In my adventures through the cynical side of the internet, I came across an interesting conspiracy idea that strikes at the very core of Western music. The concept is that there has been a deliberate shifting of the fundamental frequencies of our Western scales away from an ancient and sacred 6-tone scale towards a less auspicious set of tones...
While there's a lot of info out there about this, you can consider this post a condensed summary of it all. It's an interesting trip of musical education with large bent of paranoia and new age thinking. I consider it "infotainment." I don't really care if it's true or not, it's just fun and interesting. I'm sure you'll feel the same.
Solfège (or Solfeggio) is the classic educational method all of us were exposed to growing up. It's used in the West from elementary school all the way through college to teach which pitches belong to the scales that we currently use. It's all based around:
There's the "Fixed Do" we learn as kids that matches the C-Major scale and then the "Movable Do" we learn later that helps us hear and sing the varying intervals in other Major and Minor scales.
While the true origin of this 7-note diatonic scale is unknown, the furthest we can trace it back is to the Arabic solmization (same as solfeggio) system and the Hindustani and Carnatic classical styles from India.
Here's where it gets good. The system above is supposedly the oldest, stretching back to even 1000 B.C. and further. But then we have this guy Guido of Arezzo who lived from circa 990 A.D. to 1030 A.D. He was an Italian music theorist who's credited with being the inventor of the modern musical staff and the notation that goes along with it, replacing the old neume system that was stifling the learning process of all musicians.
It's said that as a monk and music theory master, he saw how hard it was for all his fellow monks to learn the Gregorian chants, so he developed a mnemonic system that goes like this:
Put this together with the staff notation, his Guidonian hand system, and this hexachord scale, and it was so clear that this guy was the master that Pope John XIX invited him to the Vatican to discuss it. Soon after that, we're all using the seven-note system mentioned above...
So the question becomes why and what happened?
So basically, the people developing this conspiracy claim that those in power are trying to revise history to discredit the original solfeggio frequencies, and there's a reason: they hold spiritual and metaphysical power.
The fact is, we know where "Ut, Re, Mi, Fa, Sol, La" comes from. We also know where "Do, Re, Mi, Fa, Sol, La, Ti" comes from. It comes from Guido's frequencies... yet they are supposed to be at least 2000 years older... We know the 7th note was added by Giovanni Battista Doni in the 16th century. This is why people are being skeptical about the whole thing.
Guido developed his system to teach these monks how to sight read, hear pitches, and manipulate the intervals vocally as they sung the Gregorian chants. He noticed this Latin hymn called Ut queant laxis featured phrases that each began on the six notes in order. This is where the syllables are derived from, as seen here:
The Latin stanza can be stylized like so, which highlights where the solfeggio frequencies come from:
Ut queant laxis
Labii reatum, Sancte Iohannes.
Boom. Very obvious with no questions about it. Here's the accepted accurate translation:
So that your servants may, with loosened voices, resound the wonders of your deeds, clean the guilt from our stained lips, O Saint John.
By reading the translation, you can already see where the idea that this stanza and the frequencies have secret healing powers encoded in them. By singing them you may be cleansed, basically, thanks to the power of John the Baptist.
Here's a Youtube video of this specific Gregorian chant. The image also shows the older neume notation system:
Fast forward to 500 hundred years later... Giovanni Battista Doni decides he doesn't like "Ut" and changes it to "Do" and that "Sancte Iohannes" should be "Si", a seventh note in the scale. Later in the 1800's "Si" becomes "Ti" because an English music teacher named Sarah Glover would rather notate it as "D, R, M, F, S, L, S" and doesn't like that there's two S's. That's the accepted story of how it all went down, despite the contradictions. We end up with this twisted translation to fit the narrative:
Do let our voices
Resonate most purely,
Far greater than many;
So let our tongues be
Lavish in your praises,
Saint John the Baptist.
This is how "Sol" becomes "So" and "Si" was added, where "John" is originally "Iohannes."
Now, it's not that the seven note scale (or octave when you loop back to the root) was invented then. Just that the solfeggio notation was. It's not unbelievable that historians of the time knew that the system was already in use in ancient India and the Levant and adapted it. That's why this is a conspiracy. And there's no conspiracy without a motive...
Now we are past the back story. You now know the officially accepted historical version of how this went down. A couple influential people had preferences and boom the switch was made. A lot of people aren't buying it, nor do they believe the original solfeggio syllables are from a thousand years or more B.C. So why all the games and revisionist agenda?
What researchers and theorists into this supposed conspiracy say is that the entire point of discrediting and shifting the system away from Guido of Arezzo's system is to distract and ultimately render it forgotten. They say, doubly, that the reason "they" want to attribute this system to India's old sagram system is to keep the attention off of the true creator... Pythagoras.
Everyone and their mom knows about Pythagoras. This guy single-handedly, around 570 to 500 B.C., moved Western civilization thousands of years into the future in terms of philosophy, mathematics, religion, and mysticism. He was literally that good and legend lifts him even higher. So the last thing the "elites" want is for this truth of the solfeggio frequencies to get attached to Pythagoras, because then we might all take it serious.
Here's the deal, we would spend all day explaining how new agers have been playing connect the dots with this whole solfeggio thing. They have analogies to the Hindu chakra system, Freudian defense mechanisms, the Devil's Tone from medieval times, and on and on. That's all secondary. The real deal has to do with Pythagoras' geometry and wave physics.
The basics are that Pythagoras figured out the math behind consonance and dissonance in chords and how the scales are built. It's all based on ratios in wavelengths to produce harmonics, whether that be the golden ratio, Pi, etc. Pythagoras was messing with sacred geometry and all the stuff Socrates and our current physicists would be playing with well before any of them were even alive.
For instance, physicists have been playing around with sound vibrations and moving them off of two-dimensional strings onto three-dimensional plates to produce the Chladni Patterns in the science of Cymatics. Here's an example of patterns that will arise based on specific harmonic frequencies vibrating a plate with a powder placed on it:
You can hop on YouTube and see actual examples of how this works and looks. As all of this has been developing, everyone's basically like "Okay, so there's something to all this stuff Pythagoras was talking about. These vibrations are forming structures if tuned just right and they can also destroy them if we don't use the right notes."
We said all that above to get to this point. Right now in Western music (that even a lot of the Eastern world is beginning to adopt especially with their pop music, which only supports the conspiracy) the standard tuning of instruments is to A-440. This means that in the base octave, the note A should be tuned to 440 Hz as the universal standard. This is how everyone does it now, thanks to the meeting the Pope had with Guido and the ultimate intervention by Giovanni Battista Doni.
Now, because all intervals are built to be consonant to 440 Hz through the positioning of every other note based on Pythagorean mathematics, it sounds great. We know when instruments aren't tuned right and when we're using some crazy interval that's dissonant. We've been trained (brainwashed, so the conspiracy goes) to hear it this way.
It works the same way with the original Solfeggio Frequencies, except A wasn't tuned to 440 Hz.
It was 444 Hz.
Like many conspiracies and all arguments on the internet, it always goes back to the Nazi's and/or the Illuminati and the Rockefellers & Rothschilds.. Although they didn't invent this shift away from A-444, they employed it after learning all about the subconscious and how to use propaganda from Sigmund Freud. They made the big push for this mass adoption. This is when 440 Hz became "Concert A" in 1955 by the International Standards Organization.
The question remains, why? As various conspiracy websites have said:
"This unnatural standard tuning frequency, removed from the symmetry of sacred vibrations and overtones, has declared war on the subconscious mind of Western Man."
It boils down to the idea that although you can build a system of consonant sounds off of A-440, the physical world and our bodies are harmonized with A-444. We've been trained to enjoy the slightly off-kilter A-440 tuning, and the slight shift is unnoticeable to our ears, but it wreaks havoc on our minds and bodies.
The support for these ideas goes back to Cymatics and the structures that are created at the original solfeggio frequencies instead of the new A-440's. The structures that form in the standing waves tuned to A-440 are less symmetric and less stable. This same effect happens to our bodies and minds. We are coaxed into living in and cultivating this slight discord inspired by vibrations that are slightly dissonant to the healing properties of the original frequencies.
So the idea is that music has been militarized and weaponized as a psychological and physical assault against the population. Aggression, agitation, illness, and all other types of problems are exacerbated by modern music.
That's the idea, and I must say it's intriguing and fun to think about. But all of this begs the question:
If A-440 is destructive, then A-444 is constructive and conducive, but conducive to what?
If you attempt to decipher the reasoning behind all of this, you'll get lost in a ton of references and concepts that almost require a Ph.D in New Age philosophy. You'll find mention of Numerology, Nikolai Tesla, Atlantis, Theosophy, and all kinds of stuff.
It all boils down to the idea these vibrations are a built in part of the universe, much like the other laws of physics are. More support comes from the nice evenly rounded numbers attached to the original frequencies, versus the current notes:
Solfeggio Freq. vs 12-TET A4=440Hz
UT - 396 Hz vs DO - 523.251 Hz - (C5)
RE - 417 Hz vs RE - 587.330 Hz - (D5)
MI - 528 Hz vs MI - 659.255 Hz - (E5)
FA - 639 Hz vs FA - 698.456 Hz - (F5)
SOL - 741 Hz vs SO - 783.991 Hz - (G5)
LA - 852 Hz vs LA - 880.000 Hz - (A5)
I can't even be bothered to bust out a calculator and fact check any of that. I'm personally skeptical. People like to fudge numbers when it supports their claims. For all I know, they rounded some numbers and didn't round the others. Either way, if it's true as the conspiracy claims it's pretty interesting. We know the universe likes symmetry and simplicity. Here's some of the kind of reasoning you find that's self-referential and not very scientific:
"As we look at the six original Solfeggio frequencies, using the Pythagorean method, we find the base or root vibrational numbers are 3, 6, & 9. Nikola Tesla tells us, and I quote: "If you only knew the magnificence of the 3, 6 and 9, then you would have a key to the universe."
While you can extend the scale on up through the frequency range and down towards the bass end, the properties remain the same just in different octaves. The healing properties are listed as:
You can even purchase a set of tuning forks for each of these specific frequencies to be used when you're dealing with each respective problem associated with them (or get each one separately instead of a set):
Unfortunately, as you can see by the end of this story, we descend into full on New Age stuff, which I don't buy personally but can respect that I may not be sensitive enough to detect these things, etc. No single frequency is repairing our DNA, though. That's such a vast misunderstanding and simplification of how DNA works that you know we've landed in the realm of magic and fantasy.
The music is cool though. Instead of tuning forks, you can rock out to the album where each track is tuned to a different frequency. I could see this being great for meditation. You can hear the tracks by clicking on the album cover below:
The adventure getting to this point is pretty interesting, even if you don't believe it. The conspiracy crowd could really be on to something, even if they ended up drawing the wrong conclusions. You never know and that's what makes it so fun to contemplate.
It's not often us music nerds get to have a conspiracy like this that strikes at the very fundamental aspects of what we do. I hope you had as much fun as I did learning about it!
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