdjieffian idea that the second semi-tone requires a greater shock than the first, is further elucidated by the audible qualities of these intervals.

This paper aims to examine the cosmological model of the seven-note scale in the light of functional diatonic music.

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Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Commonwealth Reporting Category E) (Paper)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information:
Faculty / Department / School: Historic - Faculty of Arts - Department of Music
Date Deposited: 27 Jul 2009 05:44
Last Modified: 23 Aug 2011 04:26
Uncontrolled Keywords: musical scales, seven note scale, tri-chord, western diatonic music
Fields of Research : 19 Studies in Creative Arts and Writing > 1904 Performing Arts and Creative Writing > 190409 Musicology and Ethnomusicology
Socio-Economic Objective: C Society > 95 Cultural Understanding > 9501 Arts and Leisure > 950101 Music

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