The Inner Nature of Music and the Experience of Tone by Rudolf Steiner

A Series of Seven Lectures from 1906 - 1923

Published by Anthroposophic Press, Inc. in 1987

Book Notes by Bobby Matherne ©1996

To glimpse the importance of music, one must come to understand that all the other arts "actually have models in the physical world." The models for music originated in the higher spiritual worlds, not the physical worlds. Instead of trying to prove this is not true by coming up with exceptions you can think of right away, try asking instead the question: How does one enter these spiritual worlds? Steiner says it begins in meditation, a "great stillness", in which the meditator "excludes the memories and experiences of the outer sense world". With extended periods of meditation, his dreams take on a regularity and "when he awakens in the morning, it feels as if he arose out of a flowing cosmic ocean." In his dreams he begins to experience a world of light and color, of beings composed of light and color. Soon he comes to see that "The physical world is a kind of condensation that has been crystallized out of the astral world". In the next higher stage, he remains conscious during the non-dreaming portion of his sleep and enters a new world, "not one of light and colors but . . . a world of tone." The world of tone is added to the world of light and one can bring back the experience of tone and create it in the physical world. Steiner sums this up by saying,

All objects have a spiritual tone at the foundation of their being, and, in his deepest nature, man himself is such a spiritual tone. On this basis, Paracelsus said, 'The realms of nature are the letters, and man is the word that is composed of these letters.'

There is much more in this book than any brief review can do justice to, much more than a single reading can do justice to, in fact, one must almost read and understand most of Steiner's other works before one can begin to comprehend the depths of information contained in this small volume. Erika V. Asten says in the Foreword, "This volume contains the only two sets of lectures that Rudolf Steiner gave primarily on musical subjects."

How does the experience of tone affect us today? Steiner says of man, "The world of tones draws my 'I' and my astral body out of my physical and etheric bodies." This describes rather well what the lyrics of this popular song seems to be saying, "Give me the beat boys, and fill my soul; I want to get lost in your Rock and Roll and drift away . . ."