Pythagoras was a man with a high level of being. Such persons live a life with only
pure humanitarian intentions in all that they do. The times in which he lived were
suffering from a dip in the true understanding about matters spiritual. So he left
his native land to seek spiritual wisdom further East. The outcome of his endeavours
were highly successful. After he had attained the necessary wisdom for his task in
the world, he was granted a deeply spiritual vision. One of the products of that
experience was a system of melody which subsequently formed the basis of most music
systems in the world. (see Dr. Prosser quote 1) A by-product of the scientific and
technological age in which we now live is that modifications to the intervals have
masked and stifled his original system in the use which modern music makes of it.
(see Danielou quote 5 )
The Pythagoreans were very clear about the connection between the nature of number
and that of the universe itself. This means that they viewed the human being as
created and influenced by certain special combinations of numbers. Many of the Pythagorean
discoveries have been verified by musicians and thinkers in all the 25 centuries
since his time. It is because the system he devised and used is so natural and valuable,
that people who aspire to his concepts of “Know Thyself”, have made sure the melodic
modes and the special rhythms have been preserved, albeit secretly in some situations.
The Pythagorean melodic system is built from naturally occurring intervals known
as the just intonation or natural harmonic series. These can easily be derived with
the use of a long pipe or reed flute. The other way of obtaining them is with a long
necked lute type instrument as shown on the Egyptian wall painting dating from around
1,400 BCE. The oral tradition has kept the melodic system alive.
Egyptian wall painting 18th Dynasty British Museum The long necked lute is similar
to the modern tanbur which is used today to play Pythagorean melodies.