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The Grand Unified Theory of Music

How to Play Hundreds of Ancient and Future Scales and Modulate in Just Intonation and with 53-note-to-the-octave tuning

An easy-to-understand e-book which explains: Why is music the universal language? We can hear a magnificent Japanese poem and be completely uncomprehending if we don’t know Japanese, but we can hear Japanese music and be deeply moved by its expressive beauty. The closest thing we have to the universal in music is the natural harmonics, which we can now hear in their original purity no matter which overtones are chosen in each individual culture. While there is no such thing as a literal Grand Unified Theory that explains all of music at its most universal level, this theory does bring together numerous ancient music theory systems and scales into a single unifying principle.

Author Chris Mohr began work on 53-note-to-the-octave music in 1999 and created his musical mandala in 2004. He has since “mapped out” hundreds of ancient scales from all over the world in their original tunings, all fitting beautifully into a single “Grand Unified Theory of Ancient Music.” While not covering all of music, it does unite many ancient theoretical systems from around the world. He has also mapped out over 100 chord progressions built off the seventh harmonic in 53-equal, expanding the vocabulary of traditional Western tonal music in a way that few have done in over a century.

All music and text Copyright © 2019 by Christopher Mohr except as noted

How would you like to have all of this in your musical toolbox?
• The ability to play several hundred ancient scales from all over the world in their original tunings
• The ability to play those ancient scales while changing keys at will, something the ancients could never do
• The ability to “mix and match” all the ancient scales from all over the world, freely moving from Chinese to Arabic to Byzantine to Indian to Roman scales, all the while staying perfectly in tune with each of these scales?
• The ability to deeply understand Western Classical Music Theory and the “why” behind every musical textbook rule?
• The ability to revive ancient musical and cultural traditions without doing violence to the power of the natural harmonies their music originally evoked?
• The ability to create chords built off of the seventh harmonic and beyond, to create chord progressions and musical affects and effects never before dreamed of, and to expand the template of traditional Western tonality more than any other theoretical development in over a century?

All of this and much more is available in the 53-equal tuning system, which was discovered thousands of years ago and recognized as an ideal tuning system for centuries, but which is only now being discovered by a handful of composers and performers.

On September 27, 2020, the Jefferson County Humanists asked me to deliver a 50-minute lecture on The Grand Unified Theory of Music. I consider this a “first draft” attempt to boil the subject matter down to something the average music lover could enjoy. In future attempts I will be less “read-y” and more slowly paced, but this is a good start. Thank you, Jefferson Humanists!

A free introduction to what The Grand Unified Theory of Music offers is on this website and includes both text and a few musical examples from each webpage. If you are already a member, thank you! This is the link you can give to friends or students if others may be interested in this book, or you can just refer them to (this site). If you would like to learn more about this chapter and the full contents of this entire e-book, you can buy The Grand Unified Theory of Music for $25, with hundreds of embedded musical examples of scales and chords from all over the world — and ideas for how to set up your computer system —


You’ll get a personalized password you can use to see the entire e-book. Inside the full book, you will also get a link to the complete pdf file of this e-book, which you can read on your Kindle or similar device. The links to the hundreds of mp3 sound files – the same ones you can hear on the website — will also be included. This is “Version 1.0” of The Grand Unified Theory of Music. Because it is an e-book, additions, corrections and improvements in the sound may be added at any time. The Grand Unified Theory of Music is Copyright © 2018 by Christopher Mohr. All rights reserved.

One person per password. Sharing this password with others is a violation of copyright. Do not allow others to use your password or link to the pdf file!

The Mother Lode of Music

What “The World Wide Musical Web” Can Do for You:

The Incredible Musical Possibilities of 53-equal Tuning

“My idea is that there is music in the air, music all around us; the world is full of it, and you simply take as much as you require. “  –Edward Elgar

Do you share Elgar’s view? For the last 110 years, composers have drawn musical inspiration from all over the world. And yet, many composers feel boxed in, and are wishing that someone, somehow, could open a new door through which fresh inspiration and true sonic exploration could flow. If you are looking for a musical path which has barely been explored, and which offers incredible vistas of fresh and ancient realms of beauty, then this book may be for you. And if you are sensitive to the subtleties of pitch, the 53-equal tuning template may well mean that music will sound in tune for the first time in your life. I’m prejudiced, I know, but I call this “the mother lode of music”! This is a “how to” book for those interested in actually composing and performing music employing 53 notes to the octave, so there’s an abundance of detailed technical information. But, if you just want a general understanding of the deeper principle that unites all of ancient music and want to hear what hundreds of ancient scales sound like when they are played in tune, you may enjoy this book as well. Feel free to skim over the detailed charts and numbers, and just enjoy the narrative and hear the sounds of scales as our distant ancestors heard them. In this “book,” you’ll find a lot of information about the ancient cultures of the world, their musical and spiritual traditions, and how they all fit together into a single meta-theory of music. That’s because the natural harmonics are the same everywhere. At the very least, that is the “music in the air” Elgar talks about, from which each ancient culture took as much as it required.

There are several “free” sections of this book (which was never designed to be printed on paper, because I am sure you want to hear everything I am talking about!) I am giving you enough to get a general idea of what 53-note-to-the-octave is all about.

If you are a composer or performer and you are interested in going deeper into 53-eq music, you can purchase this book for $25 (see above right). You’ll get a password you can use to unlock all the chapters on this website, filled with hundreds of mp3 files of the ancient musical scales in their original tunings, as well as ideas of how to set up and tune your computer/synth for 53-eq. Once you unlock this website with your personal password, you’ll find a link at the bottom of this Home Page to a pdf version of this book which you can read (and listen to!) on Kindle or similar device. Look at the Table of Contents below for a better idea of what is covered in this electronic book.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1 The Mother Lode of Music: What “The World Wide Musical Web” Can Do for You; The Infinite Musical Possibilities of 53-equal tuning

Chapter 2: Music History Coming Full Circle: Our Tuning Journey from Eden/Just Intonation, Away and Back

Chapter 3 The World Wide Musical Web

Chapter 4 Pitch and Notation Charts

Chapter 5 An Introduction to Four 53-eq Musical Realms

Chapter 6 Ancient Scales and Music: China and Far East

Chapter 7 Ancient Scales and Music: Greece, Rome, Church Modes Byzantine, Ambrosian, Gregorian

Chapter 8 Ancient Scales and Music: Middle East

Chapter 9 Ancient Scales and Music: The Expressive Richness of Indian tunings

Chapter 10 Other Ancient Cultures

Chapter 11 Major-minor systems 1500-present, 12-eq Enharmonics vs 53-eq Enharmonics

Chapter 12 Dronal Music vs Modulation; Monophony vs. Polyphony

Chapter 13 Tonicization, Modulation and the Ancient Modes

Chapter 14 The Seventh Harmonic and Music of the Future

Chapter 15 20th Century Tone Clusters in 53-eq: Dissonance vs Complexity

Chapter 16 Energies of the Root, Third, Fifth, Seventh harmonics. Higher harmonics and 53-eq


*Simple* vs. *Advanced*

Throughout this book, I will “tag” each section with the term *Simple* or *Advanced*. Using your Search/Find function, you can look for these terms, with asterisks. Some of you will be very serious about actually creating the computer programs and special keyboards to create your own 53-equal music system. Many of you are reading this in order to hear the ancient scales in their original tunings and to gain a better general understanding of the history of tunings and the musical traditions of different ancient cultures.  The *Simple* sections of this book should be comprehensible to anyone who can read music. The *Advanced* sections can be skipped over without losing the general sense of how these ancient tunings can come to life with the 53-note-to-the-octave musical system.

Contact Information

Write to me at with questions, comments, or if you would like to talk about private teaching lessons.

The Grand Unified Theory of Music version 1.0 pdf  and Full Online Version available in the members area here.

One pdf per paid customer only. Do not share this link with others. Sharing this link is a violation of copyright.