Mechanics to Metaphor: The Rhythm Line
The Rhythm Line. As vibration falls in frequency downward through light, though ranges imperceptible to us and down through sound, it eventually slows to the point where we can apprehend each individual vibration: pitch becomes pulse. Experientially, vibrations within our pitch range and above exist without regard to time: while we can point to the time when such a frequency begins and ends, while it is occurring, while we are inside of it, time is not referenced; pitch simply is. Pulse, in contrast, for us measures time; it is forever concerned with where it’s been and where it’s going. Of course, just because we can’t count individual vibrations beyond a certain speed doesn’t mean they’re not occurring in time; we may experience A440, for example, as timeless, but it’s still a wave cycling 440 times per second. But the fact that we perceive pitch as timeless, and pulse as time-based, suggests two separate modalities so ubiquitous to human experience that they’re easy to miss: being and process. Our lives are spent being and doing; what we perceive as which is a matter of frequency. Again, we’re not talking about what we can scientifically measure, or imagine; we’re talking about what we perceive and experience. The implications of this are considerable: what we perceive and experience as “is” and what we perceive and experience as “does” defines for us what is fixed and what is mutable; our beliefs, our notions of reality, are intertwined with these distinctions.
In Muzoracle mythopoetics, the frequency that divides these modalities is called the Rhythm Line. It’s more, however, than a fixed number where vibration falls out of our hearing range; it marks a shift in consciousness and varies for different people in different ways at different times. It is quite possible for us, for example, to bring more being into doing, to become more present in time, as any good drummer or meditator will tell you. Presence in life is an altering of our relationship to frequency.
Experientially, for us human critters, pitch—and by extension, harmony—is timeless. Pulse—and by extension, rhythm, scales, and melody—is time-based. In Muzoracle mythopoetics, pitch and harmony—expressed chiefly through the cards and the Musician’s Die—indicate states of being. Rhythm, scales, and melody—expressed in a handful of cards and the Solfège Dice—indicate processes or points within processes.