Thursday, March 10, 2005

Patterns in Sound

I experienced something today that was maybe the most beautiful thing I have ever seen, more beautiful than a sunset, but not necessarily more beautiful than a smile. I was getting bored with my piano playing always sounding the same, and so I decided to transpose the music I play to an unfamiliar key. This produced a new sound, and while this wasn't what excited me, playing in a new key gave a new flavor to the same routine I was used to playing. So I played the bass in every key, followed by the equivalent of a the blues chord progression [C chord, inverted F cord, then inverted G chord] in every key and Great Scott the secret of music revealed itself to me; I was overwhelmed with awe and humility. How?

After training my fingers to recognize the keys of each progression, I accidentally looked away from the keys while I was still playing. I found that every key progression carried its own physical pattern as if it were a picture that could not be seen, but only felt by my fingers. I noticed that the notes resonated when they were played according to their pre-ordained design. Hit the keys, ignore their pattern, the notes will clash, and people will throw tomatoes. I believe this pattern among others I have yet to understand are governed by the laws of harmony in sound, and all it took to recognize them was to look away from the piano. Prior to this, I just knew that some sounds go well together and others don't, but I never understood the REASON.

While I still haven't figured out WHY, I figured out that there is a pattern that I can not draw, but that my fingers can only feel when I play the tunes in a resonant way. I understand now why a blind or a deaf person can play beautiful music -- sounds for them may not necessarily be audio; perhaps they can feel the patterns of the sounds too as I did today.

I believe there is a deeper lesson in this experience which I have yet to grasp. Perhaps there is a universal concept of beauty that manifests itself when something follows the patterns as whispered by nature's sounds. Ancient cultures tried to figure out the ratio and measurements of the perfect building. They postulated that these perfect buildings follow Fibonacci patterns. I wonder if my sound theory resonates with the Fibonacci theory, among others neither I nor anyone as of yet have thought of. Torah teaches that "to know G-d, look at His creation". Within the microcosm are the secrets of the macrocosm. Maybe this is one secret that has just been revealed which has applications in countless other fields.

Further, maybe there is a lesson here that in order to find the truth of something, one needs only to look away. Perhaps the eyes can blind a person from seeing the truth. We do know that the eyes deceive, but before anyone starts to believe the eyes themselves are bad or evil, to be specific, perhaps the lesson is that sometimes sense get in the way of our other faculties and so we are unable to see what is in truly obvious and actually revealed to us if we only knew how to look.

On a deeper level, perhaps something only reveals itself when it is not directly looked at or focused on. Like the Heisenberg uncertainty principle (if I remember it correctly), one can never know the velocity and the position of a particle at a certain time. Because the measurement of one facet changes the other, we can never know both the exact speed and the position of any particle at any time. Similarly, perhaps we also hide the truth of something when we focus on its properties.

I can feel that there is a big lesson here, but I am unable to grasp it. Nevertheless, a mechanism (perhaps one of many) for revealing the beauty of sound and perhaps for revealing the beauty of nature itself has been revealed to me today, and I have shown the existence of the mechanism to you. Unfortunately, you cannot experience this by reading my words or my descriptions; you must experience the beauty in sound for yourself by playing the keys and recognizing the patterns within the sound. Only then will you experience what I did today, namely discovering that nature can be cracked and understood if one only pays attention to its signs and the secrets contained within its whispers.

Lastly, as a note, I am not necessarily changed by this discovery, nor have I been enlightened or made special by today's experience. No secret of the universe was revealed to me alone that cannot be revealed to you if you repeat my actions and play the same keys on the piano. I am simply writing about an observation about the nature of sound and its patterns that I found to be interesting.

From a scientific point of view, I believe that the application of this observation to concepts outside the world of music can change the world for the better. One day soon I will write down the notes that form the patterns I have been discussing, and I will map it out into a picture format, and I will measure and map the distances between the notes. I will measure their relative amplitudes and frequencies and I will map those too. I will look for patterns and make conjectures about their meanings. Then I will try to apply the results to unrelated fields and concepts. Let's hear what sound has to say about our world and how we live in it.

1 comment:

ariadneK, Ph.D. said...

Hi there. :-) Would you mind if I put a link to your blog on mine? Thanks so much, ariK