Songs from great uncle Bert Hodgson


I mentioned my 3x great uncle Bert Hodgson a while back. I thought it was interesting that he was a songwriter, since he’s the only other composer I know of in my immediate lineage (that is, not including distant cousins). At long last, I found some recordings of at least a couple of his songs. The secret was that they weren’t listed under his name, but rather under the artists who recorded them. I was browsing through mentions of his name in old newspapers from Knoxville (where I found the above article as well), and found mention that a Maynard Baird and his band had recorded some of his songs, which then came up on YouTube. So here we go, here’s some music by good old great great great uncle Bert…

Not sure why he never became internationally famous… (sorry Uncle Bert; for what it’s worth, neither have I… but I’m not dead yet, haha!)

Anyway, it’s awesome to finally find some of his work! And it looks like the Tennessee Archive of Moving Images and Sound has some recordings of his songs on old 78s. Just last week, Eric Dawson mentions him in an article:

There was also a record show, where TAMIS acquired a singular acetate recording by Maynard Baird, probably the most popular musician in Knoxville during the 1920s. Baird and his jazz band recorded several tunes at the sessions; this 1950s-era acetate finds him still going strong on a tune by Bert Hodgson.

I definitely hope to contact TAMIS soon and find out if I can have a listen to these somehow! Cool stuff!

The color green and the musical fifth


I recently bought the latest album from Luca Turilli’s Rhapsody, Prometheus, Symphonia Ignis Divinus. Symphonic metal, very cinematic, operatic, bombastic, and… metallic, I guess? A good portion of it is in Italian, so I can’t understand it without looking up translations, but it doesn’t stop one from enjoying the music itself. I listen to operas in foreign languages, after all. (And Italian is the proper language for symphonic metal. All educated people agree on that.) Anyway, this particular track gets stuck in my head: In Tempo Degli Dei (translating to Time of the Gods?) … Check out the epicness:

I was curious as to what that guy was saying at 2:51. It’s a quote from the diary of Italian thinker and painter Gustavo Rol, which translates to:

I discovered a terrible law that links the color green, the musical fifth, and heat. I have lost my will to live. I am frightened by power. I shall write no more!

… What?! How enigmatic. What the heck is this “terrible law”? And who is this guy anyway?

Gustavo Rol does not seem to be very famous outside of Italy. All I can find on him in English, other than his brief Wikipedia article, is this website, which states that Rol was:

a spiritual Teacher of Christian-Catholic orientation, who lived in Italy in the twentieth century (1903-1994), gifted with many “paranormal powers”, which he defined as “possibilities”.

These “possibilities” include “clairvoyance, telepathy, precognition, retro-cognition, telekinesis, materialization and dematerialization of objects, doubling, levitation, time travel, healing powers, xenoglossy, lightening strikes, diagnosis of illnesses (endoscopy and ability to see an aura), transfer or agility, etc.” The site states:

The intertwining of mystical aspiration and rational analysis of what surrounded him, united with curiosity, stubbornness and will, led him to the conviction at the age of 22 that it was possible to predict the color of the cards without seeing them after having passed randomly in front of a tobacco shop window where decks of cards were on display. It was a challenge that began almost like a game, but after two years of attempts he managed to predict all 52 cards in a deck. On that day, July 28, 1927, he was in Paris, and he wrote the following in his work diary:

“I discovered a terrible law linking the color green, the musical fifth and heat. I lost my will to live. Power frightens me. I will write no more!”

He began to develop his possibilities from that moment on and onward into the following years.

Regarding “the law”, the site quotes Rol as saying:

I began with the cards: why should it be impossible to predict the color of a face down card? I tried and tried again, but for a long time I could not do it. Then one day I looked at a rainbow and it was then that lightening struck. I realized that the color green was the central color, the color that kept the others united. I measured the vibration of the green color and discovered that it was the same as the musical fifth, and that it corresponded to a certain degree of heat. I then began to predict the cards accurately, and little by little to do all the other things…

I’m not quite sure how green keeps the other colors “united”. It has a frequency of 526 Thz (according to Wikipedia). A musical fifth has a frequency ration of 3:2. The highest frequency visible to the human eye lies around 789 Thz. The ratio of 789 Thz to 526 Thz is, aha, 3:2. Furthermore, the ratio of 526 Thz to the lowest visible frequency, 400 Thz, is very close to 4:3, the perfect fourth. So translating colors to musical degrees, green indeed lies at right about the musical fifth. Is this what Rol meant? I don’t know. Interesting, though.

What does this have to do with heat? Something about thermal radiation? And what does this all have to do with telepathic possibilities?

I have no idea at this point. I’ll have to continue thinking about it.

Unfortunately, beyond the aforementioned website, there’s not much info about Gustavo Rol out there, at least not in English. There is one book on Amazon in English about him, but it looks to be a collection of anecdotes from witnesses of his “possibilities”, which seem a bit like tall tales in and of themselves, and I’m not sure are very valuable to someone who just wants to understand exactly what insights Rol may have had.

I shall write no more!