If we begin to intellectualize about music, we only remove ourselves from what music truly is. To conceptualize music by physical interpretation via mathematical analysis of tones, removes music from its element. While there is a place for the study of tone physiology (acoustics), it has nothing to say about the musical element, and thus should be left as the individual science that it is. The musical element dwells purely in the spiritual.

In assessing the other arts such as painting, sculpture, and architecture, one can find models in the physical world from ·which the artist must at first pass through mental image to create pictures of the will. The creative musician, on· the other hand, has no models to imitate, thus composes musical ideas from his/her soul into direct expressions of the will. As art can be considered an attempt to reveal nature’s secret intentions, the painter or sculptor, through the combination of mental pictures merely expresses the idea of nature, but the composer of rhythms, melodies, and harmonies expresses the will of nature in song and dance.

Before we look at the evolutionary progression of music, we must understand rhythm, melody, and harmony, and how the human being initially experiences them.



Let us return to art for a brief explanation concerning rhythm in the musical element. The sculptor, painter, or architect, has physical forms with which to create his/her art transforming it into matter, whereas the composing musician, utilizing time as canvas, has the ability to generate the composition anew, .. again and again with varying quality.

Time, or rhythm, is the measure of motion, or to quote Aristotle, ”Time is the measure of motion and rest,” as all rest is in time. Rhythm, then must be exalted high above melody and harmony as rhythm can exist without them, but melody and harmony cannot exist apart from rhythm.

Many seem to be driven to the conclusion that nature is a reflection of music as an ordered (or chaotic?) number of cosmic vibrations, based on static interval relationships, but through simple observation of nature’s motive characteristics, we could rightly presume that she is an expression of rhythmic formative force; being a series of varied, cyclic emanations from the spiritual world. This rhythmic formative force is the primordial foundation underlying all creative processes in nature, of which examples may be obtained via the measurement of time (using our timescale, many of the forms in nature are simply motion come to rest). One such example can be found in the human body, as our internal experience of rhythm is based on the connection between pulse and breath (in the average person this ratio is 1 :4 or 4/4 time).

In a greater, cosmic connection we find a definite relationship between the breathing rhythm of the earth organism and the breathing rhythm of the human being. The earth organism’s breathing process is observed in the alternating barometric pressure of day and night; exhaling at sunrise, and inhaling at sunset. The average person inhales and exhales approximately 18 times a minute, or 1080 times an hour (1 080 itself is a most prominent number in ancient geometrical cosmology), or 25,920 times a day (24 hours equaling one earth breath). The number of human breaths in one day corresponds to the number of years (revolutions of the earth around the sun) it takes the sun to pass through each of the twelve signs in the circle of the zodiac.

The rhythmic perceptions of the body are not only confomed to the function of.breathing but through the propagation of blood from the
heart to the limbs (a likening to our circulatory system can be observed in the earth as well; i.e. the·alternating temperature differences in
night/winter and days of summer). All of this should lead us to the conclusion that the human organism is completely immersed in rhythmic formative force.

Now if we return to rhythm in the musical element, in association with the human organism, the question of healing arises. Why is it then that in most of the healing circles involved with music, one rarely hears of the rhythmic process save only in connection to the shaman? Apparently, it js due in part to character armouring brought on by medieval western societal dysfunction with its ever imposing religious belief systems whereby music was slowly transformed into a civilized affair (no “Wild dancing to the beat of that savage music, or you will end up in the place where the man with the horns and pointed stick reigns). There are still some areas of the world where Christian missionaries forbid the locals to use the drum.

The fundamental reason for the absence of the rhythmic process among musician/ healers seems to be that they lack the understanding of complex rhythms and do not know how to categorize them. While it is easy to discriminate tones by their frequency, overtones, etc., rhythms tend to be elusive and difficult to classify in relation to musical healing techniques, especially if one considers polyrhythms and polymeters. Studies in the treatment of pain, resolution of depression, and induction of relaxation have been performed using shamanic drumming (with
favorable results), but no classifications of the exact rhythms has been done and every shaman will have their own unique style.

Before leaving the rhythmic element of music, let’s briefly examine its association with the astrological geometries of the ancients. The early megalithic builders were highly aware of the sacred geometry needed to attract the forces of nature to their celestial monuments. They also realized the importance of giving life to these structures by creating motion within. This was accomplished through the ritual of chant and dance and was subject to the rigid correspondence of the time of day or night. The evocative substance of this etherial music did not emulate the vibratory emanations of the desired energies, but rather took on the rhythmic and emotional qualities of the energy (for instance, in the workings of Jupiter, common time and major keys would be typically characteristic of the mood of that sphere).

The ancients had a profound working knowledge of nature’s rhythmic cycles (cycle, from the Greek meaning circle, implies a coming around to the place of beginning) and through careful interpretation they could construct the rituals with which to breathe life into their sacred sites. This, in all likelihood, was the true re-creation of the music of the spheres.



Melody and harmony are by no means one and the same entity, but need to be expressed here in context to one another. Melody, in conjunction with rhythm, is the only component necessary for the construction of song (as for the use of the term melody; it already
possesses rhythm or it could not exist, so we will continue to apply it unaccompanied).

In observing melody, we find that a new type of motion occurs on the vertical axis with the ascending and descending notes of the composition. This is really only an implied motion as it is dependent upon the longitudinal motion of rhythm, but it is still a part of our
sense perception of melody. As we know, the human ear perceives tone as a sensory function, but the ear is also related to a sense of
spatial orientation (relative to three dimensions) that we are no longer aware of. Remnants of this sense arise when the ear becomes
injured and our balance and regard to direction become upset. When harmony enters the picture, other types of motion will appear to
the senses, but the differences between melody and harmony need to be examined first.

If we take a look at folk music, which is considered province of the commoner and primitive to the ‘educated’, we will usually find that there is a lack of accompaniment (other than the employment of a drone in some areas such as India and the Celtic countries) to the standard melodies. To the modem listener accustomed to harmony, straight melody is generally not satisfying due to the fact that harmonised music is actually falsified; given to its adjusted temperment. To really feel this type of music one must recover the sense of pure intonation and defy all implied harmonies.

Equally distinctive in solo melody, is the use of grace notes (giving the transcriber incredible difficulty in interpretation) which add varying degrees of light and shade to the structural arrangement of the composition.

Early attempts to add harmonization to the often complicated and highly ornamented bagpipe and fiddle tunes of the Celtic peoples
failed miserably and most efforts were abandoned due to the many dissonances encountered. We are left with the realization that
unaccompanied melody is capable of standing on its own.

Another important feature of most folk music is the emphasis on the interval rather than the note sung or played. The exception to this lies in the art of counterpoint, giving rise to the aforementioned other types of motion. Through contrapuntal music we see the emergence of spiraling movement propagated by the oscillating currents of intervallic inversion, and retrograde themes. Here again, it is an implied motion, experienced only through spatial (and counter-spatial) orientation. For the desired effect, one actually needs to listen to some examples of the music, otherwise the descriptions are probably meaningless.

The next part of’ ‘RHYTHMIC FORMATIVE FORCE”, will deal with our perception of the musical interval through ether/time, along with an introduction to the study of rhythmic ritual. For further exploration, an extensive bibliography and discography are included below.



[part of the page in original scan runs off, so some titles not complete]

Ananda K. Coomaraswamy

  • The Dance of Siva, Essays on Indian .Art and Culture, New York: Dover, 1985.
  • The Transformation of Nature in Art, New York: Dover, 1956.

Edward Dewey and Edwin Daldn. Cycles, The Science of Prediction, New York: Heruy Holt and Co. 1947.

Melita Denning and Osborne Phillips. The Dance as an Instrument of Magic, Gnostica: No. 51 May/June 1979 pp 14-17.

Mickey Hart. Drumming Ill the Edge of Magic, A Journey into the Spirit of Percussion, San Francisco: Harper, 1990.

Hermann Helmholtz. On the Sensation of [?] New York: Dover,1954.

Robert Lawlor. Sacred Geometry, New York: Crossroad Publishing Co.,1982.

Ernst Marti. The Four Ethers, Schaumberg Publications, 1984.

John Michell. The New View Over Atlantis, [Sa?] Francisco:Haiper & Row, 1983.

Peter Randall. Rhythm in Action, New York: Delwin Mills, 1981.

Rudolf Steiner. The inner Nature of Music and the Experience of Tone, Anthroposophic Press, 1983.

Michael Theroux

  • Geometry In Support of the Etheric, Journal of Borderland Research: March-April, 1987.
  • Back to Bach, Journal of Borderland Research May-June, 1988.
  • 3.1415927 … etc.,etc.,etc, Journal of Borderland Research: May-June, 1987.

Donald Francis Tovey. A Companion to ‘Art in … Fugue’ Oxford,1982.
Dr. Guenther Wachsmuth. The Etheric Formative Forces in Cosmos, Earth and Man, Anthroposophic Press, 1932.




Babatunde Olatunjl.

  • Drums of Passion: The Invocation, Rykodisc CD-1 0102, C-0 102
  • Drums of Passion: The Belli, Rykodisc CD ‘: 10107, C-0107

Ritual Drums of Haiti, Lyrichord C-7279
Zakkir Hussain. Making Music, ECM 831 544
The Diga Rhythm Band. Diga, Rykodisc CD-10101
The Rhythm Devils. The Apocalypse Now Sessions, Rykodisc CD10109
SoundtrackThe Emerald Forest, CIV 81244
Mickey Hart. At the Edge, Rykodisc CD-1 0 12·
Various Artists. Konbit- Burning Rhythms of Haiti. A&M C-5281
African Rhythms & Instruments Vol 1-3, Lyrichord CD,C-7328;7338;7339


Bagpipe: Ireland, Scotland, Britain,Galicia. Lyrichord C-7327
Various Artists. Flight of the Green Linnet, Green Linnet C-103
The Bothy Band. The Best of the Bothy Band, Green Linnet C-3001
The Chieftains. The Chieftains 7, CBS C-3561
Boiled In Lead. Orb, Atomic Theory ATC 110
Silly Wizard. Live Wizardry: Best Of, In Cone Green Linnet CD-3036n



Shankar. World Music Institute C-104
Harlprasad Chaurasia.

  • Flying Beyond Improvisations on Bamboo Flute, Earth E C-89004
  • Live In Iadla, Earth Beat C 2547

Urosevich Ensemble, Stevo Teodostevski Ensemble, others. Turkish Folk & Gypsy Music, Monitor C-51481



J.S. Bach.

  • Musikalishes Opfer(Musical Offerin[?]) S. 1079 Musical Heritage Society
  • The .Art of Fugue, BWV 1080, Lionel Ro1(organ) Angel.


This article was sourced from the Journal of Borderland Research Volume XLVII, No.4 July-August 1991

Download the full volume here: http://bit.ly/2kq5Y1l

A collection of Journal of Borderlands Research Volumes can be downloaded here: http://bit.ly/2L5cGWo

Michael Theroux’s Website: https://michaeltheroux.com/

Michael Theroux’s Free Book “Rhythmic Formative Forces of Music”: : https://michaeltheroux.files.wordpress.com/2014/07/rff.pdf