The once lost chords are back again to sing the body electric!
By Ralph Losey (2010) (without photos)
I first started hearing tales of a secret music with magical powers about the time I left home for college in 1969. When I started college I was an 18 year old, straight, golfer type with a passion for reading. But soon the times swept me along, my hair grew and I started opening up to many new things. I quickly became fascinated by Eastern philosophy and other “far out” books. I read of occult traditions in the West, such as the Pythagoreans and the “Music of the Spheres.” I learned of India’s God named “Krishna” who played magic healing music on a flute. In Tibet there was the spiritual power of the Lama’s chanting “OM.” The bible spoke of the horns of Jericho bringing down the walls of an entire city. Some occultists claimed the Egyptians used sounds to build the Pyramids. In Greek mythology the music of Orpheus raised the dead, tamed wild beasts, and soothed the troubled soul. I was fascinated by these legends of advanced knowledge and magical music.
Searching deeper I found reports in anthropological literature from native cultures all over the world of the Shaman’s drum as a doorway to the spirit world. Like many I read with fascination the books of Carlos Castenada, and his reports of opening these doors with drugs. These reports seemed credible, and hinted at a profoundly different understanding of reality and music. I began to believe that there was more to this than myth and legend.
Like most teenagers of the day, the music scene was a strong force in my life. I didn’t just read about music. I listened to it, constantly. My whole generation was obsessed with rock and roll. It united us and gave us a new common identity. We all seemed to be going through changes together that were helped along by the music scene. Like many others, I experienced first hand the power of popular groups like the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. One of my favorite groups, The Moody Blues, even sang about the quest for magic music in their album In Search of the Lost Chord? This was an important album for me, but I never seriously thought the search would become my own. Little did I know that in just two years I would travel half-way around the world to find these chords, and then spend the next twenty years figuring out how to use them.
The Fall of 1969, when I first discovered The Moody Blues, was my freshman year at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. I was away from home for the first time. Buffeted from all sides by a hundred new experiences, ideas and questions – I was confused. Those were crazy times. We marched in protests against the Viet Nam War down the main streets of Nashville. Police on motor cycles “shot the bird” at us, cussed and called us names. We yelled back to Stop the War, Now! My friends were being drafted and sent away to Viet Nam. Many would never return. My draft number was 135. Like everyone else, I heard it for the first time by listening to the lottery on television. In those days your draft number was your fate. A high number meant you were in luck and would not be drafted. A low number meant a certain draft, and a very uncertain future. One hundred and thirty five was a medium low number. It meant that I would probably be drafted as soon as I graduated in 1973. The rice fields in Nam loomed as a very real possibility.
All around me there were protests, counter-culture, drugs, radical politics, and long hair. Some of the students started calling themselves hippies. I was a freshman in every sense of the word. I didn’t know what to call myself, who I was, or what to do. My consciousness was expanding, my head exploding. I didn’t really have a clue. Like everyone else, I just kept going to classes, glad to have a student deferment from the War.
Then everything changed on a cold Winter night in 1969 when I encountered a strange man in a white robe, long hair and beard. He was outdoors talking some sort of mystical gibberish. A small group of students were listening, some were arguing with him. The words he spoke made no sense on one level, and my friends and I made fun of him. But on a deeper level he touched me in a profound way. My friends left, but I stayed to listen, not understanding why. I had an unexplained fascination with the being behind the words. His presence was tangible, somehow sacred, but not stiff and religious. There was a charisma about him that touched me on some as yet unexplored level. The man called himself “Ram Dass.”
Ram Dass had been known as Dr. Richard Albert. Like Timothy Leary, he had been a professor at Harvard and had advocated the use of LSD. By the time we met he had broken with Leary, and was returning from India. Vanderbilt was one stop on his tour of college campuses to share the insights of his new Guru. Ram Dass spoke of the mystical experience of God as the true meaning of life. The man with the intense eyes and white robe preached spiritual practices as the natural way to get high, a safe alternative to drugs. He took my name and address and I later received a free hand-bound copy of his book Be Here Now. My life was forever changed. A spiritual journey had begun.
The encounter with Ram Dass marked the beginning of my personal awakening. The words of the Moody Blues, the Beatles, and others took on new meaning. I discovered others in the so called “counter-culture” that were on a similar trip. We were moving from materialism, to political protest, to an inner quest for meaning – tripping on a “far out” search for true identity. Like everyone else, I was far from finding myself, but had at least begun the search. Reading and experimentation with awareness and meditation became my primary focus. All my extra money went into “weird books.” My compulsive book buying so impressed my father that three years later he quit his job as a stock broker and opened a book store. I was on a Path, searching for truth, with no clue where it would take me. Since I played no musical instruments, the last destination I expected was the lost chord. To me this was just a Moody Blues song, one far off dream among many.
Like Ram Dass, I assumed my answer would come from a Guru in India wearing a white robe. Life in Nashville was too confined, the professors too academic and sterile. I grew tired of the political protests that seemed so pointless and futile. It was then 1971, the draft and the War were in full swing. My student draft deferment ended in 1973, and senseless death in Viet Nam loomed like an ominous cloud. Adventure and dramatic change called out to me, but at the same time I feared it. Intuition told me that my truth – my destiny – had to lie somewhere else. Nashville was oppressive. I had to get away. Something clicked inside me. One thing led to another, and before I knew it, the Institute of European Studies in Vienna, Austria had accepted my application. My journey to the East had begun. I had no idea where it would take me. I was not even sure I would return.
The journey began with a chartered flight of seventy or so students from all over the country who had enrolled in the same junior year abroad program. When we stepped off the plane in London we were greeted by a series of large signs that read “Way Out.” My new friends and I laughed and said “far-out.” Later we learned these were the British equivalents of “Exit” signs. We all saw this as a funny omen, for we were all searching for a way out, in one way or another. A way out from the draft, the War, the discord and protests, our own confusion and self doubts. After a short bus tour of Europe we ended up in Vienna. What a strange and dreamlike place that was.
The City was big and unlike any place I’d ever been. It was filled with palaces, opera houses, and the faded glory of Hapsburg Emperors past. Most of the Viennese were not friendly to young, long haired Americans like us. They hid behind a thick veneer of politeness. The sing song kind of German they spoke was totally incomprehensible to me. I truly felt like a stranger in a strange land. I’ll never forget my visit to the oldest building in Vienna on one of our first days – St. Stephens Cathedral (shown right). It is the eight hundred and fifty year old landmark of the city located in the center of downtown. We took a tour down into the immense catacombs underneath the church. It was damp with cool air and a strange musky smell. We came upon room after room filled with the skeletal remains of Viennese who died in the Plague over a thousand years ago. Bones were piled on top of bones, filling ten foot high rooms. The skulls stared out at us, like unfriendly intruders, into the ancient tragedy of their horrible deaths. The city was filled with ghosts, with reminders of the past. Echoes of World Wars I and II could be seen everywhere. Little old ladies called “House Fraus” were all over the City, dressed in black, still mourning their husbands killed in the War.
It was a strange kind of a dream, this city. To make matters even weirder, for the first time in my life I had fallen in love. Not with the city. No. It was much worse. I had fallen in love with a girl, a classmate from Miami Beach. Like me, she shared a thirst for spirit and higher consciousness. We started a path together which we still share to this day as husband and wife, and parents of two children. But that’s a different story……
She was the first one to tell me of a strange professor at our school, the Institute of European Studies. Unlike all of the other faculty, he was a local, a Viennese professor, not a transplanted American. He was at the Institute teaching Americans by a fluke of chance. The regular philosophy professor was on sabbatical leave that year, and so they found a local substitute. I was suspicious of any academic philosophy teacher, but friends had heard him, and said he was talking my talk.
I sat in his second day of class to check it out. I found a giant among men in every way. He was large in height and build, with a grey beard. He spoke an elegant English with a strong British/German kind of accent. Like Ram Dass his words found an inner echo in my soul. He had a special presence and inner power. His name was Arnold Keyserling. He was a Professor of Spiritual Philosophy at the Academy of Applied Art. He also taught at his own private school. He had written dozens of books and seemed to be a veritable encyclopedia of knowledge, especially of ancient history and esoteric philosophies.
Like Ram Dass, Arnold Keyserling was a spiritual being with great knowledge and wisdom. Also like Ram Dass he had a beard, but there the similarities ended. Keyserling wore street clothes, not a white robe, and was a sophisticated, urbane professor. He awed us all with his incredible presence, wisdom and mesmerizing speech. I had learned a lot in the two years since meeting Ram Dass, but I was still searching for a quick solution. I wanted to merge with God, to be at one with the Infinite and stay there. I began to hope that Keyserling would be my Guru, that he would help me to reach the highest levels of consciousness, or lead me to someone else who could. I was attracted to him and feared him at the same time. He seemed so powerful, so all knowing. Gradually I built up my courage to approach him after class, to tell him of my search for a Guru and dreams for Nirvana. Gently, but firmly, he helped me to understand my own delusions. Keyserling was no one’s Guru. He refused to allow me to put him on a pedestal. I learned that I should be my own Guru. My love should go to my girl friend, not him.
At first I was bewildered, hurt and confused. Slowly, I came to understand that I had been trying to run away from myself, to escape reality. I was pursuing a kind of father substitute in the city of Freud. I started to realize that no one can, or should, provide me with the answers to my deepest questions, that I would have to do that for myself. Keyserling provided me with something far more valuable than the answers to my questions. He taught me how to go about finding those answers for myself. He taught me how to think holistically. I didn’t understand it then, but he spoke to both my right brain and my left brain. Keyserling somehow managed to take my youthful adulation, and channel it into work and self-confidence.
Soon, by late 1970, I started to help organize classes in English at his private school, called the Criterion. There he taught his philosophy openly, whereas at the Institute it was hidden between the lines of teaching the work of other philosophers. A group of around 20 Americans ended up studying with him and his wife, Wilhelmine Keyserling. She insisted everyone call her “Willy.” She taught us Hatha Yoga and meditation. Arnold and Willy together taught us their unique philosophy, which they called The Wheel, and also taught the I Ching. They taught the criteria of objective thinking. I was so charged up after the first semester, I had the audacity to ask Vanderbilt University if I could drop all of my other classes, leave the Institute of European Studies, and devote my full time studying directly with Professor Keyserling. Amazingly, they approved the idea, and upon my return to Vanderbilt the following year, even awarded me 21 hours of “A” accreditation for the semester of independent study.
Most of the classes and events at the Criterion were all in German, of course. Unfortunately, this was a language I understood poorly, if at all. But still the people I met there, most of whom spoke English very well, buoyed my enthusiasm. They were unlike the hostile Viennese on the street. Keyserling’s students and friends were wonderfully strange and avant guard, yet genuinely spiritual. We talked after the classes and I got to know a few of them. Some were obviously well along on their path, far ahead of me. They had used Keyserling’s ideas and thinking methods to get their heads and bodies together. I saw for myself that a Guru wasn’t necessary. In fact, it was a hindrance.
At the Criterion there was another way for knowledge to be passed on from one generation to another. It was a totally new and different way from the religious and authoritarian traditions I had been reading about. It was a way based on friendship. It was horizontal, not vertical. Arnold Keyserling was both a teacher and a friend to his students. All recognized their basic humanity. It was a kind of spiritual democracy. Slowly, I was able to stop calling him Professor Keyserling, and began using his first name, Arnold. Only at that point was I truly enrolled in the Criterion.
In late Winter of 1971 something totally new happened. I didn’t know it at the time, but for the previous 35 years Arnold Keyserling had been actively searching for the lost chord. The Moody Blues’ fantasy was a poetic echo of his real life. He announced that he had invented a new type of musical scale and actually applied for a patent. He explained that his invention was a re-discovery of a long lost scale, and that it was based on mathematics. He then created an electronic instrument specially tuned to this new scale which he called the “Chakraphone”. Everyone at the Criterion was talking about this, and the math behind what Arnold had done. We were told the first public demonstration of the new music would come soon.
My girl friend and I were the only Americans invited to attend the first performance of the long lost chords. A group of thirty or more people crowded into Wilhelmine’s yoga studio. We all sat on the floor, mostly in lotus posture, and prepared to hear the new music. Arnold began with a short explanation about the music which he called Introversive Music or Chakra Music. Naturally, I understood almost nothing of Arnold’s German talk. Then, we all closed our eyes and waited in silent meditation for a few minutes until Wilhelmine began to play the Chakraphone. The floor vibrated as low and strange tones began to sound. I felt a buzz, both in my head, and in parts of my body. It was smooth and easy, yet powerful and certain. The seven chakras vibrated intensely, and I sensed them clearer than ever before. I went into a deep and profound meditation. It was an altered state like with a drug, but clear and not groggy. I have no idea how long she played. Time was gone. The moment lasted forever.
We all came out of it easily, feeling great. Everyone in the room was relaxed, “stoned,” yet wide awake and in touch. In the vernacular of the time, the good vibrations literally made us high. Later I learned this was a natural resonance effect of the tones themselves. It was an amazing phenomenon, considering we had just heard the seven chakra tones, and a few simple chords. It was the deepest group meditation I had ever experienced. Everyone there was in an energized and profound state. Although the first musical instrument, the chakraphone, was crude and simplistic by today’s standards, and the playing of a few chord combinations could not really be called music, everyone was “psyched” about the possibilities of this new scale. Many realized the importance of Keyserling’s exact mathematical calculation of the vibrations in resonance with the human energy field – the chakras. I could feel the excitement, but at the time, due to the language barriers and my limited knowledge, I didn’t comprehend the full significance of the event.
Later I realized that this was a once in a life time opportunity for me, a perfect example of being in the right place at the right time. For Arnold, the discovery of the lost chords was enough. It was the end of the journey for him, not the beginning. He was not interested in playing the chakraphone or learning how to create a new form of music with it. He was a philosopher and mathematician, a student of music theory and esoterics, not a musician. Likewise, his wife, Wilhelmine, was a yoga instructor, not a musician or therapist. They both were very busy and had other fields to plow. Arnold simply announced the discovery of the new scale, published a pamphlet about it, and left it to others to take up the challenge and make something out of it. The once lost chords had been found by Arnold. But it was up to someone else to play these chords, to fulfill the potential of his invention and create a new type of music with these tones.
At the time I had no idea that person would be me. I seemed the least likely candidate. I spoke no German, didn’t understand the explanation of the music, hated math, and barely knew what was happening. Worst of all, although I loved music, I played no musical instruments. I felt I had no talent. I was the new student, on the edge of things. There seemed to be many more people more qualified than me for this work. Arnold’s life story was unknown to me then. Only later did I learn how he had searched for this lost scale for years. His story is fascinating and strange.
The fulfillment of Keyserling’s dream in 1971 did not come easy. He had been searching for this scale for over thirty years. As a young man, Arnold, like me, had been intrigued by the myths of a magic music. He too became convinced that there was a kernel of truth behind these stories, that such a music must once have existed. Arnold Keyserling seemed destined by birth for this search. He is the seventh generation in a line of philosophers, whose ancestors include the Keyserling who commissioned Johann Sebastian Bach to write his masterpiece the “Goldberg Variations.” His father, Count Hermann Keyserling, shown below, was a famous philosopher in the nineteen twenties who wrote a best selling book The Travel Diary of a Philosopher. On his mother’s side, Arnold is the grandson of Chancellor Bismarck.
Arnold was raised in his father’s Institute, the School of Wisdom, which was founded in Darmstadt, Germany in 1920. Arnold grew up around the spiritual leaders of the day who attended as students and guest speakers. The teachers included psychologist Carl Jung, novelist Hermann Hesse, translator of the I Ching and sinologist Richard Wilhelm, and Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore. Count Keyserling thought of himself as a conductor of ideas. He organized the symposiums at his School of Wisdom as if they were symphonies of the mind.
When the Nazis assumed power, they closed the School of Wisdom and persecuted the Keyserling family. Young Arnold grew up as a teenager in Germany under horrible conditions. He was bullied and teased by the other kids for not fitting in. He retreated further and further into his inner world. He lived a life apart, an inner dream world of mystic fantasy and myths, while the outer world nightmare of Nazi Germany raged all around him. It got worse. He was kicked out of law school and drafted into the German army. He kept failing boot camp, but was ultimately forced to serve as a private translating radio broadcasts. Near the end of the war, he deserted and sought refuge in a Canadian prisoner of war camp.
Amidst all this suffering and tragedy, Arnold had several overwhelming and spontaneous experiences of deep spiritual realization. During one peak experience he felt as if he were tuning into the fundamental vibration of the Universe. It was a musical bliss. He assumed there must be a way to induce this state intentionally by using music. None of the musical scales and notes he had found could do it. Still, he felt sure that other, yet unknown notes, could be found to do the job. He felt sure this knowledge had once existed, and could be found again. His search for the lost chord began in earnest. Rather than pursue material wealth and a career, he decided to devote his life to search for these tones and the knowledge behind them. When the War finally ended, and his enemies were defeated, he began to search in earnest for the lost chords and the knowledge behind them.
There are hundreds of millions of different notes and scales possible within the range of human hearing. For that reason Arnold ruled out trial and error as a method of finding the lost chords. Anyway, that was not his style. He was a dreamer, a scholar. He was never a tinkerer. He loved mysteries, not experiments. Since he was convinced this knowledge had once been known, he assumed that traces of the lost wisdom could still be found. Perhaps someone somewhere still preserved the knowledge in secret.
His search took him to Paris where he and his wife to be, Princess Wilhelmine, studied with the famous Russian esoteric philosopher, George Gurdjieff. Many people know of the mysterious Mr. Gurdjieff from reading the book about him by one of his early disciples, P.D. Ouspensky, entitled In Search of the Miraculous, or one of the many other books about him. Gurdjieff had traveled widely throughout the Mid-East and central Asia in pursuit of hidden knowledge. He reported having heard a special music among the legendary Sarmoung Brotherhood which was used for healing, psychic control and the induction of mystical states of consciousness. Gurdjieff taught Arnold some of the principles of this esoteric music, and some of the secrets of the Sufis and their music. But the exact science, the mathematics of the tuning of the tones, was unknown even to Gurdjieff.
After Gurdjieff’s death, Arnold lived at John Bennett’s Institute in England for some time. There he had another overwhelming transcendent experience. It happened when he was doing certain consciousness exercises and trying to, in Arnold’s words,
to hear all noises simultaneously and to listen behind the Universe. With one stop I attained a state of unbelievable joy. This moment of hearing everything was quickly over, but for several days I could see and feel the source of all people present. I went around the subways of London just to ‘read men’. For the first time I understood what real communion meant.
After Bennet, Arnold moved to Austria where he heard about an incredible composer living in Vienna – the home of all great Western Music traditions – who was also a mystic and a “mad saint”. That man was Joseph Hauer, who was the founder of modern 12 tone music. Hauer, who was then in his eighties, had enormous piercing eyes and long white hair. Arnold moved to Vienna to study with Hauer, but once there, he learned that Hauer would only accept trained musicians as students. Although Arnold liked to play guitar in pubs around Europe, his classical music skills were weak. So before he approached the great music master, Arnold immersed himself in improving his piano skills and knowledge of music theory.
Finally, Arnold approached Joseph Hauer and asked to be his student. Hauer agreed after he learned of Arnold’s background and search, and association with Richard Wilhelm. Wilhelm was the great German sinologist who had translated the I Ching. Unbeknownst to Keyserling, Hauer and Wilhelm were good friends. Wilhelm had taught Hauer all about the pentatonic music of ancient China. Hauer was the first western composer to be deeply influenced by Chinese traditions. Unexpectedly, Keyserling was introduced to both western and eastern mystical traditions of music. From Hauer, Arnold learned how music can be used as a doorway to mystic experience, to God. Still, even Joseph Hauer did not know the whole secret. He did not know what pitch would unlock the doors of perception. No one seemed to know.
The Keyserlings then went to Italy, the home of Pythagoras, the fabled founder of both mathematics and music. In Positano, Italy he immersed himself in the study of number and its relation to tones and spiritual traditions. Arnold hoped that mathematics might provide the solution. In his pursuit he met the great scholar of esoteric music, Hans Kayser. He was of some help, but still there were no definitive answers. After a few years in Italy, Arnold was convinced that no one in Europe had the information he needed. He would have to journey to the East, to the home of all mystery traditions – India.
So once again, Arnold and Wilhelmine left everything and moved, this time to Calcutta, where they lived for five years. While teaching German and Philosophy in Calcutta, Arnold traveled throughout the East, searching for hidden knowledge of this lost music. He met many gurus and learned of the original cosmic chord from which all of reality is supposedly derived, the “OM”. He became friends with Indian musicians like Ravi Shankar and Ali Akbar Kahn. The musicians of the East taught him alternative tuning systems and rhythms completely unknown in the West.
Many extraordinary things happened to Arnold in India, but perhaps the most incredible event occurred while he and Wilhelmine were vacationing in Kalimpong. This is a village the English had annexed from Tibet before the Chinese takeover. There they heard that the hereditary King of Tibet, whose name was “Gesar-Ling”, was living in this village. His name sounded curiously like his, and so he jumped at the opportunity which later presented itself to meet the exiled King. When they met, King Gesar-Ling immediately said: “same bones, different flesh”. The two tall men realized that they bore an extraordinary likeness to each other. The King told the legend of the first King Gesar-Ling, a legendary figure from the West who conquered all of the local kings and became ruler of all of Mongolia and Tibet. King Gesar-Ling was considered in Tibetan lore to be the “Father of Tibet”, a Saint who established the religion of the Tibetan Wheel. This Wheel has three writings on it: inside the Wheel are the nine numerals in the magical square where every sum is 15; around this are the 8 trigrams of the I Ching, then around that are the twelve Chinese zodiacal signs. Even today many Tibetans still wear the Wheel on their belt.
The King told Arnold that according to family tradition some family members had migrated West, some as far as Germany, but he had never known what Germany was like. Arnold told him and the King seemed satisfied that his branch of the family had stayed in the East. Arnold’s family link with Tibet came as a complete surprise. Later Arnold became skeptical of King Gesar-Ling’s claims about the ancestral King of Tibet, but his subsequent research in Calcutta showed that his claims were true. The famous Tibetan scholar, Alexander David Neel, had written a book called, The Strange Story of Gesar Ling, all about the myths of the legendary founder of the religion of the Wheel.
Arnold Keyserling’s destiny in Tibet and central Asia became apparent to him then. He immersed himself even further in the study of esoteric eastern philosophies, particularly that of the Tibetan Wheel. Keyserling later modified this Wheel to become the symbol and corner stone of his philosophy. In India Keyserling also learned much more about the Chakras, the seven vortexes of energy that make up a person’s aura or soul. He and his wife eventually became adept at Yoga and the various forms of meditative arts which permeate all of Indian music and religion. But the answer to his quest of the lost chord still eluded him.
In 1962 the Keyserlings returned to Europe, eventually to settle again in the cradle of Western Music – Vienna. There, even though Arnold had never earned a Ph.D. under the Nazi regime, he was able to secure a post as a Professor of Spiritual Philosophy at the Academy of Applied Art. This was primarily due to his impressive mastery of the history of philosophy.
Over the ensuing years he developed his own unique style of “planetary philosophy” which incorporates the belief systems and traditions of the whole world, both East and West, ancient and new. His philosophy of “The Wheel” uses holistic thinking to find the common denominators behind all traditions and philosophies. He has written numerous books about it in German. Within the Academy his “New Age” type of philosophy created substantial controversies over the years. Several times the academic establishment tried to remove him from his coveted Professorship position, but each time the students rallied to save him. He survived the many criticisms and remains today as one of Europe’s only Professors of philosophy with a decidedly non-academic orientation. In his University career spanning more than 30 years he has influenced thousands of European students, many of whom have gone on to become important artists and artisans.
Outside of academia Arnold traveled widely and taught at many workshops, congresses and spiritual retreats. Arnold’s pioneering activities led him into spiritually based psychology, now called Transpersonal Psychology. This eventually led to his becoming the President of the European Association of Humanistic Psychology. Moreover, Arnold continued his father’s tradition of the School of Wisdom, although frequently under other German names. For instance, when I was in Vienna in the early 70s the name used was Criterion. Today Arnold and his wife, Wilhelmine, continue to teach The Wheel, yoga and meditation both inside and outside of the Academy. Over the years they have become a kind of cultural institution in Vienna with a strong influence upon many people throughout Austria and other parts of Europe.
All the while Arnold continued his research and investigations into the obscure origins and laws of mythic music. He learned many of its secrets: he knew its history in ancient cultures, and many of the laws of vibrations and consciousness. Still, the exact tuning of the notes of this music eluded him until the period when I came to Vienna in the Fall of 1971.
At that time new discoveries in the field of brain wave research had just provided Arnold with the last missing pieces to the puzzle. EEG measurements of Zen monks in the peak experience of Satori, and yogis in the deep meditative state of Samadhi, showed that the alpha brain wave – 12 cycles per second – was always produced when they attained peak awareness. Now he knew what the fundamental tone should be for his scale calculations.
The scale itself was based on the one tone interval which doesn’t fit into the western music system, the 7th harmonic of the overtone series. This is further explained in Chapter 13. Arnold had long suspected that the seventh harmonic, corresponding analogously to the seven chakras, might hold the key to the lost chords, and perhaps even to the chakras themselves. He knew that when the acoustic seventh is taken as the basic interval, to the exclusion of the other musical intervals which normally make up our musical scale, a completely different five tone musical scale results. The scale has different intervals (distances between the notes) and tones than any other scale, even other five tone scales. But still, Arnold did not know what frequency to use as a basis for the construction of such a scale, nor was he sure what the correlation would be with these tones to the chakra energies. This is where the brain wave research provided the answer. Mathematically when 12 hertz is used as the base value — the ground tone — the 7 to 4 ratio of the 7th harmonic produces a pentatonic scale in tune with the frequencies of the chakras. With some temperament to adjust the octaves a totally new musical scale results. Keyserling named the five notes of this scale after the vowels: A, E, I, O, U.
Arnold then commissioned an engineer to construct an electronic organ which could play these precise tones, and no others. When Arnold played this specially modified electronic organ in late 1971, and heard the new notes for the first time, he immediately knew that his search was over. At last, he had found the secret tuning. To the trained ear the tones were completely different, so too were the resultant tones created by the new pitch combinations. The sounds had new acoustical properties and tone colorings. Arnold found that these new tones altered his consciousness, and pushed him within. The chords produced a deep inner Awareness, and allowed him to attain this state in a matter of minutes, instead of hours. Arnold confirmed with his own ears and energies what he had long suspected. The reason these lost chords had these dramatic effects, whereas other tones and scales did not, was that these tones were exactly tuned to the seven Chakras. His discovery of the lost chords was at the same time the discovery of the frequencies of the chakras themselves! This was the “magic” behind the music of the myths. It was tuned to the body’s energy field. For that reason he called the new sounds “Chakra Music” and the musical instrument the “Chakraphone.”
After I first heard Chakra Music my enthusiasm deepened. I was determined to understand everything Arnold and Wilhelmine were trying to teach me. I slowly realized the magnitude of Arnold’s achievement. After yoga classes they allowed me to experiment with the Chakraphone. I’ll never forget the first time I played it, sitting on the floor, alone in the empty darkened room. I felt like the magician’s apprentice left alone with the magic broom. I was playing with powers I but poorly understood. Touching the keyboard, hearing the strange sounds it produced, sent me into another world. I was still in this world, but not of it. I was in all worlds – the Universe of the vibrating joy linking all beings. The Shaman’s gate was opened, but without drugs. It was a natural high – the essence of good vibrations. I became hooked on Chakra Music and its effects. At the same time I started getting clues that Chakra Music might be the key to my unique potential. I began to think that my destiny was somehow tied into Arnold’s, that the end of his quest was the beginning of mine. Our visions overlapped. Omens and agreements, coincidences, and other unexplainable and wonderful things started happening to point me in this direction.
I will never forget one event that occurred in the middle of the night in my small dorm room in Vienna. While meditating in complete silence, I had an incredible experience of hearing a kind of ever changing sequence of tones. The tones seemed to be coming from deep inside my ear, and yet from outside, both at the same time. It felt like an orgasm in my inner ear! The sounds I heard were quite tangible, but at the same time I knew the dorm was completely silent. The sounds were heard inside my ear, but at the same time I sensed an origin from deep under the ground of Vienna. It seemed like I had tapped into some kind of enormously powerful, and ancient, musical-psychical energy source. It was an experience of total bliss.
I understood somehow that the intense pleasure I was hearing contained the inspiration of all melody. It was the essence of music — the Muse of music. I knew the inner sounds had to do with the place of Vienna itself, the Earth energies that emanated from the land and the Danube. I felt a connection with musicians of the past, with the musical ancestors of Vienna. I wanted it to go on forever, to lose myself in the music of the spheres that engulfed me. But slowly the ear orgasms subsided, the music faded and then disappeared altogether. Still, if I concentrate, even today, I can remember, feel the faint traces, and hear the echoes in my mind of the once loud mystery.
Another time while still studying with the Keyserlings, high in the mountains of Greece overlooking the ancient ruins of Delphi, I consulted the I Ching for guidance on my private mission in life. While tossing the I Ching coins my girl friend took the picture shown below. The answer was hexagram 16, Enthusiasm, changing into 55, Abundance. Sixteen is the hexagram of music – thunder resounding out of the earth. A vision came of my future potentials, of time lines that might be. I understood that one reason for my life on Earth was to try to craft a music with the lost chords. It could succeed, and lead to a time of great abundance, but the I Ching counseled caution and independence at the beginning. That is one of the reasons I knew I should leave Vienna and return to the States.
Slowly, I began to feel like I might have the capacity to continue the work Arnold had started. But this seemed crazy, an egotistical delusion. I had no musical training at all. Although my father had been a professional jazz musician as a young man, and I grew up with a love of music and stereo systems, for some reason I had never learned to play anything. I knew next to nothing about music theory and scales. Only later, when I got well into the work, did I discover that my inexperience, my nearly blank musical slate, was an asset, not a handicap. I had no false preconceptions or musical habits to overcome.
By the time I returned home to the States in the summer of 1972, I knew that many musicians in Europe had already learned of Professor Keyserling’s discovery. Many had already taken up the challenge of trying to make music with the new sounds. Some of the musicians experimenting with the scale were already famous composers, including Arnold’s friends, Karlheinz Stockhausen of Berlin, and Francois Bayle of Paris.
Although somewhat intimidated by the circumstances, my love for the new sounds overcame my feelings of inferiority and inadequacy. Upon my return home I persuaded my father to purchase a chakraphone from Professor Keyserling. It was a simple electronic organ converted to produce the new scale. I played the chakraphone for many years. Although it is primitive by today’s high-tech standards, and I no longer use it, I cannot bear to part with it and still keep it around.
As soon as I received the Chakraphone in 1972 I began a series of experiments. The following year Arnold went on a lecture tour of the U.S. and visited me at Vanderbilt. He heard my early compositions with the Chakraphone. Although he tried to be diplomatic, basically he said my first experiments to make music were all wrong. I started by trying to compose, to write down the notes in a systematic order. I was even using a stop watch to try to get exact timing on the duration of notes. The results were mechanical. He got me away from that mistaken direction, helped me to see that the music had to come spontaneously from within. I learned how to improvise and trust in the moment, to feel the energies and let them tell me how to play.
Then he was gone. I had little contact with Arnold over the next nineteen years. I wrote letters, but he would almost never reply. Wilhelmine would write from time to time to give me news, but I was basically on my own. Musically this was a kind of “dark night of the soul” for me. The world was not ready for this new kind of music. Still, I stubbornly continued on alone. I had only the help and appreciation of my girl friend turned wife, a few close friends and family. No one else was very interested. I dared not tell my story. When I did, I was not believed. The music seemed too strange for most, the concepts behind it too far out. Still, I kept on, persevering in isolation. Due to space and money limitations, my music “studio” in those early days was typically located in a spare closet. I’d play alone, in the dark, with whatever equipment I could scrounge. Nevertheless, the inner rewards were great — more than enough to carry me through.
During that time I had very little idea of what others in Europe might be doing with Chakra Music. I had heard about the creation of a new advanced Chakraphone instrument by one of Arnold Keyserling’s friends, Ernst Graf. I even saw a picture of it in one of Arnold’s many books in German (most of which I could not read). It looked fantastic, but I never heard any music from it, or knew how it worked.
As it turned out, Stockhausen went in a different direction and quickly lost interest. Francois Bayle was initially enthusiastic when he discovered that he was already using a few of the tones in his electronic compositions. He created at least one piece of Chakra Music which I later heard, but then the demands of his career prevented him from pursuing it further. He was too successful composing traditional music to spend the time required for this new venture. Others in Europe who had eagerly begun to use the scale soon found that their preconceived musical notions did not work. A totally new approach was called for to craft a music with these new tones. To make things worse, the electronic instruments created to play the chords would mysteriously break down. The experimenters were unable to maintain and use the equipment. Many tried non-electronic musical instruments, such as string instruments or flutes, but they could not maintain the frequencies of the scale. The tuning must be exact. They found that natural instruments could not hold the lost chords and were discouraged by many technical difficulties with the electronic instruments. After an initial wave of enthusiasm, most gave up. Only a few, such as the Keyserlings themselves, continued to use the individual tones for meditation and chakra stimulation.
At this time I had no idea the Europeans were having so many technical problems with Chakra Music, or that by the late eighties everyone else had given up. I knew I was alone in America, but always assumed there were many in Europe pursuing a similar path. My chakraphone broke down too, and I had more than my share of technical problems, but I persevered. There was always a way to fix things, and get the instrument back into tune. I studied computers and electronic music and devised new ways to use the first home computers to create the tones. My closet filled with computers, keyboards, frequency counters and oscilloscopes. I became one of the early computer-nerd techno-geeks to overcome the many technical difficulties I faced.
Over the years, largely by trial and error, I slowly developed a new type of music with Arnold’s scale. My tools were self observation, holistic thinking and the Wheel, which I learned from Arnold, and a stubborn “can-do” “stick-to-it-ness” inherited from my parents and culture. From 1980 on, I also received great help from home computers, electronic devices of all types, and eventually, music synthesizers. By 1990 I had adjusted the temperament of the scale somewhat, and changed the name of my music to PrimaSounds.
The story of my nineteen year development of PrimaSounds is largely technical and full of difficulties. For instance, the equipment I needed was very expensive. When we were married in 1973, I somehow talked my girl friend turned wife into spending all of our wedding money on what was then the world’s finest speaker, a “Klipsch Cornerhorn.” We could only afford one, of course, but that was alright because my music didn’t require stereo. To this day my wife and I jokingly refer to Klipsch as our first child. It only worked properly when placed in big corners, so after that, every place we lived was dictated by that prime criterion. There was no money in this for us at all. Hardly anyone wanted to hear the music, much less pay to hear it. In short, this strange obsession made no money, but instead took everything we ever had. People thought my pursuit of “meditation music” was a crazy, impractical, expensive dream. Indeed it was! So, to try to make a living and pay for this madness, I ended up in law school and became a lawyer. A strange juxtaposition perhaps – but for me it worked. The music helped me to cope with the stress of the legal profession. The law in turn grounded me and provided perspective and rational skills.
The music, much like myself, needed nineteen years to develop before it was ready to go public. But by 1991 I felt that PrimaSounds was ready. I wrote Arnold and Willy Keyserling about it in some detail. By now I was an experienced lawyer; far more mature than the 21 year old they had known in Vienna. Eventually they responded. Arnold and Willy were quite guarded, but Arnold finally agreed to return to the U.S. to see my wife and me again, and to hear PrimaSounds for himself. We were both astonished by what we heard from each other. PrimaSounds exceeded all of his expectations. He loved it. For my part I was shocked to learn that no one in Europe had continued the work, that I was re-charting this ancient path alone. The significance and meaning of all this is still sinking in.
The next year I created the first PrimaSounds CD, Life Tuning. The music seemed to take on a life of its own. The world had changed dramatically since 1972. Now, as I write this in late 1997, the time seems almost ripe. My studio — which I call the Prima Lab — is now well outside of the closet.
Thanks to my career as a lawyer, I can now afford state-of-the-art equipment; and yes, Klipsch now has several brothers and sisters. More and more people know about chakras. The flakeyness of the subject is wearing off as the medical profession and others are starting to understand more and more about these energies. The nuts and crazies that used to dominate any discussion of chakras are finally moving on to other far out subjects. Although not yet mainstream, alternative and energy medicine, chakras, acupuncture and chi gung are becoming accepted by more and more people. Today, the idea of chakra music does not seem so strange, even if it is created by a lawyer. My long years of work in virtual isolation have come to an end. Every day more and more people all over the world are discovering PrimaSounds. They are finding that, like the legendary music of Orpheus, PrimaSounds do indeed soothe the troubled soul. The once lost chords are back again to sing the body electric!