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From Cosmology to Neuroscience to Rock Music and back


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The universe led to a brain that led to music that led to rock music that will lead to a different brain that will lead to a different planet that will lead to a different universe.

From Cosmology to Neuroscience to Rock Music and back

  1. 1. From Cosmology to Neuroscience to Rock Music and back piero scaruffi Jan 2015
  2. 2. The Universe • Einstein: matter distribution determines spacetime geometry that determines the motion of matter • Schroedinger: the total energy of a system determines the probability of its position at any given time
  3. 3. The Universe • Entropy: Entropy can never decrease • Indeterminacy: The more precise, the less precise
  4. 4. The Planet
  5. 5. The Brain • Problems – How to survive in a nonlinear(chaotic) world – How to process an infinite amount of information • Solution – An organ to simulate the nonlinear world – Memory (which is NOT storage) Regulated By biorhythms
  6. 6. The Brain • A tool to find regularities in nature (that actually don’t exist: no two seasons are identical, no two rocks are identical) • A tool to predict the future • A tool to turn the incomprehensible into mathematics
  7. 7. Non-human civilizations
  8. 8. Human Civilization • Actually, mammals are not that good at civilization • Anyway… Human civilization over the millennia
  9. 9. Human Civilization • Three stages of brain development – Child: helpless, selfish, dumb – Young person: rebellious, violent, reckless, immature – Adult: a computer (symbol processor) • Simulation • Theory of mind • Planning • Communication • Cooperation
  10. 10. Human Civilization • Note: In prehistory most brains never made it to the adult stage
  11. 11. Human Civilization • Cave art • Egyptian, Mesopotamian, Vedic, Greek deities • Monumental architecture • Monotheism: Mazdaism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam • Philosophy: Upanishad, Greeks, Qiu Kong, Lao- tsu • Math: Babylonia, Pythagoras, India • Literature: Gilgamesh, Sinuhe, Homer • Science: Archimedes • And, above all, warfare
  12. 12. Human Civilization • Mysteries, theater, dance, music • Poetry rhymes = rhythm • Singing poetry: a tool to memorize long epics Symposium scene
  13. 13. Greek Tragedy • Theater (550BC) – "Theatron" = "seeing place", the place where the audience sat – "Tragedia" = "goat-song" (goat skins of the chorus) – "Chorus" = "dance" – Theater began as a religious ceremony – The Anthenian theatre focused on Dionysus, god of fertility, wine, sexuality, agriculture – Yearly Dionysian fertility festival in March, including • one week of public wine drinking • phallus-worshiping orgy • dithyrambos (dance and chant to the god) – The dithyrambos evolves into
  14. 14. Greek Tragedy • Theater (550BC) – The first plays were transcriptions in verse form of these religious rites – The first playwrights were poets and the first plays were mostly recited (or sung) and danced by the chorus – Contests and competition like in athletic games – The chorus danced in front of the stages ("orchestra”) – A play included loud music, bright colors, spectacular dancing – The performance took place in an open-air theater – The audience was 15-17,000
  15. 15. The Birth of Reading • First popular literature: inscribed epigrams (especially in sanctuaries) since 7th c BC • The Attic tragedies were the first books (for the purpose of documenting how to produce the play) • Then people started reading them for entertainment • Communal reading (aloud)
  16. 16. The Birth of Reading • Aristophanes’ “Frogs” (405 BC) mentions the reader Dyonisos • Logographers (e.g. Lysias, 5th BC) • Book market (book exported from Athens as far as the Black Sea, Socrates mentions that a book by Anaxagoras costs one drachma) • Child literacy (Herodotus: in 495BC in Chios 120 schoolchildren died in an accident while learning how to read and write)
  17. 17. The Birth of Reading • Douris Douris, 5th c
  18. 18. The Birth of Composition? • Written text: removal of enaction, the text has to be emotionally self- contained • Did the same happen to music? • Advantage of music: no need for glasses or lighting! • Disadvantage: no recording medium
  19. 19. The Birth of Composition • The Seikilos epitaph (1st c AD) is the oldest surviving musical composition
  20. 20. Music as Religious Power • Schola Cantorum (5th c, Rome): a place for training ecclesiastical singers (future popes Sergius I, Sergius II, Gregory II, Stephen III, Paul I trained there) • Gregorian monody (7th c until the 15th century) • The original metrical performance of Gregorian monody disappears by 1050 • Secular monody (12th c, e.g. troubadours in France)
  21. 21. Music as Religious Power • Ars Nova (John XXII complains in 1324 against the risks of secularising sacred music) • Avignon pomp (especially Clement VI from 1342) • Polyphony – Cathedrals: choir and/or organ – Vast majority of places: improvisation “Cantus super ltbrum” (13th c) • Splendor and might Giovanni Battista Facchetti’s organ (Piacenza, 1544)
  22. 22. Music as Political Power • 14th th: Princes’ private chapels are redesigned for polyphonic music • Princes become patrons and practitioners of music (French king Charles the Bald of 9th c. was a harp player) • Courts compete for music and musicians • Guillaume Dufay (15th c, Burgundian school), Josquin Desprez (15thc, Franco- Flemish School), etc • Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor (1486) Quaternionenadler by Hans Burgkmair (1510)
  23. 23. Western Music • Folk music: stories and sex • Meistersinger (14th-16th c) • Frottola (Italy, 16th c) • Opera (Jacopo Peri's “Daphne” in 1597; Venice’s opera house of 1637) • Instruments: harpsichord, lute, violin, contrabass, viola, cello, harp, trombone, trumpet, guitar, flute, pipe organ • Freedom to improvise • Symphony • Ballet • Classical music for both God and the King • The piano (Bartolomeo Cristofori , 1709) • Romanticism to Wagner: love, death • Music is the ultimate, “total” art • Formal dance
  24. 24. Western Music • Music magazines • Musical Times (England, 1844) • Billboard (USA, 1894)
  25. 25. Western Music • The 19th century for the middle class – Industrialization – Lighting – Tourism – Phonograph – Urbanization
  26. 26. The 20th Century • The century of the avant-garde (1908-52, Cubism to Cage) • The century of women • The century of the young generations • The century of democracy • The century of globalization
  27. 27. • Electricity • Regriferator • Automobile • Airlane • Telegraph • Telephone • Phonograph • Camera • Cinema • Radio • Typewriter • Calculator • Skyscraper • Plastic The 1910s
  28. 28. The 1910s • Futurism (1909): machines and noise • Carl Jung (1912): the collective subconscious • Alfred North Whitehead’s and Bertrand Russell’s “Principia Mathematica” (1913): math logic • Suprematism and Constructivism in Russia (1915) • Franz Kafka’s "The Trial" (1915) • Albert Einstein's General Theory of Relativity (1915) • Dadaism (1916): chance, irrationality • Jazz (1917): improvisation • World War I (1914-18)
  29. 29. The 1910s • The 1910s set the stage for a confrontation between the extremely rational and the extremely irrational EINSTEIN RUSSELL DADA JAZZ KAFKA
  30. 30. You are a formulaEverything is relative You are and you are not You are just a reflex You are a probability Everything is uncertain Everything is moving away from you
  31. 31. The emancipation of the dissonance History is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake.
  32. 32. There will always be something you cannot prove Your mind creates reality Truth is an opinion Life and machines obey the same laws of nature Everything is information Everything comes from just one point Mind is a symbol processor
  33. 33. The post-Newtonian world • The mind is a symbol processor • Living beings are machines • The universe is evolving • New frontiers in the conquest of nature (electronics, nuclear energy, space) • There is a limit to scientific knowledge
  34. 34. The 1940s • World War II • The Holocaust • Hiroshima • Disintegration of the British Empire • Rise of the USA and Soviet Union • The computer
  35. 35. The 1940s • Existentialism (Sartre, Camus, …) • Abstract painting (Pollock, Kooning, …) • Electronic music (Cage, Darmstadt school, Schaeffer) • Bebop • 1949: George Orwell’s “1984"
  36. 36. What the Mid-century inherited • Nonconformism • Anxiety • Chance • Freedom Salvador Dali Charlie Chaplin John Cage Charlie Parker
  37. 37. Music after WWII • Noise • Free jazz • Psychedelic rock • Ambient music Karlheinz Stockhausen Brian Eno John Coltrane Velvet
  38. 38. Popular Music of the 20th century • Storytelling and protest – Blues – Singer-songwriters – Rock – Rappers • Dance – Jazz – Dance crazes (charleston to twist) – Rock – Techno/house/etc • Love/sex • Soul • Rock • Pop • Soundscape BRAIN OF THE IMMATURE YOUNG ADULT
  39. 39. Popular Music of the 20th century • Instruments – Electric guitar – Electronic keyboard Jimi Hendrix Klaus Schulze
  40. 40. Rock music = neuroscience Sex Dance (rhythm) Stories (language) Rebellion Innovation ?
  41. 41. Rock music = neuroscience
  42. 42. Rock music = neuroscience = cosmology 42
  43. 43. “The best way to predict your future is to create it” –Peter Drucker