Natural Evolution of our Modern Tuning System

The diatonic or natural scale, consisting of five whole tones and two opposed semitones, is most familiar today in the white notes of the piano [Apel. see Diatonic]. On the piano this would be called C-major, which imposes the sequence of tones (T) and semitones (S) as T-T-S-T-T-T-S in which the initial and final tetrachords are identically T-T-S, leaving a tone between F and G, the two fixed tones of the Greek tetrachordal system

The diatonic scale is … an abstractum; for all we have is five tones and two semitones a fifth apart [until] we fix the place of the semitones within the scale, thereby determining a definite succession …, [and] we create a mode. [Levarie. 213].

Musical Morphology,. Sigmund Levarie and Ernst Levy. Ohio:Kent State 1983. 213.

One can see that the tones are split by the major diatonic into one group of two (T-T) and one group of three (T-T-T), so the semitones are opposed (B-F) towards the tonic C as in figure 1.


Figure 1 Tone circle and tetrachords for C-Major also called the modal scale of Ionian

Letters such as C are called note classes so as to label the tones of a diatonic scale which, shown on the tone circle, can be rotated into any key signature of twelve keys including flattened or sharpened notes, shown in black in figure 1. We will first show how these black notes came about naturally, due to two aspects of common usage.

The note classes arose from the need of choral music to notate music so that it could be stored and distributed. When we “read music” today, the tablature consists of notes placed within a set of five lines with four gaps, and two extendable areas above and below in which only seven note classes can be placed, seven being the number of note classes in the modal diatonic and the number of white keys on the keyboard, which is the other aspect of usage.

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Distribution of Prime Numbers in the Tone Circle

first published 13 February 2018

The ancient notion of tuning matrices, intuited by Ernest G. McClain in the 1970s, was based on the cross-multiples of the powers of prime numbers three and five, placed in an table where the two primes define two dimensions, where the powers are ordinal (0,1,2,3,4, etc…) and the dimension for prime number 5, an upward diagonal over a horizontal extent of the powers of prime number 3. Whilst harmonic numbers have been found in the ancient world as cuneiform lists (e.g. the Nippur List circa 2,200 BCE), these “regular” numbers would have been known to only have factors of the first three prime numbers 2, 3 and 5 (amenable to their base-60 arithmetic). Furthermore, the prime number two would have been seen as not instrumental in placing where, on such harmonic matrices, each harmonic number can be seen on a harmonic matrix (in religious terms perhaps a holy mountain), as

  • “right” according to its powers of 3.
  • “above” according to its powers of 5.

The role of odd primes within octaves

An inherent duality of perspective was established, between seeing each regular number as a whole integer number and seeing it as made up of powers of the two odd two prime numbers, their harmonic composition of the powers of 3 and 5 (see figure 1). It was obvious then as now that regular numbers were the product of three different prime numbers, each raised to different powers of itself, and that the primes 3 and 5 had the special power of both (a) creating musical intervals within octaves between numerical tones and (b) uniquely locating each numerical tone upon a mountain of numerical powers of 3 and 5.


Figure 1 Viewing the harmonic primes 3 and 5 as a mountain of their products, seen as integer numers or as to these harmonic primes
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Story of Three Similar Triangles

first published on 24 May 2012

Interpreting Lochmariaquer in 2012, an early discovery was of a near-Pythagorean triangle with sides 18, 19 and 6. This year I found that triangle as between the start of the Erdevan Alignments near Carnac. But how did this work on cosmic N:N+1 triangles get started?

Robin Heath’s earliest work, A Key to Stonehenge (1993) placed his Lunation Triangle within a sequence of three right-angled triangles which could easily be constructed using one megalithic yard per lunar month. These would then have been useful in generating some key lengths proportional to the lunar year:  

  • the number of lunar months in the solar year,
  • the number of lunar orbits in the solar year and 
  • the length of the eclipse year in 30-day months. 

all in lunar months. These triangles are to be constructed using the number series 11, 12, 13, 14 so as to form N:N+1 triangles (see figure 1).

n.b. In the 1990s the primary geometry used to explore megalithic astronomy was N:N+1 triangles, where N could be non-integer, since the lunation triangle was just such whilst easily set out using the 12:13:5 Pythagorean triangle and forming the intermediate hypotenuse to the 3 point of the 5 side. In the 11:12 and 13:14 triangles, the short side is not equal to 5.


Figure 1 Robin Heath’s original set of three right angled triangles that exploit the 3:2 points to make intermediate hypotenuses so as to achieve numerically accurate time lengths in units of lunar or solar months and lunar orbits.
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Erdeven Alignment’s counting of Metonic and Saros Periods

first published in March 2018

The word Alignment is used in France to describe its stone rows. Their interpretation has been various, from being an army turned to stone (a local myth) to their use, like graph paper, for extrapolation of values (Thom). That stone rows were alignments to horizon events gives a partial but useful explanation, since menhirs (or standing stones) do form a web of horizon alignments to solstice sun and to the moon’s extreme rising and setting event, at maximum and minimum standstill. At Carnac the solstice sun was aligned to the diagonal of the 4 by 3 rectangle and maximum and minimum standstill moon aligned to the diagonal of a single or double square, respectively.

It seems quite clear today that stone rows at least represented the counting of important astronomical time periods. We have seen at Crocuno that eclipse periods, exceeding the solar year, are accompanied by some rectalinear structures (Le Manio, Crucuno, Kerzerho) which embody counting in miniature, as if to record it, and it has been observed that cromlechs (or large stone kerb monuments) were built at the ends of the long stone rows of Carnac and Erdeven. Sometimes, a cromlech initiated a longer count,with or without stone rows, that ended with a rectangle (Crucuno). The focus on counting time naturally reveals a vernacular quite unique to this region and epoch. We have seen that the Kerzerho alignments were at least a 4 by 3 rectangle which recorded the 235 lunar months in feet along its diagonal to midsummer solstice sunset. After that rectangle there follows a massive Alignment of stone rows to the east,ending after 2.3 km having gradually changed their bearing to 15 degrees south of east. Just above the alignments lies a hillock with multiple dolmens and a north-south stone row (Mané Braz) whilst below its eastern extremity lies the tumulus and dolmen,”T-shaped passage-grave” (Burl. Megalithic Brittany. 196) called Mané Groh.


Figure 1 The intermittent extent of the Erdevan Alignments, and associated dolmens
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Kerherzo Rectangle near Erdeven & Crucuno

first published in March 2018

In 1973, Alexander Thom found the Crucuno rectangle to have been “accurately placed east and west” by its megalithic builders, and “built round a rectangle 30 MY [megalithic yards] by 40 MY” and that “only at the latitude of Crucuno could the diagonals of a 3, 4, 5 rectangle indicate at both solstices the azimuth of the sun rising and setting when it appears to rest on the horizon.” In a recent article I found metrology was used between the Crucuno dolmen (within Crucuno) and the rectangle in the east to count 47 lunar months, since this closely approximates 4 eclipse years (of 346.62 days) which is the shortest eclipse prediction period available to early astronomers.


Figure 1 Two key features of Crucuno’s Rectangle

About 1.22 miles northwest lie the alignments sometimes called Erdeven, on the present D781 before the hamlet Kerzerho – after which hamlet they were named by Archaeology. These stone rows are a major complex monument but here we consider only the section beside the road to the east. Unlike the Le Manec Kermario and Kerlestan alignments which start north of Carnac, Erdevan’s alignments are, like the Crucuno rectangle accurately placed east and west. 


Figure 2 Two stones, angled to the diagonal of a 3-4-5 triangle 235 feet from north west stone and setting sun at summer solstice
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Harmonic Astronomy within Seascale Flattened Circle

first published in July 2018

Only two type-D stone circles (see figure 3) are known to exist, called Roughtor (in Cornwall) and Seascale (in Cumbria). Seascale is assessed below, for the potential this type of flattened circle had to provide megalithic astronomers with a calendrical observatory. Seascale could also have modelled the harmonic ratios of the visible outer planets relative to the lunar year. Flattened to the north, Seascale now faces Sellafield nuclear reprocessing plant (figure 1).


Figure 1 Seascale type-D flattened circle and neighbouring nuclear facility.
photo: Barry Teague

Stone Age astronomical monuments went through a series of evolutionary phases: in Britain c. 3000 BC, stone circles became widespread until the Late Bronze Age c. 1500 BC. These stone circles manifest aspects of Late Stone Age art (10,000 – 4500 BC) seen in some of its geometrical and symbolic forms, in particular as calendrical day tallies scored on bones. In pre-literate societies, visual art takes on an objective technical function, especially when focussed upon time and the cyclic phenomena observed within time. The precedent for Britain’s stone circle culture is that of Brittany, around Carnac in the south, from where Megalithic Ireland, England and Wales probably got their own megalithic culture.

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