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Eurythmy as Visible Singing

Schmidt Number: S-5614

On-line since: 30th November, 2014

Lecture 3:

Melodic movement; the Ensouling of the
Three Dimensions through Pitch, Rhythm and Beat

Dornach 21.2.24

Let us first see if you can manage the following exercise. With the right arm, try to make a movement similar to the one I gave for the forming of the seventh; now try to hold the arm still whilst stepping forwards, so that the arm remains stationary, the body following the direction of the arm. To do this you must bend your arm as you step. The arm, the hand that is, must remain in the same place while you step forwards. This exercise must be carried out in such a way that the arm, the hand, remains where it is, while you come up and join it. This must be practised.

Now try another exercise: While stepping forwards try to draw the hand back somewhat — not too strongly, however. Now we have two exercises. Try to experience in succession seventh and prime, and sixth and prime. The first movement just shown expresses the succession of notes: seventh — prime; and the second movement for the experience sixth — prime; the sound [of each interval] imagined in succession. They can, however, also be imagined simultaneously; I will speak about this a little later on. In this way you are able to bring movement into the gesture.

The movement first shown is one which, in a certain way, throws life back into the lifeless. And indeed, as may be seen from yesterday's description of the seventh, this is also the case in regard to its relationship to the keynote. If you picture the keynote as the embodiment of calmness and quiet, and the seventh as actually lying outside the physical body, so that in the seventh the human being goes out of himself, then it will be possible for you to imagine that by your going out, the seventh brings back the spiritual quickening element into the resting, bodily part.

You see, these things become vividly real when we pass over from the musical element to the eurythmical element. Music naturally is something perceived, as it is produced in the first place in order to be heard, whereas eurythmy brings the whole human being into movement. And you will best recognize the inner reality of what has just been said about the relationship of the seventh to the keynote, from the fact that this can be therapeutically effective. When for instance a hardening process in the lungs or some other organ in the chest is diagnosed, it will be found that this very exercise, as it has now been demonstrated, will have a healing, re-vitalizing effect, helping to bring the condition back to normal.

It is precisely tone eurythmy in all its elements, when suitably carried out, which is a factor in eurythmy therapy. Only it is necessary to penetrate into the nature of the musical sounds in a really living way, as we endeavoured to do yesterday, and as we shall try to continue.

In this connection let me also say the following. If, in a similar way to that which I have just indicated, you go on from the seventh to the sixth in relation to the keynote, you will find in this interval a noticeably weakened relationship, and it is strikingly characteristic that the hand, which is held stationary from outside in the case of the seventh, here goes backwards. This does not express the relation of the living to the lifeless, but the sixth in relation to the keynote is so expressed that you feel it merely as motion, as a setting into activity. It may be compared to a stimulation of feeling rather than to something which imparts life. The sixth in relation to the keynote induces a picture of feeling. The seventh in relation to the keynote induces a picture of life; it imparts life to the lifeless.

And now, bearing in mind these gestures (which will have shown you that in its essential being, tone eurythmy must be movement), I will ask you to consider how tone eurythmy, just as speech eurythmy, may after all provide a correcting influence upon art as a whole.

It was necessary to tell you that speech eurythmy has a corrective artistic influence upon recitation and declamation. In introductions to public performances, for instance, it is difficult to make use of the necessary drastic expressions which are demanded if we are to describe the inartistic nature of our modern age, for people would only be shocked, and very little would be gained. Things have to be put mildly, as indeed I try to do. But the truth of the matter is that in our inartistic age, recitation and declamation have become completely degenerate. The laws of true art are no longer observed in recitation and declamation. Everything is read like prose in a thoroughly materialistic way. People think it must be felt out of the gut instinctively; emphasis is determined by pathos, or something of the sort, indeed by anything that makes an appeal to sensation or sense-impression. Now true recitation and declamation must be based upon the forming and shaping of the actual language, upon making speech musical, and upon a sculptural, pictorial treatment of speech. And when on the one hand we have a eurythmy performance, and on the other hand recitation, then it is not possible to make use of recitation and declamation in their present degenerate state. Attention must be paid to speech.formation. I always describe this as a ‘hidden eurythmy’, for eurythmy is indicated in recitation and declamation. Attention must be paid to the shaping and forming of speech. In such a way eurythmy can also exert a corrective influence upon everything that is musical.

We are actually living (this is naturally still more shocking) in a terribly inartistic age where music is concerned, too. This cannot be denied — we are living in a terribly inartistic age. For today there is an exceedingly widespread tendency to drive music as such into mere noise. [14] We have gradually ceased to be musical in the real sense, and instead we now make use of music in order to portray all sorts of sounds which are meant to represent something or other; the listener cannot always be sure what actually is intended, but at any rate it is a question of portraying something or other. Now please do not regard me as one of those Philistines who are only out to denegrate all that is being produced today in the sphere of music — doubtless with the most honest intentions! But it is necessary, when dealing with an art such as eurythmy, to raise it upon the foundations of what is really artistic, and to be able to speak about such things radically, too. It is impossible to do otherwise. Thus it is easy to see how eurythmy can work correctively upon musical taste.

You must forgive me if I now introduce something in the nature of an exercise; I have to do so in order to show how something can be built out of the fundamentals of art. Try first of all to become inwardly completely quiet, indifferent to sense impressions, as well as to any inward passions. Having achieved this state of indifference, sit down at the piano and play one of the middle notes (any note will do) and try while going up the scale to the octave really to experience the progression of notes. [15]

Having experienced this in peace and quiet, stand up and try to realize in eurythmy gestures what you have experienced. You will arrive at much, both in regard to what I have already mentioned and to those things about which I have still to speak. Endeavour, when attempting to reproduce in gesture what you have just played (single notes in an ascending progression) to bring into the eurythmy gestures (into the gestures for the triad, for instance) something similar to the gestures we have been discussing during these last few days. You will find it comparatively easy to feel a very strong connection between what you produce, feel and experience as gesture, and the notes as you play them successively on the piano.

Try striking a chord and try to reproduce in eurythmy the harmony of the notes. You will now discover that something within you does not want to go along with this. When striking a chord you are faced with the problem of having to carry out the step and movements of both arms simultaneously, as I indicated, let's say, for the movements for the major triad. You are impelled to do this, but it will certainly arouse in you a feeling of inner opposition. A certain tendency will become apparent in your soul to transform the chordal, harmonic element into the melodic element, to transform the notes sounding simultaneously into a progression. And you will only feel really satisfied when, as it were, you release the chord, when you actually lead it over into Melos, making three movements for the three notes, one after the other.

It may be plainly stated as a law that eurythmy actually compels us to release continually the harmonic element into Melos. This is the corrective element about which I now want to speak. When you feel this in the right way you will come to the conclusion that, drastic as it sounds, the chord is really a burial. The chord may be likened to a burial. The three notes which are played together, and which are thus dependent upon space and not upon time — these notes have died in the chord. They only live when they appear as melody. When you really feel this you will discover the actual musical element is only to be found in the melodic element, the effect of the notes living in time.

You will then realize how senseless it is to ask: ‘What do the notes express?’ Today people have gone so far in this direction that they try to make music represent the rippling of water, the sighing of the wind, the rustling of leaves, and all sorts of things. This, of course, is really apalling. Naturally, it is not my intention to campaign against this kind of thing, nor to detract from the pleasure anyone may take in it; I am only concerned that we correctly understand the matter out of the fundamentals. The notes, or progressions of notes, speak for themselves. They are indeed only there to speak for themselves, to express what the third says to the fifth, what the third says to the prime, or what the three of them say together when played in succession. Otherwise we find ourselves in the position of the distinguished European musician who once played a most complicated piece of many voices to an Arab. The Arab got into a terrible state of agitation, and said: ‘But why go so quickly? I should like to hear each song in its turn.’ He wanted each voice to be played separately, for he could not take in that the piece represents something quite other than a basically unmusical, noisy conglomeration of quite different things. [ 16]

I want to make clear to you the fact that in the musical element a real world is present, wherein we rediscover the impulses of the rest of the world.

Let us consider one fact. We die. The physical body remains, but it disintegrates. Why does it disintegrate? Why does it dissolve? The process of dissolution begins after death; up to that point the body does not disintegrate but remains intact. Why? Because previously we bore time within ourselves. From the moment when death occurs, the corpse lives only in space; it cannot participate in time. Because it can no longer participate in time, because it exists only in space and is subject to the laws of space, this fact makes it dead, this makes it fade away. We become a corpse because of the impossibility of bearing time within ourselves; we live, during earthly existence, because we are able to carry time within ourselves, to allow time to work within ourselves, because time is active in the material which extends in space. Melody is manifest in time. The chord is the corpse of melody. Melody dies in the chord.

As far as the understanding of music is concerned, our present age is in a sorry state. All these discussions about tone-colour in the overtones, and so on, are really only an attempt to make the single note into a kind of chord. People today have an innate tendency to find the harmonic element even in a single note. In reply to various questions as to how music ought to be developed, I have frequently answered that we must become aware of the melody in the single note; [ 17] in the single note we must become aware of the melody, not of the chord, but of the melody. One note conceals within itself a number of notes — every note at all events contains three. With the one note that you actually hear as sound, which is produced by an instrument and is actually audible, we have the present. Then there is another note within it, which is as if we recalled this second note. And there is a third note within it, which is as if we expected this third note. Every note really calls forth recollection and expectation as adjacent, melodic notes. This will come to be presented one day. [18] People will surely discover the possibility to deepen music by the single note becoming deepened into melody. Today people look for the chord in a single note and think about how this chord exists in the overtones. This, however, actually points to their materialistic conception of music.

Now the following question is unusual, but from the point of view of eurythmy it is fully justified: Where does the musical element really lie? Today there would be no doubt that the musical element lies in the notes, because such a terrific effort is required in the schools to put down these notes correctly, to arrange them in the right way. As you know, it all depends on mastering the notes. But the notes are not the music! Just as the human body is not the soul, so the notes are not the music. The interesting thing is that the music lies between the notes. We only need the notes in order that something may lie between them. The notes are necessary, of course, but the music lies between them. It is not the C nor the E which is essential, but what lies between the two. Such an element lying in-between, however, is only possible in the melodic element. In the chord it would be quite senseless. In harmony, such a lying in- between would be quite senseless. The transition from Melos to the harmonic element is really a stepwise transition from the musical to the unmusical realm. For through this the music is buried, through this the music is killed.

I could give you a somewhat peculiar definition of music. Naturally I should not want to give it in a music school, but I have to give it to eurythmists, for anyone really wishing to promote tone eurythmy has to understand these things. It is a negative definition, certainly, but nevertheless correct: What is the musical element? It is what you do not hear! [19] That which you hear is never musical. If you take the experience which exists in time, which lies between two notes of a melody, then you hear nothing, for it is only the notes themselves which are audible. What you inaudibly experience between the notes, that is music in reality, for that is the spiritual element of the matter, whereas the other is the sensory manifestation of it.

You see, this enables you in the most eminent sense to bring the human personality, the human personality as soul, into the musical element. [20] The more you are able to bring out that which cannot be heard, the more you use the audible as the vehicle for the inaudible, so much the more is the music permeated with the soul. To feel this in the musical element is precisely the task of the eurythmist. And this is why, in the gestures of eurythmy, in the manner we saw earlier (or as we have otherwise already seen them, or shall be showing them) with these gestures he or she should feel delight not in the position, but in the bringing about of the positions, that is, in the movement. In the whole extent of eurythmy, the essential thing is not in the making of poses, but in the movement.

You may never say (I have frequently emphasized this, but frequently see the opposite conception in practice), you may never say: This is an ee (stretched arm). For now it is an ee no longer. It is only an ee as long as it is being formed, as long as the arm is in movement; so long is it ee. Nothing in eurythmy ever retains its meaning once it has come into being. In eurythmy, the significance lies in the process of coming into being.

Consequently, the eurythmist has to pay great attention to the forming of the movement, directing the greatest care to that movement through which a form arises. And consideration must be taken, as soon as one form arises, to transform it as quickly as possible, to lead it over into the subsequent form. The eurythmist regards movement as his element, neither standing in, nor holding on to, the form.

Anyone sensitive to these things in eurythmy will especially feel the sort of things which we have already done, in the following way. Some piece of music has just finished; the piece is over and you stand in the last position until the curtain falls. (I have asked for this to be done in performances, but it must be felt too.) It is quite finished. The final position, the final figure has come to rest, and the curtain is drawn. What feeling should live here; what should we feel? That the eurythmist seizes up! We actually arrive at the annulling of the artistic, eurythmic activity. It is finished. We say, as it were, to the audience: [21] ‘Friends, we have now killed the performance so that you may come to yourselves and think about it a little.’ Standing still may certainly have this significance. That is why it is justified in relationship to the audience, but only in this relationship.

All this serves to show you how much it matters in every possible form to make a study of the human being in movement. There are three observations we can make about the human being. We know the human being exists in space, but that which is spatial in him does not belong to eurythmy. But what can manifest in space as movement; that is what belongs to eurythmy. And it is clear that the human being lives in space in a threefold manner.

  Figure 2

Fig. 2
First he lives in space in the direction from above downwards, and from below upwards. We know that above we have the head and below the feet, and that they differ from one other. Whoever makes a deeper study of the human being will discover this as being of equal importance, let us say, to what is described more externally in anatomy, namely the fact that in the foot there are the bones of the heel, the toes and the instep, and so on, and in the head the frontal bone, the parietal bone and the occipital bone, and so on. Then, moving further inwards, the brain is described; the muscles of the foot are described. These things are described as if somebody or other had chanced to put them all together, and thus the human form came into being by accident. In reality, the head is the octave of the foot. And there is just as much truth in this (in the fact that the head is the octave of the foot) as there is in the other facts contained in the books on anatomy. For if you take the activity of the feet as your starting-point, and take what the head has done for it (for the head has something to do with the fact that you are able to walk with your feet), and if you really grasp the activity of the head and the activity of the feet, then, in the relationship between the two, you have quite literally the feeling of octave and prime. It is nothing other than this. We may go through the whole human being in this way, for the human being is a musical scale. [22]

We have thus the human being extended from above downwards, and from below upwards. But we have also the human being extended in the directions right-left and front-back, back-front. The other directions of space may be related to these three directions, which are so clearly to be distinguished in the human being. [23]

When the human being carries musical experience over into eurythmy, he carries it into movement. And he has no choice in his movements but to enter, in some way or other, into these three different directions. He has to find some way of making use of these three directions if the musical element is to be carried into movement, for they represent him and [all] his possibilities of movement. In eurythmy [all] the human possibilities of movement should become apparent.

When you take the directions of up-down and down-up (you will have gathered this from the still relatively primitive tone eurythmy we have had hitherto), when you take the directions up-down and down-up (also taking into account what I have said about the major and the minor triads, and so on, and in connection with the foot and the head), then you will be able to feel: The height of the human being, the up-down and the down-up, corresponds to pitch. We have no other means of expressing pitch than the upwards and downwards movement of the arms, of the hands, and indeed, if you like, the upwards and downwards movement of the legs or head. When making pitch visible, we move in the vertical direction (see Fig. 3).

Figure 3

Fig. 3

Now let us take right-left. This direction immediately carries us over into the gesture of movement. Where is it that the direction right-left makes itself especially apparent? The right-left is especially apparent when someone walks. Walking really is the bringing-into-movement of the right-left: right leg, left leg, right leg, left leg. And the direction right-left will remain lifeless just so long as you walk in life in a philistine manner; there will be no life in the right-left. But life is immediately introduced when we make some differentiation between the right-left, as nature does in that people usually write with the right hand and not with the left. A differentiation may also be shown simply by taking a strong step with the right leg, the left leg being drawn back, before placing it again. Everything that comes about in this way through the differentiation between right and left is connected with beat (see Fig. 3). Beat in music is carried over into eurythmic movement by means of the right-left.

There still remains the front-back. The point here is that the front- back is inwardly taken hold of, and in order to do so we must look at the human being a little more closely.

Now, you know, the front-back is not merely, let's say, as if some signpost is written with ‘front’ on the one side and ‘back’ on the other. The essential element of the front-back is that we see in front of us, but do not see behind us. Behind us is a world of darkness, in fact, of which we have scarcely an inkling, whereas in front of us lies the whole visible world opening out. And in our movement, we can turn the ‘front’ to the whole visible world, and then we are dealing with that which is in front. And when we turn to this ‘front’, it means that we make the movement short. We are right in the midst of the world. We make the movement short.

When we are not able to enter this world, when we are held back, stuck, as it were, to the darkness lying behind us and unable to get out of it, we make the movement long. And so we may simply differentiate the relationship between front and back by means of ‘short-long’. We have then u — or — u, iambus and trochee (see rhythm in Fig. 3). That means, we have rhythm; front-back confers the rhythm.

Now we possess three of the musical elements, and these may be used in your musical forms. If I may thus express it: you step the beat, you express the rhythm by means of quick-slow, and you express the actual musical element, Melos, leading the movements up or down accordingly. The entire human being is engaged in eurythmy by means of beat, rhythm and Melos.

Fundamentally speaking, music is the human being. And indeed it is from music that we may rightly learn how to free ourselves from matter. For if music were to become materialistic, it would actually be lying: it is not ‘there’ Every other form of matter is present in the world and is insistent. But musical sounds originally were not to be found in the material world. [8] We have to devise a means of producing them; they must first be made. The soul element, which lies between the notes, this lives in the human being. But today, because the world has become so unmusical, people are scarcely aware of it.

This will once again be taken into account when people realize that the note corresponds to the calm posture of the eurythmist. Let us now look at the major triad. (This was demonstrated.) Now you are no longer engaged in eurythmy, for eurythmy lies in the process of arriving at this position. The major triad lies in the going forwards, in the tending-towards, the coming-into-being, not in the accomplished fact. But the note as such corresponds to the completed posture. That means, the very moment a note is completed, the musical element ceases.

In this connection the following is of special interest: We have to be able to feel a relationship between the musical element and speech. If you endeavour in your listening to draw out the scale from the main vowels, most interesting things result:

C may be said to correspond to u (‘oo’ )
D to o (‘o’)
E to a (‘ah’ )
F to ö (‘ir’) (English equivalent as in: birth)
G to e (‘a’)
A to ü (‘eu’) (English equivalent as in: feud)
B to i (‘ee’)

This is the approximate correspondence between the scale and the main vowels, purely according to their sound. [24]

Now I would like you to make an oo with the legs. That is the keynote, as you all know. And now try to make the movement of a major or minor triad in the way we have already discussed, marking the third with its completing fifth. If you relate the movements and push them somewhat across, the fifth will be expressed in the movement of the a; it will become an a of its own accord.

After this try to make an ah; and now try most strongly to make a third, not with one hand as we otherwise do, but do the movement for the third with both arms, after imagining the keynote. Then you will find yourself in the eurythmy movement for the sound ah, with the third.

You see something very striking from this. If we listen very attentively it is almost possible to hear approximately this correspondence between the main vowels and the scale; if the sounds are articulated properly they do approximate to the scale. The movements of eurythmy bring this about of themselves. These movements rendering the formations of the musical sounds, also indicate those of the formations for the sounds of speech. This means that we cannot do otherwise in eurythmy than, when doing the right movements, to introduce the right conditions between the musical sounds and the sounds of speech, too.

We have never considered this other aspect of the movements that we have been studying all these years from the point of view of the sounds of speech and their formation; now we must try to realize them in their relationship to the form of the musical sounds. We have to become clear about the approximate correspondence between the scale and the formation of the sounds of speech. And when we compare the formation of the musical sounds with those for the sounds of speech, we find that their resemblance corresponds to the same degree as that between the musical sounds and the speech sounds as such. Of course, it's not the same; there is simply a resemblance. Neither in eurythmy are the two identical.

You see from this how naturally what we call eurythmy arises out of the very essence of speech on the one hand, and of the musical element on the other. That is quite plainly to be seen. And when you have entered into these things, you will be able to feel in no other way than: A musical sound or sound of speech can have only one gesture; it cannot be expressed in a variety of ways.

Let us continue tomorrow.

Last Modified: 15-Nov-2017
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