The Miraculous Bell-Ringer or 121 Sharps and 121 Flats!
Perfect Pitch For You by Alla Elena Cohen
published exclusively by Len Rhodes Music Inc.,
and available as a download from www.lenrhodesmusic.com
There was a unique musician in Moscow, Russia, in the third and fourth decades of the 20th century.
He was a composer and a church bell-ringer, his name was Konstantin Saradjev. Legends were circulating about his musical genius, especially of his super-perfect ear for music. His life was tragically short. But he succeeded to write a book in which he presented music theory of his own, based on his unique sense of pitch and on his art of bell-ringing. The manuscript, unfortunately, was lost in Soviet Russia; only several pages—the preface—remained.
He wrote: The perfect pitch I have I would call 'true ear'—the ability to hear with every fiber of your being the tone that is issued forth by any object, not only by vibrating objects—to hear the tone of each stone, crystal, metal. Pythagoras had such an ear, and, by words of his students, had the tone clue to all the mysteries of nature.
Each precious crystal has its individual tonality and the color which corresponds to this tonality. Every inanimate object and each living being on the Earth and in the cosmos issues forth its, or his or her own tone.
'True ear' can determine the tone of each human being just looking at this person. For 'true ear' there are no limits the same way as the cosmos has no limits. Elements of 'true ear' we can meet in many people, but in our century they are not developed.
Acoustic gadgets during Konstantin Saradjev's time were not so perfect as to be equal to his super-perfect ear. When this miraculous musician was asked whether in the future gadgets will be more perfect—to check his phenomenal ear—he answered: “In the future not gadgets, but people will be more perfect—in a hundred years all people will have perfect pitch and many— such as mine.”
Konstantin Saradjev distinguished clearly in the octave 1,701 tones— each pitch for him had a central tone and 121 flats and 121 sharps. He couldn't play ordinary instruments—piano, violin—in a tempered system. He played church- bells—the only instrument that, by his words, provided him with the opportunity to reproduce those unheard-of complex harmonies that were born by his phenomenal ear and marvelous composer's gift. His compositions for church-bells were—for those who had the happiness to hear them—like divine revelations, even if the tiniest gradations of pitches were lost on the imperfect ears of his listeners. The story of Konstantin Saradjev gives us several important clues to the essence of perfect pitch:
1. We perceive pitches not only with our ears, we react on them with every cell in our bodies.
2. Perfect pitch is not only a form of auditory perception, it is a way of life, a form of communication with the outer world, a form of self-cognition, of self-awareness, a way to comprehend the world. To be able to perceive and to keep in memory a pitch is to be able to perceive holistically a musical tone, to keep in memory a hologram of musical tone—it is part of being able to perceive the world holistically, to imbibe impressions of the outer world with every cell of our beings, to live and to breath in harmony with the Universe.
3. Perfect pitch is a multi-faceted, multi-level phenomenon which has no limits—it is possible to imagine an ear even more phenomenal than that of Konstantin Saradjev—one day a person will be born who will discern even a greater amount of gradations in a musical tone.
For those who read this book (Perfect Pitch For You) with the goal to develop their own perfect pitch let the story of the miraculous bell-ringer be an inspiration and help in overcoming an important psychological barrier—after all, to learn to recognize and to keep in memory twelve pitches in an octave is a very easy task—in comparison with the 1,701 pitches in an octave Alla Elana Cohen describes!
About the Author: Alla Elana Cohen is a composer, pianist and music theorist. She is on the faculty at Berklee College of Music, and the New England Conservatory, where she teaches composition, harmony, counterpoint and ear-training by her own method.
She received her education in Moscow, Russia, graduating from the Moscow State Tchaikovsky Conservatory with the greatest honors of distinction.
As a composer, she works in all genres of orchestral
and chamber music. Her compositions have been performed with much success throughout the USA. Many composition students of Professor Cohen have been winners of numerous prestigious Young Composers' Competitions, at state, national and international levels.
She has been recognized as a composer by ASCAP, being a recipient of ASCAPLUS Awards, and has received commissions from the Music Teachers National Association (USA). As a teacher, she has been awarded for "inspiring, educating and mentoring young musicians to become composers of tomorrow" by ASCAP, as well as being the recipient of numerous Certificates of Recognition and Awards as a teacher of MTNA Young Composers' Competition National level winners.
"Music Fell from the Heavens"
J. A. B. - to my teacher, Alla Elana Cohen November 2001
Music fell from the heavens, my teacher told me.
Music before 1750 is about heaven. Our window to heaven. Music through the Vienna classics is about humans trying to get to heaven, and mostly making it.
Music in the Romantic age is about humans trying to find heaven on earth, though not the right search.
Music in the 20th century is about humans discovering that heaven is not to be found on earth,
and deciding that heaven does not even exist.
Humans are stuck with humans.
Music fell from the heavens, my teacher told me, and thus: the heavens do exist, and music does exist, and we exist, and music came from heights and must be high. Music must now rebuild our vision of heaven.
A heavy heaven, or lofty heaven.
A heaven with weight from human faults,
though one is still able to soar with the highest inspiration of human imagination.
Music fell, my teacher told me, but from the heavens.