June 28, 2015


Using the panel discussions of the most recent World Science Fiction Convention in London, August 2014, I will jump off, jump on, rail against, and shamelessly agree with the BRIEF DESCRIPTION given in the pdf copy of the Program Guide. The link is provided below…The Music of the Spheres: Panelists discuss how music and our understanding of the universe

have developed, hand in hand. From historical concepts such as ‘Musica universalis’ and celestial spheres, through Kepler’s ‘Harmonici Mundi’ to modern harmonics and String Theory. With: Rachel Erickson (M), Joseph Norman, Catja Pafort, Isabella van Elferen, Hannu Rajaniemi...

I had a thought the other day...

Hmmm...I need to back up here before I launch into this essay.

Thesis: Every Human on Earth has grown up with music. “Music is found in every known culture, past and present, varying widely between times and places. Since all people of the world, including the most isolated tribal groups, have a form of music, it may be concluded that music is likely to have been present in the ancestral population prior to the dispersal of humans around the world. Consequently music may have been in existence for at least 55,000 years and the first music may have been invented in Africa and then evolved to become a fundamental constituent of human life.” (The Origins of Music, Nils Lennart Wallin, Bj√∂rn Merker, Steven Brown (eds)).

Seeming non-sequitur: The school district I work for originally banned the use of headsets, cellphones, ipods, and any other electronic device during the school day. Battle was joined and eventually the district retreated. The thing is that it wasn’t only he students who fought on the side of music access. It was the young teachers as well. They wanted to be able to use their playlist whenever they wanted to...This revolution was virtually universal, championed by students with learning disabilities and no interest in school through students who scored perfectly on the ACT test and got straight As in all honors classes...

Seeming non-sequitur: I  had accordion lessons at an early age, switched to coronet for a very BRIEF sojourn, then discovered that vocal music was my forte (pardon the music pun). Not long after that, I discovered the guitar, and have in my possession an 11-string, Yamaha FG230 that is (at LEAST) 45 years old, in a case given to me by an ex-girlfriend then repaired by my brother, and travelled some million or so miles with me to various and sundry concerts. I have been in choirs since I can remember; in my case, from seventh grade onward (though it was probably before that!). I sang in a choir all the way through my second year of college, then in small groups for another decade, traveling not just in the US but in Canada, Nigeria, Cameroun, and Liberia – as well as Hawaii and Haiti – where I was privileged to hear music from very different traditions.  I am, as it were, no stranger to music.

Seeming non-sequitur: That said, I pose the following question: what if star-roving intelligence REQUIRED the admittedly off fusion of music and mathematics? Did anyone ask this question – it seems like a logical extension from “Panelists discuss how music and our understanding of the universe have developed, hand in hand.”

Posit: What if the development of music was a necessary component in the development of orbital mechanics, Titus-Bode Laws, and for taking advantage of  competing gravitational tugs...which create a vast network of passageways by which a spacecraft can travel over large distances while expending very little energy, “Grasping [Newton’s inverse-square] law, we can further derive equations which describe the motion of the sun, the planets and the Voyager spacecraft flying between them.” ?

Seeming non-sequitur: In his book, The New Music (Oxford University Press, 1987, pp 42-3), Reginald Smith Brindle says, “...mathematics is ‘the basis of sound’ and sound itself ‘in its musical aspects... exhibits a remarkable array of number properties’, simply because nature itself ‘is amazingly mathematical’.”

Conclusion: What if we are alone in the Universe because no one else has ever developed the fraternal twin fields of music and math?

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