On Dreams, Magical Numbers and Music

 


Of all the even,

odd and prime

I find 5

to be divine

I am 5; 5 is I

Circle round and round.


Dream:  I hold a white wooden slate with removable numbers in my hand.  I am arranging and re-arranging the numbers, noting the sequences in long columns.  There is, I sense, a relationship between pairs of numbers.  Four, for example, has a mysterious correspondence to one.  And the numbers themselves, properly sequenced, are the notation for an elusive melody, but I'm confused.  The numbers keep falling out of the slate and I can't remember which numbers go where. 

 

When I wake up, I remember a small hand held puzzle from my childhood, a little red and black plastic frame with sliding numbers.  Getting those numbers to line up was harder than it looked.  Not as hard as Rubik's cube, but hard enough to keep my five year old brain entertained. 

 

When I was little, individual numbers, like colors and letters of the alphabet, were seemingly endowed with personality and character: 7 was mysterious; 6 and 9 were menacing; 2 was easy and generous; and 5, my favorite, was magical, friendly and beautiful. 


Five fingers, five toes, so easy to add and multiply.  Five times five equals twenty five, a whole quarter! Five cents, the price of a Three Musketeers bar or a Coke. Two arms, two legs, plus one head equals five. I am 5, five is like me!  

 

+  +  +  +  + 


Yesterday, while I was cleaning up for Christmas, I found this note, scribbled in my own hand, tucked inside a book (Numbers and Time by Maria-Louise Von Franz.) 

"My favorite number is 5 -

my affinity for parallel fifths. 

My second favorite number is 3,

the minor third.

And lastly, the 7th, which acts like salt,

adding savor to the broth of melody."

I love finding notes to my self.  I suppose last night's dream was a continuation of  yesterday's scribbled thoughts, although tellingly, the melody I sought in my dream remained elusive, resistant to labored, conscious effort.   

 

As a composer, I have observed that melodies most often reveal themselves to me when I'm relaxed and not consciously thinking about much of anything: like in the early mornings, while I'm drinking coffee in bed, or walking alone, driving or just doing something mindless like washing dishes.

 

I used to think musical composition required effort, but now, I know that isn't true.  The older I get, the more convinced I am that beautiful melodies are not so much composed as they are discovered. And, as in my dream, melody and harmony are, I suspect, the audible manifestation in time of numbers divinely arrayed and revealed.

 

When I read my old note yesterday, I noticed that all my favorite numbers in music were primes.  And intuitively, I immediately sensed the close relationship between the 7th and 2nd intervals, 2 also being a prime.

 

Where am I going with all this?  I'm not sure; I'm still finding my way.  Yesterday, I saw a cute little sports car with a tiny bumper sticker:  "All who wander are not lost." As a rule, I don't much care for bumper stickers, but I liked that one, though to my mind, it needed a corollary:  "And all who WONDER aren't either." 

For me, the greatest gift of old age is time to simply idle, reflect and wonder, much as I did so many years ago when I was a curious child. 

 

Be Well and Good Luck,

Martha Maria

 


2 comments

  • Susie Williams Taylor
    Susie Williams Taylor
    I have read your blog twice or 2 times. And that’s not enough times so I WILL re-read as this blog is magnificent & thought provoking!

    I have read your blog twice or 2 times. And that’s not enough times so I WILL re-read as this blog is magnificent & thought provoking!

  • Barbara A Kemper
    Barbara A Kemper
    we have the same favorite number and my second is 3, but with a flat top. The Maya, I learned on my trip, considered flowers sacred. Their architecture is based on flowers and can be traced to the golden mean and the squareroot of 2 and other formulas...but...they did it all with measuring cords & arcs drawn from the cords. Flowers have multiples of 3,4,5 petals, never 7 or 9....I followed what Christopher ( the archaeologist said but can't explain it as well.

    we have the same favorite number and my second is 3, but with a flat top.
    The Maya, I learned on my trip, considered flowers sacred. Their architecture is based on flowers and can be traced to the golden mean and the squareroot of 2 and other formulas...but...they did it all with measuring cords & arcs drawn from the cords. Flowers have multiples of 3,4,5 petals, never 7 or 9....I followed what Christopher ( the archaeologist said but can't explain it as well.

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