Skip to comments.Music Mystery Of Da Vinci Code Chapel Cracked (Rosslyn)
Posted on 04/30/2007 6:43:09 PM PDT by blam
Music mystery of Da Vinci Code chapel cracked
By Richard Alleyne
Last Updated: 2:05am BST 01/05/2007
A Scottish church featured in The Da Vinci Code is embroiled in a fresh mystery of secret codes and heretical knowledge - but this one could be more than mere fiction.
An ex-RAF codebreaker and his composer son say they have deciphered a musical score hidden for nearly 600 years in the elaborate carvings on the walls of Rosslyn Chapel.
Rosslyn Chapel, theories connect it with the Holy Grail, the Ark of the Covenant and the head of Christ
The pair believe the tune was encrypted because knowledge of music could have been considered heretical.
Thomas Mitchell, 75, a music teacher, and his son Stuart, 41, a pianist and composer, say they became intrigued by the markings on the chapel's arches more than 20 years ago.
Thomas was particularly struck by the 213 carved cubes in the Lady Chapel.
"I was obsessed by these symbols. I was convinced they meant something." Using codebreaking skills learned during the Korean War and his knowledge of classical music, Thomas Mitchell finally realised that the cubes depicted patterns made by sound waves.
"After scratching our brains for years the whole thing just came together in a eureka moment. We believe this is the Holy Grail of music and, unlike The Da Vinci Code, it is absolutely factual." Mr Mitchell realised the patterns on the cubes seem to match a phenomenon called cymatics or Chladni patterns. These form when a note is used to vibrate a sheet of metal or glass covered in powder.
Different frequencies produce different patterns such as flowers, diamonds and hexagons - shapes all present on the cubes.
The two men have brought the music back to life using instruments from the Middle Ages, adding words from a contemporary hymn to finish the piece, called The Rosslyn Motet.
Among the theories about Rosslyn is that it is the secret resting place of the Holy Grail, the Ark of the Covenant and even the mummified head of Christ.
500 years ago? If I remember correctly, King Henry VIII was writing the song we call "Greensleeves" 500 years ago, and Martin Luther was writing "A Mighty Fortress is Our God". I am not aware of anyone thinking that music was "bad" at that time. Certainly not so "bad" that it had to be hidden in a code.
Color me skeptical.
Exactly why would a Christian Church imply this? Didn't Paul say if Christ didn't rise then we are all (Christians) most pitiable?
15:1Now I make known unto you brethren, the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye received, wherein also ye stand,
15:2by which also ye are saved, if ye hold fast the word which I preached unto you, except ye believed in vain.
15:3For I delivered unto you first of all that which also I received: that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;
15:4and that he was buried; and that he hath been raised on the third day according to the scriptures;
15:5and that he appeared to Cephas; then to the twelve;
15:6then he appeared to above five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain until now, but some are fallen asleep;
15:7then he appeared to James; then to all the apostles;
15:8and last of all, as to the child untimely born, he appeared to me also.
15:9For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.
15:10But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not found vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.
15:11Whether then it be I or they, so we preach, and so ye believed.
15:12Now if Christ is preached that he hath been raised from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?
15:13But if there is no resurrection of the dead, neither hath Christ been raised:
15:14and if Christ hath not been raised, then is our preaching vain, your faith also is vain.
15:15Yea, we are found false witnesses of God; because we witnessed of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead are not raised.
15:16For if the dead are not raised, neither hath Christ been raised:
15:17and if Christ hath not been raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. 15:18Then they also that are fallen asleep in Christ have perished.
15:19If we have only hoped in Christ in this life, we are of all men most pitiable.
I thought no one knew who wrote Greensleeves?
But the notion that Henry wrote Greensleeves is fairly widespread. From wikipedia:
"Greensleeves" is a traditional English folk song and tune, basically a round of the form called a romanesca.
A widely-believed (but completely unproven) legend is that it was composed by King Henry VIII of England (1491-1547) for his lover and future queen consort Anne Boleyn.
Wow, this is very cool! Just by itself, the discovery or cracking of the code, and then for those of us who play musical instruments, doubly so. And the best part? (Ok, not the best part...) It bears repeating:
unlike The Da Vinci Code, it is absolutely factual
There is debate but it's generally believed Henry VIII wrote it for Anne B.
As for this new Roslyn music, I wouldn't know. But I did enjoy listening to it.
Ack, don’t ever quote Wikipedia. You know it’s not all factual.
“...unlike The Da Vinci Code, it is absolutely factual.”
As DVC is a novel, this should not be a revelation.
I do think it is cool they have uncovered how the vibration of musical tones create various shapes. Consider that people widely accepted that the earth was flat, 500 or so years ago, and viewed the idea of a round earth rotating around the sun as heretical, the idea of sound waves that could actually affect space that they traveled through and objects they encountered may also have been viewed with skepticism, at least at first or at that time. I’m skeptical about the idea of the Church housing the Holy Grail with the Ark of the Covenant, but the sound wave theory is intriguing.
It sounds almost like hes de-composing.
Boy...get your ears ready, lol.
"We're Knights of the Round Table
We dance when e'er we're able
We do routines and chorus scenes
And footwork im-pec-cable
We dine well here in Camelot
We eat ham and jam and spam-a-lot..."
Rosslyn Chapel was designed in 1446 by the hereditary Prince of Orkney. He apparently drafted the decorations himself, according to the chapel website, but the work was not completed and there is not clear indication that it was performed according to his plan.
Moreover, the chapel fell into disrepair and the "carvings in the Lady Chapel" were restored in 1861. We all know what Victorian "restoration" could be like . . .
There are a limited number of notes in a scale -- there are 8 whole notes in an octave, and lots of decorative patterns are based on fours and multiples of four -- it would be far too easy to find coincidences and patterns that you could translate into something like a tune, when you are LOOKING for one. And a codebreaker should know that you can't detect a code when you only have eight letters to work with . . .
Finally, I have a large thick book of early Scottish music, and it doesn't sound like this -- it sounds a lot better. Guillaume Dufay, the Burgundian master generally considered the greatest composer of the 15th century, was getting started with his multiple voice masses and antiphons around this time -- his music is gorgeous and nothing like this. While dressed up with decent performers on contemporary instruments and (sort of) competent vocalists singing words from somewhere else, this alleged tune is still lousy. It starts no place in particular, wanders around, and arrives nowhere.
Dufay, by the way, wrote a motet in which the proportions of the phrases exactly matched the proportions of Solomon's Temple.
One other point -- instrumental accompaniment that didn't simply track the voice parts was still a couple of hundred years away.
fwiw, I just got through with a course on the history of Western church music, and this piece just doesn't SOUND right.
People just make that kind of stuff up to bash religion.
There is debate but it's generally believed Henry VIII wrote it for Anne B.
I always thought Greensleeves was about Lady Mondegreen.
Just listened to it at the link..
I think they hid it ‘cause the song sucks.
You’d also have a problem “decoding” with the time/meter, which no song is a song without.
Excellent. Thanks for your input.
The church didn't. Those 'theories' have all been implied by others.
There's a book out on the subject titled: Rosslyn Hoax? that should be available here in the States soon.
Thanks for your insight. I’ll have to check out Dufay’s music.
Middle Ages (?) music ping. Followed the link and listened. Sounds about right for the era, but I have insufficient credulity for the totality of the story.
My sister came up with a way to produce musical notes from number strings. “Pi” sounds wierd, but listenable.
Anyway...thought you might be interested.
A bunch of squares with slightly different sizes, arranged differently, you discover what you think is a pattern, create a code, some how relate it to music...
I probably would have come up with “Running with the Devil”, by Van Halen.
Thanks for the ping!
Classical Music Ping List ping!
If you want on or off this list, let me know via FR e-mail.
Certain chords were considered heretical in the early years of church music. Even the BASIC TRIAD chord was considered heretical at some early point - open 5ths were OK, the 3rds were considered to be the "problem".
Very early Christian church music was written with squares.
Could be. I’ve sung a madrigal by HVIII. It was ok, not great. It was about good friends, drinking, and partying.
My music prof doesn't care for the records by the Anonymous Four - he says their style is too clinical, not warm enough. But there are quite a number of good recordings out of Dufay's work - both secular and sacred. The Mass L'homme Armé (what they call a cantus firmus - all the parts based on a popular tune, in this case a song "The armed man") is probably his most famous work. I checked Amazon and they have a bunch of his stuff, by various performers.
Just consider: the most common source for a Mass setting during this period was to use a popular song as a cantus firmus or recurrent theme - one example is Dufay's Mass 'l'Homme armé', based on a popular ditty that probably originated with the Crusades. If secular music was so heretical, what were all the major composers doing using it to set Masses?
It is true that some intervals were considered "imperfect" but that has nothing to do with the Church and everything to do with the ancient Greek theories of music.
It's difficult for us to understand what the problem was now, because we all are used to the adjusted or tempered Western scale -- based on the piano scale, which is not a true even division of the octave. The medievals inherited the "Pythagorean tuning", which WAS an equal division, so you have to have one place in the scale where the interval sounds cranky. Especially if you're playing in different keys -- if you start with a pretty good tuning in in C Major, you're going to be WAY out by the time you get around to, say, A flat major.
What you are thinking of as a "third" was actually an augmented fourth in modern terms -- that's why it was considered the "devil's interval" - it sounded like the devil (still does). That term, by the way, didn't show up until much later, the medievals called it a "wolf interval" because it howled like a wolf.
I’d like to know more about their methodology. If they really got at least three vocal lines and two instrumental lines off these carvings, and got them by testing frequencies on a medium to reverse engineer their way into the patterns, and there was a high correlation of the frequencies to the patterns, and these harmonies were produced, then I think it’s fascinating, and not so far beyond the ken of engineers who could design and build churches like this in the first place.
Maybe it’s not so great, but who knows who they got to write the music... it may be like the dancing bear, not so much whether he dances well or badly but that he dances at all.
I could also do without all the speculation behind the motives etc. Scientists oftenseem to do this - give you some facts and then attempt to inject a lot of sheer speculation and then try to pass it off as if written in stone. Maybe they just did it because they thought it was cool, as do we.
And if you play it backwards, it says, “I . . . Buried . . . Paul . . . “
Nawww, the REAL music is “Freebird”.
But I just don't see how it could work the other way around -- how you could get all that information from a (relatively) simple pattern on a chapel wall.
I think it's like the folks who find all sorts of prophecies in numerical analysis of Bible verses. If you know where you want to go, you start fudging things to get there (what they called the "Finagle Factor" when my husband was at Ga. Tech - "the number which, added to, subtracted from, multiplies by or divided into, the answer you got, gives the correct one.")
Oh - I forgot to mention - the quote about the bear was actually dear Dr. Johnson — ‘Sir, a woman’s preaching is like a dog’s walking on his hinder legs. It is not done well; but you are surprized to find it done at all.’
Yeah, we sing anglican chant in that notation every sunday. It’s not easy.
“I was obsessed by these symbols. I was convinced they meant something.”
I’m with you. The only thing missing from the above fanatical phrase are the words “...in my heart”
or “In my heart of hearts...”
Funny, I was thinking "Stairway to Heaven". ;-)
Thanks... I don’t know why I thought it was a dancing bear. Who’s Dr. Johnson?
For once Wikipedia is pretty much on the money. I might disagree with details here and there, but this is a pretty accurate summary of the good doctor's life and work.
Speaking of heretical, what happended to the threads on the Lost Tomb of Jesus shockumentary ?
“An ex-RAF codebreaker and his composer son say they have deciphered a musical score hidden for nearly 600 years in the elaborate carvings on the walls of Rosslyn Chapel.”
That’s a coincidence!! I just deciphered a hidden code written in the sidewalk patterns of New York City!!
Knowledge of music is different. The study of music was one of the original scientifc desciplines in Ancient Greece. The Study of Geometry, Arithemetic, Astronomy and Music made up a course of study known as the Quadrivism. Rhetoric, Logic and Grammar made up the Trivium. These two courses of study are the basic foundation of the Arts and Sciences that make up a Liberal Arts Education (a REAL Liberal Arts Education). Just as the study of astronomy became heretical, it could be that the scientific study of music was also viewed suspiciously without disruption the artisitc creation of music.
Thanks for the GREAT link! Bookmarked.
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