The dream of Pythagoras0
Music and science are the pathways through which pass the philosophical discourses of Pythagoras, a fascinating character of ancient Greece who we must not forget. In his youth, he left the small Aegean island of Samos for Thebes, the capital of Pharaonic Egypt. He made a spiritual journey of self-discovery, and returned mature, ready to create a school of philosophy at Crotona which was to be the basis for the construction of Western Civilisation ……..
Croton, the summer of 507 B.C.
Sitting on a wooden cube consisting of six faces, Pythagoras spent the afternoon comparing the lengths of rope with the sounds that emerged from them when plucked. Working with several monochords, immersed in his calculations and fully concentrated, he has found a constant pattern in nature.
Wanting to formalise their discovery in mathematical language, he concludes that sound is based upon the relationships of simple proportion between the first four natural numbers. The unit for the fundamental sound, ½ for the octave, 2/3 for the fifth and 3/4 for the fourth. He understands the mathematical foundation of sound, upon which the science of acoustics and the musical system will be developed.
Night falls, Pythagoras is satisfied in his tiredness. Before sleep, under the stars, he admires the constellation of Lyra and burns some laurel leaves as an offering to Apollo, his principal inspiration. Now lying down he wants to rest, but the thrill of the relationships summarised in the simple numbers of this natural pattern, will not permit him to fall asleep. In the bottom of his heart he’s restless: he knows there is something else, and meditating whilst on his seat of six faces, he yields to fatigue and falls fast asleep.
In the arms of Morpheus, his brain is still working, his intuition is active. He sees himself standing on his seat of six faces, eight angles and twelve edges. He understands, between dreams, the ratio of 1/2 between faces and edges; the ratio of 2/3 between angles and edges; and the ratio of 3/4 between faces and angles.
Stood upon on this altar which combines number, form and sound, he admires the stars sailing through the sky covering areas of space according to their speed dictated by the same proportions of natural numbers. He observes the same pattern in the forms of plants and flowers which surround him, and he is surprised while listening to the hum of a passing dragonfly, whose wings comprise 2/3rds of their body.
Sound asleep, Pythagoras hears what he has previously seen and trembles before the enormous mathematical symphony of sound in which is written the universal language of beauty.
Ignacio Botella Ausina