Philosophical Question! - Why are there only seven basic musical notes?


#1

This is a very interesting question for me and I’ve been pondering it for a while. Doesn’t the existence of only seven basic musical notes indicate non random order in the Universe and the possibility that the Universe was ordered deliberatly by a Creator.

It is a good question to put to atheists if there are any reading on this board!

AP Quinn


#2

That’s a neat little argument.

You’re suggesting that the sounds produced from mathematical ratios contained within the standard 8 note scale exhibit the non-randomness of the universe?

And also that certain combinations of ratios played simultaneously produce sweet harmonies which contributes to the argument of the existence of God from design?

Pax,

Caspian


#3

Get a life… find something else to ponder
maybe, just maybe… something that actually matters in terms of salvation? How about talking about how different prayer’s trimbre put us in a sense of communion with God.


#4

That’s a neat little argument.

You’re suggesting that the sounds produced from mathematical ratios contained within the standard 8 note scale exhibit the non-randomness of the universe?

And also that certain combinations of ratios played simultaneously produce sweet harmonies which contributes to the argument of the existence of God from design?

Yeah that is what I’m saying. Don’t know how they would stand up to the atheistic argument though. You put that a little nicer than I did and a little easier to understand. I guess atheists would try to tell you the notes are that way because we perceive them to be so. This may be but even if we didn’t exist the notes would still exist.

So maybe it is just what we as humans perceive to be melodic.

AP Quinn


#5

This has everything to do with salvation - the salvation of those who don’t believe in God!!

AP Quinn


#6

I don’t have a background in music, so I might be wrong, but doesn’t it vary by culture? Even in Western music there are 5 note, 6 note, 12 note etc scales.


#7

And doesn’t the music of the spheres play a part?


#8

I recall reading a book on this years ago. It was by Paul Hindemith, a German composer with some mathmatical background. He had some reasonable, though not conclusive, arguments.


#9

Read The Golden Ratio by Mario Livio. The world of aesthetics is every bit as governed by mathematics as is the physical world. It reflects the wonder of God’s creation.

BTW, If I’m instructed to “get a life”, I go straight to things that reflect the Creator. That’s where life can be found.


#10

There are actually twelve notes, not eight. But, there are seven notes (out of the twelve) in a scale. This is because, way back when OUR culture (that is the western culture) was thinking up ways to write the language of music down, people settled on octaves.

So, no, it has nothing to do with God’s musical plan. Some beat have written out “40-note” octave.

If it weren’t for religions, we still wouldn’t be able to write music. People would get together to worship, but they couldn’t sing together in harmony. So, the powers that be decided to draw a line. That line was your middle note. They would then put a dot above, below, or directly upon the line to designate where the pitch should be. As this process evolved, we ended up with more lines. Then we had twelve note, etc. Music science was born.

This is also why 6 half steps sounds so weird. Not only is it the number of the beast (and outlawed, because of that), but it ends up directly in-between your twelve notes. Thus making it the two farthest notes from eachother and impossible to harmonize. (It is used alot in Metal.)


#11

Sorry if that sounded rude… not my intention.
The original question is of course valid… Although there are only a basic set notes, it does not include the range of the human voice.Many instruments can also play a range of different notes. In my musical experience (I play piano, guitar, saxophone and irish flute and can probably play any instrument ) there are no limitations, except for those instruments that by their nature are limited… human voice is not so constrained
Again, I apologize for being rude


#12

Love the whole idea. What a great pondering idea.
Got to be careful not to end up in an argument about evolution and intelligent design. Remember that middle C now is not the same Middle C we had when the world began. It went up a notch or two:D


#13

I’ve also heard the argument that we are nearing the end of the world because there’s nothing left to do with music - all the possible styles have been exhausted. I don’t know if I agree with this - the human mind has an incredible capacity for imagination. We might be surprised what people come up with musically.

Betsy


#14

Look what we can do with those 7 notes too!!

THere are only four primary colors, but look at what we’ve done with that!!


#15

There are 7 notes because the world was created in 7 days. After those 7 notes another octave begins.
A chord has 3 notes, just like a family consists of 3 people (father, mother, and child)---sweet harmony made in the image of God.

All of our songs come from 12 notes, just like all Jews come from the 12 sons of Israel (and all catholics come from the 12 apostles).
There are 88 tones on the piano, but the number of possible tones is uncountable, just like the sands on the seashore.
Isn't it nice that we can believe whatever we want?


#16

Not really. The thing is, the seven-note, then twelve-note divisions of the octave were not “invented”, but evolved. In the cases of Western music, it seems like the ancient Greeks messed around with tatrachords (four-note melodic units), which little by little formed seven note modes.

Then, there is the pentatonic influence (present in ‘primitive’ musics throughout the world). The interestion of the juxtaposition of tetrachordal formations, and the introduction of ‘passing’ notes into primitive pentatonic melodies resulted in the seven note scale.

In fact, the chromatic scale on the piano (with black note seeming to ‘fill in’ the spaces between some of the diatonic notes) is not perfectly in accord with the theoretical ratios. For example, C sharp is not (in theory) of exactly the same frequency as D flat (this can be demonstrated mathematically).

In principle, if someone was to create a scale which divided the octave into a different number of notes (such as the six-note whole tone scale) we could get used to it. Any arrangement of tonal resources could form the basis of a ‘music’.

True- the music would have a different feel, and maybe suggest a different understanding of the universe, even a different axiology.

But no- there is no reason (apart from conventions) that we have to have seven notes in the scale.

One might object that we ‘need’ the perfect fifth somewhere half along the scale- but the Locrian mode lacks this. And the blues scale often plays the fifth and fourth out of tune.

Could viable music be composed in the Locrian mode (aside from mere ‘compositional exercises’)?
Does the blues scale imply a different metaphysics?

I leave this for others to answer?


#17

That’s kinda relativistic isn’t it?


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