The ancient Greeks were the first to discover and articulate a need for musical temperament. However, other forms of music evolved alongside tempered music without recognizing any such need. Music we might describe as indigenous or native is usually untempered and every bit as beautiful; in some ways, maybe more so.
This is the music we meditate to because it allows us to simplify, relax, and recharge: the music of Native America, of India and Indonesia — music we might describe as Eastern European, Asian, or Tartarian — is all considered to be natural and untempered music.
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Of course, we’re already familiar with Asia and Indonesia, but where was Tartaria? It’s been scrubbed from modern maps, but the Ortelius map, below, from 1603 shows Tartaria located in Asia, northwest of China, west of Mongolia, and east of Russia.
However, a set of stones referred to as the Tartarian tablets were found further west, in central Romania. Dr. Stephen Guide, in his book, The Thracian Script Decoded, discusses the Thracian Amulet of Tartaria, linking the ancient place names of Thrace and Tartary.
It was from Thrace that the musical demigod Orpheus emerged as the “father of songs.” He was believed, by the ancient Greeks, to be the greatest of all musicians, saying that his singing could divert the course of rivers and could enchant animals. The name of Orpheus is speculated to derive from the Greek word: órphnē (ὄρφνη), meaning darkness of the night, or darkness of the underworld. And this is the same meaning given to the place name of Tartaria or, as the Greeks called it, Tartarus (Τάρταρος), which was their place name for the hell that confined fallen angels.
The music of Orpheus was said to be enchanting and very pleasing to the ear. But oddly enough, the ancient Greek political philosopher Plato rejected the idea of tuning music by ear, as he illustrates in a conversation between Glaucon and Socrates in his book, The Republic:(531a-d): “Or do you not know that they repeat the same procedure in the case of harmonies? They transfer it to hearing and measure audible concords and sounds against one another, expending much useless labor… preferring their ears to their minds…”
Plato believed music could encourage lowly appetites and for this reason, he wanted music to be regulated: “But, even though they be not musical, those poems shall be sung which are composed by men who are personally good and honored in the State as performers of noble deeds. The adjudication of these shall lie with the Educator and the rest of the Law-wardens, who shall grant them the sole privilege of free speech in song; whereas to the others no permission shall be given; nor yet shall anyone venture to sing an unauthorized song…”