Things which catch my eye or make me think - looking for aquamarinegreen, the evidence and the truth of it all.....

Friday, 2 November 2007

The Meaning of Music and Art

I agree with Steven Pinker that music is most probably a by-product of being able to discriminate sounds which come from distinct resonating objects. Clearly it is useful to be able to do this , just as it is useful to pick out objects visually from our environment. These abilities are clearly advantageous , so it gives us pleasure to seek out such objects.....

We can get that same pleasure in a more concentrated form by creating and listening to Music; or creating and looking at Art. The same pleasure centres in the brain are stumulated as when we see an object or hear a sound in our environment. In the case of Art it becomes easy to see why we like pictures of flowers, trees, and animals; as well as man-made shapes such as zigzags and geometric shapes which stand out from the environment.

In the case of Music it is not quite so obvious, until you realize where the most common harmonies and scales come from. Any resonating object produces a fundamental note of a particular frequency and a series of overtones of related frequencies. The most audible overtones are simple multiples of the fundamental frequency, if the fundamental is C

Frequency multiple 1 2 3 4 5
Note sounded C C' G' C'' E

Already we have the major chord CGE. The note which produces C as its first overtone is F with the major chord FAC. The strongest overtone of C is G which would give the major chord of GBD. So there we have all the notes of the major scale arising naturally - in music we layer them to give resonating harmonies, or we separate them out into a melody, in a particular key.The ear can hear these properties without needing to know the theory!