Pythagoreans celebrate sunrise - Fyodor Bronnikov (1827—1902). Click for a larger picture

 

As you know I have been musing on Pythagoras of Samos recently (Ὁ Πυθαγόρας ὁ Σάμιος). I wrote about him in my blog and in other blogs.

P was a great mathematician. Now it turns almost all bloggers MoR has been discussing with (also on P) have some math capabilities. MoR has instead very little. So he asked his friend Extropian for help.

Extropian is laconic and doesn’t like blogs. So he first sent this movie and just said: “This stuff is Pythagorean.”

He then added: “Here following is the rationale behind the movie.”

He also sent me this paper on Pythagoras & Eugene Wigner that requires a degree in physics to figure out what the hell it means.

Finally he linked to another movie and declared:

“You became a pianist but you’ll always be longing for the strings of a guitar, of a violin or of a lute. Pythagoras started a new world-view with the strings of a lyre. You may like this.”

I hope this will not be the music of the future (only because it sounds too robotic). But the 3d animation intuitively shows better than any book on acoustics the relation between the string lengths and the sounds: ie by pressing the strings the robotic fingers change their lengths which produces a change in pitch.

And my friend is right. From the age of 12 I was a decent guitarist then I turned into a pianist at 18, a big mistake, one out of many.

A Crazy Night of Revel

In the spring of 1995 – I’m only apparently digressing – my wife and I came back home from a party. Oh we had had such fun! She though went straight to bed being tired from a hard day at her office. I remained alone in the living room, feeling weird and restless.

There I saw my electronic keyboard, a Korg 01 WFD – now prehistoric – connected to a Mac and two Protei (Proteus 1 and 2.) Before laying my hands on the glowing keys I knew what I needed that night: fat strings sounds more than just piano sounds.

The result was a dozen improvisations that lead to nowhere and sound now so badly because of analogical worn out tapes and especially when compared to the pro stuff you’ve heard above. They though retain a personal value to me. They ex-press (in the literal meaning of ‘squeeze out’) one of the most authentic musical revelry I ever experienced in my life.

I mean, if Dionysus-Bacchus ever exists I’m pretty sure I met him that night [another mysterious Dionysian experience is described here. And, Pythagoras and the Dionysian experience are tightly connected, so no digression as I said.]

3-4 pieces out of 12 I still like a bit. I’m waiting for my digital DAT recorder to be repaired so I can have better sources of my musical ramblings.

Here are 2 from that night in .mp3 format.

ψ

Related posts:

Two Piano Improvisations

18 thoughts on “Do Music and Numbers Pervade the Universe? A Night of Dionysian Revelry

  1. This post is a real Chinese meal, many dishes and lots to look at. The Animusic thing is amusing but still just a curiosity. I also hope it is not the music of the future.
    Your improvisations on the other hand are quite listenable and I enjoyed them.
    However I am Not, have never been and will never be a mathematician. And P. as far as I’m concerned is a nightmarish theorem that I never understood, could never demonstrate and sunk me at the bacchaloreate.

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    1. The Animusic thing is amusing but still just a curiosity.

      I first agreed, but Extropian is no fool and I later realized how good the video is. The amazing 3d thing intuitively shows better than any book the relation between the string lengths and the sounds. By pressing the strings the robotic fingers change their length thence change the sound. So marvellously coordinated this machine is, I tried to concentrate in order check whether they are cheating with the length-sound relationship. They don’t seem to cheat, but there are too many fingers to be checked, I should eat mushrooms to be able to do it [and I don’t do such things.]

      Pythagoras was the first to grasp such principles. It may ‘sound’ weird lol but acoustics started Science. In the Far East they had much earlier understood similar things and, while we don’t know whether P’s first intuition was original, he must nonetheless have fallen on his knees in awe, as Kitty Ferguson observes in her book on him.

      My keyboard improvisations were SUCH FUN to play though I cannot judge them.

      I will never be a mathematician neither! Pyth’s ‘nightmarish theorem’ sinking you bacchaloreate, ah ah ah, it made me roll on the floor laughing! (my nightmares having been of the same kind)

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  2. Well, I’ve seen these examples of ‘nature being numerate’ before. I think we’re always supposed to feel pressure to marvel at … math. But I don’t. Marvel at math, I mean. I just marvel at nature. Perhaps something’s wrong with me.

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    1. I don’t. Marvel at math, I mean. I just marvel at nature. Perhaps something’s wrong with me

      Ahh, who knows, and with me too! But what intrigues me is that the majority of the Jewish geniuses who made the history of science in the last 100 years are convinced of the contrary.

      I’ll be long as usual. Extropian has not been idle.

      He sent me this paper 14 of the Wigner Centennial Conference: Symmetry and “Magic” Numbers, or, From the Pythagoreans to Eugene Wigner, by Yuval Ne’eman, professor of physics at Tel-Aviv & Texas-Austin universities.

      Now it turns this *Wigner*, 1963 Nobel Prize in Physics, – totally unknown to me – is considered equal to Albert Einstein.

      Of him (and Pythagoras) Ne’eman wrote in the said paper (that you can read in this *Google doc* I shared):

      “Pythagoras is known to have conjectured that it should be possible to express the whole of physical science as pythagoreanisms. … it was just a very wild guess. This conjecture became known as “the music of the spheres”. […]

      Between 500 BC and 1500 AD, the search for the Music of the Spheres was on, but sterile […]

      However, when spectroscopy developed to the extent of measuring the lines of hydrogen or helium, a mathematics high school teacher in Basel, Johann Balmer, was the first person to hear and recognize that “music”. Considering that in truth the world is quantized and classical physics just decoheres because it undergoes a large number of scatterings with dust particles, etc, we have to concede that Pythagoras’ guess was a real hit.

      WIGNER WAS ABLE TO LISTEN OR PLAY THE PYTHAGOREAN MUSIC OF THE SPHERES AT DIFFERENT LEVELS (!!)”

      Well, my scientific toolbox is zero, but grasping even glimpses of it – does its truth really matter? – equals to grasping glimpses of the theory behind Plato, Cicero, the Divine Comedy, Alberti, Ficino, Kepler, up to Russell and Einstein. Isn’t it worth trying?

      Hopefully Dafna and Richard may help a bit too.

      Like

  3. Lovely!

    I tend to agree with Andreas, here. I want to understand math and its connection to music and nature, but my horrible math performance haunts me.

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    1. Oh it haunts me so much too! Like Paul I still have nightmares about school, like this one: ALL my schoolmates have passed all math tests and I’m the only one left yet to pass them. The teacher is mad and staring around in search of ME, I hide and hide behind a big guy in order not get caught, I make myself soo small, but, in the end, I GET CAUGHT.

      🙂

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  4. I still have nightmares about school, like this…

    I would guess your dream, which sounds like many I have heard told, although not one of mine, has more to do with things other than math. But on that topic, I can say that math teachers are overly represented in my personal list of the worst teachers I’ve ever had. If my experience is not unusual, that explains a lot of comments here, no? (Finally, in my first year of engineering school, I had one of my best teachers ever, for first-semester calculus.)

    I don’t. Marvel at math, I mean. I just marvel at nature. Perhaps something’s wrong with me.

    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with you. If there were no people doing math, there would still patterns in sunflower seeds that we describe with Fibonacci series. The giants who brought us the last 100 years of science understood this, I think. Mathematicians, of the “pure” type, sometimes don’t, I think. No reason why they should have to, but no reason why their view of the world should be shared by us either.

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    1. I’ll reply when I can. I have been to the canine hospital: Lilla (our Bolognese) will survive!

      Btw, I expect some contribution from you too, a Jewish engineer!! Will you be so kind to read Symmetry and “Magic” Numbers, or, From the Pythagoreans to Eugene Wigner,, by Yuval Ne’eman, physics professor at Tel-Aviv and Texas-Austin universities?

      The link to my Google docs is above. Oh I never oblige my commenters …I just ERASE them from my blog if they don’t behave [damnatio memoriae]
      😉

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      1. Best wishes for your canine friend!

        I don’t know what to make of that document. Some of it is totally beyond me because my knowledge of quantum physics, a descriptive knowledge only, is limited.

        So, the universe IS quantized, just as P surmised? Okay. Not sure what relevance that has. I’ve never seen a good explanation of how quantum effects impinge on everyday life of us macro-atomic beings. If you want to study atoms, you don’t use Newtonian physics. If you want to drive a tack, you don’t use a railroad hammer. What does that tell us about sledgehammers or railroad spikes, other than that they behave diffrently than tacks and tack hammers? (Metaphorically speaking, of course.)

        Music of the spheres? Poetic, but aside from being an interesting riff, I dunno… His ideas about P as a founder of the scientific world-view are interesting.

        Sorry I have so little to offer, but I try not to talk too much on topics about which I know little.

        I am very interested in quanta in my own way:
        http://iamyouasheisme.wordpress.com/2005/02/01/dots-secrets-of-the-universe/

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        1. Sorry I have so little to offer, but I try not to talk too much on topics about which I know little.

          Does that mean that 60% of my posts (and possibly 30% of yours) should have never been written? [figures arbitrary]

          Didn’t we both agree on that if I recall, e.g. that at least in our blogs we can blabber?

          You have given a contribution instead. And that I wanted to throw back something, and that the sentence I quote discouraged me a bit, little matters. Hopefully this math stuff will be of stimulus to people who know better.

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          1. I wonder if it is true …
            :mrgreen:

            Since, with you from the Angli culture one never knows: u say A, but u mean C; you say G, but u mean F. While here (with the exclusion of my father’s region) by A we mean A, by B we mean B, by C we mean C … no need to reach Z I guess 🙄

            (Thanks to Richard I’m now a power user with emoticons)

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  5. I don’t. Marvel at math, I mean. I just marvel at nature. Perhaps something’s wrong with me

    Lichanos held on to these words, and so do I.

    Well, man, my scientific toolbox is zero, but grasping even glimpses of it – does its truth really matter? – equals to grasping glimpses of the theory behind Plato, Cicero, the Divine Comedy, Alberti, Ficino, Kepler, up to Russell and Einstein. Isn’t it worth trying?

    Hopefully Dafna and Richard may help a bit too.

    I fear your hopes are misplaced since my scientific toolbox is equally bereft. In any event I would defer to anything Dafna might say.

    It may be that all human response to Nature can be only part of the story, since we ourselves are only part(if that perception is indeed the case). Maths is not a special case.

    If we do not attempt those glimpses, what else are we to do?

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    1. I fear your hopes are misplaced since my scientific toolbox is equally bereft.

      Richard, from what I gather from your recent posts, you are too humble. You Anglo-Saxon always under-state. We Latins always over-state – I often do in any case. I’d love some day to meet someone who just states.

      How can I reach Dafna? She has no blog. And yes, any glimpse at any level of knowledge, is worth attempting.

      Like

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