Physicist and saxophonist Stephon Alexander has argued in his many public lectures and his book The Jazz of Physics that Albert Einstein and John Coltrane had quite a lot in common. Alexander in particular draws our attention to the so-called “Coltrane circle,” which resembles what any musician will recognize as the “Circle of Fifths,” but incorporates Coltrane’s own innovations. Coltrane gave the drawing to saxophonist and professor Yusef Lateef in 1967, who included it in his seminal text, Repository of Scales and Melodic Patterns. Where Lateef, as he writes in his autobiography, sees Coltrane’s music as a “spiritual journey” that “embraced the concerns of a rich tradition of autophysiopsychic music,” Alexander sees “the same geometric principle that motivated Einstein’s” quantum theory.

Neither description seems out of place. Musician and blogger Roel Hollander notes, “Thelonious Monk once said ‘All musicans are subconsciously mathematicians.’ Musicians like John Coltrane though have been very much aware of the mathematics of music and consciously applied it to his works.”




Coltrane was also very much aware of Einstein’s work and liked to talk about it frequently. Musican David Amram remembers the Giant Steps genius telling him he “was trying to do something like that in music.”

Hollander carefully dissects Coltrane’s mathematics in two theory-heavy essays, one generally on Coltrane’s “Music & Geometry” and one specifically on his “Tone Circle.” Coltrane himself had little to say publically about the intensive theoretical work behind his most famous compositions, probably because he’d rather they speak for themselves. He preferred to express himself philosophically and mystically, drawing equally on his fascination with science and with spiritual traditions of all kinds. Coltrane’s poetic way of speaking has left his musical interpreters with a wide variety of ways to look at his Circle, as jazz musician Corey Mwamba discovered when he informally polled several other players on Facebook. Clarinetist Arun Ghosh, for example, saw in Coltrane’s “mathematical principles” a “musical system that connected with The Divine.” It’s a system, he opined, that “feels quite Islamic to me.”

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Lateef agreed, and there may be few who understood Coltrane’s method better than he did. He studied closely with Coltrane for years, and has been remembered since his death in 2013 as a peer and even a mentor, especially in his ecumenical embrace of theory and music from around the world. Lateef even argued that Coltrane’s late-in-life masterpiece A Love Supreme might have been titled “Allah Supreme” were it not for fear of “political backlash.” Some may find the claim tendentious, but what we see in the wide range of responses to Coltrane’s musical theory, so well encapsulated in the drawing above, is that his recognition, as Lateef writes, of the “structures of music” was as much for him about scientific discovery as it was religious experience. Both for him were intuitive processes that “came into existence,” writes Lateef, “in the mind of the musican through abstraction from experience.”

Related Content:

The Secret Link Between Jazz and Physics: How Einstein & Coltrane Shared Improvisation and Intuition in Common

John Coltrane’s Handwritten Outline for His Masterpiece A Love Supreme

John Coltrane’s ‘Giant Steps’ Animated

Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness


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  • PaulR says:

    Einstein’s theory of quantum gravity? I thought quantum gravity was a rebuttal against Einstein.
    Einstein, did, however, like to make vague statements about God.

  • Gellert Szabo says:

    So can someone explain the drawing?

  • Ccb says:

    Its a circle consisting of 2 concentric whole tone scales. Not cycle of 5ths.

  • Plop says:

    The 5ths are emphasized.

  • None says:

    Ccb:
    You’ll note that all the circle of 4ths/5ths notes have double circles around them.
    This is an extrapolation of the circle.
    That said, you’re not wrong.
    here’s more…
    https://roelhollander.eu/en/blog-saxophone/Coltrane-Tone-Circle/

  • Adam Rudolph says:

    NOt to take anything away from anyone…but the record should be seet straight. YUsef Lateef was NOT John Coltranes protoge. In fact they were peers who often practiced together and shared many ideas. It is common knowledge that Yusef was deep into “world music” long before coltrane and many others and that he was the one who introduced coltrane to schillingers system of composition from which giants steps was inpsired. It is not always the more famous one, of even the genius who comes up with ideas……this has been told to me by many who were around and on the scene at that time in detroit and nyc. Again..no disrespect here….but it is good to know the untold story.

  • Josh Jones says:

    @Adam, thanks very much for your comment. I’ve edited the post to better characterize Lateef’s relationship to Coltrane.
    @PaulR, whoops! Right you are. Corrected.

  • Corey Mwamba says:

    Here (as someone who was surprised to see themselves quoted in the article) to echo Adam Rudolph’s comments above.

  • Bernardo Teixeira says:

    lol Einstein always hate quantun mechanics!!!

  • Josh Jones says:

    D’oh

  • Dean says:

    Alexander sees “the same geometric principle that motivated Einstein’s” quantum theory.

    Gravity was not mentioned

  • Ray C says:

    Indeed, Einstein and Coltrain have something in common: they let math do all the ‘heavy-lifting’ allowing their imaginations to run free.

    Melodic / harmonic analysis is moot without considering Coltrain’s keen sense of symmetric rhythmic phrasing – he always knew where he was going. Also knew the value of time-pitch ratios as being the most organic rhythmic phrases demoting the ‘bar-structure’ to being organization purpose only. My first experience with a 9 against 8 resultant (r 9 ÷ 8)was pure Coltrain(see Joseph Schillinger – Theory of Rhythm. Runs circles around any other so called rhythmic technique.).
    Try this phrase (1 = 1/8 note– its 8 bars of 9/8 )
    |: 8_1_7_2_6_3_5_4_4_5_3_6_2_7_1_8 :|

  • Roel Hollander says:

    @Josh Jones: thanks for sharing.

    @Corey Mwamba: why surprised? People who take blogging serious always make an effort to note proper credits. Your name would thus obviously appear.
    At least for me your article “Way of seeing Coltrane” are of importance, without them I most likely would not have come to writing my blog articles. And perhaps Josh Jones wouldn’t have either?

  • David Hilton says:

    It looks like to me he’s drawn the circle of 5ths opposite than most other versions- instead of going up in 5ths to the right he goes up 4ths to right and 5ths to the left- which imo, is a million times better. Also, Coltrane has spelled a couple wholetone scales, the top ring spelling out a C wholetone scale, and the inside ring is a C# or Db wholetone… Trane writes both scales four times each- indicated by the 1,2,3, 4, in boxes with a line going to the start of the aforementioned scales. I don’t want to look too much longer at Coltrane’s drawing, it’s starting to hurt my brain.. hahaha…. however, in the inner part of the circle it looks to like the small numbers and their accompanying straight lines are spelling out some chromatic scales. With all key centers flowing out from the center of the circle. Something like that.

  • stelenox says:

    where are you people seeing the 5ths and the 4ths in the circle? i just can see whole tone scales, chromatisms but nothing related with the traditional circle of 5ths.

    And when you people, music critics and theorist are going to understand that MUSIC is not a f—ing SCIENCE, even if we use maths indirectly or some kind of rules..

  • Niall Tracey says:

    The weird oval things connecting the two circles appear to be the “crossing points” between the circles to follow a major scale up to its seventh degree.

    If you start at one of the double-circled fifths/fourths and proceed clockwise two steps, it describes do-re-mi, which are separated by wholetones. The mi-fa gap is a semitone, so you have to switch circles — and the mi and fa are connected in Coltrane’s diagram.

    You can then continue on your new ring until you hit the 7th degree of the major scale, and you have the full scale, or you can cross at the 6th degree to land on the flat 7th (part of the dominant 7th chord).

    I’m not convinced it’s hugely useful, because it doesn’t reveal more than other representations, and it obscures things like minor thirds and alternative modes of the scale, but it’s interesting to see how someone so deeply immersed in music tried to put down on paper what he had already grasped internally.

  • Jean says:

    Actually, Einstein founded quantum mechanics in 1905. That’s why he had a Nobel prize in 1921. He hated how Niels Bohr solved some of the paradoxes of this quanta theory by saying reality was, at its core, not determinist. And quantum mechanics does not deal with gravity.

  • Mircan Kaya says:

    Jazz is a musical genre and it is difficult to define it without a broad vision that includes wide range of musical genres spanning over a period more than a hundred years. One should not disregard the role of improvisation in Jazz (Jass) music
    It is all about music after all and physics, mathematics, cosmic rules of harmony should be connected to “music” and not to “jazz” only. This despises other genres of music.
    There is mathematics & physics in everywhere. Not only in music but everything in the universe. When it comes to music, all genres of music contain in themselves mathematics & physics.

  • Gil says:

    The two were very good friends. FACTS.

  • joseph kaminski says:

    Stupid, very narrow minded. There are a infinite number of song and scales that do not conform to this map. As soon as you consider dissident scales the map goes out the window.

  • Al says:

    Total nonsense. This is just over reverence for Coltrane and nothing more. Coltrane wasn’t as profound as people pretend and that circle is nonsense. It’s heartbreaking, to me, how far off people are about harmony.

  • Chris says:

    It’s a piano keyboard laid out in circular form. C1 being the bottom note on the keybord, then proceeding up by half step alternating notes to the inside and outside circles. Each “C” note is numbered as you pass it by on the keyboard until you get back around to the 6th, and start again. Any two notes with no black keys between them are circled. All the “C” notes are connected with lines. All the “5ths”, corresponding on the opposite side of the circle to their tonic notes, are connected with lines. I’m still tying to figure out what the numbers inside the circles refer to.

  • Corey Mwamba says:

    Hey Roel! It was shared by someone on FB, and I was reading it; it just came as a surprise!

  • Daniel locht says:

    Coltrane and Lateef studied with the mathematician, jazz theorist Roland Wiggins in Philadelphia. He introduced them to Nicholas Slominsky’s thesaurus of scales and melodic patterns which was fundamental to Coltrane’s methodology .
    This looks like it is based on a 12 tone melodic pattern.

  • Chris says:

    I just realized I’m actually wrong about the circled notes.

  • Earnest says:

    I would love to see another blog in which you completely dissect this diagram, note by note, line by line.

  • J-M Van Schouwburg says:

    Yusef Lateef ( William Evans) was member of the Dizzy Gillespie Orchestra around the same time that John Coltrane shared the sax section ….. end of the forties and early forties . Jimmy Heath was also in the Dizzy’s Orchestra…

  • DAZ says:

    For the musicians interested, here’s an old article dated back when the picture was posted by Miles Okazaki on Twitter :

    http://www.coreymwamba.co.uk/rambles/1388150764

    Btw, i have the digital version of the Yusef Lateef book somewhere on my hd, and if i remember correctly there are actually 2 Coltrane drawings in there (pretty much similar but with a twist from what from what i could recall)

  • George mann says:

    “good” music, is timeless in a sense that it tickles something in our brain. Almost as if we have heard it before? There is a magic and beauty in music , when it is “right” it brings pleasure and triggers emotions.
    There is something magical about mathematical models and algorithms, they are beautiful, timeless … They just work…
    They may describe some “thing” or property of physics, that inexplicably IS THE TRUTH, music is the same in a sense, No one can deny the POWER of sound waves , that touch the heart in a way that can’t be explained easily, but is are real and timelessly truthful as mathematics itself😊

  • andrew hill says:

    Einstein’s physics was not quantum. Even though the term is older and due to Planck, who started it all in 1900, Einstein, seen erroneously as the last classical physicist, was not thinking in those terms yet. The assertions in the article are intriguing, though, and the book could be that, too.

  • Rehan says:

    Intellectual complexity in music is not a hard achievement. One can have a computer come up with plenty of complexity. What is hard is accessing genuine inspired creativity expressed via apparent simplicity/complexity. Todays and the past 40, 50+ years of music is exclusively for the general public and average musicians at best. No longer do we have musicians who can create real art for the best musicians in the world, just as we no longer have Shakespeares or Beethoven’s any more.

  • Annemie says:

    This is so visually stunning, the harmony and Sacred Geometry of music, charted as in Astrology in a combined sphere!!! Next level!!!

  • Zane says:

    Does anyone else think that this looks really similar to Metatron’s Cube?

  • Newstetter says:

    I think you mean “dissonant” scales … not “dissident.”

  • Harry Likas says:

    I see an extrapolation of the Circle of “4ths” (a square is drawn around each “4th”). Then the circle was subdivided chromatically up a 5 octave range. Then circles were drawn to highlight the half step approach note below each 4th (leading tones) and a circle was drawn to highlight the half step up above each 4th (tritone chromatic approach).

    The Chromatic scale degrees have been numbered 1 2 3 4 5 6 7, 1 2 3 4 5 6 7, for organizational purposes.

    This is simply a sketch of the chromatic scale, then highlighting the circle of 4ths within it and circling each ones leading tone and chromatic tritone approach note. This is pretty basic stuff.

  • Newstetter says:

    Here’s another examination of this circle, including observations about the apparent mistake in the left hand side of the circle. (two part blog post)

    http://www.coreymwamba.co.uk/rambles/1388150764
    http://www.coreymwamba.co.uk/rambles/1388289138

    The chromatic groupings, surrounded by overlapping ovals, are all positioned with one note between them in the inner and outer rings, except the grouping “G, G#, A” which is off by one place. It probably was meant to be “G#, A, Bb” which would have been consistent with the rest of the pattern. There’s a lot of debate about whether this was really an uncorrected mistake or intentional. On the side of it being a mistake, there is a second sketch in the same book showing a ‘corrected’ version.

  • Linda Clough Cole says:

    I wonder if any of you folks remember my father, John Clough. Music theorist who theorized “flip flop circles” Brilliant man. I miss him.

  • Peter Callaway says:

    John Coltrane grew up Pentecostal which means he prayed in the Spirit that is in tongues in the Holy Ghost.
    He was a perfectionist.
    As far as beliefs he seemed to embrace Eastern like spirituality later in life.
    But then why was Coltrane found dead on a park bench in Central Park in NYC?
    Talent without restraint and strength of character makes ones gift somewhat void.

  • Benjamin Connelly says:

    You can see the theory behind Giant Steps in this circle.
    Using the inner circle’s darkly circled notes A, B, Dflat, Eflat, F G
    and the outer circles darkly circled notes C D E Gflat Aflat Bflat

    In giant steps. All Major Chords Eflat, B, and G are in the inner circle’s darkly circled notes. All dominant seven chords are in the outer circle’s darkly circled notes. Minor chords are functioning merely as appendages of the dominant chords.

    Try playing with this: The two circles allow for substituting surprising dominant seven chords to move in surprising directions:
    Conventional: G D7 D
    Conventional Jazzy: G D7 to Dflat
    Using this circle G Bflat7 to Eflat (see first line of giant steps for this move.)
    How bout this G E7 A ?
    Each one of the above moves uses a major chord from the inner circle a dominant from the outer and resolves down a fifth to the inner.

  • Chris troy says:

    The article referred to Einstein’s “quantum theory,” not theory of quantum gravity. Huge difference there. Also, although Einstein is most famous for his theory of gravity (general relativity),he is credited with being a pioneering of quantum physics. His nobel prize is for the Photoelectric effect(quantized light/counting photons).

    Also, quantum mechanics/physics isnt a rebuttal against Einstein. We simply cannot describe the behavior of nature at very very small scales in a “classical” way, that is, deterministically. His gravitational theory is just fine for general purposes. In fact NASA still uses newtonian gravity/mechanics something even less accurate.

    You might be thinking about the fact that Einstein did not accept the fact that the mathematics formulated to address the apparently quantum nature of matter was based on the statistical probabilities of it being in a certain place at a certain time. He believed that they simply had not yet uncovered the variables which truly and precisely determine the behavior. He was ostracized for this of course.

    Quantum gravity is the attempt by many physicist, from Einstein to today to unite quantum mechanics and general relativity. So the idea that one rebutts the other is just a false misconception. The problem is that the two work extremely well in their own domain.

    By the way i love jazz, coltrane, mathematics, physics, this article, and of course A Love Supreme.

  • Guy says:

    It’s all the golden ratio

  • Jourdan Hines says:

    Call me crazy, but I think part of the diagram is wrong:

    As you look to the left and the 9 o’clock position one of the “hearts” is facing the wrong direction. The bottom of the heart should be the note A which points towards the inner part of the circle.

    Anyone else catch this or have further comments on it?

  • gerald brennan says:

    And not a word about his theory or technique.

  • Ahmet İşsever says:

    Becoming a father for those who will follow the deeds; which may help in the science and in state of the art achievements must be that this person is a fine influence for those.
    May they be recalled in all goodly deeds, in the good light for-ever. Salutes in peace.

  • Raymond Foos says:

    While reading through the comments and replies i am mystified as to how many times those individuals who’ve commented or replied have misspelled John’s name…it’s Coltrane not Coltrain…i find it totally disrespectful to do so!!!

  • Marco Raaphorst says:

    You can see the circle of fiths or fourth in it.

  • bluzcat says:

    Coltrane

  • Michael in LA says:

    John Coltrane died at Huntington Hospital in Long Island of liver cancer. We can argue about the cause of his cancer and if his history of drug abuse was a contributing factor. Your description of him as dying destitute on a park bench is false.

  • Dolf says:

    I think “the same geometric principle that motivated Einstein’s” General Relativity” might work better. General Relativity involved a lot of Geometry.

    While Einstein argued with famous Quantum Mechanics proponents like Niels Bohr, he in fact was one of its originators whether he liked it or not. Einstein’s paper on the photoelectric effect showed that light was both a wave and a particle which is one of the bedrocks of Quantum Mechanics.

  • Reg says:

    IIt seems someone is double-guessing Bach and Mozart. This was far better illustrated on a training card in the 1960s.Shifting singers formant frequencies is far more interesting.

  • franco says:

    Don’t need any kind of cheap literature to undestand what’s he doing. You see the draw and instantly knows what means and how to play it. There’s no need to stupid mistycal references, take care that people talking calls brian eno a futuristic composer…

  • tommy molotov says:

    looks more like stalin’s notes at a debussy concert

  • Ziga says:

    Pure nonsense. There have always been and will always be innovators. The problem is that they belong to the age they come from and not to pre-established aesthetic ideals. There are plenty of composers, writers, painters, poets, etc., who will be recognized for their tremendous innovative strides in this age, but the chances are that you’ll never learn about them – they may not even be known outside of a very small circle of people for another hundred years. Shakespeare was relatively unknown during his lifetime and then disappeared until a revival of his work much later. Bach was pretty much completely forgotten. The other thing is, if you’re looking for “real art” to sound like Beethoven or read like Shakespeare, it’ll never happen – art is evolutive – it reflects the changes that we experience on a sociocultural level, as well as fundamental shifts in awareness. Please remember that many of the artists that we’ve made into icons over the years were never popular in their own time. Popularity is never an indicator of quality or innovation.

  • Rehan says:

    @ Ziga, Innovation by itself is not Art. Art is a communication of a ‘higher consciousness’ via matter to give us a glimpse of that state. It is the best evidence for an ‘after life’ (whether you believe in such or not) and said higher consciousness. Innovation many times comes from talent (mental instincts) and tend to have a ‘deadness’ to it. The music of Beethoven etc. does not come alive and show its true potentials in any of todays musicians. Also classical music cannot be recorded. Non classical generas hide behind amplification for appeal. Not that i’m against pop music btw.

    Many years back I got to hear a musician who could channel the super conscious (if you want evidence-not proof for the super conscious:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pzd7ReqiQnE) mind via the instrument (with a real vibrato). He got this gift after an auto accident. Only then did we hear what beethoven’s music was supposed to sound like. The entire audience was professional strings players from around the world (unlike the general public who jump at anything). None had heard anything like it before or since.

    One cannot appreciate the depth of the music of Bach, Beethoven and Mozart until one has heard a real musician in live performance. An extremely rare event. They no longer seem to be born, or the gifts or not available as they once were.

    Even the Jazz greats are supposed to be all dead according to some jazz musician who lamented on the Charlie Rose show. We’ve always known that in the classical world. So you cant judge classical until you’ve really heard it.

  • Lucas Gonze says:

    Back in the late 90s I came across this drawing in Lateef’s book and studied it closely. I found that it actually describes not a circle but a torus (aka donut) with a string winding around it. There are versions of the torus for all the symetrical intervals (semitone, whole tone, minor third, major third).

    I diagrammed each of these, and shared my work with Lateef. We had a warm conversation.

    He mentioned to me that “Coltrane was always drawing things like this.” This particular drawing was something Coltrane did between set breaks at a gig they did together. He gave it to Lateef at that gig.

  • Jim says:

    Mr. Callaway, where do you get your information? Clearly not from any factual source. “A park bench”? “Strength of character”? It’s like The World According to Sean Spicer.

  • CRB says:

    Coltrane is the correct spelling.

  • Coltrane's Naima says:

    Above all else, etc! Coltrane’s lyrics, A Love Supreme and ”
    Astral Travel ” and Einstein, ” You can’t Solve A Problem, Frim the Same Consciousness That Created It, You Learn To See The World Anew.” Nuff said by two of the most culturally competent spiritual genius giants who stepped on this planet ions ago, yesterday, today, and tomorrows will be relativity in cosmically sweet eternally.

  • Marco says:

    He got close, considering he used a 2D scheme. The solution to his mathematic breakthrough I believe correspond to the more accomplished “torsion field”; which, resembles the energy expansion and compression toward an infinite external rout and a single internal one.

  • miroslav says:

    Einstein received his Nobel Prize for discovery of the photoelectric effect law

  • Khalisax says:

    Brilliant,well spoken @ZIGA

  • kai says:

    Yes! I agree. ‘any musician will recognize as the “Circle of Fifths’ really isn’t helpful. This isn’t what any musician would recognise as the circle of fifths. I suppose you could say the 5ths are circled, but actually every single note is circled at some point in the drawing! Sure, you can pick out the 5ths if you know what they are, but I don’t think that’s what the image leads you to do that. If anything he’s highlighted C five times with numbers…which is…helpful? I pretty, and I imagine drawing it while you thinking about music is probably fun, but not especially useful!

  • Enrique says:

    Also there is a cycle of fifhts,watch carefully and you will recognise Ccb

  • Les says:

    Chinese American Dr Chou is the first (woman? person?) to hold two chairs in seperate departments: Music and Math at Harvard. Her sister was the secretary of Education in China, her mother wrote the first Wok cookbook and her father was the only person to speak all of the Chinese dialects (200?) . Watched him correct a word on the wallpaper at a Chinese restaurant in Berkely.

  • John says:

    Jean you are the only person who got those points correct. It was the discovery of the photovoltaic principle being quantized that won the Nobel. And quantum gravity was never considered in Einstein’s time, and only considered as part of the attempt to reconcile relativity with quantum mechanics.

  • Charles says:

    This is all nonsense. Coltrane was a brilliant musician, but it can be understood and appreciated (and played) without reference to Einstein and math. Just because someone says that musicians are subconsciously mathematicians doesn’t make it true.

    The article is just a collection of unsupported statements and more or less irrelevant quotes. And if it “feels Islamic” to one clarinetist doesn’t make it Islamic. Coltrane was influenced by music from Africa and India, to be sure. This appears to be written by someone with little grasp of harmony, and a desire to be seen as deep. To a musician who’s worked on Coltrane’s music it’s somewhat embarrassing to read.

  • DLH says:

    Your comments are elitist and narrow.

  • Louise Gregg says:

    When the arts transform you know you have arrived in a world you are heading for.

  • Asa Bove Sobelow says:

    Interesting comments on what the Coltrane diagram might represent. But HOW do you suppose Coltrane used it? Listening closely to his music might give insight to his use of this diagram to illustrate an intellectual grasp of his intuitive musical underpinnings. To focus on the rings is to miss a more subtle point and drown the conversation in intellectual sparring. The key is not found in the ring(s) themselves so much as it is found in the place where all the lines converge in the center. To Trane, I believe, the outer rings = human intellect (excellent for its intended purpose, but limited. The point where all lines converge = intuition (or perhaps for him, Spirit/Oneness). Coltrane, particularly in his more ‘spiritual’ work, did his sincerest best, as most musicians do, to replace ‘thinking’ with ‘feeling’ and thus, become more musically (personally?) transcendent.

  • ssingh says:

    It’s funny we make all this analysis about music assuming there are only 12 notes. There are infinite notes, just as there are infinite colors. The 12 tone system is convenient, but merely 12 points in the realm of infinite possibility. If we want to find real parallels between music and other realms of science/experience, we must look at the other aspects of sound/music. Exploration of the overtone series is a good place to start! Why not tune our musical scales to points on the overtone series? Much more harmonious and beautiful!

  • UJJWAL BOMZON TAMANG says:

    I HAVE BEEN WORKING ON SIREALISM FOR ALMOST 17 YEARS AND I FIND MEANING ON THIS GEOMETRY OF JOHN COLTRANE IT HAS THE MUSICAL MATHEMATICAL INDEPENDENCE OF THE UNITY 1, WHICH HE ALLOWS THE 4TH DEGREES TO BE THE EQUILIBRIUM CONSTANT WHICH DYNAMICS THE VALUE OF OTHER SCALE DEGREE SYSTEM IN DIFFERENT EQUALITY AND HARMONIC EQUIVALENCES.

  • Philip DiTullio says:

    These concepts are all in the Schillinger System of Musical Composition.

  • James says:

    It actually doesn’t say anything about ‘quantum gravity’ (which applies more broad quantum theory to the relatively narrow field of gravity). It’s actually quite interesting to think of Coltrane’s musical theory as being related to ‘quantum theory’, as western music and instruments arguably under-quantify tonality.

  • Dennis says:

    In 1968 I was listening to a Coltrane album. I cannot say that I know what a “trance” is, but that’s the word I’ll use. I went into a trance. It was not something I was trying to do.

    During the trance, Coltrane’s music translated, in my mind, to words, sentences, paragraphs of the English language. They had very specific meanings. When one side of the album ended I would eventually wake up out of the trance. I could not remember the English translation that I had heard while under the trance.

    I’d flip to the other side and play that side. I’d go into the trance again, and the same thing would happen. And NO, I wasn’t high. Yeah, it was the ’60s, but I never got involved in the drug crap.

    Of course, I have long wished to know what had happened back then. Did Coltrane DESIGN his music in that manner? By the way, I had not known a single thing, back then, about Coltrane’s spirituality. To me, it was just “good jazz.”

    Anyway, this article blows me away, because, in a way, it somewhat “confirms” for me that Coltrane was some kind of esoteric scientist or something. And I wonder if some scientists and/or mathematician could study Coltrane’s music and possibly derive, scientifically, some kind of relationship between the mathematics/physics of Coltrane’s music and the English language–or perhaps ANY language.

    When one thinks of the idea of morphogenic fields, collective consciousness (or the collective subconscious), then perhaps it can be imagined that the experience that I had in ’68 could have been duplicated by anyone, of any culture, who would have heard the translation of Coltrane’s music in their own language.

  • Ricardo says:

    It’s a nice drawing, for sure. But I’m afraid it’s just a matter of over-hyping Coltrane. People like to talk about Coltrane or Miles Davis like they were super humans, and people feel it’s really trendy to hype them.

    But actually, as great as they were, there are thousands of other jazz greats who are just as genius, if not more, but receive little or no attention at all. I guess it’s not fashionable to praise Count Basie or Dizzy Gillespie.

    It’s a matter of hype, fashion, and ego. To talk about Coltrane makes you look so profound and knowledgeable… it’s just an act.

  • paul niemiec says:

    Not a single person has mentioned Dennis Sandole, Coltrane’s teacher, and the person who showed Coltrane how to split the octave into three equal divisions. For a more interesting “Sacred Circle”, check out Pat Martino, who arranges the chromatic scale in a circle (similar to a clock face). Martino lays either a triangle or a square over the circle, which gives either an augmented chord or a diminished chord. Martino then generates every type of chord by raising (or lowering) successive notes in the augmented or diminished chords by a half-step. This is a completely different approach than generating the chords out of the major scale. Note that Martino was also a student of Dennis Sandole, and note that again we are talking about someone who is splitting the octave into even divisions of either three or four.

  • Grahame Rhodes says:

    Are you sure about the schillinger system thing? With reference to Giant Steps though and apart from “Have You Met Miss Jones” bridge I always thought it was the Slonimsky Melodic Patterns
    You’re right about Yusef Lateef though because Trane was interested in Indian Ragas which Layeef showed him.
    I have never read any influence regarding Schillinger though please clarify

  • Ecta says:

    Very true. Making assumptions about music based on Western modalities is ethnocentric. An example of an alternative is the Persian Dastgah system.

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