Saturday 16 April 2016

Religion, Mysticism, Maths and Music - Pythagoras

Pythagoras (c.570-490 BCE) was still a young man when he went to Memphis in Egypt and study mathematics and astronomy with the priests there... He also travelled to study at the temples of Tyre and Byblos in Phoenicia, as well as in Babylon.

In Croton (his native city), Pythagoras established a secret religious society very similar to (and possibly influenced by) the earlier Orphic cult, in an attempt to reform the cultural life of Croton. He formed an elite circle of followers around himself, called Pythagoreans or the Mathematikoi ("learners"), subject to very strict rules of conduct, owning no personal possessions and assuming a largely vegetarian diet. They followed a structured life of religious teaching, common meals, exercise, music, poetry recitations, reading and philosophical study (very similar to later monastic life). The school (unusually for the time) was open to both male and female students uniformly (women were held to be different from men, but not necessarily inferior). The Mathematikoi extended and developed the more mathematical and scientific work Pythagoras began.

Other students, who lived in neighbouring areas, were also permitted to attend some of Pythagoras' lectures, although they were not taught the inner secrets of the cult. They were known as the Akousmatikoi ("listeners"), and they focused on the more religious and ritualistic aspects of Pythagoras' teachings (and were permitted to eat meat and own personal belongings).

The school that Pythagoras established at Croton was in some ways more of a secret brotherhood or monastery. It was based on his religious teachings and was highly concerned with the morality of society. Members were required to live ethically, love one another, share political beliefs, practice pacifism, and devote themselves to the mathematics of nature. They also abstained from meat, abjured personal property and observed a rule of silence (called "echemythia"), the breaking of which was punishable by death, based on the belief that if someone was in any doubt as to what to say, they should remain silent.

Pythagoras saw his religious and scientific views as inseparably interconnected. He believed in the theory of metempsychosisor the transmigration of the soul and its reincarnation again and again after death into the bodies of humans, animals or vegetables until it became moral

Another of Pythagoras' central beliefs was that the essence of being (and the stability of all things that create the universe) can be found in the form of numbers, and that it can be encountered through the study of mathematics. For instance, he believed that things like health relied on a stable proportion of elements, with too much or too little of one thing causing an imbalance that makes a person unhealthy.

He was one of the first to think that the Earth was round, that all planets have an axis, and that all the planets travel around one central point (which he originally identified as the Earth, but later renounced it for the idea that the planets revolve around a central “fire”, although he never identified it as the Sun).

He also believed in the "musica universalis" (or the "harmony of the spheres"), the idea that the planets and stars moved according to mathematical equations, which corresponded to musical notes and thus produced a kind of symphony.


Ensemble-2 - Musical Meditation with Flute, Gong, and Monochord
Published on Aug 22, 2013
Meditationsmusik mit André Müller (Flute), Michael Fließ (Gong), Roland Hutner (Monochord),

Pythagoras and Music (Part 1)

Uploaded on Jun 25, 2009
Pythagoras and Music
Melanie Richards, M.Mus., S.R.C.

Creating A Bed Monochord
Published on Oct 20, 2013
Warmest Greetings!

Here is a small video of the large bed monochord (aka. Pythagorean Monochord) I have recently made. This build took over three months at a cost of around $700. This is the third monochord Ive built and it is by far the largest.

It is tuned to low E at the moment but can be tuned up or down a note as well. It has sixty-four strings made from quality spring steel piano wire. The pegs are home made from brass rod stock and the tuning pins are zither pins bought from Ebay.

This instrument was a pleasure to build and amazing to play. I have had a few people on it so far and all of the response to it has been great. It is truly something that you have to be present to appreciate fully.

Thank you for watching this video and feel free to like it if you like it!
For more information feel free to email me at
~ Danial

The Pythagorean Monochords

Uploaded on May 21, 2008 
Alternative Healing through Sound, Vibration and Harmonix. 
An overview with Dr. James Hopkins

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