Theosophy

Sound and Tone

William Quan Judge – USA

Theosophy Sound and Tone 2

The word “tone” is derived from the Latin and Greek words meaning sound and tone. In the Greek the word ”tonos” means a “stretching” or “straining.” As to the character of the sound, the word “tone” is used to express all varieties, such as high, low, grave, acute, sweet, and harsh sounds. In music it gives the peculiar quality of the sound produced, and also distinguishes one instrument from another; as rich tone, reedy tone, and so on. In medicine, it designates the state of the body, but is there used more in the signification of strength and refers to strength or tension. It is not difficult to connect the use of the word in medicine with the divine resonance of which we spoke, because we may consider tension to be the vibration, or quantity of vibration, by which sound is apprehended by the ear; and if the whole system gradually goes down so that its tone is lowered without stoppage, the result will at last be dissolution for that collection of molecules.

In painting, the tone also shows the general drift of the picture, just as it indicates the same thing in morals and manners. We say, “a low tone of morals, an elevated tone of sentiment, a courtly tone of manners,” so that tone has a signification which is applied universally to either good or bad, high or low. And the only letter which we can use to express it, or symbolize it, is the a sound, in its various changes, long, short, and medium.

And just as the tone of manners, of morals, of painting, of music, means the real character of each, in the same way the tones of the various creatures, including man himself, mean or express the real character; and all together joined in the deep murmur of nature go to swell the Nada Brahma, or Divine resonance, which at last is heard as the music of the spheres.

From “AUM”, The Path-April, 1886

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