In search of the lost chord

This garden universe vibrates complete
Some, we get a sound so sweet
Vibrations reach on up to become light
And then through gamma, out of sight
Between the eyes and ears there lie
The sounds of colour and the light of a sigh
And to hear the sun, what a thing to believe
But it’s all around if we could but perceive
To know ultra-violet, infra-red, and x-rays
Beauty to find in so many ways
Two notes of the chord, that’s our full scope
But to reach the chord is our life’s hope
And to name the chord is important to some
So they give it a word, and the word is OM.

This poem, under the title The Word, was penned by the poet-musician Grahaem Edge, drummer and resident poet of the band The Moody Blues, released as a “track” on the album In Search of the Lost Chord during the year of my birth, 1968 (video animation here). I have long felt connected to these words; at first because they belong to an album that has been one of my favourites since I was a young-teen; later because I came to associate it with my birth-era in general (whose particular high-frequency…such an extraordinary couple of years, 1967-68, that they really need no preamble…has somewhat set the tone of my life; call me a hippy if you will but I regard it as being wide open to something beyond the “obvious” material world). Edge’s words seem to capture the flavour of that entire era and its rumbling discontent with what “seems” to be so, the status quo of three-dimensional, at least to me.

More recently, it resonates with me because it speaks to my experience of synesthesia (where senses such as sound and colour are interchangeable), for I too perceive frequency as colour and the effects of the sun as many things that are nigh-on indescribable, though they affect me profoundly (as regulars of both my blogs will know)…but ”a sigh” will do. These “extra” experiences of mine remain, still, just a mere fragment of the lost chord though they take me beyond the bonds of regular experience (those mere “two notes” that most people reside in) and Edge’s words help make that seem to be more by design than accident; thank you for the reassurance. I am far from the only person to cite Edge’s poems as mantras for their life!

Edge, a man of evident sensitivity with a searching awareness of the world, has by now rediscovered the lost chord for himself, I presume, since he left this limited dimension on 11/11/21, having been a member of the Moody Blues to his dying day.

His poem was likewise inspired by one entitled The Lost Chord written by Adelaide Anne Procter, an interesting character herself, published in 1858 (see below) and later set to music by Arthur Sullivan in 1877 at the bedside of his brother during his last illness. It was destined to become so popular that it was even used in one of the very first recordings ever made, by Thomas Edison using his newly perfected phonograph in 1888. One respondent to a demonstration of this new contraption is recorded as saying “I can only say that I am astonished and somewhat terrified at the result of this evening’s experiments: astonished at the wonderful power you have developed, and terrified at the thought that so much hideous and bad music may be put on record forever”.

Since that time, many more “mixed” outcomes have come of human beings recording, amplifying and conveying information using “new” technologies, some of them worthy but many of them disharmonious in the extreme, for which those of us who are more sensitive suffer profoundly. But then, our world seems to omit an ever more disharmonious cacophony, drowning out all sense of nature’s original intention. Yet, even the disharmonious belongs somewhere in the universe, part of the full spectrum, fatally fractured though our world may seem…our lifelong task, individually, to dial up the higher frequencies and include whatever is perceived as “missing” wherever and whenever we can. An ability to perceive there is a full chord in the first place, in order for it to seem “lost”, is just the beginning in a process of awareness expanding; a prerequisite to being a lifelong seeker, hoper and explorer.

So continue on we sensitives will, in never-tiring search of the missing fragments of the lost chord. Perhaps in identifying this as a primary objective so early in my life, with the help of the Moody Blues and such like (I was a sensitive child and responded much to musical and other influences), I have opened myself to more than a touch of high-sensitivity and sensory cross-over that, these days, exhausts, bewilders and confounds me; even causes pain and loss of hope at times. Indeed, I suspect so many of us feel like this, the closer we get to becoming, crucially, more aware and far more open in our perception… yet undeterred by our feelings of extreme overwhelm and singularity we need to be. There are many more of us going through this now than in 1968 and we are never truly alone, whatever “seems”.

So far, this has been a lifetime of yearning and striving with every fibre of my being towards “something” impossible to name (I now notice my two most recent posts are both entitled “in search” of something…), perhaps for a degree of harmony, inclusion and coherence that seems to elude ever-more, relative to how the more chaotic frequencies of human influence are unleashed in the name of progress, yet I continue on and so must we all. In regarding this degree of sensitivity to life (including sensitivity to its potential to be “better than it is” during its span, not just in death!) as a gift, not a curse, accepting “what is” (just as long as I know there is also something else simultaneously making its harmonious “sound”, if I can but perceive it), I get closer to the chord by the day. Whatever, we all return to the completeness of the garden universe sooner or later, a thought I try to hold onto whenever life gets too much.

The Lost Chord by Adelaide Anne Procter

Seated one day at the Organ,
I was weary and ill at ease,
And my fingers wandered idly
Over the noisy keys.

I do not know what I was playing,
Or what I was dreaming then ;
But I struck one chord of music,
Like the sound of a great Amen.

It flooded the crimson twilight,
Like the close of an Angel’s Psalm,
And it lay on my fevered spirit
With a touch of infinite calm.

It quieted pain and sorrow,
Like love overcoming strife ;
It seemed the harmonious echo
From our discordant life.

It linked all perplexéd meanings
Into one perfect peace,
And trembled away into silence
As if it were loth to cease.

I have sought, but I seek it vainly,
That one lost chord divine,
Which came from the soul of the Organ,
And entered into mine.

It may be that Death’s bright angel
Will speak in that chord again,
It may be that only in Heaven
I shall hear that grand Amen.

About Helen White

Helen White is a professional artist and published writer with two primary blogs to her name. Her themes pivot around health and wellbeing, expanded consciousness and ways of noticing how life is a constant dance between the deeply subjective and the collective-universal, all of which she explores with a daily hunger to get to know herself better. Her blog Living Whole shines a light on living with high sensitivity, dealing with trauma and healing from chronic health issues. Spinning the Light is an extremely broad-based platform where she elucidates the everyday alchemy of relentless self-exploration. A lifetime of "feeling like an outsider" slowly emerged as neurodivergence (being a Highly Sensitive Person with ADHD, synaesthesia, sensory processing challenges and other defecits overlapping with giftedness). All of these topics are covered in her blogs, written from two distinct vantage points so, if you have enjoyed one of them, you may wish to explore the other for a different, yet entirely complimentary, perspective.
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