Gresham College Lectures

Is Music Infinite? - Milton Mermikides

June 12, 2024 Gresham College
Is Music Infinite? - Milton Mermikides
Gresham College Lectures
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Gresham College Lectures
Is Music Infinite? - Milton Mermikides
Jun 12, 2024
Gresham College

This lecture explores the very limits of music: investigating historical efforts to catalogue musical materials including the melacarta of Carnatic music, the wazn of Arabic maqam, Slonimsky’s Thesaurus of Scales and Melodic Patterns, Schillinger’s Encyclopedia of Rhythms, Forte numbers, and contemporary attempts to ‘pre-copyright’ every possible melody yet to be written.

It also tackles the bigger questions: how much music might exist, whether it ever will be exhausted, and if there are any boundaries of our musical perception and imagination.


This lecture was recorded by Milton Mermikides on 16th May 2024 at LSO St Luke's Church, London

The transcript of the lecture is available from the Gresham College website:
https://www.gresham.ac.uk/watch-now/music-infinite

Gresham College has offered free public lectures for over 400 years, thanks to the generosity of our supporters. There are currently over 2,500 lectures free to access. We believe that everyone should have the opportunity to learn from some of the greatest minds. To support Gresham's mission, please consider making a donation: https://gresham.ac.uk/support/

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Show Notes Transcript

This lecture explores the very limits of music: investigating historical efforts to catalogue musical materials including the melacarta of Carnatic music, the wazn of Arabic maqam, Slonimsky’s Thesaurus of Scales and Melodic Patterns, Schillinger’s Encyclopedia of Rhythms, Forte numbers, and contemporary attempts to ‘pre-copyright’ every possible melody yet to be written.

It also tackles the bigger questions: how much music might exist, whether it ever will be exhausted, and if there are any boundaries of our musical perception and imagination.


This lecture was recorded by Milton Mermikides on 16th May 2024 at LSO St Luke's Church, London

The transcript of the lecture is available from the Gresham College website:
https://www.gresham.ac.uk/watch-now/music-infinite

Gresham College has offered free public lectures for over 400 years, thanks to the generosity of our supporters. There are currently over 2,500 lectures free to access. We believe that everyone should have the opportunity to learn from some of the greatest minds. To support Gresham's mission, please consider making a donation: https://gresham.ac.uk/support/

Website:  https://gresham.ac.uk
Twitter:  https://twitter.com/greshamcollege
Facebook: https://facebook.com/greshamcollege
Instagram: https://instagram.com/greshamcollege

Support the Show.

Thank you so much for you all for coming and joining online. I wish I'd prepared something now. Uh, so as ever, this is the Slido code, so you can ask me questions at any point or tell me where I've gone wrong. Welcome to the last of this lecture series, the Nature of Music, and thank you for joining me through it or through this lecture series, we have traveled across the temporal spectrum to find where music exists in the audible spectrum, how it's transmitted and broadcast in the electromagnetic spectrum, how rhythm works, and even turned the motion of the planet into music. But here we'll go further. So the very edges of time and see where music ins intersects with infinity. Will we ever be able to see beyond the current observable universe? Oh, it's much worse than that. The observable universe is shrinking. If you want to know what are my odds of winning the lottery, you come straight to probability. Yeah, because probability is all about how likely or not events are to happen. I think the chance of there being an undiscovered second species, very like humans out there in the world today is pretty slender. However, And these are the pictures if you haven't seen them. I mean New York was orange. The air was orange. They said one day out in that air was like smoking a pack of cigarettes. It had the same effect on the lungs as smoking a number of cigarettes. So people who'd never smoked in their life were suddenly going to suffer some of the same health effects. Any further questions is a brand new podcast from Gresham College, A place where we ask our speakers all of your questions that went unanswered following their lecture guests have included Ronald Hutton, Robin May, Chris Lintott, Sarah Hart, and Maggie s snowing. Any further questions? All episodes are available wherever you listen to your podcasts. Now, Chris Lintott, my colleague, tells me that if you ever have a talk with a question in the title, the answer is always no. So we'll take that approach first and see why music might be a non-renewable resource. And there has been throughout every generation this pessimistic view that we're running outta music and all the good music has already happened. And if we want evidence, we can point to it. For example, take, um, this tune by James Brown. I got you probably the start of dance music. Um, and notice how the tempo fluctuates throughout as a fluidity. But then in the early seventies for convenience, click tracks were used. Now have a look at what the tunes did at that point. Literally flatlining music. There was also evidence for a lyrical, a stasis and exhaustion in this huge data set of songs. They found that lyrics became simpler in terms of vocabulary, richness, readability, complexity, and the number of repeated lines. Basically everything. Now it's easy to find cherry picked examples. So let's take this good title to start with simple words, but they carry with them a story, a meaning that haunts, that lingers in the imagination. Let's compare it with a contemporary piece by Dr. Bieber. It starts like this. Yeah, you got that Yummy yum. That yummy yum, that yummy, yummy. It goes on. Yeah, you got that yummy yum. That yummy yum, that yummy, yummy. There's also evidence of stasis when it comes to harmony. Take these four fundamental chords that come from a major key. The 1, 6, 4, and five. They each have a sort of status as distance from home. One and six are kind of like tonic chords. Four is a subdominant, five is the dominant. So in this order, they create a sort of ridge of tension that falls away in a classic five one cadence. And this was used for quite a long time in, uh, from the fifties onwards as a tool for writing pop songs such as, uh, this example here, Lift and Draw, Lift Earth, Angel Earth. We grew tired of that sore tooth like tension, all these five ones. And we felt for some reason that softer movements were necessary to invite repetition. So by moving the five chord here, what you create is two pla cadences, removing that dominance and two of these softer cadences called a deceptive cadence and a leading tone cadence, which invites repetition, sort of smooth surface. It started with this tune, um, any way you want it by journey. And you can hear that compelling flat harmony. I'll wait for one more repetition, but it could go on forever. In fact, there's been a feeding frenzy on this one loop. Here's a partial list. No need to memorize it using this sequence, but because it's a loop with no real start point, it actually invites different cyclical patterns. We can loop the loop, not start on the one, but start here. Don't believe me. Listen to this. How many tunes use this? Well, this many a partial list <laugh>, those are the two tonic starting points. But we can start here. I here's a partial list and finally we're doing the unthinkable, starting on the five chord, the least common. But still, I'm not saying I don't like it. Here's some tunes that do that. In fact, it's almost like we're circling this harmonic drain. And you could almost put all of these tunes together, put them in the same key, displace them appropriately, appropriately, and have a pop soup. This is 17 tunes on that circle at the same time, you might recognize a couple. So pitch transition has homogenized, as has tamra. Here's a nice quote. There's a generic usage of pitch tamra and loudest. These point towards less variety and cons, consistent homogenization towards louder and and potentially poorer volume dynamics. Not a good review. So it makes us ache for the past. But again, we have something that might be called a nostalgic regress. We think of these tunes like this one as the original Good tunes, um, sung by Michael Jackson, but not written and sung, but Michael Jackson, but by the yorkshireman Mick Jackson who wrote co-wrote and sang it first. No relation, a tune. I happen to love 1980 ones, I must be lovely, is actually a reworking of an even lovelier tune. And I never thought I'd feel this way. Same key as well. The way I feel About you Not to be outdone, PROCO Harum In A white shade of the floor Did a 230 year cover of bark. I merged the two here. We, So that's stasis. But even when there's progression, there could be something that could be termed a dead end. For example, in rock and it's associated styles, there's been this push to have more distorted guitar sounds more um, weighty and drop tunes, guitars. And this contour of pitch against distortion spells out various rock and metal subtypes or elements I guess. So we start in the apparently rebellious, but now quaint fifties with the low A and the slightly broken sound, how rebellious. And then to the wonderful proto rock of sister Rosetta Tharpe, a bit Morey, a little more saturated in the sixties. Low E, that's not good enough. Let's go down to an e-flat. Add a bit more fuzz. Well down to a D perhaps. Let's have these a little louder please. Here we add more distortion into the mix. We'll keep a D, but now we'll really rev up that distortion. Come on. Where do we go from here down. Yes, You like it? Come on, let's go. More distorted and lower with this Drop B. Come on. Oh, Drop a. Now we're infiltrating the bass guitar's territory. Poor Bill Haley and the appropriately named humanity's last breath <laugh> have a drop E, which is the same picture as a bass guitar and morbid distortion. Where did we go? Well double drop E an octave below the base, which can hardly be heard. Here's one note of it with a lot of distortion. So you'll hear the upper partials. It's like we've run outta things to do with the guitar and have heaviness. Maybe we can remove the neck highly. And So that's the case for musical exhaustion. Let's be more positive now because music also when we hear it, gives a sense of endlessness both in space and time here on some quotes from you from this Gresham survey about the sense of limitness limitlessness and um, temporal detachment and moving away from the body. And this is why we listen to music as if it's escapes time and in fact time is written into the fabric of music. We can start with a musical symbol of duration and split it and split it again and again and again into the cantor dust of time. And we can do this indefinitely beyond our perception. Composers of course abuse this sort of privilege. Here's Heinrich's 1825 piece. Look at this passage here. It's absolutely ridiculous. These are 2040 eighth notes. And if you're keeping score, those are demi, semi hemi demi, semi hemi demi semiquavers. Yes, an apology is Jew. How does that sound? At a very, very slow tempo. Let's listen to these. I couldn't get it short enough. The reverb just just reverb there. So music can slice time indefinitely, but it also wraps time around itself. Now it's possible to conceive of music that lasts forever. In response to a criticism about my music being too repetitive, I wrote a provably non-repetitive piece based on irrational numbers, which without repetition could last forever. But we don't have forever to listen to Music. Music seems to trick us into believing it lasts forever with tools like this, repeat signs, random access to different parts of the piece and even fading and fading out, which suggest anness or a very lazy arrangement. Electronic music have harnessed these massively by using feedback and even the possibility of freezing sound forever. But it goes further back. Composers have abused this ability to repeat the always eccentric. Eric Satie has this piece here. Notice he removes the bar lines 'cause he didn't like the sense of that rigid structure and he asked the pianist to play it 840 times. Some really helpful suggestions of how you should pre prepare yourself beforehand. I feel like that sometimes, but that idea of circling time is actually ancient. It goes back to the maam and this beautiful 15th century piece. Look at this score written in circle notation, which allows both the performers and the listeners to be caught for a moment in the sense of infinite time. But music isn't just time. It has structures like pictures and scales and harmony, which allows all sorts of cycles to occur. The most common one is the idea that we hear in terms of horizontal line, but also there's this idea of Octa equivalence. In many music cultures where notes and octa apart are somehow the same. We come back to where we start. And if there's one optical illusion which does such a thing, it's the shepherd tone which endlessly rises. Well, it's not endless. It takes pictures and they keep going up until they reach the octave and then they fade out. And we just connect them together by virtue of our Predilection to hear line and octave equivalences. Here is a visual and auditory demonstration. I'll tell you when the loop starts Still gets me and musicians capture this, not just in long lines but in notes. Take this cannon by the ever ingenious js bark. It's one of his puzzle cannons based on a theme that was given to him. Um, the royal theme. It's this naughty, almost impossible to manage theme, but he creates these endless, beautiful reconfigurations of them. And one of them is this cannon at two. Now it doesn't look like much just a handful of bars, but within it you have to sort of decode it. What you have is one voice that is a canon. It's played against itself, a fifth apart. That's just standard brilliance from bark. But there are clever thing is the melody, which starts in the key of C minor and then creeps up the key of D minor and keeps repeating this process. We can hear the, um, key modulation. I'll just take the first bar from every repetition so you get a sense of it. And if we go up in, we'll eventually come back to where we, and he says in inscription, as the melody rises, so does the glory of the king. What a suck up, but a brilliant composer. So I like to think of this piece as endless staircases, one of those eight bars that repeat over and over again and another slower loop of modulations that slowly creep up. And they're not like eurovision modulations, which suddenly happen. They are. It's written in such a way that like a shipone, you don't hear the seams. What you'll hear is the red cursor go round eight bars. And then when it comes back to where it starts, we'll get the theme again, but a tone higher. Here's The repetition right here, And We're in D minor. How the hell did that happen? And musicians are masters of these loops. Here's something from the Quiet genius with infinity in his mind. Schubert, this passage here in green will just be coming up to it. It'll go by quickly, but just so you get a sense of it, that's, it Seems like this pretty elegant ornamental thing, but it's absolutely ingenious. What's happening here is that Schubert starts on D minor and then he moves to F, which means it's only one note that changes. In fact, only one note has changed at every transition. It's a smoothly voice led pattern. So he goes from D minor to F to a minor to C, C minor until he gets back to D minor without retracing his steps. How is this possible? And it's possible because of the many loops that coexist in musical structures. We all might know the cycle of fifths where if you start on OneNote, you can go up fifths and come back to where you started again. But there is also other cycles like the cycle of major thirds. This is only three notes long, CEG sharp or a flat and back to C. This is in a 12 tone universe of course, or the cycle of minor thirds, which is four long. And these all happening at the same time and they intersect. Intersect in strange ways, creating chords along the way. And also notes reappear at various other points in this lattice. You write, remember this from the last lecture as Oilers tonics here, but I kept it simple for you that time. This surface of chords actually wraps round in extraordinary ways. And the best way to present it is not in two dimensions, but in three. How do we wrap a 12 and a four and a three around so they connect. The answer is obvious and delicious. It's a donut shape.<laugh>, this is how we wrap all the 24 triads together. And Schubert ingeniously does a nice little icing frosting of this donut around here. I'll show it's in slow motion. So remember that every move only changes one note. So we should see it creeping along the tonics and around the bagel or donut, whatever you've had depending on what you've had for breakfast. So let's go and back to D Minor. Let's hear it in context to see how fast and elegant and he continues on in this elegant dance. We can also think about musical completion or infinity in terms of collections of musical objects. And humanity has always had this desire to catalog, collect, identify, name objects. And it's no different when it comes to music. This is ancient, particularly in Arabic Macan. And this is a collection of rhythms and their rhythms actually, which are sourced from Arabic poetry. So they have a very, uh, prosodic nature to it. They sound like speech. In fact, they're only built up from three objects, a doom, a D, and silence. So this one here, the maxim, which actually appeared in lecture number two is do see if you can hear it in this passage. Space. Space matters. It's more than a meter. It's a sort of phrase quality. There are many, many in this catalog. Here's a really beautiful one. D are fat here. So it would be do tack. Do do, do tack. Two, three do. And these go up to 48 beats and beyond. In the Western tradition, it was inevitable perhaps that catalogers would try and collect themes, particularly classical themes. And this wonderfully positive book, a dictionary of musical themes, there are 10,000. This is pre-digital era. So they had to do this manually. And how would you look up a melody? Well, you would hum it to yourself. And then this back, there's this huge index that starts with C, C, C, C, C, C, C, C, C, C sharp and so on. So you found your melody all assumed in the key of C. And then you would look up this catalog number M 8 63 and you would have the music emerging from it. This is still used in copyright cases. Now both of those are quite partial. They're sort of looking outward to what exists in music and then cataloging it. But there's an idea of a musical set which starts kind of from the ground up. We can think of starting from nothing. And we saw this in the last lecture, thinking of the 12 notes as a necklace or bracelet and deciding which ones are on and off. That's it. And Alan Fort, who might have had fewer friends than me, spent a long time cataloging them and naming every single one of these objects. Not very beautiful names, but naming them nonetheless. The pentatonic scale or the vulture bone flute, if you remember that is 5 35 and has this, um, shape to it. And everything from silence, Which is zero one, which is basically means it has no notes in it. And it's number one on the list with no notes in it, all the way up to the chromatic scale, 12 one. And in the middle, the Hendrix chord, which is given the rather astronomical name for Zed 15 B. Chris Lintott would be proud of that one. Another approach to not just creating chords and objects but melodies or scales, was by this chapsky. I knew I wouldn't say that the first time. He's extraordinary, as you can tell by the company. He keeps that. Same with zapper in a mobious strip of music with John Cage and a dedication from Leonard Bernstein to him. He did. He published lots of really beautiful material. Uh, last week, last lecture, we saw his lexicon of musical invective, which is a collection of terrible reviews of great composers over the time, but his most famous perhaps for this, for source of scales and melodic patterns. And it is a sort of ground up collection of materials. And I'll give you some of the, um, mechanisms that I used within it. Most people give up by page two, but we'll go a little bit further. The nice thing about it's that you start not with a triad or a major scale, but you start with absolutely nothing, the universe of nothing. And then just one note, you pick a note, I'll play it for you just in case you dunno what note is. There is this. And then you take not just a note, but like a two dimensional space. You take that beginning note and the end note, let's, let's make it an octave, but you could take whatever space you like and then we have this. Now we can divide that space up in it as many parts as we want, equal parts, unequal parts. But he starts with divided in two equal parts. So we have these principle tones that exist here. Not much, but it's a start. But the thing is, all the moves are quite systematic. So he takes these principle tones and then he has these devices that color that ornament. So one of the tools is interpolation adding one note above that principle tone, just the semitone above. So we have this, we need new fun terms. So this is interpolation one note above. And, uh, the starting note, one note above the next one. Don't worry, there's no test here, but you get the idea. Infra interpolation, I managed that, but not slansky sounds like this. And then you start ha creating kind of from thin air, something that resembles music, a strange music, but a sort of life. I Like it. And that thesaurus goes on creating all these strange beasts, some of them that exist out in the universe, but many that are only exist in that thesaurus. One very beautiful one is the so-called grandmother chord. It's like, no grandmother I know, but it's a lovely chord. What it is is every 12 notes arranged in such a way so that all the intervals, all 11 intervals are present, but they are presented in a palindromic fashion. And if you don't understand what I just said, just remember it's clever and it sounds cool. There you go. And along the way you have these patterns, which start to sound quite familiar. Why that sounds familiar is because of one person. And that is John Coltrane, who after his amazing exhaustion perhaps of standard jazz, continued on this mission to create a jazz that was more open-ended, not held back by harmonic structure, but sort of hinted at the infinite possibilities of musical realization. Listen to lines like this, and you'll hear Ghost of Zelinsky in his reasoning And throughout his compositions, like the famous giant steps, which itself is a fractal loop. There are three, uh, key areas, a major third apart. So it's one of those loops they appear every bar, but that same pattern, every four bars. Also self similarity, a fractal. And that on the left is his diagram. He wasn't guessing this, he was constructing it from the ground up in a beautiful fashion. And as his career and his spiritual depth, let's say continued, he unearthed this unique and strange beautiful music. For example, in his album, A Love Supreme. I don't know if you've heard it, but it's an extraordinary jazz classic. It has very few chords in it, but uh, a lot of really incredible musicianship. And what he tends to do is take a very small idea and transform it in multiple ways. For example, this is the O three five or three seven b uh, set of notes. You can see it on the top left there. And c, it's CE flat f it's this lovely little bluesy phrase, this seed phrase and this passage, you can hear him manipulating it in many different ways. It is really just one phrase in many ways. And how he's changing it primarily is in terms of chromatic transposition, how high it is, where it's placed in the bar, and how stretchy it is. Sometimes they're long times, times they're short. So rather than thinking of this music as a flat page, we have three dimensions to deal with. We can think of each of those phrases as either being high, short and on beat, one or another parameter changing. In fact, they exist really beautifully if you present them on a queue with those dimensions. And so what Coltrane is doing is picking from these possibilities, this space of musical possibilities and finding his trajectory through it. So his solo actually looks like this. No, I don't have many friends. So this is his entire solo played out on here. And I can even show it visually. There's are three of the phrases and it's hear them solo as it flies through musical space. And what's really beautiful I find about this vision is that it doesn't show music as a one concrete realization, but a space of opportunity from which many melodies can be drawn. And it's very similar. And it looks exactly like if there are any bi biologists here, what's called morpho space. This is what's called routes cube. And it's all the possible seashells. Seashells also have three genes which shape its various fun, its various, um, uh, characteristics of verbs, spire, and flare. So in fact, all the possible seashells are represented on this cube. And the gray area here, the shaded area is the ones that are found in nature. So it's like nature has selected these. But um, there were others available just like there were others available for Coltrane in his next solo. This lecture series was called The Nature of Music, how Music Works. But this viewpoint is more like there is a natural music that we can tap into. There's a music of nature that's always there. And this is a very positive idea that there was a huge poss possibilities that we can draw upon. And so musical pieces are structures when the within this field of possibilities, these shapes that occur. Let's take this one here. And this is a solo by Jimmy Smith, the blues organist. I don't need to explain much, but each of these bubbles is a small, bubbles is a phrase, but you'll hear that they're related together, uh, within various fields. And as he solos, you will experience a sense of musical journey and understand his thinking perhaps. And some music can be seen as just occasional realizations of this huge field of possibilities. What does this field of possibilities look like? Well, there's been attempts to try and map it out. Damien from, um, who's a musician and technologist, attempted to catalog using very simple criteria of pitch, class and rhythm, every melody that could possibly exist. You can even download it from this link here. It's six terabytes. There's 68.7 billion melodies. His reasoning is that is to protect artists from being sued for accidentally coming across something that appeared before them. And it's an interesting and perhaps noble idea, but it doesn't, at least to me, represent music is a very narrow way of thinking about music. And I'll demonstrate it here. For example, one of these billions of melodies would probably look something like this. I'll play it to you in the way that it's been cataloged, but that's not music. The actual music has harmony, tamra, dynamic control, and all the rich noise that makes up human expression. You get the idea. How can we capture that? That's what we are interested in, that deep music. And what is useful here is to borrow from literature. A short story by, I'll do my best here. Jorge Luis Boche. That's as good as you're gonna get, is called the Library of Babel, 1941. Short story, I dunno if anyone's read it here, but it imagines this uni universe, which is just made up of this vast library. And this library is just filled with books that are 410 pages longer. And every book is, every permutation has a permutation and every permutation of a small character set. So there's every possible 410 page book in this vast library. And it's a really beautiful piece of literature. There are these people who are looking for the one book that explains why the library was written, but amongst it, all these great works of literature, a lot of gibberish, and then great arguments against those, uh, sacred books. And so it's about human knowledge and also the extent of human authorship. And as you read the short story, you get this eerie realization that the book you are reading is just one in that library itself. How does this relate to music? What are the letters, the alphabet of music? I don't think they're melody, but they're the sound canvas itself. And we can go to some way by thinking about digital audio. All sound is a wave form and we can split that up into numbers. We can pick our resolution. Let's go with CD quality. That means if we think of a piece of music lasts up to 74 minutes so that we could fit on Beethoven's ninth and has this bit rate and, and this sample rate, it has 5.2 billion bits within it. So our musical library of Babel would have every combination of zeros and ones from all zeros, 5.2 billion of them to all ones. That's two to the 5.2 billion combinations. Let's call that number a mil tillion. Now, it's hard to imagine how big this number is. I'm gonna do my best to explain it to you. But just a word of warning from Chris Lintott, permutations always win. So it's bigger than you think and could possibly think. But I'm gonna do my best to explain to you how big this number is and the amount of possible music, at least in sonic form. So now let's think of each of those pieces of music. 74 minutes, not as the CDs. CDs by the way, was something that we used to store music on. Nevermind, ask your grandparents, but we'll store them on a grain of sand so that each piece of music is a grain of sand. And so I'll try and explain how big this library is and we'll start here. So imagine yourself on a beach and you pick up a grain of sand, and that is, let's say Beethoven's ninth Symphony. Pick up another. And that is kind of blue or Madness's first album or Bartox field recording. Everything that you hear in your lifetime can fit in twos. Spotify is a bucket and probably all of human recorded music fits on a, in a few sandcastles, maybe a small beach if we're generous. But that's not the extent of the library. The library would actually coat the entire surface of earth and expand upwards, including not just the record sounds, but all the sounds that have been made from dinosaur roars to your best arguments. The library extend to the top of Everest and out to the stratosphere, engulfing all the radio signals that we broadcast out. It reached the moon and include every sound that we've made, including a child's voice bouncing off the surface of the, we would expand outwards and catch up to the Voyager space pro traveling with strange earth sounds. But that wouldn't be enough. They'd have to head out into interstellar space to include all the music that hasn't been made, perhaps trapped in revelle's mind or a lost jam of Hendrix or CHOP's. Improvisation Would include strange, every imaginable piece of music, an unimaginable one, but still would continue until we reached right to the edge of the observable universe. And it would include noise and also without prejudice, every piece of human expression. But the universe would not be enough. So we have to be creative. Now, let's go back to our beach. And now a grain of sand is a universe of music that we just filled. We'd fill up one, then a handful, then a bucket, then a sand castle, then a beach, then the world of universes of music. Like I said, permutations always win and would expand outwards. Everything you can imagine now come at the frog singing ness and dormer in every key is in this vast library you would fill up. And then we'd have to go a level deeper meta, meta universes, filling up handfuls and buckets and universes, not hundreds of times, not thousands, but millions of times before we reached the limit of sonic authorship. I'm not sure what's more dazzling idea, the idea of how vast this library is, but also that it actually ends the extent of human imagination. Every music that's being made and will be made is in this vast library. Now, we could argue about fidelity and what is noise and what is music was the same. But I'd like to think that even if the tiniest sliver of this is meaningful music, then we have a practical eternity of music to discover and enjoy. And to this fast library, I humbly submit these six lectures in audio form just six grains of sand among that vast library. They lived there already. But music is more than sound. It bonds us across cultures and even time and speaks to the depths of a logical soul in ways that are surely without limit. Thank you so much. Thank you so much, Jeremy on sound, tams in on lights. Thank you to Gresham and Face Infinity And um, we've got time. Yeah, but I'm, I'm gonna go straight to John Coltrane and his circle. I love that album. Oh, Love premier. And it just struck me as amazing that someone who I'd always thought was making the stuff up as he went along, creating sound out of sound outta sound as you sort of implied at the end. Yeah. And yet there's a mechanic, there's a mechanical element to it. Yeah. Which I hadn't expected. There's this sense that mechanics are the enemy of soul, and I don't feel that's the case. In fact, all the great revolutions were about ideas this intersection of let's say science and art. But I just think it's craft really. And we tend to think maybe it's convenient to think that these great artists were somehow unschooled or didn't know what they were doing. Firstly, musical knowledge is not just about naming things, it's about knowing how to do things and repeating them. But the Society of Hendrix, for example, was fascinated by music theory. He wanted to study classical music, but he died too young, unfortunately. And, um, uh, Charlie Parker carried around Stravinsky scores to work from and, um, coltrane's for sous and so on. They knew about music deeply sometimes with, uh, names that often aren't shared. But yes, it's always known at various levels. Somebody online has asked. So do you feel, have you, what they're asking is, have we approached a dead end? You answered it partly in your last question, but the idea of the last statement of your lecture, but the idea of cataloging everything somehow seems almost too rigid. A structure for something that is as, as loose or creative as it's the Message here is like, it's beyond the ability to catalog. But actually there is, let's say a danger. There is a tendency that we like the familiar, we like some new things, but generally we're, our musical enjoyments is rewarded by familiar things. So if we still keep listening to the same type of music, um, we do turn, we do become quite insular and tend to enjoy that type of music. And you can see that, um, happening, um, in various subcultures of music. And the way of breaking outta that I suggest just like it would be for any, uh, genetic, um, uh, closing in of material is cross pollination. I invite people to listen to all types of music from all eras and to make all types of music stuff that they, um, don't initially like.'cause a lot of music is a acquired in cultured taste, but a good taste, uh, rewarding test taste once earned. Well, that deep mutation of the bottom note on the heavy metal that you That's right. I enjoyed it all along that spectrum. I hope you did. Also, Is there any music that's inspiring you at the moment, which kind of points towards the future? Um, so there's some wonderful things happening at the intersection of electronics and let's say classical music. I don't, I don't know how to define it, but there is a sort of posts stylistic thing that's happening. And I really enjoy, um, electronic music that, uh, take that engages with the virtuosity and expression that comes with classical or chamber type music. And that's happening. I mean, I, I don't want to name too many things, but I mean, for example, John Hopkins has this approach to electronic music, which doesn't seem to be rigid in terms of structure and meter and key. Um, there's a guy called John Metcalf. They're not all Johns, I promise <laugh>, who has this really delicate type of chamber electronic music. But I mean, I'm discovering stuff from the past really. That's the, um, it it's, it's false to think that progression doesn't, it's the non-linear universe we're living in. And you kind of think that there's this dissonance contour that happens in terms of, of harmony, but you listen to Renaissance Aldo at the moment is blowing my mind with a sort of harmonic approaches his, his using. Um, so music is so rich that I don't think that where we happen to be in time is in a way the pinnacle of, it's like a garden that's flowering in different directions. Um, but I'm deep into reel at the moment. I just can't believe how beautiful it is. And there's so much potential in what you can do with that. And it's crossover with jazz and electronic. So somewhere to answer your question in some way, somewhere between what we might call classical jazz and electronic music, there's this beautiful thing that happening that breaks away from the score, I mean, to micro timing and micro tuning in an expressive way, not in a, uh, prescriptive way. And I think there's so much to be done there. Thank you. We have two questions here in the front. In fact, three that's a cluster <laugh>, there's probably some triad that you should Oh yeah. Hey, Milton. Wonderful as Ever. Uh, wonderful. And there's a, a quote that's always, um, fascinated me. Um, it's offered John MCL album m Vishal album, and he says this album is dedicated to the spirit of music that speaks the unspeakable. Would you agree with that one? That's Beautiful. I mean, that's, that's beautiful. I mean, I'm quite a skeptic and if people know me that I'm, I don't, it's hard for me to use words like soul and transcendence in a, that means anything. But it's hard to put in other terms that it's a way the Oilers term, I think it was him that talks about the logic of the soul. And that's what it is that bypasses the symbolic meaning of language. Sometimes it uses it also. And, um, I think that's the endless fascination with music. I mean, I couldn't believe when I was eight years old, I heard a few pieces of music, but it was basically the Beatles I heard. And I couldn't believe how they knew what was going on in my brain by manipulating sound. I didn't know how they did that, and I still don't <laugh>. But that's what brought me here is this endless idea. And I think, think that at any point of answering those questions, do you lose anything? You don't unweave the rainbow. You just discover more colors between them. Thanks. Yes sir. Thank you for your lecture. I was, uh, surprised to hear bark's cannon sound incredibly avant-garde. It's crazy. I mean his cra well in lecture two of next year, it's dedicated wholly to parks invention and you'll hear things, uh, more things that will surprise you, but it's deeply chromatic and inventive. There's this idea that it's somehow stiff or structured. It's playful and imaginative and bizarre and wonderful. And there's again, I have, I don't think I've heard everything that bark's made, so I should carry on with that. But it's quite sad. We don't have enough a, um, I never play it on the radio. They never play that one. Well, that's another thing I didn't, I, it was one of the slides I didn't use, but if you looked at the classic FM broadcasting, it's a real shame because there's such incredible music that is accessible, but somehow familiar familiarity breeds repetition. And I think that's something that we have to actively fight a against. I don't mean we have to sort of challenge ourselves all the time, but so many rael pieces just so beautiful that aren't played even within the general great composers of, I think that we can, um, broadcast and embrace more. And it stands for us really as listeners to do that. I Think that's related to the way the current way algorithms, which are re suggesting what you ask limiting our Hearing point. Yeah, I think I'm a techno file, but I think that's really unfortunate politically, uh, educationally, culturally that we've built a model which gives us what it thinks we want. We don't know what we want. I didn't know I'd like jazz, I didn't know I'd like revelle, I didn't know I'd be here. Um, I quite liked it when it was the BBC and I was created stuff rather me having to decide that I want to watch a crime thriller. I don't want watch a crime filler, but I just do it because I do it. It's a, it's a habit and I think that's one thing of human behavior that we should do and uh, and sort of break our sleepy habits. And I think algorithms could work. I thought this idea that you could have an algorithm that suggests something that's distant to what you like just curated not too far, but the right throw of distance saying, well, you like that. I can tell that you like subdominant minor chords. So here's something, uh, that you've never heard that does that. I, so I'm, I'm very optimistic about what algorithms to do. But now, but at the moment there are poorly used Pandora's box, I believe. So you Had a question in the front as well. Thank you. Um, I just wanna say your visualizations are incredible. Oh, thank you. Um, and you actually just answered my, my first two questions, so thank you. The second was, I wanted to know what your thoughts were on the relevance of nons. So information when it comes to music. So for example, I think particularly when we think about what it means for artificial intelligence to be creating sounds or music, um, about, for example, the embodiedness of the making of music, even if you're making it electronically, um, and how that impacts what you con consider as sort of an object of music. Um, Yeah, it's just a brilliant question and it's something I just slipped in at the end there in the last few, couple of sentences saying that music is not even this sonic library. Um, again, we have a tendency think of music as objects that we own and we have, and somehow they benefit us. But music is an activity. And the, some of the most musical rewarding moments I've had is not necessarily listening, listening to bark or the perfect rendition, but a moment with a friend or a colleague or a student where something magical happens. And of course the musical experience is ritualistic, it's embodied, it's visual and uh, open to people who can't hear as we know with many exemplars of that point. So it's a, um, a language and an activity that is multifaceted and indeed, uh, goes well beyond sonic information. But I had to start somewhere.<laugh>. Yes, professor, just to build on that question, um, have you ever given much thought to evolutionary biology and evolutionary psychology explanations as to why, uh, auditory senses this sort of harmonic processing is so powerful in us compared with say, our sense of touch? Yeah, it's in incre it's a, uh, incredibly insightful question because it's extraordinary, our hearing. It doesn't seem to, it doesn't, this, you could, I would be quite happy to switch off the visual field, but never, never, never lose my sense of sound. Well the, um, for, for a start sound is an extraordinary superpower. It's continuous and the decoding, um, resources that we're using are immense. I mean, even for you to recognize the different vowels I'm saying is an incredible, a critical process that's happening in your mind in real time. And to put them together and to separate it from the other sounds. Here in my first lecture I went into this idea of how we, how we make sense of this, uh, sonic canvas. Um, but language and music seem to be driven together for you to recognize what I'm saying are the same, uh, faculties that allow you to hear melodies and chords. And we did this ability to group, we can hear that there's a group of people, but one person talking within it. Same, we can hear one note with an accord. So this ability to draw sets around objects that we hear in real time in this fast invisible bubble. It's just, uh, madness and all the arts are incredible. But there is something about how music bonds with time that it's just so direct and you can't, you can shut your eyes but you can't really shut your ears. It's this constant stream of, of information that our brains are kind of molded around and where the music, uh, or language came first or whether they coexist, which I kind of think they do, is an open question. May I press that point? I often think that uh, people are like nim chimpsky who are trying to explain the origins of formal language. They are perhaps missing the point that we, I'm, I'm willing to bet we're able to communicate extremely fluently, pre-form linguistically using our powers of vocalization. And despite what I said before, then also our ability to be visually dynamic with our bodies. Now, do, do you think that this is of course an impossible to answer question. Do you think that there was much limitation on what we were able to conceptualize and communicate prior to the emergence of what we might call formal folk languages? I'm, I'm inclined to think that's not true. We had, if we, as soon as we had the resources of harmonic analysis, we basically had our conceptual world, Okay, these questions are ramping up, but that's <laugh>. But essentially, um, once we have the ability to unpick the sonic canvas so much is possible. That's to recognize sound objects among other ones. And also, um, it couples with our need to predict music feasts on our predictive fa faculties, not just our recogni recognition of sounds. It does both in fact. And so, um, in lecture two I went deep into the predictive, uh, frameworks that we use both on rhythmic and melodic sequences. And the reason music is so, uh, rich is that it's doing all of this at once. We're recognizing sounds words, uh, picking about part colors, making sense of it and predicting what's gonna happen less and this continue happening next in this continuous cycle. It's just ridiculous. Which is not very eloquent way <laugh>, but it's just, it shouldn't happen. But it has, i I think that's bang on the money. Uh, unlike our visual perspective, it seems to be intuitively from an origin we don't appear to have this sense of single perspective on moments in sound. There appears to be an incredibly broad, what you might call Buddhist lee consumption of now They're born Yeah, they're bound in this temporal ribbon. I'm going to take the privilege of the last question here. Okay. Because we've run out time. Thank you. Um, and this is a personal question from online somewhere. You said before you are going to have synesthesia, but you do seem to not just to hear music, but to feel it or see it almost mathematically. Do you see music differently to maybe most of us in this audience? I think we all have an inner musical life. I think it changed. I remember as I went on to study music and listening to bar had closed my eyes and I would see lines happening. I don't think, um, uh, sin uh, synesthetic. But I think in order for us to understand music, we do understand in terms of physical movement into, into visual imagery. Um, I was very late to note reading and maybe that gave me a different perspective on how to understand music. But any musician, they sit at the piano and we see this line, but what is under the surface and what we sort of know and what's so surprising is that there are all these loops that happen between all these notes. It's not this neat line. And we cope with that in different ways.'cause it is coping. We cope with that visual or just by feeling and feeling is not, not thinking. It's a sort of LF logic that happens that helps us unpick the immense but beautiful complexity. Thank you Milton. Ladies and gentlemen, please. Thanks Milton.