Curating The Week: Beauty as Symmetry, Habit and Repetition, AI in Music, Bowedscapes

• The physicist Michio Kaku defines beauty in terms of symmetry and the re-arrangement of components (and provides one of the most compelling explanations of compelling music). The podcast is here.

“Beauty to a physicist is symmetry. There’s a symmetry in music. For example, the simplest symmetry is a rubber ball. You rotate the ball and it remains the same. Why is a kaleidoscope beautiful? A kaleidoscope is beautiful because you rotate it and it turns into itself. Why is an ice crystal beautiful? Because you rotate an ice crystal by sixty degrees and it rotates into itself. So that’s what beauty is: If I re-arrange the components of an object, it remains the same. Now you can apply that to music, you can apply that to physics. When you apply that to physics, it means that I have an equation and I rotate its components in a certain and precise way and it rotates into itself. That’s called symmetry.”

An essay on habit and repetition.

“This is the quiet miracle of repetition: its ability to not only make actions easier over time, but also change one’s desires, bringing the cravings of the flesh in line with the aspirations of the spirit (or as [William] James puts it, making ‘our nervous system our ally instead of our enemy’).”

“Rhythmic labor is highly spiritual labor.” – Karl Bücher 

• A video about AI in music production. 

“A significant percentage of music listeners aren’t actively listening. They’re passively listening. When music is background music, there doesn’t need to be an artistic statement or anything especially interesting or novel happening. And Spotify themselves have taken advantage of this. They commissioned unknown artists to create music for meditation and running playlists at royalty rates much more favorable to the company. Obviously, this only worked because the music is structurally simple and easy to churn out. Sounds like something AI could do in the not too distant future.”

• My track “Unfolding” from Bowedscapes is available on Spotify’s Ambiente Playlist for “today’s cutting edge Ambient, Atmospheric and Neo Classical Music.”

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