The Musical Octave and the Periodic Chart

Periodic Table showing Groups

The Musical Octave and the Periodic Chart. Be it chemistry or music, numbers are the key to unlocking an almost incredible parallel Universe. Most obviously, as the octave is considered not only the first fundamental overtone, but it is also the first perfect musical interval.  The perfect fifth and perfect fourth come next. Because of this we could say the octave is the most stable and “happy” interval.

Now look at the color coded periodic chart. Each of the  eight colored  groups of elements are the vertical rows that have the same colors. The basic, stable and most “happy” of the groups is the purple- the kingly (or queenly) number, if you will,  each “purple” has 8 electrons in the outside shell (except for purple helium at the top-to be explained). Harry Potter fans, elements and music come from the same wave of the magical wand.

By the way, the elements in the white boxes are called transition elements. Again, appropriate to musical content. A transition in music takes you from one section to the next just as the white boxes are the go-between the colors. Here’s how transitions work in music:

  • In a sonata we have a transition from  the exposition to the development section
  • Then from  development section to the repeat of the exposition
  • In an (ABA) song form, a transition takes us from the A section to the B section
  • Then transition sometimes occurs from the B section back to the A

If we really wanted to get fancy, the bottom two white  horizontal rows can become the coda!

Now let’s place one more filter on the periodic chart concerning the principle of the center and the two types of centers that are found in all number squares:

  • All odd number squares have one boxed number at the center, like the single, lonely red hydrogen on the left side. Its  atomic number is one.
  • All even number squares have four boxed numbers at the center as the helium atom has an atomic weight of four. This parallels the top purple box of helium on the right side.  Number squares develop the principle of the center in the same way that hydrogen and helium develop into the elements on periodic chart; as the are being fused into heavier elements on a star.

As everything is ultimately related, mankind is one family. Guy Murchie tells this story in his treatise, the Seven Mysteries of Life: He called up every leading geneticist around the world and they all agreed on one point: If you multiply out the possibilities, everyone is related to everyone no further than a fiftieth cousin.  Studying music, composing, music theory, taking piano lessons helps to open the doors of understanding; for, to know music is to know the sciences; and inversely: no music means no science. My favorite story is about Andrew Llyod Webber to illustrate this point. In this Sunday’s New York Times (11/22), in Theater, Webber talks about how he would have become an  architect had it not been for music. He loves architecture so much that he almost bought  the Tower House in London. His then wife put the nix on  the purchase.  Jimmy Page, legendary guitarist of the Led Zepplin band, bought it instead.

The Tower House: Jimmy Page of Led Zepplin bought it when Andrew Lloyd Webber didn’t
Artistic interior of the Tower House; note the upright parlor grand with stool by a music stand


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