Metamusica is a record label curated by the composer and sound artist Ulises Conti, where projects are published in different formats (vinyls, CDs, digital and scores) possesses the particularity of which his publishing offer is sealed by different kinds and styles. In much of the cases, the works published do not belong to musicians and composers, but to artists of other disciplines with marked musical worries either. From the year 2003 the record label has distribution channels both in Asia and Europe and in different countries of America.

by Leopoldo Lugones (1874-1938)

As it had been several weeks since I had seen him, when I ran into him I asked, "are you sick?"
"No. Better than ever and happy as a clam. If you only knew what I'd been up to, shut in these last two months!"

So it had been two months apparently since he had disappeared from his literary circle, his favorite cafes, even the paradise of the opera, his predilection. Poor John had a weakness: music. In good times, when his opulent and respected father bought box seats, John could surrender to his favorite passion in total comfort. Later came the collapse – lesser titles, mortgages, estate sales... The old man died of grief and John found himself in that singular autonomy of orphanhood that reaches, on one extreme, to the slum and, on the other, to the humble inn (two courses without wine). To avoid becoming a guest of the local prison, he became a factotum who cost much but produced little; but there are churchgoers midway on the path who fear life enough to have respect for it, who end up tucked in beside their lawfully betrothed after having dreamt up twenty escapades. John's existence eventually became completely monotonous. His studio, his books, and his stool were for him an obligation and a gift. He studied much, transforming himself into a formidable theorizer. Analogous conditions, and opinions, brought us together, made us into friends, and concluded by uniting us in sincere affection. The only thing that came between us was music, but I never understood a word of his disquisitions, or, better said, I never could be moved by them, appearing to me false in praxis, which through ratiocination should have been clear; and, as in art comprehension is intimately tied to the emotion felt, since I felt nothing in music it is obvious that I did not understand it. 

This depressed my friend, whose eloquence grew in proportion to my inability to enjoy with him that which, he feeling superior emotion, appeared to me confused gibberish. He still kept a piano from his past largesse, a magnificent instrument whose chords footnoted his ideas when my rebellious emotions failed. 

"I concede that words cannot express it," he said, "but listen. Open the doors of your spirit wide. It is impossible that you can fail to understand."

And his fingers ran along the keyboard in a kind of mystic exaltation. Thus we spent our saturday evenings in debate, alternating between lyric dissertations and scientific themes in which John was very strong, and reciting verse. Three the following morning was our usual hour of farewell. You be the judge if our conversation continued after eight weeks of separation. 

"And the music, John?"
"My dear friend, I have made important discoveries." 

His physiognomy took on such serenity, that I believed him without question. But an idea occurred to me immediately.

"Are you composing?"
His eyes shone.
"Better than that, much better than that. You are a cherished friend and can be told. Saturday night, like always, you already know; my house; but tell no one, eh? No one!" he added, almost frighteningly. 

He went quiet for a moment, then, pinching his ear in a sign of confidentiality, a malicious smile spread across his fevered lips. 

"Then you will understand at last. Then you'll see. Till saturday, eh?" 

And as I watched him questioningly, he added, leaping onto a tram, but in a way that only I could hear, "The colors of music!"  

It was Wednesday. I had to wait three days to know the meaning of that phrase. The colors of music! he had said to me. Would it be some phenomenon of colored audition? Impossible? John is too stable of a guy to fall for that. He seems excited, but nothing points to hallucinations. After all, why can there not be truth in his discovery? He knows much, is ingenious, persevering, intelligent... Music has not impeded his cultivating a foundation of mathematics, and mathematics are the salt of the spirit. Well then, we'll wait. But, despite my resignation, an intense curiosity overpowered me; and the ingeniously hypocritical pretext of this kind of situation did not wait to present itself. John was sick, without a doubt, I told myself. Abandoning him in such a state would hardly be sensible. The best thing for it is to visit him, speak to him, do all I can to prevent something worse. I will go tonight. And that very night I went, though I recognized in my intent more curiosity than I would have liked. 

The clock struck nine when I reached his house. The door was locked. An unknown servant came to admit me. I thought it best to present myself as a trusted friend, and after exchanging greetings I asked, in my most confidential intonation,  "Is John home?" 

"No, sir. He has gone out."
"Will he be back soon?"
"He said nothing."
"Because if he will be back soon," I added, insistingly, "I beg your permission to wait for him in his room. I am a close friend and have something urgent to communicate to him." 
"Some nights he does not return at all." 

This evasion revealed to me that it amounted to an order, and I decided to leave without insisting. I returned Thursday, Friday, with the same result. John didn't want to receive me; and this, frankly, exasperated me. Saturday, I would remain strong, I would conquer my curiosity, and I would not go. By Saturday at nine, I will have taken control of this puerility. John opened the door himself. 

"I am sorry. I know you have been looking for me. I wasn't home. I had to go out every night."
"Yes. You have become quite the mysterious person."
"I see that my discovery truly interests you."
"Not much, but, look, frankly, hearing you talk about the colors of music, I feared what I had to fear, and there you have the cause of my insistence." 
"Thank you. I want to believe you, and I do not dally in assuring you that I am not insane. Your doubt wounds my very inventor's heart, but we are too close of friends not to offer you recompense."

Meanwhile, we had crossed a patio filled with plants. We passed down a hallway, turned to the right, and, opening a door, John said, "Go in. I'll ask for coffee."  

It was the usual room, with his desk, his wardrobe, his bookcase, his iron cot. I noticed the piano was missing. John returned that moment. 
"And the piano?"
"It is in the next room. These days I'm rich. I have two salons."
"What opulence!" 

This brought up the subject. John, who tasted his coffee with pleasure, began quietly: 

"Let us speak seriously. You are going to see something interesting. You are going to see, hear me well. This is not theory. The notes each possess their, not arbitrary, but real color. Hallucinations and delusions have nothing to do with this. Machines do not lie, and my machine makes the colors of music perceptible. Three years before I met you, I began experiments that today are crowned a success. No one knew. At home, on the one hand, independence was very prominent, as you will remember. The house of a widower with grown children... I say this to excuse my reserve, which I hope you will not attribute to a lack of confidence, but I would like to give you a description of my methods, before I begin my little scientific celebration."

We lit cigarettes and John continued.

"We know the theory of the unity of force, that movement is, depending on the case, light, heat, sound, etc; these differences – which essentially do not exist, and therefore are specific modes of perception registered by our nervous system – are dependent on a lesser or greater number of vibrations in the ether. 

"So, then, in all sound there is light, heat, static electricity, just as in all light there is in turn electricity, heat, and sound. The ultraviolet spectrum belies the limit of light and is then color, which, when it reaches a certain phase, converts to light. Electricity is the same. Why couldn't the same occur with sound, I asked myself, and from that moment on my problem remained fixed. The musical scale is represented by a series of numbers whose proportion, with doh as the keynote, is well known, so harmony finds itself constructed by numerical proportions, or, in other terms, is composed of the relation of aerial vibrations through a chord of dissimilar movements. The same thing happens in all music, no matter its origin. The Greeks, who only knew three of the consonances of the scale, came to identical proportions: 1 to 2, 3 to 2, 4 to 3. It is, as you can see, mathematical. There must be the same relationship between the frequencies of light. The 1 of the doh is represented by the vibration of 369 millionths of a millimeter that composes violet, and the 2 of the octave by its double; that is to say, by the 738 that produce red. The other notes each correspond to a color. Well now, my ratiocination unfolded in this manner: when we hear a sound, we do not see light, we do not feel heat, we can not measure the electricity produced, because the waves of heat, light, and electricity are imperceptible in their given amplitudes. For the same reason we can't hear light sing, though light sings, really and truly, when its vibrations, which constitute the colors, form harmonic proportions. Each perception has a limit of intensity, after which, for us, it converts into the imperceptible. In the majority of cases these limits do not coincide, which is due to the progressive labor of differentiation carried out by the senses of higher organisms; in such a way that when something produces a vibration, we do not perceive more than one of its subsequent manifestations, because the others have either exceeded our threshold, or have not reached the minimum limit of perception. However, sometimes it achieves simultaneity. Hence, we see the color of a light, feel its heat, and measure its electricity..." 

All of this was logical; but as for sound, I had a very simple objection to make and I made it.

"It is clear; and if, with sound, it does not happen this way, it is because it is made by an aerial vibration, while the others are vibrations in the ether."

"Perfectly; but the aerial wave provokes etherial vibrations, since it disturbs the ether between molecules of air as it spreads. What is this secondary vibration? I have determined that it is light. Who knows if tomorrow a supersensitive thermometer will be able to measure the temperature of sound? A very learned man, unjustly forgotten, Louis Lucas, says the following, in his Chimie Nouvelle, 'If one studies carefully the properties of the monochord, one notes that in the entire sonic hierarchy there do not exist, in reality, more than three points of primary importance: the tonic, the fifth, and the third, being the octave reproduction of them above and below, and maintaining in the three resonances the tonic as point of support; the fifth is its antagonist and the third an indifferent point, ready to follow whichever of the two contraries acquires dominance. This is also what we find in three simple bodies, whose relative importance it is not necessary to remember: hydrogen, mercury, and oxygen. The first, for its absolute negativity in the presence of other metaloids, for its essentially basic properties, takes the role of the tonic, or place of relative repose; oxygen, for its antagonizing properties, occupies the place of the fifth; and, finally, the well-known indifference of mercury gives it the job of the third.' Do you see that I am not alone in my conjectures, I am not even going that far? What's more, we arrive sooner than later at the description of my experiment. Before anything, I had three paths to choose: either siphoning off sound as it passed through some material that absorbed it, allowing nothing to pass through except the waves of light – something similar to animal carbon for coloring compounds; or build chords so massive that their vibrations could be registered not in thousands but millions of millions of vibrations per second, in order to transform my music into light; or to restrict the expansion of light waves, invisible in sound, contain it in its passage, reflect it, strengthen it until it reaches the limit of perception, and watch it on some conveniently placed screen. 

"Of the three probable methods, I am sorry to tell you I chose the last; because the first two each required a prior discovery, whereas the third is an application of known technology."

"Age dum!" he continued, evoking his Latin, as his opened the door to the adjoining room.

"Here you have my machine," he added, as I was shocked to see before me, resting on a ledge, a box some six feet in length that looked exactly like a coffin. The conical bell of some kind of bugle jutted from one of its sides. A piece of crystal, which looked to me like the facet of a prism, projected from the lid on the far end. A white screen hung over this great box on a metal stand located near the middle of the lid. 

John leaned on the machine and I sat down on the piano bench.

"Listen carefully."
"You have no idea."
"The pavilion you see here captures sonic waves. This pavilion is fixed to the far end of a tube of black glass, double paned, in which a vacuum has been siphoned off to a millionth of an atmosphere. The double wall of the tube is designed to contain a layer of water. Sound dies in it and in the thick padding which surrounds it. Only light remains and the expansion of its waves must be constrained so that they don't reach suprasensible amplitudes. The black glass captures it, and, aided by the refraction of water, approaches an almost total reduction. What's more, the water absorbs the resulting heat. 
"But, why the black glass?"
"Because black light has a higher vibration than all others, and as a consequence the space between movement and movement is restricted, the rest cannot pass through the interstices and are reflected. It is perfectly analogous to the string on tops that spin by conserving distances proportional to their size. A bigger top, though possessing a lesser velocity, tries to slip past, but produces a shock that forces it back upon itself. 
"And the others, don't they bounce back too?"
"This is the setback the water is designed to prevent."
"Very good. Continue."
"The light wave, once reduced, reaches at the end of the tube a disk of mercury that is mounted there; a disk that stops it in its path." 
"Ah, the inevitable mercury."
"Yes. Mercury. When professor Lippmann used it to correct interferences with light waves in his discovery of color photography, I took note; and success did not dally in crowning my foresight. So, then, my disk of mercury contains the wave moving through the tube, and reflects it upward by means of another set against it. In this second tube, three unbreakable prisms are arranged that  reinforce the light wave to the degree necessary to perceive it as an optical sensation. The number of prisms was determined by rough calculation, and the last of them, the third, closing the end of the tube, is that which you see jutting out here. We have, then, suppressed the sonic vibration, reduced the amplitude of the light wave, contained its passage, and reinforced its action. There is nothing left for us to do but see it."
"And, you can see it?"
"You can see it, my dear friend. You can see it on this screen. But something is still missing."

That something is my piano, whose keyboard I was forced to transform into a series of seven white keys and seven blacks, to conserve the true relationship of the transpositions of one tonic note to another; a relationship established by multiplying the note by the interval of the minor semitone. My piano remains changed, thus, into an exact instrument, though one much more difficult to play. Common pianos, constructed according to the principal of tempered range, which I shall remember later, erase the difference between the major and minor tones and semitones in such a way that all of the sounds of the octave are reduced to twelve, when in reality they are fourteen. Mine is an exact and complete instrument. Now then, this reformation is equivalent to abolishing the tempered range in current use, although, as I said, inexact as it may be, all this is due, justly, to the enormous progress achieved by instrumental music since Sebastian Bach, who consecrated it with forty-eight compositions. This is clear, no?

"What do I know of all this? What I am seeing is that you have chosen me as a wall chooses to have a ball bounced off of it."
"I believe it useless to remind you that one does not rest except against that which resists."
We grew quiet, smiling, until John said to me, "do you continue to believe, then, that music expresses nothing?"
Before this insolent question, off track by a thousand miles from the argument of our conversation, I asked him in turn, "have you read Hanslick?"
"Yes. Why?"
"Because Hanslick, whose critical competence you will not deny, maintains that music expresses nothing, that it only evokes feelings." 
"Hanslick says that? Well then, I maintain, without being any kind of German critic, that music is the mathematical expression of the soul."
"No. Perfectly demonstrable facts. If you multiply the semidiameter of the earth by 36, you obtain Plato's five musical scales, corresponding to the five senses."
"And why 36?"
"There are two reasons: one mathematical, the other psychic. According to the first, one needs thirty six numbers to fill the intervals of the octaves, the fourths, and the fifths, up to 27, with harmonic numbers."
"And why 27?"
"Because 27 is the sum of the cubic numbers, 1 and 8; of the linear numbers, 2 and 3; and of the planar numbers, 4 and 9; that is to say, of the mathematical bases of the universe. The psychic reason is that 36, the total of all the harmonic numbers, represents, additionally, that of the human emotions."
"Gozzi the Venetian, Goethe, and Schiller affirmed that no more than thirty six dramatic emotions must exist. An scholar, J. Polti, demonstrated in the year '94, if I'm not mistaken, that that quantity was exact and that the number of human emotions does not exceed thirty six."
"How curious!"
"In effect, and more curious still, if one takes into account my own observations. The sum, or absolute value of the digits of 36 is 9, an irreducible number; and so all of its multiples repeat if you perform the same operation on them. 1 and 9 are the only absolute or permanent numbers; and, in this fashion, with 27 as well as 36, equal to 9 in the absolute value of their digits, are numbers of the same category. This gives origin, moreover, to a proportion. 27, or be it the total of the geometric bases, is to 36, the sum of human emotions, as x, the soul, is to the absolute 9. Performing the operation determines that the unknown term is 6. Six, notice carefully – the ternary double that, in the sacred symbology of the ancients, signified the equilibrium of the universe. What do you say to that?"

His expression had become luminous and strange. 
"The universe is music," he continued, becoming animated, "Pythagoras was right, and from Timaeus to Kepler, all the sages felt this harmony. Eratosthenes fixed the celestial scale, the tones and semitones between star and star. I believe I have something better; such that, having been given the fundamental notes of the music of the spheres,  I reproduce in geometrically combined colors the schema of the cosmos!"

What was this madman saying? What whirlwind of extravagancies was spinning in his head? I barely had time to notice when the piano began to play. 

John once more became inspired as he caressed the keys.

"My music," he was saying, "is formed by the chords of the minor third introduced in the 17th century and that even Mozart considered imperfect, despite everything being to the contrary; but its substance is comprised of those inverted chords classified in Palestrina's music as the melody of angels..."

Truthfully, those sounds moved me down to my very nature. They had nothing in common with the usual harmonies, and I can tell you that they weren't really even music; but what is certain is that they submerged the spirit in a serene ecstasy, formed as they say from antiquity and distance.
John continued.

"Observe on the screen the distribution of colors that accompanies the musical emission. What you are hearing is a harmony in which the specific notes of each planet in the solar system appear; and this simple combination ends with the sublime octave of the sun, which I have never dared to play. I am afraid of producing excessively powerful influences. Don't you feel something strange?"

I felt, in effect, as if the room's atmosphere were disturbed by invisible presences. Silent flashes crossed its expanse. And through the beatitude with which the grave sweetness of that harmony graced me, a kind of electric aura was freezing me with dread. But I could make out nothing on the screen except a vague phosphorescence and the sketches of figures... Right away, I understood. In our shared exaltation, we had forgotten to turn out the light. I went to do so, when John screamed in total rapture over the stupendous sound of the instrument.

"Look now!"

I also let out a scream, because something terrible had just happened. A dazzling flame burst from the center of the screen. John, his hair standing on end, rose to his feet, dreadful. His eyes had just evaporated like drops of water under the beams of those flaming darts, and he, unaware of the pain, radiant with madness, reaching out his arms towards me, exclaimed, 

"The octave of the sun, my boy! The octave of the sun!"