Math Music

Day 331 Week 48 Q4 Tuesday, November 28, 2023

This is about finding the math in the music, not about finding the music in the music, although there most certainly is some. One is a lot faster than the other.  The creation of music in real-time whether being extemporaneous or a previously perfected performance, occurs at a much greater speed than solving equations and rational theoretical underpinnings.

You see, if there were to be a bridge between science and art, music would be that bridge. For me, music is the most mathematical of all of the hearts because you can be described very clearly, if not very comprehensively, mathematically.

There is a tremendous amount of pattern recognition and pattern creation within both music and math. By the way, the place where they meet most elegantly is in psychoacoustics, a branch of psychophysics. This has to do with measuring the physical variables that cause measurable psychological responses.

For example, we can measure frequency in a very unambiguous manner.  It is very clear how many cycles per second, or Hz, are occurring in the physical world when a sound or some other periodic excitation, like an oscillating electrical signal, is produced. 

That’s clear is what a human mind perceives this vibration to be in terms of pitch. There is a many-to-one mapping of different frequencies into the same pitch. Loudness can also interact with the perception of pitch, as can, tonal quality, which is also called timbre. 

The patterns at the boundaries between perception and physically produced phenomena are a fascinating subject called psychophysics. When the physical phenomena is acoustical or sonic in nature, it is then called psychoacoustics.

You see, there is a lot of math in music, and it is best for me, at least discovered in the rearview mirror after the music has occurred. Math can also be beautiful and, for some, produce an aesthetically stimulating experience like music.

But the experience that music creates, at least for me and, I suspect, for most of the world, is far more immediate, intense, passionate, and enveloping. The mathematical understanding of emotional feelings through analysis permits you to put music under a microscope, which helps you to better understand what you are hearing and why you are feeling when you feel. 

There is a great deal of music theory, which can be combined with a substantial mature field of physics theory. They all come together when you are a composer, orchestrating a piece for an ensemble of instruments.

There is a delicious mix of math and music manifested by an orchestra. As a composer, I am privileged to mess with the seemingly infinite math in the music.

This allows me the great gift of being able to cross the bridge between art and science as often as I please.

Math Music

Black Friday

Day 327 Week 47 Q4 Friday, November 24, 2023

It seems that the whole world has caught the black Friday plague of buying things that they may not need because they are on sale. This could be even more of a problem for a creative person who is a tool accumulation addict like me. Over the last few years, I have accumulated a lot of music, making software and magazine subscriptions, which during this one day of the year or so much less expensive than the rest of the time that I have come to post Bowen purchases until this day.

Just know that if you wait another month or two, I can get something I already wanted for half the price. This is an excellent motivator to practice the discipline of not consuming whenever the urge strikes. Of course, you are subjected to too many other things that might be enticing, so I’m not sure if I come out ahead or behind.

I am sure of one thing, though there have been a few tools that I have been waiting for two months to accumulate in the music composition and performance category, and since Software has no fixed cost of goods for a tiny one, it is possible to get terrific deals.

The involuntary innovator in me feels the need to integrate various tools into new workflows, and I have just spent two hours doing this. Areas of particular interest to be at the moment are composing music, performing music, and recording music. It seems that there are multiple populations of musicians who have different definitions of what the definitive version of a piece of music is.

My classical music conservatory friends think that the score is the definitive version of a piece of music. My recording studio, engineer, producer, and friends think that the recording is the definitive piece of music. I disagree with both of the groups because, for me, the live performance is the definitive version, and that means there is no single definitive version. Every time you perform, it is a different piece of music.

As a jazz musician, improvisation is crucial to me, and therefore, I regard every performance as a point of departure to explore what a piece of music might mean on that day for that audience in that venue. The only way I can play music and be in the present moment is by playing jazz.

I am not motivated to define a program of through-composed music written by somebody else to be performed several months in the future.  I do not know what the state of the world will be on that date or how I will feel, both of which will have a significant impact on what I play.

Black Friday Sales, do you have a future impact on what I will be playing enabled by the new gear or software. Currently, I am preparing to perform in two days, so this is not very relevant at this moment.

Hypothesis Manifestation

Day 325 Week 47 Q4 Wednesday, November 22, 2023

So, all of us make projections and guesses about the future. And some of us who think that we are scientists might call that a hypothesis. In some ways, a hypothesis is just a fancy name for a wild-ass guess. But it is also the first step in the scientific method, where you propose a solution to a problem and then go out and try to validate it.

And in order to validate something, you have to do some sort of an experiment or make some sort of an observation. You have to do something you can’t just say oh, I have proven that, and it is now confirmed. You actually have to do the work of testing and retesting until you can prove it is true, but the very first time you get some evidence, some external evidence that your hypothesis might be correct, this initial manifestation is quite exciting. Forward tells you that you might be on the right path. It does not tell you that you are definitely on the right path. But it does tell you that you are not definitely off it either. And not being on the wrong path is a big deal in science.

We sometimes call this an existence theorem. If you manifest something so that it actually comes into being, it is like pinching yourself and making sure you are really there. For if you have not manifested something tangibly, then you can never be sure you are not just living in a fantasy dream world.

Therefore, hypothesis manifestation is actually a big deal. And often, it is a small step on the way to something much more significant. For, we do have to take our grand dreams and break them down into smaller milestones where there are inherent dependencies. In other words, there are things you have to get done before getting the big things done. And sometimes, the pile of small things is actually a big thing.

For example, if you might want to do something internationally, it might be a good idea to try to do it nationally first. And it might be a better idea to try to do it regionally before you do it nationally. And before you do it regionally, you have to just do it in one place in your house to be prepared to do it initially.

But the moment the first regional manifestation is scheduled and on a public calendar, not just your calendar, but a lot of people’s calendars, then you know the curtain is going to go up, and you will have to be ready by a date certain.

It is the first step on a much longer trip.  That external public commitment of others means there are now stakeholders involved, and it is not just your game anymore. Your hypothesis must now sound reasonable to others. Congratulations, you now have a hypothesis manifestation.

Chaperoning and Championing

Day 310 Week 44 Q4 Tuesday, November 7, 2023

When we have new ideas or create new inventions, processes, music, art, or literature, we have to champion whatever it is, we created to get it out in the world until the world begins to ask us for our input, which usually doesn’t last very long, unless you become very famous and even that doesn’t have a long have Life usually.

Entrepreneurs have become so used to having to champion their ideas that we get locked into transmit mode and sometimes stop listening. This is not a good way to convince anybody of anything but when I am speaking of here is a different although related issue. Many people know they have to champion as well as to listen, but there is another function that we get to play because after all, these outputs are in someway our children, and they require parenting in the form of being a chaperone once in a while.

For example, you have written some thing which is getting into print and can assume that what we see on our screen will also be what we see printed on physical media like paper. This is never the case. Things look different on the surface, which is reflecting, light as compared to a screen, which is emitting light. Colors change, contrast, changes, darkness, and hue change. And if you really want to have some fun, try to get gradients to come out on paper the way they do on the screen.  Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.

This is why you have to do to press checks. Will you look at a printed out proof of something before you begin to replicate it and make many copies. It sounds so simple to send a file to a printer and expect what comes out to look like that file. But all experienced graphic designers and artists know this is not the case.

Authors, on the other hand, may be surprised if they are more in tune to the actual words, then the colors and shading and spacing of what they have written, all of which can be subject to change in ways that you did not expect. In general, the result is worse than you expected not better.

This is why, before mess producing anything printed at all, you must get a press proof, which is actually printed on the materials that you would like to be printing upon. The same holds true for prototyping and pilot runs before attempting to mess produce anything.

I called this to your attention, because even if you have convinced everybody that they want you’re out, but your job is not done you still have to chaperone it to defend the integrity of your creation, or it will be altered in ways that may not please you. Don’t leave this to chance. Try it out.

Do you have to be both a champion and a chaperone, especially in this difficult age.

Back to Bassics 

Day 288 Week 42 Q4 Monday, October 16, 2023

This is mainly for music people but also does apply to innovation in general. Music is a very primitive, complex, and engaging form of communication. It can be broken down into three fundamental basic elements: rhythm, melody, and harmony. Although it may not be intuitively obvious, bass instruments are capable of providing all three roles simultaneously, more so than most other instruments. Perhaps this is why all bands and orchestras have bass players. The role of the bass player in most small ensembles includes that of a time keep keeper as well as a tonal center keeper as the provider of the fundamental note in harmony. The outline of a song can be delivered on a bass with a melody provided by a voice, woodwind, and just about everything else except, in very special cases, a drum.

What is less obvious is the bass can also extremely capably deliver the melody as well, although interleaving being a timekeeper, harmony keeper, and melodist simultaneously is not a trivial skill. Additionally, most instruments that deliver the lowest notes are large and awkward. Compare the size of a string bass to a cello, for example, not to mention acoustic keyboards and harps. There are brass and woodwind instruments also capable of delivering deep melodic sustained notes, but for the most part, they are large, expensive, and difficult to play, which places them in the realm of specialty instruments never taken out for a solo performance but usually in the company of others. 

In the late fifties, when the electric bass was invented, this changed everything. All of a sudden, bass players could be more than timekeepers and simple harmony providers. These instruments were far less expensive and easier to play than all of the acoustic bass instruments like tuba, contra-bassoon, and string bass. This new instrument radically decreased the barrier to entry for countless musicians to modernize many music forms like country and jazz, as well as giving birth to new ones like rock, fusion, punk, and all of their derivative music forms.  

After a lifetime of composing for and dabbling with multiple musical forms on a variety of different musical instruments, I have found adding electric bass to almost any other instrument or voice increases the musical power of the ensemble and performance. It is bassic and actually delivers the musical fundamental tone, tempo, and rhythm and can also provide the melody. It does something most melody instruments can not do, which is to deliver a groove, and two things most drum and percussion instruments can not deliver: melody and harmony. 

As such, it provides a musical foundation that can be added after a house is already built.  The electric bass guitar is lower cost, easier to play, more robust, and more flexible than most instruments. This single innovation may have had more musical impact than any other in the last 100 years.  Fidn. The metaphor in your domain.

Cascaded Infinities

Day 170 Week 25 Q2 Tuesday, June 20, 2023

What are cascaded infinities? In today’s frame of mind, for me, it has to do with music. A composer, working at home alone in their studio, can access an infinite number of musical instruments’ tonal qualities. They can also access an infinite number of rhythms, chord changes, and ways to process the sound they create. As each of these is infinite, and you have a set of infinities all operating simultaneously, I called these cascaded infinities. This is an exciting enough combination of elements to construct unlimited numbers of pieces of music. And you can do it alone in your own time frame in your own space.

Is this a substitute or replacement for playing live music with other musicians in front of a live audience? Absolutely not. It is, however, an option that a person can take to keep their internal river of ideas flowing when there do not happen to be around other like-minded musicians or venues for presenting their music publicly. But, in this age of cloud, accounts, and Internet streaming, there’s no reason why a person could not put on a concert and broadcast it live to the public. It is not an either-or proposition. It is an and hybrid solution.

There are two kinds of musicians, those that tour and those that don’t. The ones that don’t have a much harder time earning a living than the ones who do. The ones who do have a much harder time having a stable, personal life because life on the road is difficult. There is no reason why you cannot put on concerts when you feel like it, and some of the time, they can be in person, and some of the time, they can be online, and hopefully, these can both occur simultaneously. This means taking the intimacy of the in-person experience, assuming it’s not too large to be intimate, and streaming it to get it out in the world.

This has tremendous business ramifications because new business models are possible based on hybrid performances. This will permit new kinds of musicians to emerge and new kinds of concerts to be held. The business model for music is about to change because of the combination of cascaded infinities. Are you taking advantage of some of these infant adoptions? Are you thinking about combining them into new tapestries of sound and experience? Are you adding visual elements to your performances? Besides, what shirt did you choose to wear?

It is a new day, not only in politics and economics, but of course, in the arts, which are affected by all of the external stimuli impinging upon the artist, and which, in turn, affects the external world as well.  Do not attempt to resist these changes because that is futile; instead, find a way to make it beautiful instead of futile.

Cascaded Infinities saw the way to go.

Music Model Insights

Day 167 Week 24 Q2 Saturday, June 17, 2023

In some ways, being a musician today is very much like it has always been. It has been hard to earn a living, and you had to be extremely self-sufficient and flexible.  There was a period that began when Music recordings became possible and ended when streaming became possible. During this time, companies that sold recordings could discover and represent musicians. The creation of this new portable form of intellectual property that could be sold changed the business model for musicians. Musicians could earn a living by selling records and tapes and then CDs.

Before this, most musicians could only earn a living by performing. Sure, the very elite class of musicians had the patronage of rich benefactors who essentially owned them much as the other staff around the castle. And today, with streaming, it is no longer possible to earn a living by selling recordings because most people do not even own recordings any longer. And streaming pays too little to be worth doing at all except to build your brand and credibility for touring.

So, musicians are back to where they were one hundred years ago regarding business models. They have to play out to get paid. And if they are not good at getting gigs, they have to pay to play instead of getting paid to play. It is that simple: to first order if you are famous, you must tour; if you are not, you still have to play out. And playing out is usually not the way to touring.

Okay, so a few musicians here and there build their reputations online and get discovered and ushered into touring, but this is as rare as somewhat writing a book and self-publishing it to acclaim. In both cases, the chances of earning a living are probably less than one in a thousand and certainly less than one in a hundred.

In contrast, if you get a degree in accounting, medicine, law, engineering and yes, even music, you have a very much better chance than one in a hundred of getting a job. However, for musicians, that job is likely to be teaching, which is a time-honored way for all artists to earn a significant portion of their support.

But today, there could be other options for business models besides the well-known ones of composing soundtracks for movies, video games and commercials and performing at corporate functions.

What about combining intimacy and reach? The in-person experience and the streaming experience? What about being technologically leveraged to sound like more than one musician.? What about the decreased barriers to entry to starting a new business and even a music business? 

Create new business models to support new performance models to support yourself as a musician and a composer, and yes, I do not mean AND not OR. For if you are a composer and can not or do not play, there is little chance of earning a living. Yes, there is always the one in a hundred, but Ould you advise anyone to do this?

If you want to compose, the odds are you are going to have to play to be heard. And the odds are you are going to have to play to earn a living as a musician because it is rarely possible to earn a musical living from IP sales.

Just some contemporary music insights.