Hot Air is a high-toned production, so every so often it’s important to take a break from blogging about Fred the Rampaging Bald-Headed Sex Monster and check into the world of cryptographic archaeology and medieval motets.
If there’s one good thing about the Da Vinci Code, it’s that it provided a hook for an amazing story like the one of Rosslyn Chapel, in Midlothian, Scotland. Weird carvings (other than these) around the 15th-century building had given rise to all kinds of wacky theories about their true meaning. A father-and-son team deciphered them and discovered that they reveal the location of a lost Rambaldi artifact.
Um, no, wait. That they reveal the notes of a beautiful song:
“I was obsessed by these symbols. I was convinced they meant something.” Using codebreaking skills learned during the Korean War and his knowledge of classical music, Thomas Mitchell finally realised that the cubes depicted patterns made by sound waves.
“After scratching our brains for years the whole thing just came together in a eureka moment. We believe this is the Holy Grail of music and, unlike The Da Vinci Code, it is absolutely factual.” Mr Mitchell realised the patterns on the cubes seem to match a phenomenon called cymatics or Chladni patterns. These form when a note is used to vibrate a sheet of metal or glass covered in powder.
I love stuff like this! Here’s an audio link to the motet being performed, which I guarantee will lower your blood pressure.
Some ancient churches, of course, are not so lucky.