JS Bach vs The World (part one)

Now I am going to write something that will probably disgust people who are extremely well educated in Classical Music (or Western Art Music to give it its technical term), they may have grade 8 on theory and instrument, maybe even a degree in the subject.  I am educated to grade 6 piano grade 4 theory, GCSE music A*, A level music D (I was the only student in the history of the school to ever take A level music and had one to one tuition for two years), and I did a music module with the Open University  which I passed with a grade 2.   Mainly I am self taught, I learn about the composer’s lives and their music at my own pace.  So I am probably very wrong on what I want to say here.

Science and medicine have advanced exponentially with every passing century.  From leeches and bloodletting in Tudor times to Full Face Transplants and other amazing things that surgeons and doctors can do.  Also, look at the amazing drugs that the medical world has at it’s disposal.  So you would never say that medicine in 1820 was better then medicine in 2015.   Now as I write this I am listening to JS Bach’s Toccata for keyboard in E minor.  It is a piece of music, (especially the fugue) that transcends the existence of life.  It is so abstract and detached from the grind of everyday living.  How did Bach do it?  Did he just follow a simple formula that worked really well on every piece he composed.

So here is my conjecture.  The greatness, the prowess; the depth of emotion and feeling in Bach’s music is the pinnacle of musical compositions which peeked in the last decade of his life.  So say 1740-50 was when music peeked and has never achieved such heights again.  JS Bach, I have decided, after playing his music almost non-stop for three months, is the greatest composer who ever lived.  I feel as if I want to cry when I write these words.  I realise that this is purely subjective, but Bach has everything and used all that was available to him at the time.  The last decade of his life produced an amazing outpouring of music that clearly goes up and beyond what any human could conceivably do.  He wrote book 2 of his Well-Tempered Clavier in 1742, and later the Art of the Fugue which remains unfinished, and the beautiful Goldberg Variations.  The aria or theme of the latter piece were used in Silence of the Lambs listened to by Hannibal Lecter while in his cage.   So it has an eerie quality that has never been matched.

As music produced a flood of classical composers after JS Bach’s death only two really threatened Bach’s superiority:  Beethoven and Mozart (although I would argue for Muzio Clementi as well who played a big role as an influence in Beethoven’s music, not so much Mozart’s although Wolfgang did pinch a theme of Clementi’s and used it in his overture to The Magic Flute.  Clementi made sure people knew he had written and published this theme ten years earlier!).  Beethoven, in my opinion was far greater than Mozart.  Although if Wolfgang had maybe lived another ten years or so we may have seen him go in the direction that Beethoven did.  This can be shown by listening to Mozart’s last three symphonies which are a sign that he could have changed the course of music forever.  But music peaked in the 1740s and could never be bettered.  I am starting to think that that is an objective fact and I will try my hardest to define and argue for this notion.

JS Bach was almost mathematical in his compositions.  His fugues so perfectly set.  Like starting with little equations and then the entire piece goes through all the stages of solving them, maybe a bit like solving a quadratic equation.    And you will always find minor key works by JS Bach and others, end with a major chord.  This is a delightful technique which was copied by Alkan, the french pianist and composer, in his symphony for piano.  Although it is done the other way round and as it seems like the movement will end on C major a dark and quiet chord in C minor finishes the piece.   Yet a quadratic equations can have more then 2 answers.  One positive, one negative maybe.  Bach solves them each time and each fugue sounds complete and satisfying.  That is why a Bach piece always sounds complete and not too long or too short.  There is nothing unnecessary in a JS Bach piece.

You couldn’t have timed that any better.  I just decided I would ramble a bit more about Bach on this blog when, randomly, on my Spotify playlist ‘Braintree away’ (I am going on four hour roundtrip journey by coach tomorrow, 13/10/15, to watch my local football team Dover Athletic play Braintree Town), his Toccata in F sharp minor BWV 910 starts to play.  I know it was just a coincidence but I was about to flick on Bach’s keyboard toccatas played by Gould for inspiration.  His interpretation is supreme I must say and I am slowly regarding the toccatas for keyboard as my favourite JS Bach compositions.  Better than the partitas, the English and French suites, better than the Well Tempered Clavier books I and II?  I hear you say.  Erm, yes, I reply.   While all those mentioned are indeed incredible masterpieces that no man on his own should have ever been allowed to compose, the toccatas go that little step further, taking the listener into the dizzying world of abstract emotion and beyond the realms of this small terrestrial planet.  Indeed if they could be compared with music from beyond this Solar System, or Galaxy, they would rank right up there, although who am I too say.  I have had my inner ears washed with Bach for the last three months and cannot find fault, or indeed imperfection.    I have yet to tire of any part of his music.

My listening patterns cycle.  I leave certain, well most, composers dormant for weeks, months, some even years.  I find if I do this then the next time I come across them, always randomly, then it will feel like the magical time I first heard them.  Take Berlioz for example.  When I was first introduced to the Symphonie Fantastique and Harold in Italy, during GCSE music lessons I was mightily impressed yet after a few weeks I grew weary and let them drop from my playlists. It has been years since I last played Berlioz, maybe he is due a turn when I randomly stumble across him again.  Or take Brahms.  I love his four symphonies.  When I first heard the opening to the 1st symphony, again at school, I was blown out of my trousers, it was that good.  Trouble is that was the best part of the first movement and never returns.  The 4th in E minor is my favourite Brahms symphony and should get an airing soon, just like his two powerful piano concertos will, too.   Tchaikovsky is sitting fallow as well, but will sound cheerily impressive when I click him back into action before the year is out.  Even Beethoven I have to rest as I do actually tire of the old warhorse apart from the Eroica Symphony, that is impossible, for me at least, to get bored off.  And what about Mozart?  Er, well I have taken a massive sabbatical from the little Salzburg’s finest son.  I find his music too production line-ish, if there is such a description.  He composed some fine peices of music and most of those are in the keys of D or C minor.  His requiem is incredible, his late piano concertos and symphonies also but apart from the odd piano sonata or fantasie his appeal, I am afraid, is limited for me.

I am going to adjust my years of when music peaked and that is now from 1700-1750.  I push back the years to when the, as already mentioned, toccatas where composed.  A little bit of investigative work, beyond Wikipedia, which doesn’t seem to have a page about.  Yet I soon found out they were written between 1708 and 1710.   This is from the Piano Society webpage.

Well, such is my excitement for Johann Seb that I seem to have contradicted myself.   I am writing this piece over several days and should have read over what I have written.  Anyway, I regard the toccatas as extremely important pieces.  And taking into consideration they were composed by a 23-25 year old is not bad going considering the depth of emotion they contain.  This is perhaps where it get a little subjective because at present I class the toccatas as more important works then the WTC say.  The WTC is probably one of the finest body of works within a radius of several million parsecs from the centre of the earth!  Yet, it is beautifully mechanical, and each fugue is like a quadratic equation with the notes gradually solving it. Not like the toccatas.  I don’t know whether it is the whimsy humming of Gould that adds an extra layer to the recording or the harmonics that Bach conjures out of the aether that are somehow perfect.  They say Mozart was perfect.  Mozart’s music was simpler then JS Bach’s yet paradoxically difficult on purpose to protect itself from any kind of default!  I can conjecture that JS Bach was just a proxy through which the music flowed.  He was merely a conduit.  From whom you ask?  I have know idea and  I don’t want to become a conspiracy theorist, been there done that.  You see I could say that an alien race picked out a rather nondescript German organist teacher and funnelled incredible music through him.  No. that is nonsense and lowers the value of the human race that we can’t produce great things on our own.  Yet something flowed through Bach.  You don’t produce a masterpiece every time you touch a clavier or a quill, ink, and manuscript paper unless something is driving you on.

I’ll be honest.  I don’t know that much about Bach’s life, but I have recently purchased a biography about him so I can garner more information.  I do know he had many children and at least three went onto be accomplished musicians and composers in their own right.  CPE Bach produced some amazing compositions that bridged the gap between baroque and classical music.  The nice thing about this particular Bach is that his piano sonatas are relatively easy to master if you are grade 6 or higher on the piano.  Still, while he composed heaps of lovely transitional music, none of it ever comes close to what his dad produced.

So music can never get better that what is was up to 1750?  With Beethoven we came incredibly close.  His 9th symphony transcends humanity to some void we can only fill with the power of art and literature.  Science and technology sits quietly, patiently in the corner waiting for its next Einstein or Richard Feynman to be born and able to solve mathematical riddles before her 5th birthday!  So yes, Beethoven was a man possessed his last dozen or piano sonatas show this.  the amazing Appassionata Sonata and the final 32nd one in C minor.  But I just come back with JS Bach’s toccatas and they trump everything time and time again!  I used to think that  I could solve music mathematically even to the point of studying maths though the Open University.  I was sure there must be a mathematical answer how the cogs and wheels work inside a sonata or symphony, or a toccata!   JS Bach was the only one to provide evidence that this could be possible.  So if you can rip a piece down to its bare bones and see what is actually going on.  It is like how I used to wonder how a car engine actually worked.  I was fascinated by the actual beautiful simplicity of it when I finally worked out how it worked.  Same with music, either Bach just composed it becuase he could or he did it all mathematically.  I will explore these avenues when I write part two of this sorry tale.  Thanks for getting this far!

Jeremy Corbyn Labour Leader

I was overwhelmed and teary eyed when the Labour leadership results were announced today.  Jeremy Corbyn taking an amazing 59.5% of the vote that blew his fellow contenders out of the water, or into interstellar space!  Unprecedented and it just goes to show what is needed to get people, especially the young demographic (18-35) say,  to be inspired and filled with hope.  I joined the Labour party about twenty minutes after the announcement which I promised myself I would do if Corbyn won.  Mr Corbyn has come across as a genuinely nice person.  He comes across as someone who cares for people, and cares for his country, and cares for people in distress across many borders.   As expected the right-wing press are going to try and destroy him, but I believe that his mandate is too large and he will definitely be standing as Labour leader come May 2020.   His tactic off not attacking personalities but only policies is utter genius.  That is why I cannot wait for Prime Minister’s Question Time on Wednesday.  I honestly think that Cameron is quietly shitting himself.

Now Corbyn has just under five years to build support that will only continue to grow.  After all look what he has done in just three months.  I expect that many people, like myself, had never heard of him before May this year, so it just goes to show what can be achieved if you direct the narrative towards compassion instead of the boring rhetoric used by Blairite clones.  Corbyn was just different and there are many cliches that could be used to describe his triumph.  We also need people, the nice persona of the media, like Owen Jones to spread the message far and wide.  Jones has a decent following online and in the press which means he can attract support for a left-wing government from 2020.

Look at Scotland.  We all know what happened there and I believe that the SNP will still hold a decent number of seats after the next election but I think Labour will creep back like they will in marginals across England and Wales.  Kent was red during the New Labour years, apart from the odd constituency and now they are all blue, which is disappointing.  But they are seats that can be won back as long as Corbyn rides this initial shitstorm from the press and settles into his leadership position.  It can be done and he has time on his side, and he has the fact that he is a nice person, and I think nice will win it for him.  At least I hope so!

New piano sonata.

Work has successfully began on my 4th sonata in C minor and I am particularly pleased with the second movement.  I hope to have the whole work completely finished in a month or so.

Update:  This piece is now complete and dedicated to Jeremy Corbyn MP.


Complete version



HPANWO and Benologism

It is fairly obvious that I do not contribute to this web page very often.  Mainly because I can’t think of anything to write about; well I don’t want to become a writer that just talks about current affairs, many blogs do that already.  So, I only cover things that interest me, like specific parts of science or music.  But, I want to cover again, or see it as an update, the 2001 Space odyssey monolith that is the HPANWO brand.  It is confusing, never ending, and completely (seemingly) pointless.

HPANWO, if you don’t already know, is Hospital Porters Against the New World Order and is headed by Ben Emlyn-Jones from Oxford.  He isn’t a hospital porter anymore, and I don’t have the foggiest or the interest in what his occupation is now; he is very coy over this matter.  Maybe when he works on the dustcarts he can form Waste Administrators Against the NWO, or whatever.  Anyway, my point of this post is to look at the output of HPANWO Voice and other associated branches.  And as far as I know Ben is the only person in the entire organisation.

He will normally spams the fuck out of facebook with every new blog post, almost everyday.  This usually attracts high levels of criticism mainly for the poor quality of the blogs and there strange inaccuracies.  Only yesterday he made a point that fascist dictator Benito Mussolini is hardly known outside of Italy!  So where does he get these ideas from?  What made him think that to print from such poor research?  A while back he claimed to be a right-wing anarchist.  A lot of pressure was put on him to explain what that really entails.  We never did get an answer, so I’ll make up one myself:

A left wing anarchist, you may think, is someone who stands up for the working class by using possible illegal means such as picketing, wildcat strikes, rioting against the establishment, etc.  Really just someone that sees inequality in a wealthy country with the poor getting poorer and the rich richer.  They go about it in means that could land them in prison, possibly.  But if you are poor then they are on your side.  So what is the opposite?  Ben’s right-wing anarchism.  Now I am only following the simple logic of being contrary, or using a sort of chiral disparity.   A RWA would want the establishment to grow and get stronger, they would want to help the rich get richer by curtailing workers’ rights, and making the lives for those at the bottom even more miserable and unbearable.  They would continually lobby the right to get what they want, and they probably have interests in companies that rely on exploitation.

Now, it may be unfair of me to suggest Ben is anything like the latter that I describe.  But his blogs continually bang on about Cultural Marxism and SWM (Straight White Males).  He may want a fairer society but would that be only for the few?  I may be completely wrong but with each day Ben is distancing himself from debating (although to his credit he had an attempt at it today) and rarely posts on his forum.  He gives out the opinions and then refuses to debate on them, then he usually surrounds himself with acolytes who pander after his every word.

Really, he has been sussed out.  Unless he gives more information people are just going to piece whatever they can together and come to their own assumptions.  Ben is like a blog dictator.  But the thing is I don’t think he is a nasty person, just sadly misguided.  So what about Benologism?  Well that is just a word I made up similar to Benetics, Benistry, Benology, Benphysics, Benculus, Bengebra.  They will all be coming to a University near you when the mighty HPANWO rolls into town.  Thankfully he has not reached Dover yet so local skeptics and Astronomy Club members can sigh with relief.  I think he is using some sort of Tesla ray beam massive gun blaster on my head through my WiFi router, though.  I keep getting headaches and sometimes wake up in a frozen cold sweat with the acronym HPANWO burnt into the inside of my eyelids.  Everytime I turn the telly on their is Ben’s face half smiling at me, same with my computer.  Sometimes, it must be an HPANWO virus, my laptop screen just has multiple pictures of Ben’s facebook photo plastered over it.  I scream that he isn’t even a porter anymore, but his smile just gets rosier and more smug.

HPANWO is going to take over the world!  Although not by force but by homoeopaths and orgonite retailers.  They have ruined Glastonbury High Street and want every shop in every town and city across the land to stock magical angels riding unicorns!

Right I’ll explain why that last bit was written.  It is because Ben’s blogs start by patronising the reader, then providing the main course which is usually the most factual part, only to finish with an utterly ridiculous conclusion.  A lot of his blogs end with mentioning the illuminati, or Tavistock, or HAARP, or Chemtrails, or Vaccines, or Shapeshifters, etc as the reason for the problem he is trying to highlight.  So I have used the same format in this post.  Although I haven’t provided links to other posts by myself, Ben does this a lot.  He self-cites, by putting links in the present blog from previous blogs.  Somehow this justifies the point in question.  It doesn’t really, does it?  And if Ben refers to another page it is usually a link to another woo woo ‘researcher’.

Oh, that’ll do!


Bipolar and mixed states.

Sometimes it is hard to know how you can control the next mood change.  At present it feels as if I am getting symptoms of both depression and hypomania.   My psychiatrist, over two weeks ago, increased my dose of sertraline to 200 mg, the maximum dosage.  So since then I have undertaken new projects as my mind started racing.  I intend to write a book that is semi-autobiographical and I have done over 3000 words so far.   It is about parts of my life but some bits will be fictitious,  as I pretend to have discovered the greatest melody ever written .  I have for a long time, since I was about twenty (I am now 37), pondered on the idea that mathematics could present a formula to enable me to find the best tune of all time.

During a recent hypomanic episode, this March/April, I purchased as many text books, the ‘…for Dummies’ ones, about maths and science as I could.  I feverishly worked my way through the first few books and exercise ones as well, thinking I was nearing a point where I could finally solve this musical riddle.  My doctor spotted the hypomania when I saw her in April and increased my dose of quetiapine to 600 mg daily.  This stopped the hypomania dead in its tracks and I was fairly level for a few weeks, until May 8th, the day after the General Election that I stayed up all night to watch.  When the result became clear and the Tories had a majority I cried my eyes out which is something I hadn’t done for a while (I feel that the medication blunts emotions like crying, and hysteria but that is something I just have to live with yet I used to love crying to beautiful music as a way of releasing pent up emotions) and almost immediately my mood plummeted.

Between May 8th to 29th June I was in the grasp of a serious depression and I thought longingly about ending my life, which was constantly going through my head.  There is nothing more disturbing than a human brain planning, or instructing its occupying mind to terminate itself.  Why would it do that?  I feel sad every time I read about people  committing suicide as it defies logic.  Are aim on this planet and during this life is to fight and endeavour to survive, have a safe place to live, be kind to others, and the most obvious, reproducing.  I reached a stage where I had made plans to commit suicide and written notes for my wife and children.  Yet, thankfully I saw the psychiatrist and my care co-ordinator at just the right time.  Seeing as there was room to maneuver with my medications I could take onboard the increase in sertaline.  This has rid me of the suicidal thoughts but like I wrote earlier I think it has tipped me into a mixed state.

In a mixed state you can have racing thoughts and wonderful ideas yet you feel utterly miserable and irritable.  I don’t think I have had a mixed state before, probably have but just didn’t recognise it.  I remember, many years ago, I saw a young doctor who was under the wings of the main psychiatrist, he prescribed me sertraline.  Well I remember my mood rocketing into happy hypomania.  I would stay up late writing and illustrating a comic book about a character I had created (loosely based on an old friend of mine, who actually read it and quite enjoyed it) called The Brizz.   This went on night after night and was long before I was taking lithium.  Also, this period also led to borrowing lots of money and getting into serious debt.   The same thing happened when I was started on citalopram, I was taking 10 mg a day and my mood shot up, which I recognised this time but I had little joy when I tried to explain it to a Community Psychiatric Nurse.

Since taking lithium I have found that it controls the impulses that hypomania brings, but I still get breakthrough symptoms which is what I think I am experiencing at present.  A part of hypomania is aiding me to write this blog post as I couldn’t muster any will to produce if I am in a period of low mood.  This current mixed phase has also led me to play the piano for several hours each day.  I play until sweat is dripping down my face and back.  I imagine I am performing in a concert yet get utterly frustrated when I can’t play a certain passage as well as I could.  At the moment I am devouring JS Bach and his son CPE Bach.  Their compositions are divine and I find myself constantly repeating the most beautiful passages over and over again.  There is a Toccata by JS Bach, that is in E minor BWV 914, the first three movements are full of intertwining wonder but it is the fugue that completes the piece that I listen in awe to.  I can nearly play it, but not quite as well as the humming Glenn Gould.  Sometimes I don’t have the patience to practice tricky passages and get annoyed.  I just want to play perfectly each time, and chastise myself when I get it wrong.

My music tastes vary like my moods do.  I am solidly transfixed by JS Bach and his son at the moment but over time I will venture towards slightly more modern pieces.  This is when Muzio Clementi re-enters my playing life.  I have nearly all of his piano sonatas and while they are fairly difficult I find them a pleasure to play.  Then of course Clementi’s contemporaries Beethoven and Schubert get invested into my playing schedule.  But I love playing and researching (Spotify is the greatest invention of the modern world for finding pieces by lesser known composers) music by ‘minor’ composers such as Dussek and Hummel.  They are worthy of higher esteem but were always in the shadow of Beethoven.

Along with my idea about a most tuneful tune I also wonder if it is impossible to witness our own death.  This all goes back to an American scientist named Hugh Everett III.  He had an interpretation of quantum mechanics that was named the ‘Many Worlds Interpretation’.  As this idea evolved and other scientists latched onto the idea, especially the Swedish physicist Max Tegmark, they said that for every decision you make like going right instead of left and vice versa another ‘you’ in another Universe goes the other way.  So what about the idea of not witnessing your own death?  Well, I am not a qualified scientist but I thought back to all the times I should have died but didn’t.  In a different Universe I did of course, but for some obvious reason we always chose life over death.  I remember driving a Taxi to Woking one Sunday morning.  I had had a good night’s sleep and was looking forward to a simple run around the M25 for which I would earn about fifty quid (after fuel of course).  I was taking an elderly couple home from their holiday on a cruise ship and when we reached the destination the gentlemen thanked me for the journey but handed me five pounds so I could get a coffee on the way home.  Apparently I had been dozing off at the wheel.   So in another Universe that would have ended in tragedy, yet somehow in this one we survived.   This happened quite a lot as during the summer months as the M20 was my second home and I used to get hallucinations from the constant motorway driving, along with persistent micro sleeps.  My dad, also a taxi driver, had once seen a boat go across a motorway bridge because he had been doing so much motorway travelling.  Now I don’t drive and have surrendered my driving license back to the DVLA.  This was because I started to have panic attacks at the wheel which terrified me.  I think about all the miles I used to drive as a taxi driver and now I am crippled when it comes to motoring.  I am not sure what caused this but it may have all the criticism I used to get at work for my driving.

I am probably completely wrong about all of the above, but it is a conjecture that sticks in my unqualified mind.  It’s like the vast amounts of cider and vodka I used to consume from 2005 to 2011, yet my liver is perfectly healthy and there was the time I tried to strangle myself in my dad’s garage, I was 19, yet failed to die as I wanted to.  That is a grim memory from a passage of my life that I would rather forget.  Yet as I was suffocating I saw images of people I knew.  If we do witness out own death then I would imagine it to be like being under a general anaesthetic when you don’t dream, and know nothing.  I suppose I am more worried about how I might die rather than death itself.  Yet is would be nice if Many Worlds interpretation is correct, although you would have to have a demise eventually.

So I thank the sertraline for giving me a small portion of hypomania to be able to compose this rather morbid blog, yet I am a fairly open to writing about these things.  It shouldn’t be a taboo anymore, along with mental illness not being a stigma or a block to stop people progressing in their careers or passions.   When manic I want to take on the world with my ideas and thoughts.  Which is why mental health should be taken as equally important as physical ailments.  I don’t know if this country will ever achieve that as mental health wards are being shut across the county of Kent at least.  I have come across a lot of prejudice when people have found out I am mentally ill.  One ex-colleague in my last job was scared that I would attack him with a chainsaw, which of course I would never do.  But that is the mood set of some people if they have never experienced first hand mental health issues.  I just hope for the day when it won’t be shameful to be open about mental illness.

Inverted Earth conjecture

As a frequent visitor and skeptic on the HPANWO forum, it has to be said that you get to see a good deal of hit and run posters. That is those that post something rather silly then disappear when questioned. Well one turned up the other day calling themselves Stephen and they left this message:

Hi, I’m new here but I wanted to show you people how the true nature of the universe is actually a tiny, inverted one. Cyrus Teed’s foundational premise that the Earth’s surface is concave and all the planets, sun, moon and stars are actually very small in relation to it and fit inside a hollow, inverted Earth has never been debunked. In addition to his theory I want to point out the optical illusory effects of the glass ceiling about 70 miles high that plays tricks on the eye and causes one to perceive the sun and moon as spherical but are actually not.

I don’t think in all the years I have been reading into conspiracy theories have I come across something so absurd.  No amount of reason could tempt Stephen away from his notion that the stars are tiny and everything is contained at the centre of the Earth.   Although it turns out he isn’t some Poe yet a fully grown man from the USA who not only content with his ‘theory’ he also thinks he is the second coming of Christ.  Here are some youtube videos:

Some drawings

Some disgruntlement

Getting nowhere

As you can see he calls himself Lord Steven Christ and all the other videos I watched are mainly the same thing, ie  him telling us what he thinks is true and slagging off humanity for having the audacity to question him.   When I dared comment on one of his videos he called upon me to suck his dick!  Although that comes after him telling the NSA to put you in a FEMA camp and putting a curse on you.

The reason why he is so adamant of his ideas is because no-one has disproven him or his hero Cyrus Teed.  Well, no-one has disproven the existence of a purple pram on Pluto, the list is endless of things that could never be disproven.  It would appear Lord Steven Christ is not a well person and should take medical help.  His life is not a happy one, surely.  He hops from forum to forum constantly trying to get people interested in his ‘theory’ and all he gets is grief.  Unless it is just a big joke, well then fair enough, haha.

I think he is genuine, I mean just look into his eyes.  You cannot help but feel they are slightly maniacal looking.  Anyhow he is probably harmless, but here is his website so you can make up your own mind.

The tunefulness of a tune

Is there a way, mathematically, to decipher which of the millions of melodies is the most melodious?   I wondered this about twenty years ago, even to the point where I started studying maths in the hope I could make a breakthrough.  In the end I could only work out the variables that would be needed:

average notes per phrase,

length of phrase (in bars)

pitch range (in semitones)

number of phrases per melody

number of accidentals

Really for me it was an impossible task (what with not even taking into account harmony and timbre) but I was trying to take away some of the frustrating subjectiveness that is found in music.  If I were to hazard a guess as to what melodies would be up there as the most tuneful then something by Tchaikovsky or the Beatles.  People would still disagree even if the maths were watertight.  Yet no one says things like ‘I don’t like the height of Everest’.

Note only would a mathematical equation make the subject objective it may even be able to predict even more tuneful melodies, stuff that has never been written.   You could even reach a point where you have the most tuneful tune possible.  Music is mathematical in that it follows patterns but is probably too non-linear to write down a happy equation, otherwise it would already been done.  Yet saying that,  I do get the feeling sometimes that modern pop music is composed by a machine or a software package rather than a human doing it.  Could it be that we are running out of tunes hence why older ones are getting recycled more often?  Every so often you get one catchy tune but they are getting further and further apart.

Music is simply three chords (tonic, dominant, subdominant) with forays into the relative minor every now and then.  It could finally be argued that music is simpler than we think.

Hugh Everett III

Hugh Everett III formulated a new  interpretation for quantum physics.  It was eventually called the Many Worlds Interpretation, although not by Everett he called it a ‘relative state’ formulation.  It is fairly simple to begin with and I am probably wrong on this (being pointed in the right direction would be great) but if you make a choice of say going left or right you actually do both at the same time.  Just like the double-slit experiment where the photon or electron goes through both slits at the same time as long as nothing is observing it, even a camera.

So back to Everett.  If you get to the end of a road, a t-junction say, you chose to go left but another ‘you’ is going right in a different world.  So you are going left and right at the same time.  If I am wrong on this I don’t mind being pointed out that I am so.   To take it to the extreme, every action that is possible is being acted out in different worlds right down to the fundamental level of electron and photons.

This leads to a very interesting conclusion.  Quantum suicide and Quantum Immortality.  It is all to do with wave functions collapsing but if someone is shot dead in another world they survive so they are dead and alive at the same time.  We are constantly avoiding death.   Crossing the road, driving on a motorway, eating and choking, having a heart attack and surviving.  Perhaps we never die because we are dodging death at every turn without knowing it.  Yet we can witness others die.   What becomes of us then?   Do we reach 120 years old and find our cells stop reproducing and we just die of old age?  So what happens to the brain?  It can’t function without oxygen and glucose, but everything a human did in their life is stored there.  Maybe in the future the brain could be tapped for information and brought back alive somehow.   That has gone of on a tangent slightly, I’m just thinking out  loud and utilising the creative writing training I have.  Gone a bit sci-fi.

There are plenty of websites about Everett and his ideas.  All very interesting.

A skeptical Skeptic.

After having some neat piece of advertising on the HPANWO radio show last night which added no extra traffic to this flop of a blog I had asked to be referred to as a ‘Skeptical Skeptic’.  Ben did ponder as to what one was even after saying it was an apt name on facebook.  I suppose it means awkwardly skeptical, in other words unless you can prove something with extraordinary evidence I won’t believe you.

If I saw the loch ness monster appear before my eyes I still wouldn’t believe it until it was captured and  analyzed to prove it was indeed a cryptozoological creature.   Or I would imagine I was hallucinating.  Even if I had taken 800 mg of quetiapine everyday for ten years I would assume the drug was not working.  Why?  Because that is more plausible.  What if others witnessed such an event?  Well they too would be hallucinating.  The thing is I don’t want to believe in anything that goes against scientific inquiry or the scientific method.  Why?  Because it is sloppy and lazy to just make fiction up and pass it off as fact.

That is what most of the conspiracy world is; poorly written fiction.   You can have a hard on over aliens hiding in RAF bunkers or planes pumping out toxic fumes to poison us all, that includes fluoride as well.  It doesn’t even make for a decent storyline, yet people gobble it up, but why?   Perhaps it makes sense in someone else’s mind other than my own.  Perhaps it correlates in some bizarre fashion.  It clicks for them and makes some ‘sane’ connections.  Doesn’t make it true though.  I’d love to know what percentage of the online world is made up of these disastrous brains spewing vomit all over people’s consciousnesses.  The David Icke Forum is a good place to start; full of wretched souls trying to make uneducated hamfisted guesses at how the Universe works.  Sometimes real science is used to explain poor science and that is why it remains on the DIF and not in some peer-reviewed journal.

So there is nothing wrong with being skeptically skeptical.  I think it is healthy and interesting because science is intriguing without adding ladles of sloppy bullshit.   To add HPANWO is nothing but the opinions of one man called Ben who just picks certain news articles each day and adds a bit a wikipedia research to it then a touch of conspiratorial bent.

He is a woo a wooing!

Religious music, secular music.

I am not talking about hymns here, but music written by  composers whom traditionally write secular music.   At the moment I am listening to Mozart’s Requiem Mass that just about killed him and remained unfinished in his lifetime.   Yet I am not religious in any sense but this genre of music can be just as good in quality if not better then some secular compositions.   Personally I am not listening to the words, being an atheist they mean nothing to me anyway.  But the music can be sublime and some of my favourites include Dvorak’s requiem, JS Bach’s St Matthew’s Passion and the Mozart mentioned above.

Many composers in the 18th and 19th Century were deeply religious (it is easier to name the atheists:  Brahms and Tchaikovsky.)   Yet not one, to the best of my knowledge wrote a ‘God’ symphony or a Jesus Sonata.  Secularism played a big part in the shaping of classical music even if the various composers were devout.   Surprising that it was even allowed.  For me, the perfect cross over from secular to religious is Brahms’s German Requiem.  It is a requiem for people, not God.   And it is deeply moving in character and depth of feeling.  Which is strange because according to Dvorak Brahms ‘believes in nothing!’.  I think that is why I like Brahms.