The Rosslyn Motet

It took upwards of forty years to build the Rosslyn Chapel, a 15th century church located in the lowlands of mighty Scotland… and more than five hundred years to discover the arcane secret wrought into the living rock of its walls.

Mysteries have long abounded about its many mystic ornate garnishments, such that the chapel had no small part in inspiring Dan Brown`s silly little book The DaVinci Code – but farcical flights of theological/historical fancy notwithstanding, among the real enigmas of Rosslyn Chapel are the curious carved “boxes” found scattered upon various pillars and arches… two-hundred and sixteen in all.

Centuries upon centuries, many a scholar has come and gone… unable to unlock the secret of the squares, nor even understand their relevance. For hundreds of years, the music woven within the walls has been silent… until now.

A man named Thomas James Mitchell and his son Stuart believe that the carvings represent a cryptic form of musical composition based upon Chladni Patterns (or Cymatics). The elder Mitchell is a former code-breaker for the Royal Air Force, as well as a musician and artist; his son is an avant-garde composer & conductor.

The father-son team matched each of the patterns with a Chladni pitch and were able finally to unlock the melody.

From the website of Thomas & Stuart Mitchell:

“This video presentation is an interesting comparison made between the patterns produced by certain pitches and frequencies in Cymatics and the symbols on the faces of the cubes…

…if you listen closely to the pitch of the oscillator (humming the pitch to yourself) you will hear the first note of the choir and its relevant cube, are the same.”

Is the mystery of the cubes solved? It remains to be seen… but I find this recent discovery to be enthralling, and I look forward to more and deeper study on the matter.

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