Music and the Power of Sound – Alain Daniélou – Book Review

Music and the Power of Sound – The Influence of Tuning and Interval on Consciousness

Music and the Power of Sound cover

Alain Daniélou

Alain Daniélou

This book was first published in 1943 with the title “Introduction to the Study of Musical Scales” by the India Society, London, 1943.

The present edition was revised by Alain Daniélou (1907-1944) and published shortly after his death in 1995.

What the book is about (summary)

A comprehensive history of musical scales in different cultures, their mathematical relationships and their effect on the consciousness of societies and their people.

What subjects the book covers

This is a very comprehensive study of the history of musical systems, how they came about and how they are structured. It covers harmonics, temperament, cycle of fifths, and melodic expression.

Chinese musical theory is covered in depth as is the Modal music of India. All of this is illustrated in diagrams and lists of the actual scales. Ancient Greek music and the various modes are explained in detail.

The Western scale and the advent of Equal Temperament and its strange effect on musicians of the present generation leads on to the need for a scale of sounds, which Daniélou provides – a table listing 53 harmonic cycles & 12 quarter tones, in all 65 notes within an octave, which spans 6 pages.


This is a solid reference book ideally suited to anyone wanting to explore music and the possibility of using scales outside of the fixed Equal Temperament of Western music. I am constantly referring to the book and still learning new ideas and musical structures contained within. On this basis I can thoroughly recommend this book, especially to the fretless guitarist that wants to expand their repertoire.


ISBN 13: 978-0892813360
ISBN 10: 0-89281-336-9

Cost (RRP)


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