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Old 04-01-2021, 05:23 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Earlier, I mentioned a Bach advocate named J. A. Birnbaum. What do I mean that he was a Bach advocate? What did Bach need an advocate for? To answer that, we must return to Johann Mattheson and his attempts to update and demystify music. Mattheson wanted to take music away from the musicians and composers and give it to the listener, primarily those who attend opera, but any listener of note. Bach’s friend, Johann Heinichen, took Mattheson’s side. He felt the composer “consists once and for all in the art of making his music, as a matter of course, popular and pleasing to the reasonable world.” Mattheson was even more forthcoming: “Really we should not follow our own inclinations, but those of the listener. I have often composed something that seemed to me trifling, but unexpectedly attained great favor. I made a mental note of this, and wrote more the same, although it had little merit when judged according to its artistry.” What Mattheson appeared to be getting at is that the time for music as theoretical exercise and meditation was over and now the time had come for music purely as entertainment. To put it more succinctly, the Mattheson camp was advocating for popular music. They wanted to discard esoterica in favor of pop. So this post-baroque period or what we call the galant or rococo period was the beginning of the concept of pop music and easy listening. Don't challenge the ear--please it! Most people don't want their tastes challenged and hence the music won't sell. Want to sell music and make a comfortable living? Give 'em what they want to hear no matter how puerile it is.

Here, in a nutshell, is the dilemma in Bach had inadvertently landed—that of the idea that the composer should no longer be judged by his peers but by his audience, by how popular he was. In 1738, up rose a former student of Bach, Johann Adolph Scheibe, who took it upon himself to criticize his former-teacher as ignorant of philosophical knowledge and critical skills. Scheibe wrote that Bach “has not studied the science/humanities which actually are required of a learned composer.” Bach’s works were flawed because, Scheibe wrote, “How can a man who has not studied philosophy and is incapable of investigating and recognizing the forces of nature and reason be without fault in his musical work?” Scheibe was not merely criticizing Bach, he was attacking his character and talent and making no secret of it. Bach, Scheibe went on to say, was a dull man of questionable taste due to his lazy nature in failing to observe and to investigate (presumably the new music). As a result, Bach’s works had neither movement nor expression. Scheibe, at the apparent urging of Mattheson, also attacked canon and counterpoint which he alleged to be the result of “disheartened diligence, of worthless toil, and of a pedantic spirit.”

So, up from Leipzig University jumped a teacher and amateur musician named Johann Abraham Birnbaum to Bach’s defense. Bach was hesitant to engage Scheibe publicly. This kind of sparring was not something in which he was skilled at much less inclined to engage in. Private correspondence perhaps but not in an arena where the public had front row seats. Scheibe also did not hesitate to take advantage of Bach’s unwillingness to confront him and very rudely mocked the man by referring to him as a musikant—essentially, a musical moron— not educated enough to write books nor engage in philosophical investigations and who scarcely deserved the title of Leipzig’s Musical Director and Saxon Court Composer.

Bach, it is true, did not have a university education. He was teaching at Leipzig University--true enough--but he never got a degree himself. He was largely self-taught when it came to furthering what he had learned from his relatives when he was a boy and all the royal patrons he had worked for over the years. But, in addition to German, Bach spoke excellent Latin and French. His Italian, however, appeared to be lacking or at least Bach seemed to feel that way. Bach was afraid that, at some point, Scheibe might cross him up on some academic point or other and humiliate him publicly so Bach decided it was better to get a university representative to speak publicly in his stead. Scheibe knew about Bach’s educational deficiencies and sought to draw him out publicly with insults but Bach was too wary to fall for it and, despite his quick temper, wisely held his tongue.

Clearly, Scheibe was doing everything he could to provoke a response from Bach even, apparently, risking his own reputation to do so. Birnbaum, however, was not defending an indifferent or diffident Bach. The evidence indicates that Bach was quite engaged with Birnbaum and furnishing him with the necessary material to fire back at Scheibe. In Birnbaum’s responses to the jabs of Scheibe, he makes references to obscure works that Bach was known to be studying but which Birnbaum himself would have known nothing. There is little doubt that Bach was employing Birnbaum as a surrogate, a mouthpiece, almost as an attorney.

The public war between Scheibe and Birnbaum was closely followed by virtually all professional musicians and composers as well as the general public. Scheibe was not without his detractors and a great many of them. It is difficult to say what was motivating Scheibe in his attacks on Bach. The inflammatory articles were published in Scheibe’s periodical, Critischer Musikus and some wondered if Scheibe was simply attacking Bach in order to increase readership. But to go after his old instructor was seen by a great many as bad form. Whatever, the cause of the drama instituted by Scheibe, Bach had a great many defenders. Scheibe’s nastiness was alienating even those who essentially agreed with his views about the new music. They felt he was coming on far too strong and damaging their position rather than helping it. Still others supported Scheibe in everything he wrote because Bach represented everything they hated about musical academia, especially considering that Bach did not have a degree, and we must conclude that Scheibe himself had come around to that view. Through it all, Bach never actually waded into the debate himself—never wrote a letter, never publicly complained of his ill treatment, never signed his name to any document concerning this squabble.
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Old 04-03-2021, 09:44 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Harmonia Nascentis Mundi means "The birth of the world's harmony" or "Harmony of the birth of the world." From Kircher's "Musurgia Universalis" (1650). The intention is that the world was created with six harmonies. From God's massive pipe organ, the six days of creation stream through the pipes. The first day is labeled as "harmonia primi diei" or harmony of the first where light is created. We see the spirit of God as a dove flying around what may be an alchemist's retort inside of which is the phrase "Fiat lux" or "Let there be light." On the second day of harmony, God separates the skies and the seas. On the third day, God creates the land and vegetation. On the fourth day, God creates the dome of the heavens decked with stars, planets, sun and moon. On the fifth day, God creates the birds and sea creatures. On the sixth day, God creates animals and humans.

These things are created harmonically with six different pipes on the organ for each day making 36 pipes in all. There are 36 decans in the zodiac. A decan is how far the sun travels in ten days. 36 is known as the number of creativity and balance. The number 6 is the number of completeness and perfection and 36 is its square. It's amplified perfection and balance.



In this depiction of heaven, we see a scroll with a cantus firmus on it and the angel on the left bears a message that says: "Canon Angelicvs 36 Vocvm" or "Angelic canon for 36 voices." On the other side, it says these voices are divided into 9 choirs.



At the bottom of the picture shown blown up here, we see a philosopher--what looks, at first glance, to be Pythagoras. He leans on a block upon with is engraved the number 1-6 and symbol known in Freemasonry as the 47th problem of Euclid. It is a version of the Pythagorean Theorem and shows what is known as the 3-4-5 triangle. If the rise of a right-angled triangle is 3 and the run is 4, then the hypotenuse will be 5. The smallest square of the Euclid's emblem is a 3x3 matrix which represents the magic square of Saturn. The middle-sized square is a 4x4 matrix and represents the magic square of Jupiter. The biggest square is a 5x5 matrix and represent the magic square of Mars. These form a 3-4-5 triangle. Moreover, if we want to calculate the area of that triangle then it's 1/2 base x height which will be 6.

The magic square of the sun is a 6x6 matrix using the numbers 1-36 which, when added together, equal 666, the pagan number of the sun. So, 6 is associated with the sun--the Light of the World. The sun transforms the earth from a dead rock to a living planet and hence it was regarded at the Philosopher's Stone. Hence also the 6 harmonies of creation shown earlier using 36 pipes of the organ. Both 666 and the hexagon were considered emblematic of the Philosopher's Stone. This may also have something to with why Bach was so drawn to the number.

The name Moses (Mosheh) in Hebrew gematria equals 345 (mem=40, shin=300, heh=5). God identified himself to Moses as I AM (eheyeh=21, asher=501, eheyeh=21). In gematria, I AM is 543. So Moses is 345 and God is 543 and hence Moses is called a "reflection of God." This is interesting because in learned counterpoint, the cantus firmi lines are often mirror-imaged to make contrapuntal harmony. So Moses and God represent double counterpoint.

So Bach's use of 6 in his pieces comes clearer. It represented perfection because all its factors--1, 2, 3--are the first three numbers and add up to 6. Multiplied together--1x2x3--also equal 6. 6 is the number of nature's wisdom. Nature forms 6-sided polygons to make them easier to pack and hence hexagons form the bee and hornet nest chambers, quartz crystals are hexagons. snowflakes are hexagrams, tissue cells are also hexagons:


Human skin cells. Plant cells are also hexagons.

The hexagon has 720 degrees total. Also 6! (known as six factorial) is 1x2x3x4x5x6 which is 720. The Greek word for "mind" is "nous" which in isopsephia (where every Greek letter has a specific numerical value) adds up to 720. Qabbalah was quite popular at this time and had been for a good 200 years prior. At the 6th sefirot called tiferet (tiphareth}, the elements are conjoined. They are represented by upward- and downward-pointing triangles, two of them--air and earth--have horizontal lines passing through them. When you overlay the triangles, you get the Magen David or the 6-pointed star. It represents synergy where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Tiferet also represents awareness or consciousness and this corresponds to the hexagon in the center of the Magen David. Tiferet is also represents beauty and the sun (whose magic square we've gone over).

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