Uniting Music and Measure

Uniting music and measure raises a basic question. How? I have briefly blogged about this in Stonehenge Was Built by Musical Tones.  I will be developing  a theme sporadically throughout my blogs which is:  How the numbers by which architecture was measured duplicated the numbers of musical tones of the ancient diatonic scale.  As one philosopher put it: Architecture is frozen music. The units of measure by which ancient buildings could be  measured  varied by the culture.  Numbers, however, were the same.   Units of measure could include the shorter (1.718′) or longer Egyptian cubits (1.728′). They could have used the Palestinian cubit (2.107′).  The megalithic yard (2.72′) was extremely popular. The Roman pace (2.433′) or even the 12 inch English foot were utilized.   In the realm of the old diatonic scale,  a number of authors document their numbers in terms of vibrations per second. Thus I was able to see how the numbers of measure and music happily correspond. Authors that document the old diatonic scale in terms of vibrations per second include Issac Asimov in On Physics and Guy Murchie in The Music of the Spheres.

File:All Gizah Pyramids.jpg
The Great Pyramid of Gizeh is the large pyramid on the left side.


A 175 to 176 ratio of measures were used by cultures across the face of antiquity. This is well documented in John Michell’s  scholarly treatise entitled Ancient Metrology. The ratio takes in consideration the diameter across the equatorial bulge (176)  and the polar diameter (175). Michell discusses how the northern latitude measure of the Egyptian foot was 1.152 feet (the 176 ratio) at fifty degrees latitude. While the southern measure was was 1.145 feet (175 ratio) at ten degrees latitude.


As I have already discussed in my blog about Stonehenge, diatonic “F” above middle “C”  on the piano vibrates at 352 times per second. The standard of measure in antiquity, as I’ve already stated,  is based on a 176 ratio to 175.  One hundred and seventy-six is one-half of 352. Musically, in terms of vibrations per second, it is exactly an octave lower than the 352-F. Now, if we take the shorter 175 ratio of measure of 1.152 feet; then the perimeter around the great Pyramid is 2.640 feet. Diatonic “C” vibrates 264 times per second.  This perimeter, in terms of this shorter Egyptian foot, is exactly ten times the number by which the old diatonic “C” vibrates.


Another diatonic musical tone is duplicated in measure at the Great Pyramid. When shorter Egyptian cubit of 1.718 feet is used to measure the perimeter around the Great Pyramid, then each side is 440 cubits. The note “A” vibrates to 440 times per second. This is the standard not only of the old diatonic scale, but also the well-tempered scale still in use. A-440 is the only tone that is being used from the ancient diatonic scale by musicians- at least in England and America. In this regard, an essential dimension of the Great Pyramid is alive and well; and is still being tuned to by at least some of our orchestras. Music and empire: No wonder King David was considered a musician first and was a king only later.

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