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  1. #1
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    Default Scientists Discover Geometry Of Music And Stuff.

    http://www.physorg.com/news127659537.html

    But to me," Tymoczko added, "the most satisfying aspect of this research is that we can now see that there is a logical structure linking many, many different musical concepts. To some extent, we can represent the history of music as a long process of exploring different symmetries and different geometries."

    Understanding music, the authors write, is a process of discarding information. For instance, suppose a musician plays middle "C" on a piano, followed by the note "E" above that and the note "G" above that. Musicians have many different terms to describe this sequence of events, such as "an ascending C major arpeggio," "a C major chord," or "a major chord." The authors provide a unified mathematical framework for relating these different descriptions of the same musical event
    I posted this on the off chance that Eddie Van Halen will read it and freak out. So if he does then it's my fault.
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  2. #2
    Atomic Punk WinterlessIceness's Avatar
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    Very interesting, although it wasn't hard not draw an analogy between both - I mean how many windows are shaped in rectangle and how many songs are based on same 4-chords progression.


    What I'm curious about is how those scientists would apply the rules to this -

    Mathcore music (also known as technical metalcore, technical hardcore and progressive metalcore) is usually filled with discordant, technical riffing, complex time signatures and song structures, and passionate, energetic vocals. Songs played by bands of this style tend to vary from seconds in length to over 15 minutes and rarely feature a conventional verse-chorus song structure.

  3. #3
    Atomic Punk chefcraig's Avatar
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    Gee, a group of technicians sat around with some protractors and came up with the mathematical explanation why certain harmonies and frequencies work in Western music. Rarely has science moved so assuredly and focused so intuitively on a result that is so unequivocally, resoundingly and utterly...useless.

    Think about it: All of the musical theory, understanding and insight in the universe fails to explain why a group of drunken frat boys bashing on out of tune instruments and bellowing "Louie, Louie" strikes a chord with the listening audience. It's more or less like offering a hungry man a hamburger or a 3x5 index card explaining why a hamburger tastes good. What do you think he's going to pick up first?

    "People don't like Starkist tuna because it has good taste, Charlie. They like it because it tastes good."

    Who will benefit from this nonsense? Other tone-deaf scientists I suppose. The average person could care less what makes the sky blue or a sunset such brilliant shades. They just know that they like what they see. In other words, one has to go back to the "Rate A Record" segment on Dick Clark's "American Bandstand" for any true clarity: "Uhh, it's got a good beat and I can dance to it, I give it a nine".

    Merely knowing how something works does not mean that you can actually do it. And that intangible little bit of knowledge is what separates great music from a pile of notes. Even when that intangible knowledge is arrived at entirely by accident. "A Louie, Louie-oh nooooo, Me gotta go Aye-yi-yi-yi, Louie Louie, oh baby-Me gotta go..."
    Last edited by chefcraig; 04.17.08 at 04:20 PM.
    "The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man."
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  4. #4
    Atomic Punk WinterlessIceness's Avatar
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    With all due respect, I disagree. So according to you if we rewind couple of centuries back, the musicians shouldn't have kept the "good" notes and "not so good notes" in mind when building a piano? Or when you were learning how to play guitar, did you come up with the combination of notes yourself, or you rather learned the chords based on the experience of others?


    I understand what you mean about an average person, but average person doesn't write the music.

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    Atomic Punk chefcraig's Avatar
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    Your examples make little to zero sense, Mish.
    Quote Originally Posted by WinterlessIceness View Post
    "So according to you if we rewind couple of centuries back, the musicians shouldn't have kept the "good" notes and "not so good notes" in mind when building a piano?"
    If they had not structured things within a rational, repeating twelve tone series of notes, the piano would have been as big as the Indian Ocean for crying out loud. (By the way, the twelve tone pattern was developed a little farther back than two hundred years ago, bro. )

    Your second point cancels out your first:
    "Or when you were learning how to play guitar, did you come up with the combination of notes yourself, or you rather learned the chords based on the experience of others?"
    I learned via the model presented upon the guitar, and how function and form flow from the logic of the instrument. The only way to differ from that structure would be to tune the guitar haphazardly or put the strings in the wrong place. Even then I'd merely be playing atonally. And when is the last time you saw a Mel Bay instructional guitar book or heard a song on the radio devoted to atonal music? The concept simply does not work in Western musical philosophy.

    ...I understand what you mean about an average person, but average person doesn't write the music.
    Precisely. Musicians already understand how and why things work within a structure as limited as that used in Western music. And those that are not musicians could care less. So how does a scientific study breaking down a genetic code of music benefit anyone?
    "The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man."
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    Atomic Punk WinterlessIceness's Avatar
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    I don't know, Chef - how did Copernicus' theory of the round Earth benefit anyone in 16th century?

    I'm just saying that it's interesting and probably explains why 4-chord pop-music or 3-chord dance music is vastly more acceptable than dream theatre or any other beyond-technical "music". You couldn't care less - that's fine. Obviously, axxman and me feel the other way about it.

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    Atomic Punk chefcraig's Avatar
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    And I get what you are saying, Mish. I just fail to see the need for a scientific study for the concept. It's more or less over-complicating something as easily discernable as the recipe for ice.
    "The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man."
    George Bernard Shaw

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    Atomic Punk WinterlessIceness's Avatar
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    Well in my opinion it's needless to even study music in the first place - it's like you know, going to the "writers" course to become a writer. I still found it cool to read this article. More honestly I was very bored

  9. #9
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    An interesting article that states and omits the obvious. Music theory and math go hand in hand. However, how can one come up with a math equations that gauges emotional response?

    There is a guitarist I admire, Elliott Sharp, who plays/composes some very atonal music but also plays/composes some listenable blues. He took that whole math/music connection a step further by intentionally apply exotic ratios to composition. Here is a quote from one of his writings:

    One cold night in March, having eaten a supper of psylocybin mushrooms, I set out to explore the ratios of the Fibonacci series. In so doing, I found that certain ratios of adjacent Fibonacci numbers coincided with ratios of just-intoned intervals. I translated these ratios to a tuning on electric guitar with 1/1=C and restricted myself to playing only the open strings and overtones using various picking and tapping techniques. The intervals from low->high were C(1/1) Ab (8/5) C' (2/1) G' (3/2) A' (5/3) and C" (3/1). I was astounded at the results - liquid harmonic melodies pouring off the strings. It was just after midnight when I began playing, sunrise when I stopped. The results were so encouraging that I decided to dig in deeper with a number of strategies for utilization of the Fibonacci series. Besides the primary approach of harmonic tuning, these included mapping the ratios to rhythms and to proportions for structures. In addition, the ratios were applied to various other instruments, including bowed strings (a natural), saxophones (because I played them) and trombones (because I liked that instrument's purity of tone and the relative ease of producing overtones, its ability in the wrong hands to produce an astounding array of onomotopoetic sounds, it's relation to the dijeridu and the ragdung, it's pedal tones, and its essential simplicity.)
    Owning many of his CD's, I can attest to the fact that much of his complex, math (or mushroom) inspired stuff is interesting but almost unlistenable by casual standards but he also has done some Blues stuff that is very listenable.
    I guess the point I'm making is that all theory but no emotion makes for difficult listening and to define the emotional quotient of music/art is more difficult than complex math.

  10. #10
    Atomic Punk
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    Quote Originally Posted by chefcraig View Post
    Gee, a group of technicians sat around with some protractors and came up with the mathematical explanation why certain harmonies and frequencies work in Western music. Rarely has science moved so assuredly and focused so intuitively on a result that is so unequivocally, resoundingly and utterly...useless.

    Think about it: All of the musical theory, understanding and insight in the universe fails to explain why a group of drunken frat boys bashing on out of tune instruments and bellowing "Louie, Louie" strikes a chord with the listening audience. It's more or less like offering a hungry man a hamburger or a 3x5 index card explaining why a hamburger tastes good. What do you think he's going to pick up first?

    "People don't like Starkist tuna because it has good taste, Charlie. They like it because it tastes good."

    Who will benefit from this nonsense? Other tone-deaf scientists I suppose. The average person could care less what makes the sky blue or a sunset such brilliant shades. They just know that they like what they see. In other words, one has to go back to the "Rate A Record" segment on Dick Clark's "American Bandstand" for any true clarity: "Uhh, it's got a good beat and I can dance to it, I give it a nine".

    Merely knowing how something works does not mean that you can actually do it. And that intangible little bit of knowledge is what separates great music from a pile of notes. Even when that intangible knowledge is arrived at entirely by accident. "A Louie, Louie-oh nooooo, Me gotta go Aye-yi-yi-yi, Louie Louie, oh baby-Me gotta go..."
    Actually, you'd be wrong on every assertion you've just made.

    Since the middle of the 19th Century Science has explored why and how music effects us the way that it does and they have answers for all of the mysteries you've listed.

    "Louie, Louie" has it's root appeal in basic tribalism rituals of celebration. Catchy beat and lyrics nobody can understand coupled with a chorus that everyone can sing along with are the primary keys. The technical factors that contribute to the song's success and long life is the way it works on the low and mid-range. The poor recording quality of the song gave it a thick low end. The low-end sonic range is what makes you dance or shake your stuff.

    The study of music and how it works is very important for many reasons. Better quality of MIDI which opens up more options for realistic sounding instruments on keyboard and computer. More portantly there is a link between music and health. We've all seen the magical effect that music has on the mentally retarded and upon Autistic kids and this alone warrents major exploration. The Sevant aspect, how grossly handicapped people can sit down and play complete works of Beethoven after one hearing is amazing and once we understand how this happens we could unlock many other secrets of the brain and that means hope for stroke victims and others with damage.

    Check Ohio State and Cal Tech:

    http://music-cog.ohio-state.edu/CSM_lab.html

    http://www.cco.caltech.edu/~musiclab/

    There's a world of stuff for science to explore and while the Geometry of music may not lead to a breakthrough today it just might change the world tomorrow.

    Science is a puzzle. Each study's findings are a single piece of a larger puzzle. Down the road a researcher will re-visit this work and a lightbulb will go on in his head and mankind moves a head another step. That's how it all works.
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  11. #11
    Atomic Punk
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    An interesting article that states and omits the obvious. Music theory and math go hand in hand. However, how can one come up with a math equations that gauges emotional response?
    Actually, basic knowledge of instruments, frequencies and pitch cycles can provoke desired emotional responses from the listener.

    I have a book from my grandfather's library about how to use the different instruments in the symphony. If you're over 35 then you probably sat through Peter and the Wolf, which illustrated how different instruments were used to create charaters and emotions.

    Micheal Oldfield's "Tubular Bells" is a prime example of a song that was designed to induce fear because of the rythm and frequency it operates at.
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  12. #12
    Unchained VF5150's Avatar
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    I think the scientific study of music is pretty much useless now, but i also think it is in its infancy. Hundreds of years ago, "doctors" would drill holes in peoples heads, and try to straiten peoples backs by straping them onto a ladder and knocking it over so they would land on thier backs. The results were pretty useless then, but look at medicine now. I think this math music may be onto something, but right now it is just so primitive not listenable. Someday they migh be able to explain what makes music have feel and shit like that. I dont know, maybe I'd rather not know, but this shit makes me cringe.


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  13. #13
    Atomic Punk chefcraig's Avatar
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    Axx, not VF5150 (No offense, VF)

    And thank you for proving my point: This big scientific breakthrough does not effect the average person one bit. It is for use by scholars and academics too tied up in a numbers exercise to simply ask a musician or two how music works. The knowledge of how and why frequencies resonate in harmony is already extant. One does not need to develop flashcards or multiplication tables for folk that already understand the value and discipline of numbers in the first place.

    Music exists. It apparently has healing and soothing properties. Yet simply understanding it's structure within a limited context will get us no closer tomorrow than it has since the beginning of time as to why humans respond to it. The basic knowledge of how and why it works has been around for centuries, minus the need for some mathematical program to explain it. Furthermore, this "study" is only limited to Western forms of music. This music is pretty much "beans and weenies" compared to the hearty meal of true musics outside of our culture. The arrogance of stating that the keys to understanding musical relationships to the human id based on some stiffly composed Bach prelude or the "Theme To Gilligan's Island" is simply absurd.

    Forgive me, yet I don't buy it. The concept is far too deeply flawed to ever take flight, mainly due to the cheapness of it's parameters. Merely understanding why tomato soup is soothing may give one an insight into how that particular soup works, yet doe NOT provide a working axiom for why several different soups have an equal or lesser effect.

    Unless all we are concerned with here are western ideals and tomato soup.

    Perspective is the key in all of this. Look, I have been fascinated by and have immersed myself in all forms of music from an early age. It is one of the few genuine rewards this miserable existence has yet to yield to me. I am also obsessed with large breasts. Now, does the study of these two fields of endeavor make me a scientist, or merely an overgrown adolescent?

    Like I said...perspective.
    Last edited by chefcraig; 04.17.08 at 07:33 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Axxman300 View Post
    Actually, basic knowledge of instruments, frequencies and pitch cycles can provoke desired emotional responses from the listener.

    I have a book from my grandfather's library about how to use the different instruments in the symphony. If you're over 35 then you probably sat through Peter and the Wolf, which illustrated how different instruments were used to create charaters and emotions.

    Micheal Oldfield's "Tubular Bells" is a prime example of a song that was designed to induce fear because of the rythm and frequency it operates at.
    Agreed. But how can one quantify the degree of emotion someone feels from listening to a particular song, say a sad ballad, over the response to another sad ballad. Obviously there are specific tones, pitches, melodic structures that can target a basic emotional response but I contend that there is an emotional "X" factor that separates the good/great from the mediocre.

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    Quote Originally Posted by looper_guy View Post
    ... but I contend that there is an emotional "X" factor that separates the good/great from the mediocre.
    it's called "soul".
    .

    .
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