The origin of Sufism is as ancient as that of the melodic interval system re-discovered by Pythagoras. (see Gorman quote 1) The ancient brotherhoods found value in Pythagorean melody and so they preserved and used the system on their path to the Divine. (see Dr. Prosser quote 2). The Pythagorean Sufis use melody in various ways:- for hymns (Ilahi), for their ritual music (Ayin) and in spontaneous improvisations (Taksim), the latter may be combined with repetition (Zikhr) of special names which they associate with the creator. In all of these the melody increases the focus of the mind in a devotional way.

The Mevlevi were one of the most successful of the Anatolian Sufis, the central feature of their whirling ceremony was a mystical music composition called the Ayin.  Each of the many compositions are a complex algebraic formula, designed to bring the psyche of the participants closer to the knowledge of the True Self.  This formula interweaves Pythagorean prime colours of melody with Pythagorean rhythm structures, which are together designed to lead the dervishes away from the material world.  The influence of number is applied to the psyche of the dervishes through a system of harmonic and causal intervals woven like a beautiful oriental carpet into a powerful modal melody.

Pythagorean Sufi music uses the modal system devised and used by Pythagoras and later the secretive groups which ensued from his approach to philosophy. This use of modes employs two basic types of interval.  The first type is derived directly from the natural harmonic series which begins with the ratio 2:1 as the octave. (see Dr. Prosser quote 3) This series of intervals is also known as just intonation (JI).  The series 2:1, 3:2, 4:3, 5:4, 6:5, 7:6 and so on, produces notes which are naturally consonant. The effect of them is to bring the first stage of delight to the mind.

The second type of interval is called ”causal”.  These also arise naturally when two JI intervals are combined. (see Dr. Prosser quote 4). The effect of these builds on the effect of the JI intervals to give rise to deeper emotions from within the dervish.  The combined effect assists greatly in the process of inner focus and turning the mind away from worldly matters. With the efforts made by the dervish and the overall effect of the ceremony the possibility arises for dispelling the illusions to which we are normally attached. Thereby clearing the way for truly knowing ourselves.