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Pythagoras' musical - therapeutical treatment

by Theresa Monaco(more info)

listed in sound and music, originally published in issue 29 - June 1998

Music and sound in the ancient Indian system of Ayurveda are essential for balancing the functioning of the doshas (representing the principles of creation, preservation and destruction) in the body. Also, in the old Chinese tradition, the sound of the elements produces music, which circulates through the meridians with Chi energy, balancing heaven and earth within the body. Similarly, in the less well-known musical wisdom of Pythagoras, developed from the vibrations of the cosmos, the Music of the Spheres, the cathartic, enlightening and healing power of the Musical Tones is elevated and consecrated.

A unique series of eight compact discs with music performed on piano, called The Seven Tones of Balance and Musical Ecology of The Mind offers a musical-therapeutic treatment based on the musical wisdom of Pythagoras.

Daniel Levy is the composer and performer of this music recorded on the Syntony label.
The heptachord lyre and the ancient Pythagorean instrument, the monochord, are here substituted by the piano, which is one of the best instruments for reproducing tonal expression and dynamic shade, whether produced by strings, percussion, tone or voice.

I’d like to talk to you, Maestro, about the Seven Tones of Balance and I feel it is appropriate to refer to my own listening experience. I found that the highly evocative power of your music allows access to a kind of ‘memory’ that goes beyond the ages. I believe this experience is, to a certain extent, related to the archetype to which Pythagoras referred. What is this archetype and how does it affect the act of ‘balancing’ and then of healing?

Of all the experiences of the human being, sound is among the closest and most compatible.

It is intangible, yet concrete; it is as close as it is mysterious. In the case of the Seven Tones of Balance and the CD dedicated to the Musical Ecology of the Mind, it is the Tone that helps us assimilate the beneficial effects of Pythagoras’ Musical-Therapeutical treatment. Tone is a specific quality inherent in the space of the music that the human hearing perceives as sound and to which the mind, which has developed according to a specific culture, immediately recognises as music. The Tone is a series of sounds that conveys meaning to the listener’s consciousness; it has been loaded with information from the source of the Sound in the musical space. While a single note has a meaning only if it relates to another note, the Tone contains bio-psychical states, specific qualities and a character. It is a living organism in an ocean of organisms. The human being, by listening (and depending on his or her level of attention, intention and conscious participation) is placed in a close relationship with this organism, which is a living entity, a sonorous being, able to lead him or her towards increased awareness, and from there to balance. The levels become gradually more elevated, dissolving all the anomalies that the psyche has produced in the human organism thanks to the stimuli that constantly target the mind.

Balance is produced because something disappears and something else appears; by clearing and filling; by diminishing the excess and by giving abundance to what is lacking. The archetype, then, lies in the Tone. The listener comes into this natural space and takes what he or she needs; the tone then acts as a source from which all the hearing, diffused throughout the whole organism, drinks. Healing begins by dispelling the fog and all the psychical dust gathered over time and allows a meeting between us and the life of primeval sound that forms us.

The sound and music consciously addressed by the music-therapist can, without doubt, resolve the emotional and mental blocks that cause physical disease. How does this process happen? What is the relationship between sound vibrations and the psyco-physical structure?

In my experience, the musician/therapist does not try to address sounds. In accordance with profound, modern Pythagoric wisdom, the Sound is intelligent; it knows where it has to go, what it has to fill, which aspects to soothe, which crystals to dissolve and where to establish its effect. This process is one of absolute sincerity of purpose, ensuring that one’s own experience does not become an obstacle to the sure intelligence of the sound. Because of our culture, we are in the habit of regarding sound as a vibration of air that can, at most, produce something of beauty. This narrow concept is a long way from the idea of treating an intelligent essence with one’s own intelligent energies, but without any kind of manipulation or interference.

As far as the relationship between the sound’s vibration and the psycho-physical structure is concerned, I can say that every civilisation has always recognised a relationship between likes. Add to this the fact that water is an excellent conductor of sound (the sound waves are longer and run 4.5 times faster through water); that the human body is about 66% water and the brain 80% water, then we can see how well our organism can relate to the sound vibration and respond to its stimuli.

The resonances of the piano captured in the recordings of the Seven Tones of Balance have a specific role in balancing the listener’s psyco-physical energies. By listening actively, one can perceive a kind of ‘massage’ of the aura. What are the harmonics of the sound? Why is it that most of the therapeutical capacity lies in these?

Listening to the Seven Tones increases its potency as much as the listener’s ‘string’ is able to be vibrated. I’d better explain that. It is not a matter of effort or concentration but more a disposition to avoid interfering with the flow or current. However, even if the Seven Tones is used as background music, it produces, by the same principles, a change in atmosphere wherever it is played. This change penetrates into ever increasing spaces. The four Tones related to lack of vitality, depression, fear and anxiety/irritability can neutralise and balance these states thanks to the action of the harmonics. Also, mathematical aspects aside, it is a fact that when a string vibrates at 256 Hz, we refer to it as C and we hear what we think of as a single sound. But while we are listening to this sound, many other notes are sounding at the same time. These are the harmonics and they contribute to the global colour of the sound and to the specific timbre of the musical instrument.

What is interesting is that most of the energy of the sound is concentrated in this part of the spectrum. For this reason, the therapeutical properties of the music are in the harmonic space.

The music you have composed is based on Pythagorean aesthetic rules within our comprehension. I feel many people would like to know on which musical scales your compositions are based. For that matter – what is a musical scale? When we talk about the essence of a musical scale, are we coming back to the archetypes?

The musical scales are the holders or containers of emotions, non-verbal thought and intuition. Without the musician, the scale is an empty container. The musician therapist tries to penetrate the content of musical intervals. The scales are like genetic codes of the Music. There is a ‘biomusic’ that creates worlds, a reality that is scientific, artistic and therapeutic at the same time. If something were not true, beautiful and good at the same time, it would not be valid.

Can you tell us something about the effects of the music most commonly listened to today, especially by young people in nightclubs and so on? That deafening volume.

This is a very large subject. It isn’t volume alone that has the greatest effect, but the content of the music, which touches only low, instinctive areas. If we had only this kind of music, it would be as if we were living on the lowest planes of human existence. But there is something other than this basement level, especially in the young. It would be interesting to take them to these higher planes of their own ‘home’, through the Music and its wisdom.

One of the Syntony’s CDs is called Musical Ecology of the Mind. This title allows one to consider the power of the ecology of the music and the necessity to diffuse a largely beneficial music, music with an ability to counterbalance the huge amount of musical information present in the ether. What is happening in this environment, the air in which we live? Although we are not aware of it, how is it affecting us?

This addresses itself to the mind. The mind is a place of transit for impulses moving from inside to outside, and vice versa. The channels often are not filtered, confusion dominates and the ability to discriminate diminishes when millions of stimuli are intruding on the only space where the action originates. The sound can infect. Noise pollution results, just as thoughts and feelings vibrate at various speeds in the air. We can absorb many germs by hearing and accepting. The music of Musical Ecology of the Mind is addressed to those who want to be suitable receivers for positivity and the affirmation of human values, starting from their own psychic base. The Music creates antibodies and an immunity to that which deforms and devitalises.

How can we increase, or better still, refine our own level of listening? In other words, how can we achieve more profound levels of listening?

By encouraging ourselves to gain more and more meaning from silence. All forms of deafness caused by high volume and noise pollution have made noise synonymous with life and silence synonymous with death.

There is a cacophony and a euphony inside all of us. We need to regain possession of the latter. Silence and listening are the systole and diastole of the heart.

Is it true to say that, in the Seven Tones of Balance, there are various keys of listening depending on the listener’s need and sensitivity?

Yes. The most important thing is to let the Tone act with confidence. One should not ‘believe’ or ‘think’ but we should be confident about the reality of the state of Balance that the music can offer, without asking for anything.

According to Pythagorean Life by Iamblicus, Pythagoras used to create musical treatments and adaptations for his disciples; using these treatments, he was usually able to change or reverse irrational and unwanted emotions such as grief, fear, obsession, over-excitability and depression. What qualities does a musician need in order that the music he or she produces is real, profoundly therapeutic music? Is it possible to learn this healing art?

Syntony is based on the principle of resonance. The musician therapist has to learn to resonate sympathetically in order to sense what is needed.

This method of healing has been created not from the therapist’s knowledge, but from understanding and true compassion without superiority. Music is a gift. Its source is from time immemorial and it is irrevocably interwoven with global health. Musical therapy is not a modern invention – it is truly ancient. Yet it is of our time. It is inevitable today that we should be rediscovering and diffusing the values and the extensive research and experience for which Pythagoras was a bridge.

The search for a global state of health, so intense today, can be helped in a unique and unexpected way by Music.

About Daniel Levy

Daniel Levy is one of the most quoted artists on the international music scene. His distinguished piano playing and musical perception are a synthesis of the fascinating complexity of his culture. Levy has also arranged conferences and has presented courses and seminars on philosophy and the symbolism of music. He worked with the famous musicologist Alain Daniélou and undertook old Sanscrit texts and contacts with traditional Masters of Music. He also worked alongside the musicologist Marius Schneider and has promoted a new, impassioned vision of the function and role of music and the musician through a series of festivals, concerts, exhibitions, master classes, round tables and publications. Daniel Levy is the author of the books Euphonia, The Sound of Life, Eternal Beauty and The Musician.

Further Information

The Seven Tones of Balance. Pythagoras’ Musical-therapeutical treatment Compact Discs:
Syn 70    01 Lack vitality – Strength;
    02 Fear – Courage;
    03 Depression – Positive optimism;
    04 Anxiety/irritability – Enthusiasm;
    05 Joy;
    06 Stillness;
    07 Compassion;
    08 Musical Ecology of the Mind
are available at SYNTONY, Tel. 0171-483 4683; fax 0171-483 4777;

The 7 Tones of Balance
The 7 Tones of Balance


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About Theresa Monaco


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