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Music of Science

  1. Jan 7, 2012 #1
    Hi everyone! I haven't posted here in a while, but I lurk pretty much every day. I guess I'm just not as educated as I would like to be for me to feel comfortable in participating with the discussion I enjoy reading... I'm deeply inspired by science and the great mysteries of life and reality, and this inspiration spreads to every facet of my life.

    My passion and profession is working with music. Specifically I produce music for games, film and television. I make music for spiritual healing, it really expresses something deep inside of me that I could never hope to elucidate otherwise. All of passion and being is poured into each track, and the pieces of music dearest to me are especially influenced by this wonder of creation that I have.

    I'm here to ask you, the PF community, what it is you feel to be the music of science, reality and creation. In my own personal subjective point of view, I liken the undulating layers of synthesizers harmonizing in unison, interspersed with a hypnotic pulsing bass line that you find in trance music, to be very evocative of our cosmos in general. Something about those... waves of euphoric, repetitive patterns coming at you from all sides. I don't know, it's hard to explain. I realize this is an odd question! Thank you for participating.
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  3. Jan 7, 2012 #2


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    I don't really think about a music of science, but nature performs a full symphony daily, especially in spring and summer. The song birds provide a beautiful chorus, accompanied by rustling leaves, gusts of wind, crickets chirping, frogs croaking, water running...rain is a nice percussion section...and so on.
  4. Jan 7, 2012 #3
    That's a valid point. The sounds of nature are very pleasing... heavy thunderstorms are in fact among my top favorite ambient environments. Perfect for relaxation! I guess I did mean to inquire about more human forms of music though, but any addition to the discussion is welcome. I like music that uses sounds from nature very much. :)

    More on my original point, though. I realize not everyone is into electronic dance music but for me it's very therapeutic, uplifting and I just can't get enough of it. Especially the sort that really gets me thinking about everything around me. This track by Robert Nickson just puts me directly into celestial realms.

    (best listened to at 480p)
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 25, 2014
  5. Jan 8, 2012 #4


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    I don't know whether you meant music which somehow reflects the "essence" of science or music which directly deals with scientific ideas. In the latter case an obvious recommendation would be (probably already discussed in detail somewhere in this forum) Symphony of science, which basically consists of remixed versions of well-known scientists talking. Carl Sagan - 'A Glorious Dawn' ft Stephen Hawking (Symphony of Science) should be enough to give anyone a piloerection and the same goes for almost any other product of theirs.

    Recommendations on similar projects are more than welcome.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 8, 2012
  6. Jan 8, 2012 #5
    I've been reading a lot about Newton and his contemporaries lately. (In particular, a book I'd highly recommend called The Clockwork Universe.) His theory of universal gravitation pulled the cosmos together in everyone's mind as a clockwork mechanism. The reasoning Newton laid out in the Principia Mathematica was the first time anyone had rigorously demonstrated a coherent law might be at work that explained all motion everywhere.

    Newton, and the other great intellects in the Royal Society were a small enclave of educated men trying to maintain an island of scientific rigor they could inhabit, insulated, at least mentally, from the real world of plague, disaster, filth, crime, poverty, and social chaos of the times. A huge percentage of Londoners had recently been wiped out by infectious disease, and an equally large percentage of physical London, itself, had been burned down in a massive fire that had raged for days. Universal Gravitation offered solace to "learned men" in the concept that beneath the surface chaos, everything was actually coherent, organized, and running perfectly.

    Given all that, the music that kept coming to mind during my reading as representing "science" was the Straus waltz segment from 2001. With Newton in mind, the segment becomes a celebration of Universal Gravitation:

    (Headphones a must: the soundtrack is soft.)

  7. Jan 8, 2012 #6
    Oh, 2001! Excellent choice, that film as a matter of fact is perhaps my favorite of all time. I have various repeat viewings under my belt ;)

    I am very attracted to films such as 2001, in that the power of the narrative lies almost solely on the concept of the film, rather than dialogue or character building. The fact that this is a very musical film is also pleasing to me, I find the score to be incredible. The star gate sequence and the following "room of time" always gives me chills without fail!

    My personal views on this topic which I've already put forth are due to what the music makes me feel, rather than any sort of surface association. There's something about the mathematical precision of those synth waveforms and how they interact so delicately with one another that reminds me of our force fields in nature. And the anchor of course is bass, which adds gravity to the composition! Everything revolves around the bass and comes together. ;)
  8. Jan 8, 2012 #7


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    You should try the collected works of Ligeti sometime - a clip from his requiem is also on the 2001 soundtrack.

    Some things to do with a pipe organ (probably not thought of by its original builders)

    Or this Ligeti score, and a performance (though they replaced the human performers with robotics)
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 25, 2014
  9. Jan 8, 2012 #8
    Over the years I've done a lot of ballroom (and other) dancing, so the sound of a waltz brings all the physical sensations of dancing to one to mind, and it's a very 'gravitational' experience, in and of itself; two bodies rotating about their common center of gravity as they also orbit the center of the room, not just by association with the 2001 segment. That scene probably hits someone who's actually waltzed at more of a gut level than someone who hasn't.

    I get what you're saying about the synthesizer music, but without having that same automatic reaction to it myself. I'd certainly find it appropriate as soundtrack background for a scene involving force fields of any kind, though.

    Music that is inherently "scientific" in some way, that evokes some phenomenon from the realm of science? Nothing else comes to mind at this point.
  10. Jan 8, 2012 #9
    The organ piece was very interesting. I thought the registration brought a synthesizer-like sound out of the instrument.

    I put up with the metronomes for 3.5 minutes, and that was that. I couldn't get into that piece.

    His music was used very effectively in the film. I'm not sure he's a composer I'd want to just sit and listen to otherwise, though.
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 25, 2014
  11. Jan 8, 2012 #10
    I can really visualize this. You've given a very poetic description, I enjoyed it. I suppose everyone can find this kind of beauty in the music they love. Ultimately what moves us is what we consider to be true.

    I listen to a lot of dark ambient music. Artists like Inade (perhaps my favorite in the genre) evoke the deep, cold emptiness of space and our universe while also never failing to exemplify its grandeur and awe inspiring magnificence. The album "The Crackling of Anonymous" in particular is really nice. I'm sure there's tracks on youtube that are easily accessible if you're curious.
  12. Jan 8, 2012 #11


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    He had a great sense of humor. Too bad if not everybody got all the jokes.

    FWIW you probably missed the most "interesting" part when they begin run down and stop at random times, and you can begin to count the number that are still ticking.

    Compared with most composers, Ligeti doesn't have an obvious "style". Every work is pretty much unique.
  13. Jan 8, 2012 #12
    I'm certainly happy it spoke to you.
    This is not a criteria it would have occurred to me to apply to music. I like Bach a lot, for example, but it would never strike me as being true, false, or anything in between.
    I may check it out someday.
  14. Jan 8, 2012 #13
    I was actually expecting he'd arranged it so large subgroups would start beating; all striking at the same time, and that those beats would add up to some "fascinating rhythm" of some sort. I was so disappointed.
    The organ piece seemed very consistent with the piece in 2001, to my ears.
  15. Jan 9, 2012 #14
    Well, taken at face value what I said may seem to be nonsense but I assure you there's a good point. Basically I just mean something along the lines of this; people tend towards their own natural dispositions in art and aesthetics in general. We call this "taste". I think this taste is a result of some incredibly powerful culmination of our life experiences plus our biological aptitudes that we really don't quite yet understand, but we feel this calling very strongly and thus on some level consider it to be what's right (for you, the individual).
  16. Jan 9, 2012 #15
    "True", then, in the sense of "on the mark", "on target", as in "His aim was true." "True" music being music that hits you squarely where your esthetic sense is centered.
  17. Jan 9, 2012 #16
    Right, that is precisely what I mean. I suppose I could have been more clear the first time hehe.

    I think it's an important notion to discuss, or think about. I don't think we really start to truly "know" ourselves until much later in life, even in areas that we believe would be easily intuited such as musical preference. I mean, we all know what we like, right? Still, it's a curious fact that most people's taste changes throughout a significant portion of their life, finally seeming to settle at some equilibrium point.
  18. Jan 9, 2012 #17
    Hmm. Well, my rumination on the subject leads me to have to say that, despite maybe being on the "later in life" side, I don't feel I've remotely approached any equilibrium. While my taste has been in constant flux, it doesn't feel directed toward a limit. I don't sense a "settling" on the horizon, and only wish I had a guaranteed unlimited time ahead to explore what's out there and what's to come.

    Edit: I'm not inferring from that that my experience is the more typical. Yours may absolutely well be a good characterization of the general pattern.
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2012
  19. Jan 9, 2012 #18
    I think it's important that we are always open to new experiences and ideas. So perhaps you're someone who values this. In my observation (and it is just that), most people seem to maintain some sort of permanency in their lives which often includes things like music preference. I can't count how many times I've heard "music (or television, film, books, etc.) was better back in my day!".
  20. Jan 9, 2012 #19


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    I think I'm one of the outliers too. I enjoy a large variety of music, and unlike others my age who criticize the music "kids listen to nowadays", I enjoy quite a bit of it right along with music of my youth, of my parents' generation, and on back. There are specific artists I don't like, and a few genres that grate on my nerves, but overall, I enjoy almost any music. I wonder if it's learned? My parents were hardly the "cool" parents, yet the one area I never had conflicts with them growing up was in music. They had their music, but were pretty open to enjoying the music my generation listened to as well.
  21. Jan 10, 2012 #20

    Ivan Seeking

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    For my father, music ended with Frank Sinatra. :biggrin: But that was the height of the "generation gap". That gap doesn't exist with music nearly as much as it did in the 60s and 70s. I've noticed that a lot of parents like to attend concerts with their kids these days. And visa versa. Many kids like music going all the way back to the 60s. I think the big transistion was from the crooners and Debby Reynolds, to rock and roll. After that the changes in musical preferences between the generations began to diminish.
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