Sensuality and Proportion
A primer in sound for architects.

Pythagoras evolved a whole way of looking at life from counting beans.

II. Pythagoras 2: Discerning value in number.

One is a whole in itself. In contemplating a bean's one-ness we are comparing it to itself. We can observe that it is not uniform but whole - if you plant it instead of eating it contains the potential for many beans. The 'one-ness' of one, in practical, experiential terms means 'me' the 'I am', and also 'the whole world viewed as one' - the cosmos. Musically it is the whole of a piece of music, architecturally the whole of the building or the whole of a city. In Greek the Monad. The number: < one > gives the geometric < locus, point, circle, sphere > and 0-dimensional space, that is to say there is only <here>.

Two enables comparison of one thing to another. In practical terms. 'You and me', and also 'night and day', 'male and female' and so on. Musically it is <this and then that>, architecturally <solid and void> and so on. In Greek the unlimited Dyad. The number: < two > gives the geometric < line > and 1-dimensional space, that is to say <here and there> and all points in between.

Three enables comparison of you, me and something else, everything that comes in threes. In Greek the Tryad. The number: < three > gives the geometric <plane > a triangle, and 2-dimensional space, that is to say <height and width>

Four gives everything that comes in fours: the four seasons, the four points of the compass, and so on. The number four gives three dimensional space (a tetrahedron) height width and depth.

All these are combined into the decad, within which are endless inter-plays of these four numbers.

One can see that this way of thinking about number is at the same time very practical, embodied, matter of fact, and also profound. It is not just that one has experienced this, or thought in those terms, one has actually been it [1]

In the next page we examine number applied.



[1] As an egg, a fetilised egg, a two-celled creature, mind body and spirit, and so on.

©Marcus Beale 2002

Sensuality and Proportion
A primer in sound for architects.