Sunday, September 23, 2012

Of Math and Music

Every once in a while a discouraging thought that's been bouncing around in the back of my mind resurfaces and it is that through the span of time, over all the years and centuries, all of the tunes and melodies have been formulated and constructed and sung and there's actually nothing new left.  We take what we have and reconfigure it or remodel it or paint over it to make it look new again but it's just the same thing as all the others underneath, and when I mull this over, as I have many times, something inside of me threatens to die, it is so sad, so depressing to me.

They tell me music is very mathematical, and I believe them.  If it is, then it is the one area where the maths and I get along-- not that I understand it in the LEAST, because I don't-- but I feel the math in there and it is a weirdly comforting thing.  I think math is what brings a sense of harmony, order, and peace, and in that corner pocket, math and I are reconciled.

At times I feel desperate to understand it but I don't think I ever really will, not with the ease I would want, and so I am resigned to live and let live, wondering if one day maybe I will have a dream or a vision, even on a subconscious level, where it will all be explained to me and I will understand it, hopefully on a more-than subconscious level.   But for the most part I'm content with, if a bit confused about the current put-togetherings of my brain and whatnot as far as music and math are concerned.

So with this discouraging thought and my lack of mathematical understanding, I'm left to wonder if it's really true-- that all the songs have been sung and there's nothing truly original out there.  But then we get a new song that sends a spark in our hearts and brains, igniting some synapses or neurons or something brain-y that wasn't quite alive and functioning before.  And when that happens I think we know somewhere inside that we as humans have stumbled on something truly remarkable, and that maybe that is the true beauty of math and science, that it actually hasn't all been discovered yet.  That even if you take already existing principles and formulas, to place them somewhere new, to attach them and apply them to different approaches and equations, something completely new can be born, and this thought, conversely to my original one, makes my heart sing.

I can't put it into words, and i won't even try, but I know, cognitively, there are classes and categories of music. I know there's some kind of organizing going on because it makes itself known to me at random points in my life--where I instinctively place one song or chord or code (I don't know anything about codes) or structure above another, where I say this one works and that one doesn't quite, or that should go there while this one should go here.  Where I am consciously making decisions and constructing or sorting all of these mathemusical elements but I perhaps only subconciously know why.   It requires a bit of faith and acceptance, but diligence also, to keep pressing forward to discover and experiment.   Because maybe aren't we all scientists.


Stephanie said...

Very sweet! I applaud and encourage all of your math and music endeavors. :)

)en said...

Aww, thanks pal :)

Ashley said...

"Mathemusical." That's genius.

Also, I loved this. It's thoughtful and hopeful, and it confirms some of my same doubts I have about writing: that all the stories have already been told and all that's left is different interpretations.