The Most Beloved Chord in Music History: Part 2

In Part 1, I explained why the perfect fifth chord is the most beloved chord in music history. To put it simply, the brain, through the nerves in the ear, has the easiest time receiving the transmitted information from the perfect fifth chord after the ear drum hears it. It's like watching a state-of-the-art, crystal clear television instead of watching a TV made in the '80s.

Before I go any further, here is a little aside to any newcomers: I promised that Part 2 would explain how the fifth chord contains spiritual truth in it. Why would I look for that? Because I'm exploring the premise of Christianity. The premise of Christianity is simple: a single Personality whose core nature is love -- i.e. the Triune Creator who lived in an eternal Community (Father, Son, Holy Spirit), the uncaused cause of all communities -- made everything, and He hid messages in every layer of Creation from the cosmos to nano-particles to everything in between -- including the natural physics of sound. This blog acts upon this premise by searching natural phenomenon in Creation, such as sound, and wondering aloud (in blog form) whether any spiritual truth that can be discerned.

Okay, on to the fifth chord and how it contains spiritual truth placed there by God -- sort of an Easter egg hunt:

The ancient Greeks had four words for love -- four distinct ideas about love. The Bible recognizes these either by its use of a few of them in the New Testament or by its depiction of their meaning. Our modern culture is fairly shallow and overly simplistic in its linguistic expression of love. We only have one word for love, and we usually mean the romantic kind, as Western culture is obsessed with Romantic Love (eros, in the Greek).

The perfect fifth chord is a perfect picture of one of the four loves -- storge, in the Greek -- the love that, according to C.S. Lewis, has its nearest approximation in the word Affection. The Greek idea of Affection meant a love of either 1) family, i.e. those most familiar to us; or 2) the love of the familiar, of routine patterns, of things or people that make us feel comfortable and happy simply because they're familiar -- whether or not they're friendly to us or are even lovable as human beings.

A perfect example of Affection is when you've been working at a job for 20 years, and you see the same person at the copy machine at 9am every morning. You don't know the person very well, and they're not nice to you at all, but they have become such a familiar part of your routine that if they suddenly died and were no longer at the copier like they always are at 9am, sipping their morning coffee and humming some song they heard on the radio, you would feel sad. You don't miss them until they're gone, and then you realize that you had developed an Affection (storge) for them simply because they were a familiar part of your routine. That is just one very ordinary example of how Affection works.

Our love of the familiar is a source of great comfort in life, but it is also the source of various evils and miseries when that love is worshiped and blown out-of-proportion to our love for God. I won't cover that because, frankly, I cover it in-depth in a book that I hope to publish eventually, and I shant be stealing my own thunder in this blog post.

"The perfect fifth chord is our favorite pair of comfy slippers."

The perfect fifth chord is a perfect illustration of Affection because it is the sonic embodiment of storge: the brain loves the perfect fifth chord because its 3:2 frequency ratio is the simplest to decode, and it is the most familiar and most easily recognizable chord to the brain. The perfect fifth chord is that person at the copy machine at 9am. It is is our favorite pair of comfy slippers. It is so familiar and comforting to the brain that humanity has instinctively built its entire strata of popular (even classical) music on it. I don't have the room to give detailed examples -- you'll have to read my book -- but every popular music genre from the earliest rock and roll to today's Top 40 hits build their songs on the perfect fifth chord, and some songs even feature it as a prominent motif in their melodies. Some rock genres have songs that only contain perfect fifth chords from beginning to end -- Nirvana is one perfect example, actually.

In other words, we love pop/rock music and the perfect fifth chord for the very same reason that Affection makes us miss people we hardly know: familiarity and comfortable patterns.

The love of the familiar.

Human love, however, needs to push beyond the love of the familiar if it is to touch on the more altruistic, selfless loves -- the ones where we determine to love things or people even when it forces us into the "unknown" where there is nothing familiar.

It's not unlike when we push ourselves to listen to music that is more challenging than the quick, comfy fix of pop/rock music -- classical music or certain jazz genres, for example.

But again, I dive into those details in my book. I won't cover it here.

It's fascinating to think, however, that the perfect fifth chord can provide illuminating insight into the nature of love.