The Sources of the Sense of Hearing
The musical sense has, according to spiritual teachers, its roots probably in ancient Atlantis. They make use of sources that can be attributed to the Akashic Chronicle and which vaguely illustrate that language was not capable of describing the longings, the desire for something higher, and even less capable of projecting them onto a religious entity. Rudimentary sounds (music) may have nourished the idea that spiritual communication was conceivable with early man…: Prayer, religious invocation of the Great Mother.
In ancient India, a scale and rhythmic shape developed which for Western ears is still difficult to follow today. It was not until the end of the 20th century that Western music tried to make approximations and combinations possible. Reference should be made to George Harrison, Ravi Shankar and Yehudi Menuhin. For thousands of years, Indian music has been associated with meditation, mantras and processes of contemplation, so that Indian people formed contemplative natures over a long period of time.
If we look at music in ancient Egypt, it was in the spiritual schools, the “Mysteries“, one of the means of putting the candidates to be initiated into a trance in a temple sleep. In this state, the person became aware that the astral body/the emotional being can separate from the physical body and he can come to the experience that he is immortal. Paradisiacal and satanic spaces can be passed through and the ascent into heavenly regions corresponds to the experience of resurrection. These processes were unceremoniously adopted into the Christian liturgy and so the Christian doctrine is also based on Egyptian magic: “Out of Egypt I have called my son.”
While the Indian mystic is concerned with bliss and ecstasy, the Egyptian intends to acquire the knowledge under what conditions music can be applied experimentally. The so-called Christian Occident owes to Egyptian culture the purposeful use of ceremonies and ritual action. In Egypt, it were the adepts and initiates who used these magical means, while the Egyptian people remained in ignorance.
In Greece, the European music, based on semitones, emerged. Plato and Aristotle assigned differentiated states of being to the three original keys (Dorian, Lydian and Phrygian) which had already developed. Thus, the Doric key is supposed to cause self-respect and respect for the state, the Lydian key promotes sensuality and the Phrygian key causes self-control and dignity.
Subsequently, perhaps the people of the three regions of musical origin can be roughly distinguished on the basis of the different sound meanings and effects:
– The Hindu sought dreamy contemplation.
– The Egyptian wanted to develop magic and to scientifically overcome the limits of imagination.
– The Hellenic man preferred the quality of the physical, which is also underlined by the idealising art of the Greeks.
While on the one hand high purity, artistry and wisdom can be observed, on the other hand hypocrisy, dogmas and superstition developed, so that spirituality and beauty were split apart to a certain extent and the feeling of unity, of harmony was destroyed. This process continues to this day.
The Degeneration of Hearing in Modernity
The philosopher Theodor W. Adorno dealt intensively with the decline of musical taste in the 20th century and the regression of hearing. In doing so, he considered sociological, musical and aesthetic aspects and related them to each other. Here, only the degression tendency shall be pointed out. After times of depression and fixation on megalomania, murder and death and unbearable periods of suffering, as was the case in the first half of the last century, man needs an outlet to shake off frustration and petrification, to dance and celebrate without high musical demands. This also seems to be observable in the present situation. With the longing for party and pleasure, man wants to throw off the omnipresent entrenchment and perceived control. The rapid flattening of musical taste and the listening habits of many contemporaries lead, according to Adorno, to a loss of the ability to hear. The consequence is a fixation of consciousness at an infantile level with the loss of the ability to draw insights from the language of music. He describes it as a disease with a conserving effect. The omnipresence of jazz music and pop songs promotes deconcentration. Listening degenerates to a low level and a development from everyday tootling to the reception of a Wagner opera seems very unlikely in the long run.
The Imprinting of Hearing in the Womb
Alfred A. Tomatis, a doctor and university lecturer, spent decades working scientifically and medically on human hearing. He postulated that mental imprinting begins very early in the womb. In utero, the mental and emotional being as well as the ability to speak are decisively developed and promoted. The auditory and equilibrium system is already perfected in the early stages of human development. The mother’s voice has a very important function in this. It conveys the sound of life in the earliest stage of existence. And perhaps this allows us to conclude that an essential part of the question of meaning can be answered. One of the things evolution is about is the completion of listening. The one who is able to hear enables himself to grasp again the word of the beginning …
The Seeing prejudices what is heard
I only believe what I see! I have to see that before I accept it as truth … An avalanche of images is hitting us: Television, Internet, smartphone, and the ease of capturing everything via photo and selfie dominate perception with indescribable intensity.
In a theatre, three actors sit on chairs and read their texts aloud. They are not playing Othello or Romeo and Juliet. A creative process is set in motion in the listener’s imagination. What is heard is transformed into images, into a film of its own. In the end, everyone has felt their own experience; at worst, they only perceive the performance quality of the reader. The brain-stimulating advantage of listening to radio plays over watching the actions in films seems to be striking. In the face of the flood of images, can our consciousness still freely determine whether it is receiving first-hand information or is being manipulated? Am I closer to reality by listening? I prefer to hear what I already know – another filter that distorts perception.
The Unheard: Beethoven’s Kreutzer Sonata
Between the oratorio “Christ on the Mount of Olives” and the “Eroica”, Ludwig van Beethoven writes a sonata for violin and piano op. 47, the so-called Kreutzer Sonata. All previous conventions are overcome in it and the accompanying instrument, the violin, is finally torn from its shadowy existence and takes the initiative to trigger feelings that were previously unknown: a turn to drag the incomprehensible, the repressed, the hidden into the light of day. No house music, only top violinists, can interpret this. Musicians and listeners are left helpless. Thought and emotion are torn from the everyday; the patriarchal is thrown into the bin; the feminine unfolds its beguiling and harmonising power. Tolstoy describes in his story “The Kreutzer Sonata” the dangerousness of music to evoke erotic feelings, an attack that challenges the Russian self-image of male dominance. A Russian revolution! With this sonata of unheard-of radicalism, Beethoven tears down boundaries of expression, forms a new dialectic or is it even the formulation of the new way of humanity, a human path of cooperation and solidarity? Musicians and listeners become directly connected to the emotional world of the creator. The old forces resist to this day – but what of the long run?