The Music of the Elements

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Sufi mysticism has been something I have wanted to delve into for quite some time now. In this book I have come across a beautiful passage on the auditory qualities of the elements:

“The earth has various aspects of beauty as well as of variety in its sound. Its pitch is on the surface, its form is crescent-like, and its color is yellow. The sound of earth is dim and dull, and produces a thrill, activity and movement in the body. All instruments of wire and gut, as well as the instruments of percussion, such as the drum, cymbals, etc., represent the sound of the earth.

The sound of water is deep, its form is serpent-like, its color green, and it is best heard in the roaring of the sea. The sound of running water, of mountain rills, the drizzling and pattering of rain, the sound of water running from a pitcher into a jar, from a pipe into a tub, from a bottle into a glass, all have a smooth and lively effect, and a tendency to produce imagination, fancy, dream, affection, and emotion. The instrument called jalatarang is an arrangement of china bowls or glasses graduated in size and filled with water in proportion to the desired scale; more water lowers the tone, and less raises it. These instruments have a touching effect upon the emotions of the heart.

The sound of fire is high pitched, its form is curled, and its color is red. It is heard in the falling of the thunderbolt and in a volcanic eruption, in the sound of a fire when blazing, in the noise of squibs, crackers, rifles, guns and cannons. All these have a tendency to produce fear.

The sound of air is wavering, its form zigzag, and its color blue. Its voice is heard in storms, when the wind blows, and in the whisper of the morning breeze. Its effect is breaking, sweeping and piercing. The sound of air finds expression in all wind instruments made of wood, brass and bamboo; it has a tendency to kindle the fire of the heart, as Rumi writes in his Masnavi about the flute. Krishna is always portrayed in Indian art with a flute. The air sound overpowers all other sounds, for it is living, and in every aspect its influence produces ecstasy.

The sound of ether is self-contained, and it holds all forms and colors. It is the basis of all sounds, and is the undertone which is continuous. Its instrument is the human body, because it can be audible through it; although it is all-pervading, yet it is unheard. It manifests to man as he purifies his body from material properties. The body can become its proper instrument when the space within is opened, when all the tubes and veins in it are free. Then the sound which exists externally in space becomes manifest inwardly also. Ecstasy, illumination, restfulness, fearlessness, rapture, joy and revelation are the effects of this sound. “

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Tibetan Prayer Flags, image credit: http://peacepeg.tripod.com/

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35 Responses to The Music of the Elements

  1. ptero9 says:

    Except for Rumi’s poems, I haven’t read anything about Sufi mysticism. I am curious though…I can’t quite make out the title of the book at the top of the post though. Can you let me know the title?
    Love to ponder how music touches us and have always been amazed by the force of emotions that are invoked. Also, there’s a commonality to the language of music that is undeniable. We all hear harmony as beauty, but why is that?
    Thanks for including the music too, it’s lovely!

  2. saraannon says:

    Reblogged this on sara annon and commented:
    I have been contemplating how to write about sound and vibration for some time, so I am pleased to come across this glimpse into mysticism, music, and matter:

  3. the music of fire video touches the core of my being, wonderful…

    And you know how I feel about the image 😉

    BTW just ordered the Astrology of Fate. you are entitled to a residual I think!

  4. renatembell says:

    This is wonderful, and supplements Feng Shui beautifully. Great information. I enjoyed the videos very much, too. In response to ptero9’s comment above- our resonance to music may very well stem from the Great Seven Rays emanating into the planetary realm. Each ray corresponds to one of the seven notes in an octave. When we resonate with beautiful music, we are reminded of our own Divinity and higher states of consciousness. Just a thought…

  5. Lehua says:

    Another beautiful post that resonates with me & supports the synchronicity within. In my private practice as a healer, sound is an integral part. I have a didgeridoo, crystal bowl, Tibetan bowls, bells, and a medicine drum, but all of them are simply complimentary to the singular ability of the human being’s ability to evoke the range with just their voice. From the earthy guttural growls to the sound of laughter and light (in my mind’s eye), as I weave the music, I’ve always seen these colors & symbols in association. Nothing compares to the beauty.
    Thank you! I continue to adore your work!

  6. bostaj says:

    so interesting and synchronistic. Recently i was watching a movie on three guitar players, and it got me pondering about elemental qualities of the standard rock band and instruments. I would love to hear some more on that
    🙂

  7. Monika this is simply superb – you have outdone yourself – how did you do it? – it is not only sufi but also Bhakti ( devotional love) particularly the Jaltarang and the flute – wow what a great post – transporting

  8. only i would have loved to hear what ether sounds like too – but of course ether has a sound wave length thatmay be beyond human hearing – got to be an elephant to hear that

  9. shreejacob says:

    I’ve always loved drum beats..and the sound of the guitar..and the first video was my favourite 🙂
    I’ve also read Rumi quotes but am curious about Sufism too

  10. Hazrat Inyat Khan-we always begin our dances with his invocation: Toward the One, the perfection of Love Harmony and Beauty… They are words of great power.

  11. This was a fascination for me as well — this is a beautiful read, thanks!!! 🙂

  12. Don says:

    Monika,Thank you for this post. I so enjoyed it.The auditory or sound qualities of the elements are something which have been extremely meaningful for me. Never been sure why, but I’ve just grown up that way. I find great joy in that kind of listening. Everything in your post, so wonderfully written, just affirms it all for me. Thank you.

  13. Great post Monika. As a musician, I am keenly aware of music’s ability to alter consciousness. For a while, I played sitar in a traditional kirtan group, which was pretty cool. But alas, now I’m playing glam rock. 😉

  14. Phenomenal~
    ~ ♪♫•.¸¸.•´¯`•.♥ •
    ´¯`•.¸¸.•♪♫♪•.¸¸.•´¯`•.♥

  15. H3nry J3kyll says:

    Great share Monika! The musical selections are fantastic.

  16. I always remember these words from the good book.. In the beginning was the word… ( word meaning sound )… Vibration is the music of the elements… as we vibrate and resonate within its frequencies… Thank you for this… I have saved the video to watch later as I am short on time between visits on WP

    Again you have put much thought and content into your posts.. Thank you
    Blessings Sue xox

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