NMSAT :: Networked Music & SoundArt Timeline

1852 __ Spirit-Power Music
Jonathan Koon (?-?)
Comment : Spirit-Power Music.“Most persons have heard the sounds produced by the æeolian harp when placed in a window where there is a draught of air. The sounds are liquid, or rather ethereal; they swell out in full volume, and gradually die away -- rising and falling; air, invisible air, is the operator, pressing itself against the threads of the instrument. Accordion music plyaed by spirits in circles, has the same tenuity of sound -- the only difference is, that the air gives out no recognized musicla composition; whereas, spirit-action, at the oral or mental wish of a person, gives out the tune, or piece asked for; no crabbed note here and there, but the composition is delicately played; and then, frequently, as if annoyed at being tied to the formula of human composition, the music will thrill off to some sweet, -- exquisetely sweet and melodious air which attracts, rivets, and subdues the very heart of listener. I remember well the first time I heard one of those aerial songs -- it seemed to come from an immense distance, and gradually approached -- filled the room, and then died off; and such was its effect on me, that for the second time in my life since boyhood -- I wept. If such was the effect from handling an accordion, the mechanism of which was physical; what must be the melody when they use atmospheres of various densities for the instrument -- threads of air, instead of catgut ? [...] (John Jones)Jonathan Koon described a machine to communicate with the spirits, but the blueprints were never found. (Newton C. Braga)“Voice mediumship and "Direct Voice" were two examples of Tallmadge's occult force at work. An Ohio farmer named Jonathan Koon flanboyantly demonstrated voice mediumship in 1852 in his Spirit Room. Koon converted a small log hut into a performance room for spirit manifestations, furnishing it with a spirit table and rack, drums, triangles, tambourines, bells, and other musical instruments suspended from the ceiling by wires. Joon's whole family - himself and eight children - were all considered pre-eminent "mediums for the spiritual forces". Before an andience of perhaps twenty and with his mediumistic family with him, père Koon played his fiddle. The spirits responded with their own concert, plucking bars and melodies from guitar, banjo, accordian, French harp, tea bell, and drums. One visitor described the music as “exquisitely beautiful, or even seraphic;” another heard the inarticulate voices of angelic choirs. Afterwards, the chief spirit gave the company an edifying discourse, made audible, not through Koon's larynx (as in channeling or trance speaking), but through an aliminium trumpet positioned elsewhere in the room. The spirits in the Spirit Circle required only Koon's magentic presence, but not his actual speech organs, to make themselves heard.”. (Richard Leviton)
Original excerpt : « Spirit-Room of Jonathan Koon.These rooms will seat about twenty-five to thirty persons each, and are usually full. Many times while I was there more persons desired to go in than the house would hold, and some of them had to remain outside. They could hear the music and the spirits’ conversation just as well, and they only had to forego being touched by spirits and seeing them. The music is heard under favourable circumstances at the distance of one mile, or as far as any band or martial music con be heard. After the circle is formed, and the door and window are shut, the light is usually extinguished, and almost instantaneously a tremendous blow by the large drumstick is struck on the table -- when immediatley the bass an tenor drums are beaten rapidly, like calling the roll in the muster-field, waking a thousand echoes. The rapid and vigorous blows on these drums are really frightful to many persons. This beating of the drums is continued five minutes or more, and when ended, King usually takes up the trumpet and salutes us with “Good evening, friends”, or something like it, and often asks what particular manifestations are desired. If none are specially asked for, King often asks Mr. Koon to play on the violin -- the spirit-band playing at the same time of the drums -- triangle, tambourine, harp, accordion, harmonica, etc. Upon these the spirits perform scientifically, in very quick and perfect time. They commence upon each instrument at one instant in full blast, and stop suddenly after sounding the full note in the tune, showing that they have some more perfect method than we have of notifying each performer of the instrument to start and stop. After the introductory piece on the instruments, the spirits often sing. I heard them seing. The spirits spoke to us, requesting us to remain perfectly silent; presently we heard human voices singing, apparently in the distance, so as to be scarcely distinguishable; the sounds gradually increased, each part relatively, until it appeared as if a full choir of human voices were in our small room, singing most exquisitely; I think I never heard such perfect harmony; each part was performed with strict attention to the relative degree of sound or force. There was none of that flopping, floundering, ranting, and shrieking, which constitutes the staple of what is latterly called music; harmony rather than noise seemed to constitute the spirits’ song. So captivating was it, that the heartstrings seemed to relax, or to increase their tension, to accord with the heavenly harmony. It seems to me that no person could sit in that sanctuary without feeling the song of “Glory to God in the highest, peace on earth, and goodwill to man” spontaneously rising in the bosom and finding expression on the lip. I don’t know that the spirits attempted to utter words with the song; if they did, they succeeded in this particular better than modern singers. But it was hardly necessary for the spirits to articulate, for every strain and modulation seemed pregnant with holy sentiments; and language could scarcely signify more. After this vocal performance, several pieces of quick music were performed by the spirits on the several instruments. They play faster than mortals usually do, and in most perfect time throughout. If any instrument gets out of chord, they tune it; they tuned the violin in my presence, and did it rapidly and skilfully. » (G. Partridge, New York)
Source : Braga, Newton C. (2000), “Electronic Projects from the Next Dimension : Paranormal Experiments for Hobbyists (Electronic Circuit Investigator)”, publisher Newnes.
Source : Leviton, Richard (1994), "The Imagination of Pentecost", Chapter 4, Theosophy's Roots - the Impetus for Theosophy in Nineteenth-Century Spiritualism and Mediumship, pp 109-110. Culled from Podmore, Modern Spiritualism, Vol. 1, 246-247.
Source : Jones, John (1861), “The Natural and Supernatural : or Man physical, apparitional, and spiritual”, New York : H. Bailliere publisher, pp. 416-419.

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