Debussy’s La Cathedrale engloutie

Debussy’s La Cathedrale engloutie: How my Project Began

Debussy’s La Cathedrale engloutie. For over 20 years my wife, Sharon,  has been trying to get me to learn this esoteric work for the piano by Claude Debussy. Though it’s beautiful, haunting, and exotic; at times, I can be contrary and stubborn: I didn’t want to take the time required to master it. Then the following happened: (1) My oldest son insisted that I should record one hour of Claude Debussy to be available on our ( being Sharon and myself) website. He is building it. (2) My teacher, Mischa Kottler, said on his last visit to us, I should play a concert of French music, especially Debussy in order to “show people what I can do.” (3) My wife is still insisting that I learn Debussy’s La Cathedrale engloutie. And, I must admit, now that I am working on it, has been the thrill of my life



Related image
Debussy may have also been inspired by Monet’s paintings on the Rouen Cathedral. Monet painted a multitude of paintings of this cathedral at different times of the day.



The cathedral of Ys rests on the mythical city-island of Ys, located by Brittany in France (also spelled Keris).  It daily rises from the ocean. Debussy’s music conveys the sounds that issue forth from the cathedral including bells chiming, priests chanting and its full-sized organ. The opening suggests church bells ringing in the distance and the clerics singing medieval chant. The middle section imitates the action of waves crashing on the cathedral. The story goes that the island was sunk by the Devil due to the rampant impiety on the island.  For this expression in music, Debussy includes a featured place for the interval of the augmented fourth. This interval was called by the church the diabolis in music (the devil in music).


Now, I hope you can see why I’m looking forward to recording one hour of Debussy’s music; and especially La Catherale engloutie. The recording  session is scheduled for November 11 at a performing arts center in Sarasota.  Of course, afterwards, there are still a number of necessary steps. I keep telling myself to be patient by reciting the motto: Rome wasn’t built in a day. 





Being a musician, I developed an aptitude for numbers. Parents should know that study after study concludes that whether playing an instrument or singing ; music greatly increases a child’s aptitude for mathematics. When music is practiced before school, it raises the  IQ as much as 10% for the entire school day. In its effect,  practicing music is like a multiple vitamin for the brain.  An example is Albert Einstein, arguably the smartest man ever, who prided himself on playing the violin.


Our music of equal temperament helped to create what’s called  a Circle of Fifths.  Every time you ascend five tones in  the first scale you can arrive at the new scale that hold the next key signature. After  twelve scales by fifths, you complete an entire cycle and go back to the beginning key. You could easily frame the  12 keys of the Circle of Fifths on the 12 regular pentagons that make up the dodecahedron (see picture below),  Not only the modern well-tempered scale; but the ancient diatonic scale was based on a series of ascending fifths with a final lower fifth from the starting tone. 5 solids that are regular: a numerical parallel.



Music and Math: One helps the other, and how this helped me:  I believe that because of my work with music, I was able to uncover a unique number code.  Its use was first discovered by  emperor Yu, a ruler of China  about 2,000 BC.   The  5 Platonic solids, pictured below, are totally patterned by code that I discovered.  The code is hidden in a 3 x 3 number square, which in China is called  Lo shu. The way to crack  the lo shu code is  found in Isaiah 45:2-3: “I will go before thee, and make the crooked places straight. I will break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut asunder the bars of iron. And I will give you the treasure of darkness and hidden riches of secret places, that thou mayest know that, I the Lord, which call thee by thy name, am the God of Israel.”

Related image
Our Musical Circle of Fifths can be superimposed on the each of the 5 vertices of the 12 pentagons of the dodecahedron. As these are the only 5 possible regular polyhedrons that can exist, these solids define a unique system of balance. Our music based on the Circle of Fifths shares this  property with the dodecahedron and can therefore bring a sense of balance to us.


I believe that my years with music through formal education, private lessons and working with great concert artists,  helped me to develop the mathematical side of my thinking. I talk about the Lo Shu, pictured below, on my blog about the  The Mysteries of Music Unearthed by Tick-Tack-Toe. Incidentally, the Bible is pointed in the use of  scripture number  to reveal its preference for this ancient magic square: Not only is 45 the chapter number in which Isaiah’s reference occurs,  but 45 totals  the numbers in this number square (1 + 2+ 3 + 4 + 5 + 6 + 7 + 8 + 9 = 45). While  2 + 3 ( the two verses in chapter 45) whose numbers when added together = 5. I think that sharply defines of the number square.


Image result for Numbered Chinese Lo shu diagram with the numbers


“E-660” in Feet Measured the Glastonbury Abbey

“E-660” in Feet Measured the Glastonbury Abbey- Turning the numbers of vibrations per second of the old diatonic musical scale into the numbers of linear measures is  one my themes. It demonstrates how builders in antiquity sought to construct by the beauty of musical tones, poetic though it be.  Most cannot grasp this concept. We are trained by birth to look for differences. The computer, to my knowledge, also does not grasp metaphors very well.  As the popularity of poetry has faded, so has metaphor.


Image result for Glastonbury Abbey in England free painting of photo
The Abbey blueprint was first conceived in the vessel of the fish (vesica piscis) of two overlapping circles each with a 660 foot diameter
Related image
The length of the vesica is defined by BA and the width by PO. The Abbey was placed in the turquoise area of the vesica.



In a remote undocumented time, builders used the numbers of musical tones for construction. Consider: John  Michell, in his View Over Atlantis, explains how 660 was taken by builders to represent the diameter of the Earth.  It measures the number of feet in one furlong.  Furthermore, one 660 foot furlong equals 7.920 inches. On a inch to mile basis it closely replicates the average diameter of the Earth.   This gives the measure of the Earth a tonal or music point dimension. And so it was- in a former age of peace and plenty. The Abbey (image above) first had its dimensions sketched in the vessel of the fish (vesica piscis).  The vesica of Glastonbury’s blueprint is the turquoise oval part in the center to center overlapping circles. Each circle has a 660 foot diameter. Any vesicas ratio of length to width length to width is always the square root of three to one. Across many cultures it is considered sacred. It outlines the shape of a fish, so it is also a significant Christian symbol. Historically it has been used by most religions by the builders of sacred sights  throughout recorded history.


John Michell, in his works, describes how the Abbey was conceived as the English Jerusalem. Its design  was section off into 74 foot squares laid out in a 9 X 4 pattern. The church was placed on a section of this pattern  Musically, the complete patter reduces reduces to 3 x 2 which is the sound ratio of the two tones of  musical fifth. Michell describes how if a circle with radius 660 feet is struck from the center of the 74 foot system of squares, its circumference passes through the sacred abbey fish pond. Further down its marks Glastonbury’s Catholic church. In a future blog, I will relate how 660 refers directly to the five Platonic solids in a remarkable way.

Mysteries of Music Unearthed By Tick-Tack-Toe.

Mysteries of Music Unearthed By Tick-Tack-Toe. To understand the profound, look to the simple. Pairing by opposites is the way of nature. Understanding complexity is as simple as Tick-Tack-Toe.  Grappling with the profound by studying the complex is dead-ended. I believe that’s why Einstein never found the unified field theory of relativity. Children love to play tick-tack-toe. When numbers are set in this board, secret codes come and open the doors to mysteries of music- as well as many other formerly unsolvable problems.

Set the numbers 1 to 9 in this board as pictured so that any row of three numbers equals 15. There are other possible arrangements, but the totals of 15 must always be the same. When added vertically, horizontally or diagonally in a straight line; the total must always be 15. On Oquaga Lake, some 25 years ago, I had an epiphany. There was a bad drought that summer and we had to leave our residence at Bluestone Farm situated on Bluestone Mountain. Our well dried up.   As we were packing up to leave Bluestone Mountain, a spiritual presence told me to  erase the tic-tack-toe frame. Then keep the numbers in the same position.  With this simple act, I could then unlock the mysteries of  science and art.

Having pondered over the books of John Michell for years, I memorized his lists measures of the sacred places that  he wrote about. Suddenly it came together in a flash of lightning. I touched on this topic on my blog on Music and Measure: Both the A of the modern well-tempered scale and of the old diatonic scale, vibrate at 440 times per second. The old diatonic “E” vibrated at 660 times per second. Both of these numbers are prominent on the tick-tack-toe board. Please watch the above board as I define these numbers.

The numbers of the vertical and horizontal cross by tens each total 440: ( 95 + 15 =110) + ( 59 + 51 = 110) +(53 + 57= 110)+ (35 +75 = 110).  Thus, 4 X 110 =440. The X diagonals total 440 in the same manner (45 + 65 = 110) + (54 + 56 =110) +( 52 + 58 = 110) +( 85 + 35 = 110).  Now, working around the perimeter two numbers at the time either way, we again find 440 in two ways: Counterclockwise we have: 43 + 38 +81 +16 + 67 + 72 + 29 + 94 = 440.  Clockwise we have 49 + 92 + 27 + 76 + 61 + 18 + 83 + 34 = 440.

660, the vibrations per second for diatonic “E”, are found around the number square forwards and backwards as follows: Counterclockwise- 43 + 38 + 81 + 16 + 67 + 72 + 29 + 94 = 660.  Clockwise- 49 + 92 + 27 + 76 + 61 + 18 + 83 + 34 = 660. The basic musical fifth, A to E,  is found by vibrations per second in of all places, a Tick-Tack-Toe board. After more than 25 years of searching for the source of all our arts and sciences, I am convinced this grain of mustard seed is it. The Great Pyramid, also blogged about here, exists in great measure to define the myriads of ways that the numbers of this  grain of mustard seed work. It takes the 440 that is found in four ways in this grid and measures each side of its square base as 440 cubits of 1.718 feet.  I am certain that Tick-Tack-Toe will be found as the backbone of civilizations on other planets with advanced life.  Stay tuned for more blogs on the subject in the future. Hope you have enjoyed the mysteries of music unearthed by Tick-Tack-Toe.



Music and Math Share the Rule of 9’s


Music and math share the rule of 9’s.  I find this very appropriate because music and numbers also share in usage of the same side of the brain. Words, on the other hand, use other side of the brain.  I will first demonstrate the rule of 9’s by music. Then I will demonstrate it with numbers. Inversion means to reverse the order, be it  of numbers or the two tones of a musical interval sounding  at the same time.  A unison inverts to an octave as 1 + 8 = 9. The second inverts to the seventh as 2 + 7 = 9. The third inverts to a sixth as  3 + 6 = 9. The fourth inverts to a fifth as 4 + 5 = 9. Change in the quality ( major to minor intervals or diminished to augmented)) will be the subject of a future blog


Now let’s look at inverted numbers.  If someone is adding an entire column of numbers in a ledger, once in a while the digits in any one number might be mistakenly reversed.  For example, instead of writing 189, you write 198; or instead of writing 235, you write 532. This act is comparable to inverting or reversing musical tones. If what you expected the total to be, as opposed to what it is, differs by a multiple of nine, then you inverted or reversed the digits of the numbers in the manner that I have just demonstrated. Here is the proof: 198-189 = 9. With the second example, 532 – 235 = 297 When you divide 297 by 9, the quotient is 33. Let’s take a larger number: When you record 23,572 as 32,572 the difference is 9,000. That is also a multiple of nine.

In conclusion, since math and music are virtually twins, to study one without the other is like separating these twins, How sad! The study of mathematics must be complemented by the study of music.

Every child in school should be given the opportunity to learn music through piano lessons or musical programs at school.

The point I made above is amply demonstrated by Albert Einstein; a great mathematician who  played the violin. The fictional detective genius sleuth, Sherlock Holmes, also played the violin.  Arthur Conan Doyle realized the importance of music and how it is a part of superior intellect. One more word on the rule by 9’s. In the highest court of our land, the Supreme Court, we also have a rule by nine. The founding fathers of America were also brilliant.

Related image

Albert Einstein is the prototype of the musical mathematician. He played the violin. In his writings he discusses how one the the best moments of his life was one he received a good review by a music critic for playing .

The 4 x 4 Magic Square and Music?

The 4 x 4 number square and music? The meaning of of number squares has degenerated to nothing more than a puzzle or a simple  curiosity. In antiquity the magic number square had a multitude of associations. They were of extreme importance. Ancient builders recognized 7 primary number squares. Each one was thought to invoke the power of one of the seven recognized planets. For example:  3 x 3 invoked Saturn.  5 x 5 called on Mars. The 4×4 magic square, pictured below, was said to invoke Jupiter. John Michell, in The View Over Atlantis, points out how the statue of Jupiter at Olympus was built by the numbers of this square.


File:Albrecht Dürer - Melencolia I (detail).jpgFile:Dürer Melancholia I.jpg

The wood carving above was done by Albrecht Durer in 1514. It is called Melancholia. The picture on the right is a blowup of a section of the same woodcarving of the angels wing against numbers one and fourteen. The angel is apparently depressed because she is overwhelmed by all her labors. The 4 x 4 square holds the cure for the angel’s melancholy mood. Gustav Holst, in his The Planets, refers to Jupiter as the bringer of Joviality. Don’t worry. Help is on the way for this angel!

Now, how can you invoke this number square through music and get rid of sadness and melancholy? King David was able to cure Saul’s melancholy with music:  If each square represents one measure, four measures (the top row) represents the smallest complete unit of musical form. Two phrases are often placed together in a “question-answer format”.  Hum the opening of Twinkle,Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, how I wonder what you are? The first part is the question the second is the answer. Phrases are sometimes placed together to make a 16 bar musical double period. Dancing is often done to units 16 bar measures of music. Joining phrases in such a manner gives the listener or dancer a sense of symmetry and balance. That in turn brings happiness. Viva la music!


Our Music, Bodies, etc. Use the Same Numbers

Related image


Our music, bodies, etc. use the same numbers. As Fibonacci  numbers develop by successive addition of numbers that are adjacent; man, music and even love, yes-love,  use the exact, same numbers.   When the larger number of the two in this series is divided by the adjacent smaller number; the ratio keeps getting closer to what is called the Golden Section or phi. This ratio never comes out evenly: It is 1.6180339… The Fibonacci numbers are named after an Italian mathematician.   Numbers that develop into this ratio, in order of size are: 1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21… The higher the numbers by successive addition,  the closer it comes to phi.

The Use of Phi in Music

The formula for the phi ratio is: square root of 5 + 1; whose total is then divided by two. The piano keyboard is set up by the Fibonacci series. We have two spacing of black keys. They are by 2’s and by 3’s for a total of 5. Taking C major as the prototype, from one “C” to the next is 8 tones on the white keys. Thus, from C to C’  in addition to the 1 octave we have, 2 black keys, then 3 black keys and 8 white keys. The total black and white keys are 13.


All tones have what’s called overtones that vibrate sympathetically with  the fundamental tone. The 1st overtone  is the octave of 8 notes. The second overtone is the 5th, Both overtones are Fibonacci numbers. Not co-incidentally, the Great Pyramid of Egypt uses the same numbers in its 5 to 8 ratio of its height to one length of the square base.


The factors of the Golden Section ( another name for phi) are 1,2 and 5 (as already described above). People have one torso, one head, two arms, two legs, five fingers on each hand and five toes on each foot. We are the mathematical manifestation of the factors of phi.   Most significantly, love ties the whole system together: The Hebraic verb for love (pronounced, Ahav) uses three Hebrew letters.  Spelled out in English they are: aleph, hei and beis. Aleph is also the Hebrew symbol for 1; hei is also the symbol for 5; and beis is also the symbol for 2. What is the lesson? Life and music are all about love.


How About Great Caesar’s Ghost for Halloween?



How about Great Caesar’s ghost for Halloween? When was the last time you heard the expression, Great Caesar’s ghost?  For me, it was on the old Superman TV show that played in the 1950’s. The newspaper editor of the Daily Planet, Perry White, would exclaim to Lois, Lane or Jimmy Olson or Clark Kent every time he was frustrated: Great Caesar’s ghost! In our opera, Octavian and  Cleopatra, we did one better than that. We actually have great Caesar’s ghost appearing on the stage. He sings to Cleopatra a beautiful aria that I and Sharon wrote called: My Lily of the Nile.


Of course, a second ghost shows up: The ghost of her other Roman  husband, Mark Antony. The ghosts of Caesar and Antony immediately argue about what would be the proper course of action to take over Cleopatra’s conqueror, Octavian. Caesar says Cleopatra should trust Octavian. Mark Antony takes a totally opposing point of view. Of course, Cleopatra makes a scene where she screams over the arguing ghosts. Her two ladies in waiting witness her demise and try to calm her down with a potion. They think that Cleopatra’s totally lost her mind over the grief she has for her husband, Mark Antony, who has just killed himself.

Our thrilling opera was performed in Sarasota and St Petersburg, Florida with a cast of seven.  We have a complete piano-vocal score and the performance was recorded on DVD. Sharon Lesley Ohrenstein wrote the book and lyrics and I wrote the music. We are in the process of arranging this for a chamber orchestra. My favorite musical moment in the show is a trio which features the Ghosts of Caesar and Antony singing with a living Octavian. They ghosts urge Octavian to  go back to Cleopatra and show her that he loves her.  Octavian rejects their plea, saying that his motto and words he lives by are; “make haste slowly”.  Reserve this show for your theater season so your patrons can be thrilled by the glory that was Rome and Egypt!

Brookdale colonial park performance

Maximum Stretch for the Piano

Maximum stretch for the piano is essential. There seems to be very few ideally sized hands. Short fingers make wide stretches on the piano difficult. Playing closely with stubby fingers is difficult. Wide palms slow down tucking the thumb under for scales or arpeggios.  My instructions through piano lessons has helped many of my students understand how to get the most out of their reach.


There are ways to overcome inherent difficulties without going to extremes. An example of going to extremes involves Robert Schumann, the composer. He thought that surgery would correct an inherent difficulty: Fingers four and five work best together. It’s difficult to move 4th without the fifth finger. These two weaker fingers share a common tendon. Unfortunately, his surgery did not work.


Another method to acquire maximum stretch for the piano is the piano itself. Josef Hoffman took his piano with him on concert tours. His piano was specially designed for small hands: The distance from key to key is shorter.

I, having a small to medium sized hand, invented a five finger stretch. In all my years of playing etudes, I’ve never encountered this idea.  I feel this is an essential exercise for anyone who shares my hand limitation: Some composers, for example, Sergei Rachmaninoff; had hand huge hands. With small hands, that creates difficulties. I call my exercise, simply: The Five Finger Stretch. It stretches the webbing of the fingers by fifths and octaves.


Here is the finger sequence for the right hand by fifths and then by octaves. It ascends and then descends based on the solfeggio notes of the one octave C major scale. By fifths we have: 1-2-3-2; 1-2-3-2; etc. then 3-4-5-3, 3-4-5-3 etc; then 2-3-4-3; 2-3-4-3. The fingering up and down the scale are reversed for the left hand.  Then I use the octave stretch with the following fingerings: 1-2-5-2, 1-2-5-2; and secondly, 1-3-5-3; 1-3-5-3. By note we have: c-c’-c”-c’; d-d’-d”-d’. This stretch encompasses two octaves.

The exercise is no guarantee that the small handed person will be able to play Rachmaninoff. However, it will stretch your hand to its maximum. Important: Should you experience fatigue or pain in your fingers, stop. Shake your hands and fingers out. Only play this exercise if you feel stretching without pain. How about the size of Rachmaninoff’s hand?

Sergei Rachmaninoff
Sergei Rachmaninoff cph.3a40575.jpg

Rachmaninoff in 1921

Edmond De Mattia, distinguished conductor

Edmond De Mattia, distinguished conductor

Edmond De Mattia, distinguished conductor of the Wind Song 5 offered a popular concert for the benefit the Salvation Army.  It was given at the chapel on Sunday this last May 24, 2015 at 1701 S. Tuttle Av. in Sarasota, Fl. The woodwind instrumentalists of the Wind Song 5 include Edmond De Mattia on oboe, David Lieberman on clarinet, John Stinespring on bassoon.  Sharon Lesley Ohrenstein   is the soprano/arranger of the group.  Her husband, David Ohrenstein is the composer/pianist.   The works they performed spanned from Mozart to  Scott Joplin; from opera to the Broadway stage. Several of David and Sharon’s acclaimed original theatrical works were also offered.


Maestro de Mattia recently gave a concert in the Cleveland with his musically acclaimed family. We were so honored to have them feature three of our original compositions. One in particular, we were told, brought the house down: The Iguana Farm. I actually composed it on the island of Roatan off the coast of Honduras. An iguana farm is there where Iguanas are raised. Sharon skillfully arranged it for oboe and piano.  Their concert at the Lakewood Presbyterian Church this last September 20th featured Ed De Mattia on oboe. He is both the founder and president of the American Concert Band Association. His nephew, Alan De Mattia, also plays the French horn with the Cleveland Symphony. Richard De Mattia is the choir director and organist-pianist of the church. Sullen De Mattia was the flutist.


SOrange Ave15050616040