|I’ve just completed a book on ‘musical gematria’ — near as I can tell, the first on the topic. And what might ‘musical gematria’ be, you ask? My blurb from the back cover explains:
In modern times we are accustomed to one set of characters for writing words (the alphabet ‘A’ through ‘Z’) and another for writing numbers (the digits ‘0’ through ‘9’). The ancient Greeks and Hebrews, however, used the alphabet for both words and numbers. So their numbers looked like strange words, and their words looked like strange numbers. And every word naturally had a numeric value. The study of these numeric values of words is called ‘gematria’ (”geh-MAY-tree-uh”).
The ancients put gematria to use: they apparently used numeric values of the names of Greek gods as dimensions in the Parthenon. And Jewish mystics in the Middle Ages studied the meanings of the numeric values of the Hebrew names of God.
This book presents a way of doing ‘musical gematria’ that takes words or phrases in general and names in particular, and generates graceful and musically useful themes. It uses an elegant method that honors the ancient traditions of gematria while incorporating modern insights.
You can order it from Amazon (Click here)
Or, if you order it directly from me I can autograph it for you. (Click here).
In the ancient world, even more than now, the wealthy passed on wealth to their children, the powerful passed on power to theirs, and the poor passed on poverty to theirs. “Upward mobility” and “rags to riches” simply weren’t options in the ancient world. So in that context imagine the Wise Men coming to see a King, and find a baby, with an unwed mother (a capital offense in those days) and a blue collar step-dad, sleeping in a carport because the Motel 6 is full. It might look serene on the outside–sleeping baby in mommy’s arms, cows softly mooing–but any Wise Man/Woman worthy of the name would have nuclear explosions going off in their brain. Hence the concept of this piece: “The Adoration of the Magi” for brass quintet and pipe organ.
The mp3 is here
The pdf of the score is here