The Rosslyn Motet: The Da Vinci Code Of Medieval Music?

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Rosslyn Chapel 

Rosslyn Chapel is located in Edinburgh Scotland; it is believed to hold many secrets.  Linked to Freemasonry, the Knights Templar, the Prior de Sion and other legends, many say it holds the secret to the “Holy Grail”. 

Recently, the father and son of team of Thomas and Stuart Mitchell believe they’ve cracked one of the codes, that of the Music Angel Stave.  There are 13 angels holding staves carved in relief in the architecture of the Rosslyn Chapel.  In the ceiling of carved arches, near the angels, 213 decorated cubes with patterns adorn the framework.  Each cube has a specific geometric pattern.   Thomas and Stuart Mitchell believe these patterns are actually coded notes.

Ernst Florens Fredrich Chladni, a noted German physicist was born in 1756 and, up to this time, was the first person believed to show graphic representations of vibrations within a surface.  His technique has been used in the design and construction of acoustic instruments and has also been used to examine the specifics of the famous design of the Stradivarius Violins.  This type of wave phenomena study is known cymatics and this was the “key” to cracking the code of the geometric patterns found in the cubes at Rosslyn.  Each pattern carved onto a cube, Mitchell believes, is an exact two-dimensional representation of a specific pitch.

This new discovery by the Mitchells now calls into question the musical and scientific understandings of those who built the chapel almost 300 years prior. It is possible that the builder of the chapel, Sir Walter St. Clair, or his colleagues, were privy to sciences centuries ahead of their time. 

Another extremely interesting musical item that will, no doubt, soon be examined because of the Rosslyn discovery is “our” collective understanding of the timeline of “fixed pitch”.  It was not until 1939 that the musical note “A” was standardized at 440 cycles per second. Music notes prior to the 20th century and especially those prior to the 19th century were not universally standardized or utilized.  For example: an organ found in one geographical area might have its “keys” 4-6 semitones different than those of an organ found in a different geographical area.

Marin Marsenne, up to this time, was the first person to establish a formal determination of audible tones and pitches and related them to a specific pitch.  This was brought forth in his 1636 treatsie, Harmonie Universelle and was apparently not widely adopted.  The carvings of the Music Angels in the Rosslyn Chapel themselves create a new arena for discussion about specific pith relations as the music staves found in the hands of the angels show the angel’s fingers pointing to specific lines on each staff. Interestingly, those lines represent semi-tones that correlate exactly to the pitches found by Stuart Mitchell using his cymatic techniques with the cubes.  The cubes seem to be specific note frequencies tied to specific lines on the staves that were carved 190 years before Marsenne wrote his treatise about pitch and note specificity! 

A documentary was made to help people understand the complexities of the physics involved with the deciphering of the cubes and how they relate to pitch.  A concert is scheduled for May 18th of this month at Rosslyn Chapel debuting the Motet that was outlined by the pitches carved on the stone cubes.  This concert has been sold out; however, there is another one being scheduled for June.

The documentary:

[youtube cy2Dg-ncWoY Rosslyn Stave Angel Cipher]

More information can be found about the chapel and the musical stone cubes here:

Joseph Pisano

[tags]rosslyn chapel, rosslyn motet, da vinci code, music, rosslyn, cipher, cymatics, angel stave music, angel, cubes, medieval music, marsenne, chladni [/tags]

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Joseph M. Pisano, Ph.D. is an industry innovator, education clinician and lecturer, trumpeter and conductor, and the creator of many education websites. He is currently the Vice President of Innovation and Engagement at Keystone Ridge Designs, Inc. After twenty-three years as a professor and administrator at Grove City College, he made the move into industry in 2018.  As one of the youngest full professors in Grove City’s history, he served in various roles over his tenure including the Technical Director of the Pew Fine Arts Center, Assistant and Associate Chairs of Music and Music and Fine Arts, Director of Music and Fine Arts Technology, Director of Jazz Studies, Stage Manager, and he finished his tenure as the Director of Bands where he directed the college’s Symphonic Concert Band, Wind Ensemble, Marching Band, Pep Bands, and various small ensembles.

He been named a TI:ME Teacher of the Year, received the JEN Jazz Educator Award, the PA Citation of Excellence, and named a “member for life” of the PA Intercollegiate Bandmasters Association. He is a past Vice President of the Technology Institute for Music Educators, an associate member of the American Bandmasters Association,  a past President of the PA Intercollegiate Bandmasters Association, and a member of various education and music honoraries. He has written for numerous publications including DCI Magazine, Teaching Music Magazine, and was the Educational Editor for In-Tune Monthly Magazine for eight years; he has contributed hundreds of articles to various publications. He is an active conductor, trumpeter, clinician, and educator. Find out more at his website

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