(2010 update: Ezra’s main website is now The Tone Color Alchemy Project. His blog posts are in the “Articles” section)

A few days ago, I posted a new addition to my blogroll: Ezra Sandzer-Bell’s Hidden Origins of Western Music(k).

What does this blog cover? In a nutshell: the Hidden Origins of Western Music(k) (HOWM) blog is one man’s attempt at uncovering occult organizing principles and symbols embedded in the major/minor key system of our Western music tradition.

Occult? Music? You mean Led Zep, Black Sabbath, playing records backwards, all that over-the-top heavy metal pseudo-satanic stuff?

Well, yes and no… Those of you following my own ramblings know that I’m generally curious about the origins of things and fresh new takes on the history of music. My interest in Mr. Sandzer-Bell is this: we both share a hunch that the “inner workings” of music – the design of the system – have implications that go far beyond our everyday understanding of music as art and entertainment.

For his investigations, Sandzer-Bell makes use of a “synchromystic” method that compares seemingly unconnected symbols and symbol-systems to reveal underlying patterns, similarities and origins. “Synchro” as in synchronicity, because the connections are intuitively discovered and grasped. “Mystic” because the symbols belong to traditions of esoteric thought. The term is borrowed from Jay Kotze of the Brave New World Order blog, and means: ”the art of realizing meaningful coincidence in the seemingly mundane with mystical or esoteric significance.”

In other words, this approach treats music as an esoteric system of knowledge that needs decoding.

Perhaps the best intro to Sandzer-Bell’s magical mystery quest is his first video. If it all seems rather ad hoc, keep in mind that Sandzer-Bell is referencing a common repertoire of esoteric lore contained in the traditions of Freemasonic symbolism, Kabbalah and Sacred Geometry, and applying them to everyday symbols.


musicians are so square(d)

Don’t know what to make of all this? I’ll confess that I’m a little iffy on this idea of relating everyday iconography to hermetic symbols as a way to confirm “occult origins”, even if there is clear overlap in core design features. From everything I’ve read on this topic, I’ve seen that the creative exegesis of symbols can mystify as much as it can open “the doors of perception” (to use Aldous Huxley‘s phrase). I also feel that numerology is more an assumption than a method of discovery: once you start that number patterning, everything ends up as a number pattern.

Which I guess is the whole point of hermetic and kabbalistic approaches. Maybe I’m still too new at this, but it seems strange to me to think symbols are “magical” and numbers have “talismanic” properties.

That said, I’ll grant that there are still many unanswered questions about the way Western music has emerged and developed, and its Pythagorean origins are well established in mainstream scholarship. What I take from the “synchromystic” crowd: be open to unexpected connections.

And do keep it playful ;-).

I’ll close this post with a quote from Sandzer-Bell, on why he’s after some answers:

Music is universal to every culture, it potentially inspires a sense of awe and magical beauty, generating love and connection between humans. I noticed that it has lately been used in the mainstream as a tool for separation and thoughtlessness, encouraging mindless behavior and militaristic aggression (blastbeats?). Who is behind this force? Is toxic music the byproduct of toxic composers?


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