Music inspired by Theosophy

Seven Small Wheels Revolving

The title of the work comes from the text called The Stanzas of Dzyan of Helena Petrovna Blavatsky. The sentence inspiring this piece from Sloka VI reads: “Lastly, seven small wheels revolving; one giving birth to the other.” 

A melody is presented in Section 1 and closely followed in the remaining six sections. Variations occur in the harmonisation of the melody. Section 2 uses common notes occurring from the melody notes in the lower octave, Section 3 from the middle octave and Section 4 from the higher octave. Sections 5-7 have harmonies using the harmonics that relate to close microtonal shifts of the melody notes. The “small wheels” give “birth” using common tones between pitches from the various harmonic series. 

The music is composed using the tuning system called Just Intonation. Here the tunings are organised around twelve sets of harmonics playable on a standard double horn. Each valve slide is precisely tuned in a just intonation ratio to the central pitch, F concert. Many harmonics from each fundamental are used and once the tuning set-up is organised by the player very few lip adjustments are required. The bassoon player has a more limited number of pitches to play though most will require non-standard fingerings to match the horn. 

This work was written 2010 at the request of Sophia Rhee then recorded at the University of Western Sydney Music Department on 17 April 2010 by her and the composer for Sophia’s PhD. It has been performed live by Matthew Farrell, cello and Michael Hugh Dixon at the International Horn Society Symposium, Griffith University, Queensland Conservatorium of Music on 21 July 2010. Further performances have been with Ben Hoadley (bassoon) ion Sydney, Melbourne and Auckland. 

This recording took place at a studio in the Australian Institute of Music engineered by staff and students, played by the composer and bassoonist Matthew Ockenden, 11/11/ 2011.

Arise, Awake

Arise, Awake is a spiritual exhortation, each musician making the call from a different view point: four tonalities and four modalities. Colonel Olcott used to call out to people early in the morning:

Arise, Awake

greet the Holy Ones

and get Understanding

See his Old Diary Leaves published by The Theosophical Society.

This sound mandala is designed for the performers to play from different points of the performing space. Each member of the audience has a different portal and perspective into the inner musical world of a spiritual space. Recording has Janine Grantham - flute, Sarah Knox - violin, Matthew Farrell - cello and Michael Hugh Dixon - horn. Engineered by Ian O'Brien. A longer version is available as a music file on (