COLTRANE, EINSTEIN AND THE MISTICISM
(P50) COLTRANE, EINSTEIN AND THE MISTICISM
Physicist and saxophonist Stephon Alexander has argued in his numerous public lectures and in his book The Jazz of Physics that Coltrane’s music is governed by „the same geometric principle that motivated Einstein’s quantum theory,” while John Coltrane’s friend and mentor, Yusef Lateef, sees in his music a „spiritual journey” that „embraced the concerns of a rich tradition of self-physiological music.”
Coltrane was indeed very passionate about Einstein’s discoveries and enjoyed talking about it frequently. Musician David Amram remembers that the genius behind „Giant Steps” told him that he was „trying to do something similar in music.” However, the great musician spoke too little publicly about the intense theoretical work behind his most famous compositions, probably because he wanted them to speak for themselves. He preferred to express himself philosophically and mystically, relying equally on his fascination with science and various spiritual traditions. Clarinetist Arun Ghosh, for example, saw in Coltrane’s „mathematical principles” a „musical system that connects with Divinity.”
In 1967, John Coltrane entrusted saxophonist Yusef Lateef with a strange diagram that contains the easily recognizable circle of words but illustrates a much more sophisticated scheme than the basic theory of the major scale in music. From this, as pianist Matt Ratcliffe noted, Giant Steps, as well as the Star of David or the Seal of Solomon, can be derived, a very powerful symbolism, especially for ancient knowledge and the Afrocentric direction and ultimately the cosmic consciousness that Coltrane would pursue with the piece A Love Supreme.
In a detailed exploration of the mathematics in Coltrane’s music, saxophonist Roel Hollander argues that examining Coltrane’s drawn circle shows us a „stellar tetrahedron,” „also known as the ‘Merkaba,’ which means ‘light-body-spirit'” and represents „the most intimate law of the physical world.” We find, therefore, an architecture with a great mystical charge in the Coltrane Circle – a „vehicle of divine light supposed to be used by the elevated masters to connect with and reach those who are in tune with higher realms, the spirit/body surrounded by counter-rotating fields of light (wheels within wheels).”
One positive thought produces millions of positive vibrations. – John Coltrane