next up previous contents
Next: The Slope of Correlated Up: Summary, Conclusions and Speculations Previous: Future Work   Contents

Perceptual Issues

I believe that the work of every composer of the 20th century who succeeded in being a profound thinker can also be a base for software abstraction. Through trial and error we will find the natural paths, or more correctly, the paths will find their own natural flow. What Schoenberg started is not an easy path and has very strong implications in our lives; many may not agree. Electronic and instrumental music of the 20th century in general is not easily accessible, and for every piece that survives, hundred of others will die. As we mentioned before, serialism has been attacked for being difficult to be understood.

Tonal form is a very strong form, and I am yet to find a human who has really listened to Bach and has not been affected by the sounds, even without having any knowledge of the intellectual energy that has been put into the music. In fact, as the ideas of John Cage imply, to hear music all we need to do is to listen. The idea of serialism is not to go against nature; rather, the idea is respect musical relationships and, thus, provide the grounds for music to evolve. The tonality of atonality, which is the communication of originality, has to be understood. Serialism is an issue regarding communication and our relationship with nature and the people around us. Paul Griffiths writes[16]:

That electronic music is, as I have already suggested several times, a mirror music, a music which offers new perspectives in the world of the mind, new perspectives in our understanding of music and of ourselves. One may ask why perspectives are being discovered so slowly, why the outstanding works of electronic music are so few. But one may consider the history of the piano, which was invented around 1700, but which had to wait three-quarters of a century before composers found and used its characteristic properties. Perhaps the wait in the race of electronic music will be shorter.
So let us briefly reflect on ourselves (i.e., be self-referential6.2), concerning the issues discussed in this thesis.

Gödel proved that we have no way of reaching the whole truth by any formal means, no matter how rigorously we have defined our system. No laws in physics are accepted unless they are proven by experiments. However, laws have to be theorized at first; which theory can theorize theorizing? The history of physics has shown repeatedly that anytime we have found a theory which became a law, another theory has superseded it. Then, what is a law? Do we know of any law that has actually not been broken? If we could find a single law that assures us of being a law, it implies that we would have a complete understanding of the future indicating that the law would not be broken. At that moment all of our freedom, identity, and ``existence'' is taken away from us, since we become defined as a deterministic process. Such questions are no longer in the realm of science or philosophy. Rather they are concerned with social and political situations which we have to deal with not only on the individual level, but also on a global scale. Once we talk of human relations, it is naive to assume that logic alone could go very far. In this case truth becomes a matter of probability rather than what is usually known as ``hard truth''.

The awareness of the physical similarities of consonances and dissonances brings a sense of ``justice'' to musical form where one pitch is not more important than any other. Consonant chords are a minority in comparison to the countless number of dissonant chords. The continuum between the consonances and dissonances is the same continuum which exists between our physical and psychological constructs. Both of them are the manifestations of the evolution of relationships perceived by our senses. This means that our psychological constructs are simply the state of matter from which we are formed.

The consonant chords are based on integer power relationships, while real number relationships create dissonant chords. There are more real numbers between 0 and 1 than there are integer numbers. Cantor spent a good part of his life trying to find out how many real numbers exist between 0 and 1. We find all these continua (namely consonance/dissonance, sound/music, physical/psychological, channel/information, Cantor's 0/1, Gödels work which we interpret as the continuum of truth and falsities) to be similar in the sense that they all connect symbolic entities of meaning to the physical world. All these ideas tell us that we, and whatever we do, is part of the nature. In this view, communication is not a symbolic act as the idea of exchanging information may imply, but rather an interaction of matter in the physical world. On the contrary to general belief, it is neither surprising nor magical that we find the most abstract constructs of mathematics in nature (e.g. finding of Cantor set in Chaos -- refer to chapter 3)6.3; we are part of nature, and what results from our mind (be it music, mathematics or idle thought) is also part of nature. It is magic that we are able to communicate at all with each other, and perhaps the reason that we can is that we are physically the same as that with which we communicate.

The uniformity of time and perception, the idea of a composition being a unit in and of itself, the idea of the existence of music as a conceptual entity, and much romantic spiritual thought about the unity of mind all suggest the existence of self-similar structures in our musical communication. Such an issue takes on a different color in electronic and computer music. In instrumental music, no matter how far we push the use of non-conventional instruments, there are still physical limitations and constraints, and the composition takes on its form around those constraints. Computers can implement the specifications of sound for a composition to the smallest detail, in any physical relationships that are precisely defined. The constraint of computers lie in a different domain. It seems to us that they lie in the domain of communication, where we need to understand what ambiguity means when possible, and in fact, have to specifically define that ambiguity. Whether this path is good or bad we do not know; it is a path to be tried. The path seems natural and consistent with some of the body of thought in philosophy, mathematics, and discoveries in our physical world. After all it is a path rich in poetic possibilities.

next up previous contents
Next: The Slope of Correlated Up: Summary, Conclusions and Speculations Previous: Future Work   Contents
Shahrokh Yadegari 2001-03-01