United Colours of Africa
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Music Education

Music Education

The body is a musical instrument, nature is a musical instrument and life is the harmony of these instruments at play together. Music is a vibration like light and colour, but in a different spectrum, the musical spectrum. Music is informed by harmony which informs beauty. And beauty can have a very positive effect on health and well-being in all spectrums. Thus even though there is no hierarchy in music and harmony, this is why music is said to be the mother of all arts.

However not all music is music and therefore healing. “The word heal has the same origin as the word whole.” The healing effects of music are shown in the 'Mozart effect' which has documented how the listening to classical music enhances development in children. Even though not as well documented, the same 'healing' effects on children can be found through poly rhythmic African music. And at a social level, large scale healing of an alchemical nature was achieved in jazz in South Africa by Winston Munkunku. And at a spiritual level it is said how the strumming of a single stringed lyre inspired the Buddha to create the middle path, his philosophy that lead to the practice of Buddhism today.

Music heals at all levels and is a tool of transformation. At a personal level, it creates an alchemy of moving out of the lead-weight of the ego into the golden magic of the heart. Music inspires love and through love everything is possible. Because love develops an intuition and this becomes the seat of learning. There are no divisions, limitations or restrictions in love. It is available to each and every person when and once they decide to turn to it.

The power of music is developed through attention intention. The musical instrument is a friend and teacher to the music learner. There are three categories of musical instruments. Strings which resonate particular with the heart region of the human body. Woodwind which resonates particularly with the head and mind of the human body and percussion instruments which resonates particularly with the limbs. A musical instrument is a little like love itself in that there are no restrictions to what it can be. The instrument is a channel for the expression of the person who is playing it. And therefore it is instrument that is not only an instrument of music but it is an instrument of transformation and healing, to the whole person united in body, mind, spirit and soul; and united in humanity.

There are no restrictions nor limitations in music. It exists in its infinity and eternity from the most simple structures to the most complex structures and neither side is more nor less rewarding. Thus it is said that music is a universal language. For some it is ancient, for some it is heriditory, for some it is taught and for some it is self-taught. But for one and all it must be developed and cannot be taken for granted.

African Music Education Network (AMEN)

Music is a famous system. It is often learnt in solfeggio. Solfeggio is said to mirror the systems of colours and chakras.

‘Do’ (Red) and the [root chakra]; ‘Re’ (Orange) and the [sacral chakra]; ‘MI’ (Gold) and the [solar plexus chakra]; ‘FA’ (Green) and the [heart chakra]; ‘SOL’ (blue) and the [throat chakra]; ‘LA’ (Purple) and the [third eye chakra]; ‘TI’ (violet) and the [crown chakra].

Studying music has taught me a basic star tertrahedron pattern (12 points) within a circle. This is according to the regular intervals of the 12 semitones in an octave. This can be related to exactly to the colour spectrum.

Within the octave are twelve semi-tones. 12 is a corresponding number within creation as a whole, corresponding to the full number of 12 chakras and 12 strands of DNA that make up the human being. 12 is an extraordinary number because if you place two stars of David within a circle, they will touch the circumference of the circle 12 times. This is also called a star tetrahedron. The star tetrahedron creates the integration between the diatonic scales and the whole tone scale.

The whole tone series like the chromatic scale is an equal tempered measurement of musical pitch, which can be measured as frequency. The intervals are exactly proportionate. There are SIX whole tones in an octave. There are SIX semitones in a tritone. The Tritone is equidistant in an octave. It is the most dissonant frequency. It is the Blue Note. According to Plato, the 6 is the number of the circle and embodies perfection. So be it, music goes beyond mathematics.

The other aspect to music theory is the seven pointed triangle within the circle. There are seven distinct frequencies within an octave measured in the Solfeggio scale. These frequencies are directly proportional to the frequency of the chakras and the frequency of colours. They are: “Do” red, root chakra. “Re” orange, sacral chakra. “MI” gold, solar plexus chakra. “FA” green, heart chakra. “SOL” blue, throat chakra. “LA” Purple, third eye chakra. “TE” violet, crown chakra. A doubling of the frequency of this tonic is its octave.

In the teachings of the Krystic spiral, the seven Solfeggio names are also sung in their route sounds of universal vibration. These are K a R a Y a S a T a H a L a. Cape Town singer Melanie Scholtz uses the Chinese: HEI (sitting bone) ; HENG (below navel) ; HONG (above navel) ; AH (heart) ; SHI (throat); YI (third eye) ; WONG (crown). She says, "These houses offer a way of becoming rooted and practicing and creating a free and sincere sound. That's how I start everyday with meditation and singing through these energy points.”

Both these aspects of music theory, the star tetrehedron and the seven points within the circle were drawn as early as Charles Fort and used as a talisman for magic.

"One may think of the infinite variety of harmonics as falling into 7 main interval families, DO, RE, MI, FA, SOL, LA, and SI. The esoteric origin of these steps may be thought of as forming, according to Herbert Whone, a descending and ascending cosmic octave, beginning and ending in DO, Dominus-- God. RE is regina coeli, queen of the heavens--the moon. MI is microcosmos--earth and the human being. FA is fatus-- destiny; the planets. SOL is the sun. LA is the voie lactée--the Milky Way. SI is sideria--all the starry heavens. And again DO.2" writes Hykes.  


What is hidden is the law of competing opposites and or the ternal harmony of competing opposites. This is the great sacred symbol of duality, which is great and beautiful and all and harmonic and exact and perfect too, but there is more to life than duality, it is oneness. And this is why some authors argue that this is an esoteric. Its meaning is hidden from us. Its true meaning is not at all the all, but rather an aspect of.

The cycle of fifths is a spiral of complimentary opposites that is infinite. It can spiral in frequency infinitely. It takes its significant points on the circumference of the circle from Pythagoras. Pythagorean harmonics is a harmonic of competing opposites and represents Ying and Yang.

The Cycle of Fifths and Fourths is a harmonic cycle representing Yin and Yang. Within the Cycle of Fifths are other harmonic yin and yang relationships such as the Major and Minor scales. Therefore a third and a sixth are in balance too. Here we see a cycle of 9 within the 12.

The 'Diatonic' system is the system of 7 + 5 = 12

“In a scale there will always be seven in action and five standing by. (We find the analogy with the twelve holy Boddhisattvas of which, a maximum of seven is active on the earth at the same time, and five must remain in the spirit world. Hence, when we are in “the five” of the pentatonic mode we have entered the kingdom of heaven and of childhood and can sense the analogous relationship of these two realms.)” The prime-octave Polarity. 6.

AFRICAN MUSIC THEORY SYLLABUS

“Art is identical with Education. Knowledge of this kind is the very stuff of education,” Hugh Tracey.

Introduction


From a small child on the mothers back, to an unborn child in the mothers womb, to a toddler banging the drum in his mothers lap. From a young child dancing with the ankle beads, to a young maiden playing uhadi, to a married women playing all the instruments and to a mother with a child. The cycle of traditional music continues endlessly through the Xhosa tradition from conception to death, from incarnation to afterlife.

The African experience is a continuation of poetry music and dance. Music is the foundation of African education. Music is part of the child's everyday life. As soon as the child is able to walk, s/he is encouraged to dance. Dance is a product of song. In Zulu : Melody (indlela) is translated to mean a footpath and Music (umculo) to mean singing. They say, “If you can talk you can sing and if you can walk you can dance.”

In African Music, music is produced by the people for the people.

“The African mother sings to her child and introduces him to many aspects of his music right from the cradle. She trains the child to become aware of the rhythm and movement by rocking him to music, by singing to him in nonsense syllables imitative of drum rhythms. When s/he is old enough to sing, s/he sings with her/his mother and learns to imitate drum rhythms b rote. As soon as he can control his arm, he is allowed to tap rhythms, possibly on a toy drum. Participation in children's games and stories incorporating songs enables him to learn to sing in the style of her/his culture, just s/he learns to speak its language. By singing songs which contain a moral, her/his mother teaches her/him what his people consider to be right or wrong.” 1

THE PLAN FOR AFRICAN MUSIC

Hugh Tracey presented a paper on the 24 th September 1965 at Liverpool University entitled ‘A Plan for African Music.' 2 the full essay can be reproduced in the book.

His ideal was “to bring indigenous African arts and particularly African music into the normal curriculum of African schools, colleges and eventually into the Universities themselves.” Through research, “We are to codify the logic which lies behind the creation of indigenous styles of music and thus to bring it naturally, without prejudice, into the realm of African education …” 2

THE UNITING PRINCIPLE IN MUSIC THEORY : RHYTHM

A holistic education teaches a single principle and that principle can be resonated harmonically throughout all possible principles that exist thereafter.

Rhythm is the heartbeat of a song. As long as the heartbeat of the song is pumping the song has life. The starting point for African rhythm is in the present moment. Rhythm is something that is yours that you call on when it is needed. It is something that is inherent and it is shared. It exists within the human framework. It mirrors the rhythm of our mother earth which has her own heartbeat.

Rhythm is musical language that has a frequency resonation and vibration all of its own. Polyrhythm keeps the dance alive and exciting. The human body is a rhythmical creation. A human being is a rhythmical body born into the rhythm of life. The present moment is a gift from the creator it is always in the present where we must begin. It is in the present when the rhythm will begin. Tune into the rhythm of the music we are listening to, here how the instruments interplay weaving their multi-coloured tapestry of lived experience .

Rhythm is something that is yours that you call on when it is needed. It is something that is inherent and it is shared. It exists within the human framework. It mirrors the rhythm of our mother earth. Mother Earth has a heartbeat. Picture how nature's orchestra is always playing, the birds singing and the wind blowing through the trees. When I start my rhythm I start my rhythm as one with this infinite orchestra that I am experiencing. Music can be solo and or collective.

CYCLICAL TIME

Ancient music does not express its mathematic foundation through the division and addition of time the same way we do in the West. (Source unknown)

The Western linear system has been used to explain this unsuccessfully as African rhythm does employ a cyclical time. Should you imagine a line of figure of eights lying on their side connecting one to the other, you can accurately plot a course down the centre all the way from one end to the next and you will have an accurate assessment of the time of the song. However, the line running down the centre (linear time) is not an exact reflection of the figure of eight (cyclical time).Through cyclical time you are creating more experience (as seen by the action off the circular shapes) in the same time as plotted on the linear line. It therefore appears that the cyclical time is existing outside of time or beyond time.

African cyclical rhythm is existing inclusive of and beyond linear time. A musical phrase or a musical passage has a rhythmical life. It exists in all three dimensions. Should you wish to make an impression of it on paper using linear notation you will compress it to 2 dimensions.

You lose the 3 dimensional experience of actually playing that rhythm yourself and then are left having to recreate the 3 dimensional experience from the 2 dimensional impression of it. Cyclical rhythm involves the whole body and can only be learnt through participation. We are invited to do these rhythm exercises with your morning breathing or your evening stroll and with your daily activities and even if possibly in your sleep time.

RHYTHMICAL PATTERNS

There is no obstacle to rhythm : anyone can explore rhythm in a freestyle unrestricted way,

These are the types of rhythms we can employ: The Walking Rhythm relies on the pace that I walk; The Dancing Rhythm expresses the joy in my stride; The Meditative Rhythm brings chants from my soul and the Driving rhythm perpetuates life. All these rhythms rely on a network of interconnected rhythms: The Rhythm of the human heartbeat that is the pumping action of life and the Rhythm of the breath that nurtures the body.

Integrating our rhythmical practices with breathing or breathwork leads to deep meditation and trance states, which is regarded as very beneficial to the soul experience.

POLYRHYTHM

Consider two rhythms : foundation rhythm the heartbeat and our improvisational rhythm the breath beat. The relationship between two rhythms is Polyrhythm. It is unique to Africa.

For instance a famous African Polyrhythm is placing 3 beats into 2 of the heartbeat. Each of the three beats holds an equal time that is equal to two of the heartbeats.

Scientifically what you have created here are frequencies that exhibit a harmonic resonance frequency. The frequency of the heartbeat rhythm and the frequency of the triplet placed inside it creates a harmonic resonance frequency that is 3 : 2. This is equivalent to the perfect fifth melodic interval.

Perfect Fifth is the anti-clockwise direction of the Cycle of Fifths.

The clockwise direction of the cycle of Fifths in the Perfect Fourth. The Perfect Fourth has a rhythmical frequency of 3 : 4

INDIGENOUS AFRICAN SCALE

The most ancient melodic instrument across Africa is the musical bow. When you strike the string of the bow and watch it vibrate, you will notice that the string moves most in the centre and least where it is tied to the bow. The player can therefore play either portion of the string therefore producing two sets of fundamental notes.

A tswana induna playing nokukwana called the fundamental of the string, or the first note, molodi. MaDosini (2) called the open note “playing an umhobe (uncontrolled) sound /pitch … it is merely crying /sounding ‘on its own/ by itself '.” 

Andrew Tracey says, The bow provides the scales of all Southern African music. Of the two fundamental notes, there is an open note (the player not touching the string) VU and a closed note (the player touching the string) VA : The tuning of these two fundamentals are usually a tone apart but can be a half tone apart. The fundamental note of the string yields a harmonic series through ‘partial vibrations.' Dargie (2) has found that the hexatonic scale is ubiquitous to this music.

SINGING THROUGH SOL FEGGIO

DO (KA) {HEI}

The first sound is at the deepest bassiest frequency that your voice can comfortably reach. What we are going to do is project this sound into the base of the spine into the area known as the first chakra. This is the area between the genitals and the anus. The colour visualisation to accompany this sound is a deep beautiful red. Visualise that part of the body as infused with this deep beautiful red.

REY (RA) {HENG}

The next sound we are going to be working with is an OOO sound. The colour that accompanies this sound is orange. The beautiful sunrise or sunset orange infusing into the area of your lower tummy.

ME (YA) {HONG}

We now move into the area of the solar plexus, around the belly button sometimes called the abdominal brain. The sound we are using is an OH sound. The colour visualisation is yellow, a beautiful bright yellow filling up that entire cavity of your body surrounding all those amazing organs.

FA (SA) {AH}

As we move into the midrange of our voice we move up in to the area of our physical heart. Infuse your entire chest cavity with a beautiful healing green colour. Whatever shade of green you feel comfortable with. The sound we are using is the AH in the midrange of our voice we are balancing and aligning the chakra with itself and the previous chakra that we worked with.

SO (TA) {SHI}

Moving up into the area of the throat make sure it is open and clear. Allow yourself to express your natural sound. The colour visualisation that we will use is blue. A beautiful bright sky blue. The sound that we are going to intone is an AI sound. Slight higher than pitch than the midrange.

LA (HA) {YI}

Moving into the next centre we move up in to the brow, the third eye just between the two eye brows. Infuse this wonderful organ with a purple colour. The sound we use is AY, slightly higher and approaching the top end of our voice. Make a nice round sound.

TE (LA) {WONG}

One final time we move to the crown of the head, the tip of the head, moving the energy up the spine. We are balancing and aligning each of these structures. At the same time visualise a beautiful white light coming in through the top of the crown. The sound we are going to use is an EEE sound at the top end the highest frequency your voice can reach. It is best for this sound to try and nasalise it a little bit.


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The primary notes (frequency's) of the voice match the primary colours of the rainbow and the primary chakra's in the body. As we learn to sing through the frequencies of our voice (using colour visualisations and visualisations of the chakra's) we can give our bodies a sonic massage, balance the chakra's and develop an inner smile.

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