with two examples of cosmic music:
vinyl LPs  Gurdjieff-de Hartmann (1982) & vinyl LP P-ART (1983)

by Jorg Pyl (1987)

The musical novelties of the last decade show a larger percentage of works that more consciously respond to the mystical roots of our existence. By mysticism I want to understand here an inner knowledge, which is not clouded by our defective sensory perception (derived from the Greek myein = closing the eyes).
Assuming that the ancient theater had a religious basis, the same can be said of music. Add to this the fact that music is the most abstract art form that uses vibrations (in our physics expressed in Hertz), then it becomes clear that music in itself is a language that we no longer understand (rationally) in our ordinary profane life, but rather experience it.  The fact that in our twentieth century - with our positive scientific thinking on the one hand and our neurotic-stressing lifestyle on the other - we no longer have a conscious understanding of the deep message that every music sends to us in a veil of harmonic sounds or not, rather increases its influence rather than reducing it.

It goes without saying that over the centuries a therapeutic value has been attributed to music. While nowadays people strive for a creative music experience, in Antiquity people limited themselves to listening. The view in ancient Greece seems particularly interesting to me, especially since in this period there was a very important movement to the East, Egypt and Israel, where various schools of mystery arose around this time. According to the ancient Greeks, music reflects the cosmic world order. This order is expressed in numerical proportions corresponding to the musical intervals. By way of illustration I would like to refer to the number symbolism of Pythagoras and the kabbalistic number theory. These theories are, moreover, partly to be found in the four great schools of thought which have developed from these ancient schools of mystery and which are still active today, namely Freemasonry, Rosicrucianism, Anthroposophy and Theosophy. While Pythagoras and Plato still made a distinction between good and bad music, Aristotle's generation argued that all music has therapeutic value. Ultimately, the latter theory seems to me to be justifiable only if one sees therapy as a change of a certain attitude apart from ethical considerations, in other words if one holds the principle that the end justifies the means. After all, since music is based on cosmic (read: universal) laws, it does indeed seem possible to cause profound changes to matter and psyche. From this the conclusion can be drawn that all music is cosmic. But this is not so. Because each of us applies the laws (e.g. attraction, gravity, etc.) of physics (unconsciously), there are only a few who can call themselves physicists. That is why I believe that the concept of 'cosmic music' should be limited to a successful striving for an expansion of our consciousness by means of rhythmic sounds. Ultimately, the question arises how we can now separate the wheat from the chaff. A first measure is, of course, our own morality. Three guidelines can be used for those who can agree with my definition mentioned above.

First, there is music with a religious basis insofar as it was not created to support commercial sects. In our Western culture, this includes Gregorian chant and the various movements that grew from it to a greater or lesser extent. From the late Middle Ages onwards, the influence of Islam should certainly not be neglected. The objectives of the music itself - not its external form but the composer's own attitude - is decisive. It can thus be said that Bach's entire oeuvre is religious and therefore therapeutic in a positive sense. On the other hand, there are quite a few prosaic elements in the many Passions that Telemann wrote and Brückner's 'worldly' symphonies are extremely mystical and religiously tinged. From the romantic period onwards, there are many doubts in our music, about which more in the course of this article.

A second designation of cosmic music is "primitive" ethnic music. Here one distinguishes between the rather calm, almost meditative music of Buddhist origin, among other things, but also the intense rhythms with heavy bass sounds among the black peoples.  It has now been scientifically shown that these cosmic sounds on the one hand greatly increase physical endurance and on the other they transcend the objective thinking ability and bring the listener into a kind of (black magic) trance. In this sense, the commercial success of disco can be understood because to the tones of this music it is possible to dance longer, of course also drink more and the critical mind is reduced to a minimum. Both the meditative and the inciting so-called primitive ethnic music are characterized by a certain simplicity and even monotony. These characteristics can now be found in minimalist, repetitive music. With the rise of the synthesizer, this kind of music became acceptable again in our western music. This is often based on a certain laziness on the part of the composer, but in rare cases also higher intentions. The fact is that this kind of repetitive music has a special influence on our psyche.

A third possible indication of cosmic music is the knowledge that the composer possessed of the therapeutic possibilities of music. From this point of view, composers with an Anthroposophical, Theosophical, Freemason or Rosicrucian background are particularly interesting. In that view, we should certainly mention Schumann and Mozart. The latter also has a pronounced preference for high frequencies. This is in line with Thomatis' experiments, who managed to bring outspoken melancholic people into euphoria through music in which all tones below 5000 Hertz have been filtered out.

If you infer from the foregoing that music is more dangerous than deep-sea diving, then you're right. In the absence of well-founded scientific research, the above indications still appear vague. If an innate or acquired feeling is not available, a few things can be learned from various esoteric associations. Russian experiments by parapsychologists who have recorded music graphically and who have constructed striking geometric figures for this can help us in this at a later stage of development. We can stimulate the personal feeling by listening to the music with our back to the sound source and checking whether or not our ability to concentrate is disturbed. Particularly sensitive people will experience the music as a physical pressure on the spine. Based on the feeling this way of listening to music gives, the positive or negative influence of the music can be experienced. This method does entail certain psychological risks for unstable persons. Deep basses with a strong rhythmic structure should not be listened to in this way. Caution is also advised with Tchaikowsky's symphonic work. Particularly high-quality esoteric music can endanger the (necessary) contact with material reality.
Gurdjieff's piano music, which Thomas de Hartmann has notated in our Western tonal system, is clearly one of the examples of cosmic music. Space is too limited to elaborate on Gurdjieff's teachings here. Those who are interested can refer to Gurdjieff's works as well as to Ouspensky: Gurdjieff's Doctrine and Bennet's book on Gurdjieff. Born at the crossroads of Eastern and Western thought, various religions with their esoteric background and all kinds of psychological, occult, physical and meditative techniques were no secret to Gurdjieff. Gurdjieff himself used the music played very accurately by Herbert Henck on this double album to support sacred dances. The aim of these dances was to break the automatism that connects mind and body so that both mind and body can lead an existence of their own. Gurdjieff used Caucasian melodies for a number of melodies. Thomas de Hartmann, who had to write a lot of film music for a living, wrote down and arranged these melodies. A student of Gurdjieff, Hartmann regularly accompanied the sacred dances at the piano from 1922 to 1925. With the esoteric background of Gurdjieff and de Hartmann, it will therefore not seem surprising that there is a noticeable relationship with the piano works of Schumann, who himself also experienced some things on an esoteric level: that unfortunately gave him the label 'insane' to the outside world. The use of the tambourine in Journey to Inaccessible Places refers externally to Eastern music. The accompanying cover text is particularly interesting and correct.
A totally different form of cosmic music is the recording from Paul A.R. Timmermans only with his Revox tape recorder. Javanese gamelan music is allowed here and Buddhist temple music was the basis. Like Gurdjieff's music, this musical evocation of the cosmos technically quite sober. At the first meeting I thought I sensed some affinity with the minimal music of Philipp Glass and Steve Reich. The concentrated tension and the resulting peace made me feel a deeper dimension than the association with the appearance of Glass and Reich's music suggested, even though the latter is no layman in Eastern philosophy. The first part Meta is a sequence of electronic sounds that creates a kind of order in the create elements. Part two Parameter Game based on the eternal flowing of water, symbolizing the daily course of things in this world. The third part Clocks bears a clear resemblance to gamelan music and evokes a meditative attitude to life. The stark white LP cover with the nameplate Paul A.R. Timmermans in lead forms a close harmony with the first three movements. It's a bit more difficult for me with part four Oertaal (primal language) and not because this part is exclusive voices of Paul Timmermans exists. This part doesn't seem so cosmic to me inspired music. It seems more like a articulation (in primal language) of the struggle in and around us of the material negative (= mathematical, not in a moral sense) world and the way to the higher. However, the fear that speaks from the beginning of Oertaal makes towards the end give way to a hopeful resignation. In biblical terms I would like this final part call it Fight with the Angel. The gutteral sounds show resemblance to speaking attempts by stroke patients. These sounds may well be the spine of our language, real primal language seems more to me to arise from vowels (cfr. ancient languages such as Basque). However, this critical note does not away that Oertaal radiates an enormous power that passes into a remarkable tranquility.
An experiment to make you think with Timmermans' words:
A tree is a tree
a title is a title
my music is my music
words are words.
As a reviewer I would like to add:                                                          My truth is my truth.
I am aware that both LPs contain only a few symptoms of cosmic consciousness in the music and that the works presented are by far not the only ones. A complete overview would fill more than a lifetime.

JÖRG  PYL (1987)

GURDJIEFF-DE HARTMAN (1982: 2 X LP): Hymns from a Great Temple, Journey to Inaccessible Places, Seekers of the Truth  Herbert Henck, piano - Trilok Gurtu, daff (tambourin).  WERGO SM 1035/36  Serie Spectrum

Paul A.R.Timmermans (1983: vinyl, LP):  Meta.   Contact for ordering <>


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