Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Welcome to Sol

Lee and I (rlnyc) have decided to continue the work of do re mi shock by moving to the next Tetrachord, which I will oversee and moderate.

In order to help you to understand what the Do Re Mi shock and Sol La Si shock have to do with one another, I will explain some technical things having to do with Music in a way that anyone should be able to understand. There is a series of musical notes that is considered to be so important that it had its own instrument built just to emphasize it and allow people to see it clearly easily and quickly (the piano -- forte) -- The Major Scale.

The major scale is a series of seven notes selected out of the 12 possible notes (leaving five rejects -- the black keys on a piano) and having a formula in Italian from the Latin which is called the Solfege -- that is, Do, Re, Mi, Fa, Sol, La, Si, Do from octave to octave. The word Major in the term Major Scale has nothing to do with the emotional quality of the music -- that is, the word Major does not mean major as opposed to minor scale (which is a sadder scale) but rather it is the first definition in any dictionary -- greater in importance, more significant, greater in stature.

So the Major Scale of do re mi fa sol la si do is the "important" scale. All other scales, in fact all aspects of Western music fall under its purview: chords on a guitar, melodies on a flute, every instrument in the symphony is tuned to the major scale. All other scales are modifications of the Major Scale. Now let's look at the word scale for a moment.

To scale the heights. That's the closest in meaning that I can give you for what happens with a scale. You climb it like a ladder. You scale it like a mountain. In fact, all of the degree tones are called degrees in exactly the same manner that degrees exist in a thermometer. How far above the one (or sea level) are you? Now in the scale, it follows another formula which is so important that it will put you to sleep if you repeat it over and over quicker than counting sheep. Remember that it is not the notes themselves but the distances between the degrees that the formula obtains. We already named the notes, but they are not all the same distance from one another. The Major Scale is a diatonic scale; that is to say, it has two types of intervals or sizes of intervals might be a better way of saying it. This is the same thing as me saying that water is dihydrogen oxide, H2O; the prefix DI tells me that there are two hydrogens who have hooked up with an oxygen atom -- hey, it sounds like a three-some -- let me in the hot tub!

OK, you've been waiting long enough. Here's the formula, which is based upon the fact that the distance between the main notes is 2 half steps -- that's called a whole step. Half of that is called a half step. Whole, whole, half, whole, whole, whole, half. It's better if you look at it:


Now you can see better. The distance between the 1 and the 2 is called a whole step. The distance between the 3 and the 4 is called a half step. Now the formula again:

Whole, whole, half, whole, whole, whole, half

That's the formula taught to every beginning music student. If there is a finer and more magnificent way of turning off a young brain than having him recite that formula, I don't know of it. I tell my students that if they want to fall asleep they should count out that formula as though it were branded on the side of the sheep that they are counting and that the fences that the sheep jump over are of two different heights, a whole step and a half step. Later, to their benefit we switch the heights of the two different sized intervals and we make the whole step fence easy to leap and the half step more difficult. There would be reasons for my doing this with my own students which you will understand later, if you choose to follow me on this pathway through a labyrinth of concepts and ideas.

If you are into the Gurdjieff work, or any other spiritual discipline, ultimately you need to know this knowledge as it forms an inner body of understanding which then allows you to understand far more abstruse concepts and ideas.

So now we have a formula of whole, whole, half, whole, whole, whole, half. What are we going to do with it? We are going to apply it to the solfege in something called tetrachords, that is groups of 4 -- this has nothing to do with chords played on an instrument. We have two identical tetrachords:

1-2-34 (do re mi/fa) and

5-6-71 (sol la si/do)

You see that they are identical in their structure -- both being whole whole half. This is important. That's why this blog is called Sol La Si Do, because Sol is the fifth note in the scale and has a special name musically it is called the Dominant.

So this becomes:

Doremishock and Solasishock. Forget about Fa for the time being. We'll get to it, and everything else besides.

So we are going to be talking about things on another level. In some ways, more demanding. In some ways more enriching and most definitely interconnected, so that do re mi shock and sol la si shock have an intimate relationship with one another; they are both part of the same musical scale, and more importantly, they form a relationship between them which is called Harmony.

I hope you'll join me in this exploration, this course of study which has no curriculum except to seek ways of seeing which serve the active participation of Man in what is one of his principal duties -- to continually work his brain and all the parts of it so that he works towards an understanding of the universe and his place in it and his relationship to it and all other relationships.

I have a saying, and I abide by it:

"They never have and they never will find a limit to the storage capacity of the human brain. There is nothing that in order to learn you have to forfeit or forget anything else."

And Alchemy has a saying, and I abide by it:

"One book opens another."

And Mr. Gurdjieff has a saying, which also I abide by:

"War, or no war, it makes no difference. We always turn a profit. "

Please join me. Consider this blog a kind of savings bank where you can put ideas in and take ideas out and they will always earn a profit by being placed in this bank. I myself rlnyc, will work hard with you at you through you because of you and on your behalf so that this warranty of profitability obtains at all times and thoroughly.

Be well. I look forward to hearing from you.