• musicalmusings

The Rosslyn Motet

Updated: Jun 15, 2019


Different cymatic symbols based on different notes.

I don't even need to try to make a witty or interesting point here. This video at the bottom and the story behind it hold their own. Watch the video. But first, the background info.


Cymatics are extremely fascinating! They are the result of sound, vibrations and matter coming together, a phenomenon discovered by a medical doctor and natural scientist, Hans Jenny. Using various mediums such as liquids, sand and powders, placed on a metal plate, he would create a pure tone of sound (like a note from a musical scale) and the vibrations from that tone, through the plate, would create shapes and patterns that we also see in nature (ie. tortoise shell, leopard spots, fractal spiral, spider web, flowers, tree rings, etc). It was also discovered that each note, whole tones and semi-tones, and octaves, make their own vibration and shape (see photo above). Cymatics can also be formed in water.


A cymatic pattern in a glass of water.

You with me so far? Now take that fact, that each note of a scale can make its own unique shape or symbol, and then you will understand "The Rosslyn Motet" and the amazing story behind it. If you have seen The Da Vinci Code then you will remember the chapel where the whole movie culminates, Rosslyn Chapel, in Scotland. In the movie the chapel is where the body of Mary Magdalene was supposedly being kept before it was moved to La Louvre. But the real truth behind Rosslyn Chapel is much more fascinating!


In the 15th century, a very talented and clever musician was inspired to write a beautiful piece of music, then conceal it, note-by-note, in a series of cymatic symbols carved in cubes all around the chapel. Each cube is placed sequentially on an arch in a musical way, and an angel playing a certain musical instrument can be found at the end of each arch. Composer Stuart Mitchell spent 27 years studying the chapel and cracking the code, and then his son, Thomas J. Mitchell helped him match pitch and tonality to the symbols. What they uncovered was a divinely inspired, spine-tingling, ethereal piece of music.


I was fortunate enough to be able to visit Rosslyn Chapel in 2017 and so this place is dear to my heart. The place certainly is brimming with mystery, and I wouldn't be surprised if it was hiding even more! For more information about the Mitchell duo and their incredible discovery, click here: https://stuart-mitchell.com/rosslyn.html


And now....<drum roll, please>.....the video! Watch it. Just watch it!



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