Exploring Music's Complexities

Esoteric History of Music

This essay, Esoteric History of Music Involving or Evolving Mass Consciousness, first appeared in “The Wonders of Sound edited by Daniel Kobialka.  It’s authorJILL MATTSON, has studied and compiled information about ancient traditions that used sound to transform and heal body, mind, and spirit for two decades.   She lectures on the Power of Sound throughout the U.S. teaching a combination of the ancient techniques along with the refined “sound” techniques from today’s modern scientific “sound” researchers. She has produced numerous CDs and is the author of The Gooders, Sound, Spirit and Matter, Transformative Adventures in Sound, Transformative Power in Sound, and Ancient Sounds/Modern Healing.  If this peaks your interest visit her website at www.jillswingsofflight.com.

“Esoteric History of Music Involving or Evolving Mass Consciousness

Jill Mattson

 “Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe,
wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm
and gaiety to life and to everything.”

— Plato

Esoteric reading tells us that music creates physical, emotional, and mental experiences that our general population will have. Throughout the ages there have been frequency patterns in the systems of music that have triggered world involution and evolution.

The Interval of the Ninth

Rudolf Steiner writes that the Lemurian music was not an expression of man, but of the Divine…and was based on the interval on the 9th, two steps above an octave. This music transported the soul to convene with the Divine.

The Interval of the Eighth

Mysteriously, the interval of the eighth has not been mentioned.

The Interval of the Seventh

The Atlantean time period had a music system tuned to successive 7th intervals. This music transported people to the Divine but only to the Divine spirit of each individual.

“From the wordless chant of the Lemurian era, it became a spoken song whose melodic movement was controlled by the Atlantic oracle centers” [1].

The Interval of the Sixth

The ancient Indian and Persian time periods, (8 to 4 millennium BC… Mesolithic and Neolithic areas) music was based on intervals of the 6th. These sounds of music were an inspirational force. The spirit of man is involving more into matter, to the next lower hierarchy: the Planetary Logos. This occurred mainly during the Persian era. This was expressed in Persian cosmosophy going back to the original Zoroaster. The experience of a musical system based on the 6th interval in the orient showed that man understood spiritual experiences [2].

The Interval of the Fifth

 Musical systems built on the interval of a 9th or a 7th, will quickly take the sounds out of the hearing range of the listener. The tones would be heard with clairaudient hearing, not the ears and hearing system that we have today. Beginning with the 5th intervallic system of music, the music begins to be heard with the outer ears of the human body…as man is more involved in matter.

As cultures flourished in Egypt and the Far East (China), the music was tuned to the system of the 5th interval, which augments the energy of the imagination. No longer is the heaven an experiential place, but one of pictures and mythology.

The documented musical system of the Chinese “Lu Scale” is a sequence of 12 notes (a circle of 5ths), each a 5th apart (Not to be confused with today’s circle of fifths!). Each of the 12 notes was assigned a sign of the zodiac. Each month it was only permitted to play music based on that sign. This system also has no tonic, Sa, or base tones. The tones of music weightlessly floated one to another.

The Interval of the Fourth

With the entrance of the ancient Greek period, the soul sees the world exclusively through his physical body, as the spiritual world fades. The interval of the fourth creates the experience of the “soul,” as man experiences himself within his body. Tetra chords were the bases of the musical system. Each tetra chord was a series of four consecutive whole or half notes. This system was not characterized by which notes the scale started on, but which intervals were played in the process (major, minor or other intervals).

The Greek man experienced the scale as two-tetra chords, or two-fold group of 4 notes each. There were no half tones, but 7 different sizes of whole tones.

Chords only descended; none ascended like they do today.

Various tetra chords developed on different notes, with the interval between the first and last note always being a fourth. The Tetra Chords were called Dorian, Hypodorian, Phygian, Mixolydian, and Lydian. The tetra chords were named after people who preferred a mood that was created with the Tetra chord.

Music is now represented in various soul states and temperaments.

The Interval of the Third

Church modes were formed in the Medieval Age by altering the Greek tetra chords. With the closing words of liturgical texts (amen) the song had an ending, which shortly begged a beginning tone (the tonic). The tones no longer floated, without seeming beginning or end. Also the scales were based in an ascending order.

Different instrumentation began to flourish. Music was a melody with surrounding instrumentation.

Singers were no longer servants of the church, but operated independently. They required that music be rewritten to fit their particular voice range.

When vocalists requested to have music moved onto their vocal range as it was not possible to adjust to with a piano, wind, or brass instrument; therefore, in the 17th century the Equal Temperament scale was introduced. Whereas the Pythagorean tuning was based on the fifth, the new system is based on the octave. The octave is now divided into 12 equal intervals, making changing from one key to another possible.

Equal Temperament tuning

In tempered tuning we no longer have the notes themselves, but a rigid, dead image. The equal temperament tuning that we use today is said to provide a thin veil from a more spiritual existence. Rather than the true spirit of the 12 keys we have an unreal image of them. The Equal Temperament tuning that we use today is also said to be aural caffeine.

The change from Pythagorean tuning to Equal Temperament tuning signifies that music has totally immersed into the world of the senses. The entrance of music into the building of the senses is heard in modern instrumentation, as classical songs depict the wind, an experience or emotions.

The scales were compressed to only two scales: major, Lydian, and minor, Hypodorian, which can be considered a combination of the Dorian and Phrygian scales of the Greek period of time). Major is upward feeling and minor is downward and inner directed. In review, in the Greek period there was one key and 7 modes, now there is two modes (major and minor) and 12 keys.

In the early Medieval Period, the 3rd was considered a dissonance, but today it is considered a consonance. In fact, our musical system is built upon 3rds. With the contrast of major and minor we move into the world of the thirds. Today we don’t experience notes but harmony in the chords, with a base of consecutive thirds.

In summary

 our spirits took a path descending from the Divine sphere of being (the fixed stars) 9th’s, through the planetary realms (7ths), to etheric and elemental experiences (6ths and 5ths), to the physical world (4ths, 3rds, 2nds).

The Second Interval

We have seen the second interval as a melody line when the music became a melody with accompaniment. The melody is based a series of consecutive notes, the second interval if you will.

The First Interval

Rap music is sung on a steady, repeating tone. This represents mankind’s full involution into matter.”




  1. Cowger, Charles (1997). Assessing Client Strengths: Assessment for Client Empowerment. In: Saleebey, Dennis (Ed.). The Strengths Perspective in Social Work Practise. New York: Longman.


  1. Cosmic Music: article 2, pp. 182

This article is derived from the writings of Hans Erhard Lauer in Cosmic Music, edited by Joscelyn Godwin. Inner Traditions: Vermont,1989. pp. 168–225.



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