B15 On the effect of Christian symbolism in Western music


The Christian-diatonic sound system differs in ist acoustic part in no way from the traditions of the Greeks, called pagan, only in the form of its interpretation and naming.

The influence this has on perception can be illustrated with this example: That the intangible sound as such should come from God and create a connection to him, in monotheism is associated with an unsurpassable appreciationan. The motto: MUSICA DONUM DEI can be found on numerous organs. This idea is concretized in Christianity by the connection of the prim (consonance) with the alpha and the octave (also consonance) with the omega and the 8 blessings of the Sermon on the Mount. In the 7 stages on the way to God the 7 gifts of the Holy Spirit are almost "recognizable". Thus, the diatonic material is completely filled with theological interpretation: Ut, Re, Mi, Fa, So, La and Si, the opening syllables of the John Hymn, refer as in his time John the Baptist to the coming of Christ.

Whatever sounds, sounds like before. However, the psychic predisposition of the listener, which accounts for a large part of the experience quality and intensity, was influenced. Already the single tone is provided with this meaning content and can easily be compared with the tender touch by an angel. The same touch by a housefly would be perceived as an annoying disturbance. Already the comparison is repulsive and downright blasphemous, but this changes immediately when we recognize in the fly a part of the creation. She too must have been close to God once. At least the killing-reflex is prevented for a moment.

What predisposition can effect: on the one hand, the unimaginable happiness that makes it impossible to embrace an angel - Rainer Maria Rilke has impressively described this in his first Duinesian elegy - on the other hand, the pitiless destruction of vermin, and both approaches was only a slight touch. So it depends a lot on how we are touched.

Compositions contain tensions: dissonances and consonances, created by further and narrower pitches. In psychic interpretation, the consonance ensures the happy ending of the vast majority of musical narratives, for it represents the epitome of calm, peace and harmony.

If we find more symbolic references, there is something to discover: spiritual wealth. It is an added value, especially in the field of sacred art, even after a long search to be able to guess something dormant in the work. The total discovery always seems - as elsewhere - disappointing, because then you have seen everything and there are no more secrets. Thus, the hope for further treasures dies, which can finally be expected of an entity responsible for infinity. Paradise can only be experienced in very small details, our need for enrichment is in contrast insatiable. The perfection of the sacral composition is therefore in the evocation of longings and their non-fulfillment. It is more believable to have been close to God than to have taken Him home.

There is something else about predisposition: the suffering and the experience of the finitude of one's own existence. A piece of music sounds different, if it is likely to be perceived the last time, as if it can be listened in 3 decades again. Experience has life as a prerequisite. Loud showmanship turns out to be pure ballast at that moment. The compassion recognizes the truth even in the withdrawn introvert, tolerates mistakes and recognizes itself in them. Grief and death suddenly make you grateful for the little you have.

The highest recognition that can be given to the music, therefore, by means of increased happiness and suffering as well as with a differentiated and trained sensory perception that does not miss the smallest and must be brought with you before the music piece has begun. Then the mind is astonished at the mystery of life - and finds in symbolism a thought-provoking and perhaps consoling hint.