Gift of the Gods

Final Episode

Flattery and Flatulence

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Further complete details of our story must wait till a later time, but it will suffice to say at this point that we successfully overcame the objections posed by Dionysus, the God of "Whine".

This was done, in part, by plotting a strategy to buy him off, by dedicating a symbol to him with both left and right arcs, which resemble the handles of his traditional two-eared wine cup.

Dionysus with two-eared wine cup

This symbol would be the apotome-complement of the Apollo 11-diesis, just as Apollo and Dionysus complement one another as personifications of the rational and the ecstatic: thus, /|\ plus (|) equals /||\. To satisfy the requirement that each symbol should be defined as a rational ratio, Archytas calculated that the diesis of Dionysus (|) would have a ratio of 704:729, approximately 60.4 cents when untempered. With this symbol we would be able to notate the 39, 46, 56, 63, and 77 divisions, as well as two ratios of 11, namely 11/6 and 11/9.

As the Elysian committee worked on the notation, they found that they needed symbols for two more dieses in order to notate two 13-limit ratios approximating a neutral third, 39/32 and 16/13. For this purpose they created /|) and (|\, which resemble the helmets of Athene and Ares, to whom they dedicated these symbols. Aresí helmet is larger than Atheneís and therefore represents the larger alteration of pitch.

Athene with helmet

Ares with helmet

Didymus also proposed that the committee express thanks and appreciation to Artemis for her presence and participation in their first meeting by reinstating the half-arrow symbol |\ that we had earlier discarded in favor of |), Archytas' 7-comma. This would represent the ratio 54:55, the exact difference between the 11-diesis and 5-comma, which we now also call the 55-comma. To this the others readily agreed.

Last, but not least, the Elysian Committee had already honored Zeus and Hera with the Sagittal apotome symbol /||\ and the conventional natural sign, respectively, but Dionysus' sudden outburst had not allowed me to make this known to them until much later.

Inanates assisted us too, by favoring the God of Wine with a round of verse:

The diesis of Dionysus
is, for some, by far the nicest.
Podiatrists and psychiatrists
agree that spices and even irises
are not as nice-as that large diesis
of that zany old god Dionysus.

A maenad and Dionysus with wine cup

When I brought news of these things back to Olympus, Dionysus was so flattered by the committee's gesture of honoring him with a symbol that he dropped his charges, and Athene and Ares soon followed. Zeus, of course, was delighted, both with his symbol and with the fact that harmony had been restored -- that is, at least temporarily ..., until some of the other gods started wanting their own symbols (but thatís another story).

* * * * * *

Yet there was one further problem on the horizon.

All the while we were expecting that the real George Secor would eventually show up and expose me as an impostor, at which point I could reveal my true identity as Messenger of the Gods. There would be no problem in explaining why I had assumed an alias (for who would have believed the truth?), and now that I had established a reputation on my own as being knowledgeable about alternate tunings, it would no longer be necessary to keep my true identity a secret. But what had become of the real George Secor?

After using the Internet to determine some possible locations for Secorís whereabouts, Apollo dispatched the Muses to gather more information. After some time Thalia reported that she had succeeding in finding him.

Thalia takes her role as the Muse of Comedy very seriously, so it was necessary for us to allow for the possibility that some of the details of her report might be subject to embellishment. As best as we could understand, it seems that George Secor now lives on a farm somewhere in "Middle America" and is a member of a sect that believes that electricity is a tool of the devil and will therefore have nothing to do with computers and the Internet. Using alternative technology, they have been working on the development of a fiber optic computer powered by methane gas. Their source of methane gas is such that they are also hoping to save the world from that considerable portion of the greenhouse effect due to livestock flatulence.

Unfortunately it doesn't look very promising. Thalia arrived just in time for the first test run. She was greeted by a bright flash and the sight of all the doors and windows leaving the farmhouse at high speed. Secor and his associates are still recovering.

Secor's Farmhouse (before)


The upshot of all this is that it seemed highly improbable that the real George Secor would be making any sort of appearance at the Yahoo! Alternate Tunings group any time soon. As things stood, we had spent considerable time and effort to develop the notation as our great new "Gift of the Gods". But without the real Secor around to initiate the process of setting the record straight, we might never be able to claim credit for our accomplishment. And if that were not bad enough, Zeus would be furious once he realized this. What to do?

Apollo devised a plan. He arranged for the Muses to put an idea into Dave Keenan's head. Keenan would publicly suggest that Secor (really me, Hermes) should write a tutorial for the notation in the form of a story, using the gods of Greek mythology to introduce the different kinds of Sagittal symbols. Naturally, I was more than happy to supply the details of what had actually taken place behind the scenes, and I think you will agree that this makes a far better story than most fictional tales.

So there you have it Ė the true story of how the Sagittal notation came to be!

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Copyright © 2007 George D. Secor and David C. Keenan