Music: The Assault Ov Tradition
« A single note, played with beauty, is sufficient. » Arvo Part.
« Tradition is God at his higher point. » Sir John Tavener.
Make new or make anew.
“The new European music” … what these words could mean to us ?
We do not believe in evolution, innovation and so-called progress.
We believe that only The Christ, the Logos, True Light, True God, can, by The Holy Ghost make new things for he has made all things, visible and invisible ; because He is the Beginning and the End, the Alpha and the Omega, every letters, every sounds between these two primordial points are in Him and by Him…
We, men, creatures, can be only creators “in second” and our music is never our music, we just capture the notes which already, and ever, exist in the celestial world, or to be more precise in the mundus imaginalis. Theophany is always by Light and Sounds.
The most important to us is to go on with “creation” (knowing that we do not create anything by “ourselves”) because we are created in the Image and Ressemblance of God, The Only Creator. But, without forgetting that there is a plan, the one of The Great Architect of the Universe, and the harmony of Cosmos to respect. This is one of the great lessons given to us by Hildegard of Bingen, for example, that we have to learn.
Position and function.
The musician, the singer, traditionally, exercise his function standing up, he is an axis, he stands in the same position than the Christ when He saves us all … it is also, obviously, the position of Odhinn,hang on the tree, Sacrifice of Himself to Himself, as the Christ, and he learned how to pronounce the Sacred Runes, and the Christ,the Verb Himself, who is a ladder told us that we will see the Angels climbing and descending on the Son of Man … Angels are the notes; the Sacred Runes too, it means energetic spiritual energies. An ancient Gaulish word for a sacred pillar was Cantalon, this word is made on the meaning of “chant”, “chanted lesson” (the meaning is kept in the Breton kentel, “lesson”), and we must remember the position of the Celtic deity Lug when he makes incantation against the dark forces of the Fomoire, on one leg, with one arm and one eye (it could even evoke the “four of figure” of the ancients Crafts corporations) … the voice and its sounds are intimately linked to the symbol of axis.
As we do not separate and oppose Christianity and, so-called, paganism, we do note share the vision that separates music into : savant and popular, which, for so many peoples mean, in fact : sacred and profane. For a complete tradition every act is sacred and chants of work or for feasts are also sacred in their own domain, or to be more precise, they are, on their own hierarchical state, part of the sacred...
So called folklore music has the same roots, the same principle than the liturgical music (Gregorian, Byzantine, Orthodox or even Coptic and Armenian chants for example), this principle is entirely into the musical “mode”, both popular and liturgical music could be composed in harmony with this principle.
The music, to go beyond the simple human perception, beyond the “human facts”, beyond “sensibility”, must be in harmony with the “music of the spheres”, with the chant of the Creation. Otherwise music is just a noise, a human noise that could amuse, irritate, make you angry or sad but that do not meet your spirit, it is just a music for the body, may be sometimes for the soul, not for (and by) Spirit !
Musicians and “instruments”.
The main, and first, instrument of the musician is his own body but as quote St John Climacus in The Ladder of Divine Ascent :
“He is my helper and my enemy, my assistant and my opponent, a protector and a traitor. …. What is this mystery in me ? What is the principle of this mixture of body and soul ? How can I be both my own friend and my enemy ? ”
This is why has existed, from immemorial times, an initiation for the singers and musicians. In the Europe Christianity the main key of this initiation is contained in the St John the Baptist hymn Ut Queant Laxis which also refers to this mystery of the body :
UT queant laxis For your faithfulls
REsonare fibris Can, from all their fibers,
MIra gestorum sing the all the wonder of your life
SOLve polluti Cleanse from sin
Labii reatum their lips
Sancte Iohannes Ô Saint John
The body, and, in fact, even, the composite body+soul can’t reach by himself the supreme goal, the domain of the sacred (body and souls depends on the Fall, the growing far away from the Spiritual Center). He needs a guide, a bridge … so by initiation is offer to him to become his own guide, his own bridge but a vertical bridge between Earth and skies. The musician has to become what he really is, he has to rejoice the Kingdom where, in reality, he has never ceased to live in. He is, truly, the Ladder of his own ascension, but only if he is a “complete man” (it means body-soul-spirit, and the clear awakening of the “eye of the Heart”) and the notes are the way to reveal this forgotten truth.
We could see the “traditional” scale as a ladder with the ascending notes, but in fact the real traditional doctrine of music is much more complex and, in the same time, more flexible, revealing its true and beautiful harmony.
About an esoteric symbol
In French the scale is said “gamme” and it refers to the Greek alphabet letter : gamma. We must see here the links with the symbol of gammadion, symbol of Totality and Harmony, of Perfection, but also, obviously, with the cross “of the house” or rukn el-arkân. In this precise case the singer reflects the Center and the Summit, so, he is the Axis which rejoice the base and the highest point.
Symbolically the musician or singer “plays” in the center of the “house” or at the “crossroad”, he sings and play in the middle of the Four Worlds, in the Center of the Elements as they are the basis of all things.
We would just note here that in English the word “game” seems to have a common sense with the French “gamme” and in the two languages the notion for making music is “to play” (“jouer” in French) and you play a game or music. This rejoice the Idea of Life as an Eternal play, the Life is the divine Game (as in the Hindu notion of Lîlâ) and always traditional arts are made in this way, but here, with these words we’re touching something that means also that in music, playing with the good “spirit” is ascending the different state of being …
Contemporary but not “modernist” music.
It is obvious than musicians born in those last years can’t be “traditional musicians” in the strict meaning of these words, for there is no more, in Occident, “traditional music” in the term that we define before, it means, not necessarily liturgical music, sacred music could perfectly be a non-liturgical music (to keep the same example the music of Hildegarde of Bingen were not liturgical music), but it has to be a music linked to a traditional spiritual form. The idea of making a meta-music which could means something above all traditional form is perfectly non-traditional … but, may be, is it the only way in our totally untraditional world … However, this music should have to consider that Creation is a Plan and Cosmos an Harmony so that itself must stay in the rules traditionally defined. For the Occidental world, as we said before, rules contain: modal structures, harmony, diatonism and so on …
So, the main problems for contemporaries musicians who want to stay in contact with the Source of Tradition is to stay in the position of “creator in second” using these traditional principles in their creations. In fact we have to “create” under the inspiration of the Skies a contemporary but non-modernist music, a modern music not a modernist one.
In reality it is what has made all the traditional musicians till now, but may be the modern world was not yet everywhere as he is today …
Titus Burckhardt said a tale about an Arab musician who didn’t want to add a chord to his instrument. To a friend of him who asked why, trying to convince him that he could do more and better music, the musician replied that with one more chord starts “heresy”…
For a real traditional musician we are actually, we modern occidentals musicians, all “heretics”, which means that we are separated from tradition, and we have to do our best with that statement. Obviously all in modern music is not untraditional but dodecaphonism and atonalism are completely modernist innovations. Nowadays a “traditional”, or better “perennial” way of making is to use discernment and discrimination :
using what is right !
refusing what is not !
As said Sir John Tavener : “ if music can’t be sung it ceases to be music.”
The Way of Crafty men.
J-S. Bach and his followers have broke the bridge with tradition, the “temperate scale” is the point of no return, but before that the Chant of the Church entered decadence, modernity didn’t start with us and there’s a long dusk before us.
It is in the nature of our own and real position to have to do more things by ourselves, the hours are darks and initiation is only for Free Men, who could say that he is one of them. So we, actual musicians, we must cut, before all, the knots of modernity, before doing anything else, and, for this purpose, lay, dormant, at the door of our hearts the things we need, we have to take them up and use its. We have a world of symbols to know, and not in the modern way, it means to make really ours, here is this mystery of the body… We have to “mix” those symbols, those keys, those methods, those principles, to our own FLESH …
We are men of the dark age and we must start with the beginning and the beginning is our BODIES.
The Hymn Ut Queant Laxis, principle of the scale could also be read as :
RE SOL UT (IO)
In our particular age we must, more than ever, have conscience than the SOLVE phase is extremely important. For us things depend on the “sacred furor” which is also the source of all inspiration …
On the day of the saint Yuz,
1st of September
Anno Domini, Anno Redemptori, MMV,
(actual version – Bright Week MMIX a. D – a. R)