Ancestral Voices breaks down his conceptual new album, Navagraha

Previously known as Indigo, the creation of Ancestral Voices was steeped in a personal movement towards sound design. There have been five releases by him so far and each tells us of a sonic journey with consistent artistic development. His latest LP, Navagraha, via HORO is no different. The inspiration around the album is as varied spiritually as it is aurally; the Sanskrit title relates to the nine planets of the solar system, a Swiss mathematician’s calculations and Ptolemaic and Pythagorean theories are the shapes this album orbits.

Liam’s been in touch and told us about the theories behind the album.

I am interested in measurement systems and harmonics. The album combines tempo and tones. I read a book called ‘The Cosmic Octave’ a while ago, and the basic story goes back to 1978 when the author, Hans Cousto found and ate mushrooms containing psilocybin and came up with these concepts. Tones are transposed from astronomical periods into audible frequencies using the formula f . 2n (multiple doubling of a certain frequency).

To work out the harmonic tempo the formula is (frequency) x15/16 = (Tempo). This means the waveforms match the beats per minute, meaning the zero point of the beginning/end of the wave hits on exactly the first beat of the bar. This creates interesting relationships when you start using timed delays and reverbs.

All the information is incredibly easy to find and apply. To make scales, start multiplying and dividing the frequencies. 2/1=octave, 3/2 perfect 5th, 5/4 major 3rd are just some examples. There are many more in-between these. This also works for the colour spectrum and it is all interrelated.

I thought it would be a good idea to try it out and to further my knowledge and also, just for a bit of fun really. But then it developed into somewhat of an obsession and I find out new things daily just from experimenting.

I’ve come to find that this is only scratching the surface of the potential of these theories. I believe its the intervals and harmonic relationships that create shifts, rather than individual tones themselves. There has been proven to be resonant frequencies of everything in existence. Match the frequency and you create a phase relationship between the sound (carrier) and matter. On a physical level things like shattering a glass, lifting or moving physical objects can be done in this way. There is no need to go into the more esoteric side of things, that is for individuals to explore through personal experience, but I’ve had some interesting ones. Lots of studies have been done that can be looked into and developed further.

Every planet has its own individual frequency and a different reference key. Also noted is the equivalent ‘A’ from equal temperament tuning, which is just a reference. C,D,E,F,G,A,B shouldn’t technically exist, it’s just a matter of convenience and something for the human mind to compartmentalise. There are an infinite amount of spaces in between these ‘notes’ that we do not use for some reason. We have only been presented with a limited set of tools from a young age. We could research this more, and it could change the way we perceive things and the way we live. I know nothing really. I am a student and keen to learn and I have volumes of information that need sifting through and experimenting with in various spaces.

I find it very interesting that the ‘A’ of the Earth ends up hitting 432.1hz. It is a direct harmonic of 136.1hz, the ‘OM’ tone which is used throughout the ancient world and is still used today.

The base of this 136.1hz tone is the rotation of the earth around the sun. This astronomic actually causes the changing of the seasons spring, summer, autumn and winter on the earth. This is the second rhythm of our planet (year). As the frequency of the day influences the body, the frequency of the year influences the soul. There is no doubt that the movement of the planets and moons affect us some way.

Various forms of Indian music use microtonal systems a lot. This is an excerpt from the book.

‘In India this 136.1hz tone is the keynote of sitar and tambura music and is called “sadja” which also means “Father of the others”. Also the sacred syllable “OM” is tuned to this tone like mostly all the religious temple music. Many bells and other instruments are tuned to this tone. Who wonders why Hindus talk so much about the soul and transmigration of the soul when knowing that their music is tuned to the ‘frequency of the soul’. Very poetic language that has deeper meanings.

The ancient Indians arrived at this tone through meditation, it was given to them intuitively and contemplatively by “opening up to the cosmos”. But we have to calculate it with mathematics and physics. The really exact conformly of many of the examined bells and comparisons with instruments evidently show that divergencies very often appear to be far less than 1 Hz. This proves again that we are a microcosmos in resonance to the macrocosmos. This old statement of the hermetic sciences can now be proven in a very precise scientific way.

The secret of the profound effects of Indian meditation music depends simply on the fact that it is exactly tuned to the course of events, to the “Tao”. That’s the rotation of the earth around the sun. Not only the instruments but also the musicians and the audience are being attuned during the “alapa” (the tuning before the concert) to the everlasting tone, the sadjy. All the participants are in harmony with the cosmos which finds its echo in the human beings, who take part in this meditative music.

According to Indian tradition, the sadjy, or “sa” for short, is the everlasting, never ceasing tone and as mentioned before is expressed through the syllable “OM”.’

This whole theory is a basis to work on for simplicity and something ‘tangible’ (ie the planets) to work with and for the mind to grasp. An analogy or metaphor if you will, just like stories, mythologies. There is a much deeper meaning behind it all I believe.. it’s hidden in plain sight and apparently been protected for a very long time so I’ve been told, for varying reasons. It’s hidden in buildings/sites mostly and how they have been constructed. It is also hidden in texts, syllables per line, paragraph phrasing, characters, content of the story etc. You would have been killed only a few hundred years ago for even talking about this kind of stuff and that’s one of the reasons this has been kept to initiates of certain orders, as it would be considered witchcraft or magic.

My version of the Navagraha isn’t historically correct and I have adapted it to suit the western or modern view of the planets. Pluto isn’t officially a planet either, but it plays a part in the story so I used it anyway.

Surya [Sun] Tone: 126.22 Hz = B
a1 = 449.9 Hz / 440 Hz (+ 38.1 cent)
Tempo: 118.3 bpm

Budh (Mercury)
Tone: 141.27 Hz = C#
a1 = 448.5 Hz / 440 Hz (+ 33.2 cent)
Tempo: 66.2 / 132.4 bpm

Tone: 221.23 Hz = A
a1 = 442.5 Hz / 440 Hz (+ 9.6 cent)
Tempo: 103.7 bpm

Prithvi [Earth-Year] Tone: 136.10 Hz = C#
a1 = 432.1 Hz / 440 Hz (- 31.4 cent)
Tempo: 63.8 / 127.6 bpm

Mangal [Mars] Tone: 144.72 Hz = D
a1 = 433.7 Hz / 440 Hz (- 25.1 cent)
Tempo: 67.8 / 135.6 bpm

Brihaspati [Jupiter] Tone: 183.58 Hz = F#
a1 = 436.6 Hz / 440 Hz (- 13.3 cent)
Tempo: 86.05 / 172.1 bpm

Shani [Saturn] Tone: 147.85 Hz = D
a1 = 443.0 Hz / 440 Hz (+ 11.9 cent)
Tempo: 69.3 / 138.6 bpm

Arun [Uranus] Tone: 207.36 Hz = G#
a1 = 439.4 Hz / 440 Hz (- 2.5 cent)
Tempo: 97.2 bpm
Varun [Neptune] Tone: 211.44 Hz = G#
a1 = 448.0 Hz / 440 Hz (+ 31.3 cent
Tempo: 99.1 bpm

Yam [Pluto] Tone: 140.64 Hz = C#
a1 = 446.5 Hz / 440 Hz (+ 25.4 cent)
Tempo: 65.9 bpm

The album is out on the 1st of March. You can buy it here.

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