Metatrón, the audiovisual work that combines geometry and music
30 Nov 2021 /

Metatrón, the audiovisual work that combines geometry and music

On 16 November, attendees at the social presentation of the programme for World Design Capital Valencia 2022 were able to enjoy for the first time in Valencia Metatrón: an experiment involving music, image and mathematics created by the designer Pepe Gimeno, in collaboration with the animator Carlos Cueto and the composer  Sonia Megías. This piece, interpreted by the Municipal Band of Alicanteseeks to make a profound visual impact on the audience and it evolves and progresses constantly throughout the projection.

What is Metatron’s cube? 

Metatron’s cube is a geometric body formed by 13 circles set out in the form of a star and the seventy-eight lines that join the centre of each one. If we visualize it in 3D, its structure contains all the geometric figures present in the creation of the universe, including the five polyhedra named ‘platonic solids’, which are the only shapes found in nature with perfect regularity and symmetry.

Its structures respond to three types of symmetry: central, with the same centre of symmetry in the five figures, axial, with regard to is axes, and specular, with regard to a series of planes. Across the centuries, Metatron’s cube has awakened enormous interest from the different perspectives of wisdom and knowledge, as well as from the mystic and religious point of view. Its name comes from Judaeo-Christian beliefs, which associated it with the archangel Metatron, a symbol of power, energy, harmony and balance. Metatron’s cube was used by alchemists and it also appears in kabbalistic scriptures of the era. It was considered a sacred glyph that could exorcize SatanIt is said to have five dimensions, although with our physical eyes we are only able to perceive three.

The motivation behind Metatrón

Geometry and music use proportions in the same way. Metatrón is both a musical and a visual piece. Its aim is to carry the audience on a journey full of stimuli and experiences thanks to sounds and images inspired by such complex geometries as those developed within Metatron’s cube.

The creative team explains: “We chose this geometric body as the axis of the project because it offered us the possibility to establish an interesting dialogue between music and mathematics, or, to put it another way, between music and geometry. We wanted to stimulate the audience and for them to enjoy the play that can be established between the two disciplines. We find it fascinating to be able to work with this figure that is capable of holding within it all the regular polyhedra found in nature, owing to which it is considered a sacred symbol in different cultures and eras.”

Regarding the musical aspect, the team affirms: “Our motivation is increased by the proposal for collaboration with such a traditional and typical musical ensemble of our region, since one of our best bands, the Municipal Symphonic Band of Alicante, will play together with the video in a truly brave way, different from anything we are used to from a ‘typical’ band.”

Development of the work

The audience attending the Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia on Tuesday 16 November for the presentation of the programme of World Design Capital Valencia 2022  experienced the production for the second time, after its premier in Alicante on 16 September 2020. Metatrón is one of the projects selected in the two calls for projects launched by World Design Capital Valencia 2022.

We will now analyse its different parts to dissect the meaning behind the music and the images.

The work Metatrón comprises five movements which follow each other in an organic process, each one without a defined beginning or end. We could compare these five movements with the cycles of dawn-morning-afternoon-night, with the addition of a final spin, a kind or wormhole or space-time vortex that finally swallows everything.

I. Dawn

00:00: From black to the point. From existential nothingness, darkness is concentrated in a life-generating point. Glissando of voices towards the high note.

00:46: Formation of the circles. The generating point is replicated, creating new spheres of life, which in turn form an isotropic grid of intersecting circles. Piccolo, triangle and 10/8 time mark the beginning from the diminutive altissimo. Other instruments from the wood section gradually come in.

02:02: Addition of other groups of circles. New isotopic grids, created in other spaces, are added to the central grid from the four cardinal points. With the groups of circles instruments are added, but the only notes played are sustained and high. The percussion and respirations timidly mark time, just as birds rehearse their songs at dawn.

II. Morning

02:30: The Great Solar Flower. These new grids are superimposed together creating the Great Solar Flower. Woodwind, percussion and respirations continue. More instruments are added, of a middle register now, not only with long notes but with some accents and short notes.

02:43: Apotheosis. The Solar Flower, with its strong magnetism, approaches the spectator, offering all its energy, its warmth and its spectacular structural framework. It is midday. The flower has reached its apotheosis. Having shown its splendour, the Solar Flower withdraws, showing its complete enigmatic structural grid. The appearance of the lines of the circles is translated as the first melodic definitions in middle register and on a hexagonal scale, since flowers have six petals.

III. Afternoon

03:40: Losses. The flower begins to fade. Its structure weakens, it begins to lose external elements. This is the first symptom of its decline. Glissandi (falls) and rhythmical rebounds.

03:58: The thirteen circles. The afternoon progresses and with it the Solar Flower gradually loses strength, intensity and size, until it is reduced to the thirteen circles that make up its central structure. Brass instruments begin to take on a more central role.

03:59: White petals. With a lighter structure, the circles move in coordination in independent groups, in turn fading and losing their blinding force. The great Solar Flower decomposes into small flowers that turn, showing their newly acquired white petals. Rhythms defined with the brass and percussion instruments.

04:29: Loss of circularity. The mass of colour continues to decrease. The thirteen circles gradually lose their circularity to become cut-out hexagons. Their presence is reduced to minimums. Sustained notes, to accompany this disappearance.

04:45: Black star. Darkness advances, daylight confirms its decline. The star formed by the central petals turns black and advances, stretching its arms. Only double reed instruments (oboes, English horn, fagot) off-key, with the appearance of Nepalese mourning.

04:56: Turning. The duel between light and shade commences. The black star turns, trying to occupy new spaces. The light pursues it, defending its space. Other instruments are added, with a counterpoint that increases the density.

05:04: Black stars and tactical movements. It is a lost battle. Darkness grows in geometric progression and invades everything. Light, weakened now, gives in to its adversary. The density and the tempo continue to increase.

05:18: Triumph of darkness. Total darkness, after a blinding light, makes way for a cosmic vision. Everything falls stridently towards bass sounds.

IV Night

05:31: The cosmos. A deep blue allows a rich darkness to appear little by little. A darkness full of centres of energy dispersed in space. Bass, sustained notes. It is the negative of the moment of the point in the morning with the piccolo and the high notes. Here the tubas, bass trombone, pedals of the French horns, bass percussion, provide the sensation of immensity of the cosmos.

05:57: The alignment. These centres of energy seek their place in space. They align themselves to find their optimum position in relationship with the other centres. They aim for a global harmony in search of perfection and beauty. When they achieve this, they explode in a thousand and one pirouettes, forming the most beautiful geometric figures we can find in nature. Over the bed of bass notes, the vibraphone played with a contrabass bow opens the circles in the farthest reaches of the night sky. When the three comets appear, each one is represented by the cymbals hit with metal brushes. The clarinets draw the hexagons, the trumpets draw the triangles, the saxophones draw the impossible triangles, the clarinets support hexagons and the French horns the circles. Finally, saxophones and trumpets draw the stars of David.

V. Explosion

06:50. Triangles and hexagons. The figures begin to spin faster and faster. The saxophones grow with the triangles, the clarinets grow with the hexagons.

07:19: Centripetal force. The energy is multiplied. There are more and more interconnected centres of energy. The growth is exponential. The accumulated energy overflows. Space begins to be overloaded to such an extent that the elements begin to spin, creating a brutal overload of energy that places the universe in the field of action of a black hole. The image takes us back to the beginning. An absolute vacuum fills everything. Great chaos that, having reached a certain point, begins to be engulfed, diminishing to a thread of sound, which is swallowed by the musicians of the band.