Música y Danza

"I have known for a long time that our inner world is the land in which the seeds of art take root. Without this seed, where the magical side of life is hidden and from which the work of art can be born… there is no Art, there is no Music".

-Thomas De Hartmann (Composer)-

Young Thomas de Hartmann, in search of a spiritual master, met Gurdjieff in 1916 and soon became his disciple. As Gurdjieff was not a trained composer, de Hartmann became the ideal instrument for the expression of Gurdjieff's musical thoughts. He began by harmonizing, developing and understanding Gurdjieff’s music for the Sacred Dances or Movements. A few years later, de Hartmann collaborated in a similar way in other musical works of Gurdjieff aside from the Movements. Remarkably, these later pieces, very high in number, were almost all composed between 1925 and 1927 in Fontainebleau (France). In 1927, this musical work ended and Gurdjieff never composed again.

The music of Gurdjieff /de Hartmann was designed to assist the harmonization of the human psyche and enable a higher grade of emotional experience, particularly when used together with the Movements. For Gurdjieff, rather than the emotional value of music, what is important is that it consists of vibrations through which certain laws can be studied and applied to all of creation.

The music of the Movements is intimately related to its meaning, bringing the dancer to an internal state where he can assume the highest emanations. Its structure, melody and rhythm must accompany not only the external movements, but also the internal impulses that unfold in the Dance. If the quality of the vibration is right, the same will be awoken in the dancer. Without distracting him, it will bring him back to himself and to the need to open up, supporting a search that only can be understood through experience.

While participating in the Movements, we can experience sound in a totally new way, as if it illuminated our inner life. A unique balance appears in us; the music, the positions and our inner aspiration unify and it seems we enter a new place, boundless, timeless. At that moment, we experience life in a way that is difficult to forget.

It seems impossible to explain how music works and why it works in such a miraculous way if the listener is receptive. A clue can be that each element has an intention. Sometimes, the music changes remarkably from one moment to another as if the composer was having new thoughts or new ideas. This music is like an intelligent discourse interwoven with prayers. It can remind us of a forgotten world; an ancient world because it is deep in our roots.

Gurdjieff's vision of music and, therefore, of art in general, results from the differentiation between what he calls objective art and subjective art. He says that most of the music we hear is subjective. Only objective music is based on the precise knowledge of mathematical laws that govern the vibration of sounds, and the relationship between tones.

In some cases, the particular configuration of sounds evokes a response in the human psyche by which the relationship of tones and their sonic qualities will be translated into some form of inner experience. This phenomenon seems to be based on a precise mathematical relationship between the properties of sound and some aspect of our receptive apparatus.

It is hard to answer what could be considered objective art. It may seem to transcend the ordinary process of associations that we all experience in daily life. In most of the music we hear, at least within the common experience of a particular culture, certain progressions and tonal qualities as well as their combinations and spaces in time, will evoke particular feelings and emotions in the listener that are shared with others. This phenomenon is as undeniable as seemingly inexplicable. It must result from a resonance activated in a listener, which can also trigger associations to past experiences, even when the connection between sound and memory is unknown. In most forms of art, this power of vibration is used with only a partial knowledge of the process and its consequences. Limited by his subjective consciousness, what the artist transmits can only produce an equally subjective response.

It is therefore Gurdjieff's argument that the results of this subjective expression are accidental and even produce opposite effects on different people. He asserts that "there cannot be unconscious creative art”.

By contrast, objective music is based on a precise and complete knowledge of mathematics, determined by the laws of vibration, and will therefore produce a specific and predictable result in the listener. Gurdjieff gives an example of a non-religious person who comes to a monastery. While listening to the music that is played there, the person feels the desire to pray. In this example, the ability to take someone to a higher inner state is one of the properties of objective art. The effect, depending on the person, differs only in degree.

So, what is important in objective music is the accuracy of its intent, and the mastery of the medium to carry out this intent. According to Gurdjieff, in ancient times, all the arts were related to the laws of mathematics and served as receptacles for superior knowledge about man and the cosmos, encoded in different ways and thus preserved from future distortions. Even if the inner meaning was forgotten, the "text" or essence would remain intact, waiting to be rediscovered.

This vision of art is depicted in the cosmological portion of Gurdjieff's teaching, especially in the use of the musical scale as a model of the Universe that reflects the two main laws that govern all cosmic processes. Music is seen as a microcosm, expressing at the sound level detectable by the human ear, the same dynamics involved in all cosmic movements.

Thus, the Law of Three, which is formed of a positive, a negative and a reconciling force, echoes in the triadic structure of music wherein three-tone combinations constantly give rise to new combinations with certain tones in common. In addition, the Law of Seven, manifesting itself in a chain of octaves that stretch as a cosmic ladder descending from the ultimate source of Creation through increasing orders of being, has the specific form of the major musical scale, which is a series of tones and semitones. Halftones are the "gaps" that block or divert the progression of any process and which require new energy sources to become linked together, thereby allowing the evolutionary movement to continue. The subtle vibration of the energy field between Mi and Fa and between Si and Do is perceptible to any sensitive musician.

Hence, it seems clear that in Gurdjieff's view, the mere enjoyment of pleasant musical sounds does not come even remotely close to the fundamental role of music as science, as art, as a diagram of superior knowledge, or as possible food for human growth and evolution. It is mainly in the East where Gurdjieff discovered that art met this original and sacred purpose - the embodiment of truth. Ancient Oriental art could be read as a script. It was not meant to please or displease, but to understand, says Gurdjieff.