World In Tune tells the story of the achievements of people of the past, of their ideas and their creations. Every step we take is on the ground that has been prepared by someone in the past – whether the shoes on our feet or the bread we eat, the wheels and engines that propel us – everything has its roots in the past with people whose names we’ll never know.
In hindsight we can look back over time and see how great ideas came to fruition. One of these times was around 3000 BCE when agriculture was the way of life for most of the peoples in our study. It was a revolution that changed lives, somewhat like the computer today.
So that’s when our story begins, with people growing crops. For we who go to the supermarket and buy whatever we wish, growing food doesn’t sound like a big thing. But it was for them — their lives depended on what they could grow. And think what was needed in order to understand how to produce food. People had to pay attention to the seasons; in order to do this they had to observe the sun in the day and the stars at night. Vegetation needs sunlight but also water.
In Egypt for instance, an entire civilization was formed around the flooding of the Nile. To know when this would occur, someone had to study the night sky along with how to direct the water flow on the ground to reach the crops. Projects of irrigation, observation of the stars, the seasons, the preservation of food etc. – all this needed a great deal of labor, thought, invention, organization and trade. People began living a more collective life and with this process the civilizations of China, India, Sumer/Babylon, Egypt and Greece were born.
One thing to keep in mind is that the people living 5000 years ago had the same brain structure as we have today. These weren’t Hollywood savages grunting inarticulate sounds and waving clubs in the air. They were human beings with a mind to invent, a heart to dream of what was possible and a body to accomplish what was needed to be done.
Okay — we arrive at the core of our story – the linchpin that holds everything together: let’s call it listening, or if you wish, song or music. That sounds like a strange basis for a study, but is it? The Judeo-Christian tradition tells us “In the beginning was the Word” (vibration). In the Hindu tradition Shiva dances the world into Being.
Did you know that in the past in China, the first duty of a new emperor was to find the correct sound for his reign? When the previous emperor’s reign came to an end, it was because it was out of balance, out of tune. The new emperor would send his minister in search of this sound; when it was found a complete set of bamboo pipes was tuned to it. These pipes, called “lus” became the basis for their weights and measures.
Sounds like a fairy tale — it isn’t. Not only did this happen, but the lus were tuned more accurately than, for instance, the piano is tuned today. Music is an art form which touches the heart but also crosses over to the world of physics and mathematics – that study is called acoustics.
Have you noticed something here? One fact is connected to another. First we talk about how people live (History), then tell their stories (Literature). These stories long ago were chanted or sung (Music) and music is based on mathematical principles. Our study, World In Tune, makes connections — it’s integrative.
Enough of this!
Let’s tell the story.
World In Tune is a program for students which integrates Literature, History, Math, and Art with Music as the core study. The civilizations included are Egypt, Sumer/Babylon, India, China, and Greece. Time covered approximately 3000 BCE to the common era.
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