Rosicrucian Writings Online
Souls and SoundBy Frater Fred H. Strom
[From The Rosicrucian Digest October 1937]
And as the mind is pitched, the ear
Is pleased with melting airs
Or martial, brisk or grave.
Some chord, in unison with what we hear
Is touched within us, and the heart replies."
THESE lines from William Cowper's "Winter Walk at Noon" suggest to the reader the inseparable relationship between the universe and himself. One who has made a study of the sounds of music finds sympathetic response in the soul of every mortal.
The best known appeal is found in that element of sound known as rhythm. Rhythm in its simplest form may be noted in the tom-tom beat of the African savage or the American Indian. In its more refined form, it is found in the rhythm of the march or military band. There are few of us who do not thrill to the martial airs and rhythm of a military band.
We next find other souls who are touched by the sound of melody. Melody is exemplified in such beautiful compositions as Schubert's "Ave Maria" and Brahm's "Lullaby" or "Cradle Song." World War veterans and many concert goers will never forget the late Madam Schumann Heink's singing of Brahm's "Wagenlied." Only the mother heart of a Schumann Heink could give interpretation to the melody of this well-known cradle song.
Sounds find a sympathetic chord in what is known as harmony. There is the harmony of a male quartet, of a majestic pipe organ, a symphony orchestra.
There are other forms of sound appeal, but these three are fundamental and basic. It is not so much with these sounds of music that we would deal in this article, but rather with "other sounds," which lie above and beyond the so-called "audible" scale of vibrations. Properly speaking these vibrations do not lie within the scale or spectrum of sound, but they do strike responsive chords, producing emotions, stirring some vague, unexplainable memory. This thought is found in Metcalf's "Absent," wherein he says:
"Sometimes between long shadows on the grass
The little truant waves of sunlight pass
My eyes grow dim with tenderness the while,
Thinking I see thee,
Thinking I see thee smile.
"And, in the twilight gloom apart
The tall trees whisper, whisper heart to heart
From my fond lips, the eager answers fall,
Thinking I hear thee,
Thinking I hear thee call."
Many people have experienced the phenomena of "sounds" heard in the "silence." This may seem paradoxical for the reason that sound is generally assigned to the physical sense mechanism of the ear, audio nerve, and brain. Technically speaking, without these mediums, plus some instrument for setting up sound vibrations, there is no phenomenon known as "sound." Therefore, for purposes of clarity and distinction, it is important that we keep the sense of hearing and the sounds which can be noted and recorded by these mediums on their proper plane. However Rosicrucian students know, as do physicists, scientists, and mystics that there lies, above and beyond the ability of the human ear and brain to detect, a vast throbbing, pulsating scale of vibrations which are very useful to man.
For example, the sound vibrations from the human voice can modulate a so-called electrical carrier wave, generated by a radio station. This modulated carrier wave on which the sound pattern of the human voice has been impressed can be projected thousands of miles into space, received through the proper electrical transposition devices, and again made audible to the human ear. This is, of course, the popular and today well-known phenomenon of radio with which everyone is familiar.
The audible frequency vibrations lie within a scale of, roughly, from 32 to 16,000 vibrations per second. The piano keyboard, for example, has the first note of its lowest octave, vibrating at 32 times per second, while the highest note of its last octave, vibrates at 4,096 per second.
Radio vibrations in commercial use today begin with a rate or speed of 550,000 and run as high as 49,000,000 vibrations per second. In connection with these "radio frequency" vibrations, it is interesting to note that they travel with the speed of light, namely, 186,000 miles per second; whereas, "audible frequency" vibrations travel only 1,086 feet per second.
Above radio frequency and electrical vibrations lie the vibrations which impart to us the sense of heat, light, and color. These vibrations lie far up the scale and find their place from about the 40th to 50th octave. Further on, we come to the rates of vibrations known as the X-ray, lying in the scale of about the 56th to the 60th octave. Beyond the phenomena of the X-ray, science is today experimenting with, and delving into Gamma and Cosmic rays. The stratosphere balloon ascensions have been undertaken for the purpose of gathering scientific data on these rays or vibrations, which increase to such an incomprehensible number per second as to be unmeasurable with present-day laboratory instruments.
With the discovery of the various manifestations, such as sound, electricity, heat, light, color, etc., associated with vibrations, the student of both material and psychic phenomena cannot help but wonder and speculate as to what new fields will be opened up and what new benefits will accrue to mankind with his ability to understand and use the higher order of vibrations. It is not unreasonable to believe that if we are today out on the scale of vibrations at the octave 60, we can continue on from there with a great deal of wonderment and interest.
Ancient Hindu philosophers maintained that there are only three things which exist as permanent, unchangeable, indestructible realities. They are vibration, law, and space. Physicists realize the truth of these statements when they have been able to resolve and involve all so-called matter, both organic and inorganic into atomic, molecular, and electronic vibrations. Since this is possible, is it unreasonable to believe that some day we will know the vibration of soul and spirit essence?
Man has long since abandoned his sense perception as his one and only source of information and knowledge. He is continually engaged in applying and materializing invisible forces. Electricity is an invisible force, which man uses every day in innumerable motors, appliances, etc. The tremendous power which resides in gasoline is invisible and yet in an automobile or an aeroplane it is made to render invaluable service. Radio waves are invisible and yet with them man can talk around the world. The sounds of music are invisible. Man materializes them and brings them into the realm of expression through musical instruments. Man's own body is a coordination of invisible forces, materialized for use and service.
The permanent thing about all these phenomena is the invisible force back of the manifestation. The temporary form, for expressing the force, has no power of itself. The musician is not in the organ and the organ of itself cannot create music. Electricity is not in the generator. The iron and copper have no power in themselves. When set into motion, they become collectors and transmittors of the force we call electricity. The form expressing the force or vibration is not in the vibration, but rather does the vibration create the form and expresses itself through it, while at the same time, transcending it. This principle flows throughout all forms of life, giving them power, motion, and quality. Without the vibration and the law, the form is dead. Likewise, without form or instrument the vibration cannot function.
1. A 1915 recording of Brahm's Wiegenlied sung by Ernestine Schumann-Heink is on YouTube (external link).
2. Mp3s of the following works, performed by various artists, are available online (external links):
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