Thursday, January 09, 2014

Scientists explain how classical music changes the world


"You've finally reached a level of twaddle that prompts me to stop reading your blog" commented a reader on my recent post What quantum entanglement can teach classical music. In fairness, my oft repeated hypothesis that classical music is part of a complex interlinked molecular event has generally been treated with a more open-minded response. However, it is not unfair to say that the overall response to these posts has been politely receptive, rather than vociferously supportive. So it is rewarding to find robust academic confirmation of my controversial hypothesis in a report published on the specialist nanotechnology website NanoWerk days after my quantum entanglement post was uploaded. The article reports that researchers at Kobe University in Japan have found that supramolecular nanofibers dynamically align in harmony with the sound of classical music. My header graphic is taken from the report and the following are key extracts:
Sound is vibration of matter, having a frequency, in which certain physical interactions occur between the acoustically vibrating media and solute molecules or molecular assemblies. Music is an art form consisting of the sound and silence expressed through time, and characterized by rhythm, harmony, and melody. The question of whether music can cause any kind of molecular or macromolecular event is controversial, and the physical interaction between the molecules and the sound of music has never been reported.

Scientists working at Kobe University and Kobe City College of Technology, Japan, have now developed a supramolecular nanofiber, composed of an anthracene derivative, which can dynamically align by sensing acoustic streaming flows generated by the sound of music. Time course linear dichroism (LD) spectroscopy could visualize spectroscopically the dynamic acoustic alignments of the nanofiber in the solution. The nanofiber aligns upon exposure to the audible sound wave, with frequencies up to 1000 Hz, with quick responses to the sound and silence, and amplitude and frequency changes of the sound wave. The sheared flows generated around glass-surface boundary layer and the crossing area of the downward and upward flows allow shear-induced alignments of the nanofiber.

Music is composed of the multi complex sounds and silence, which characteristically change in the course of its playtime. The team, led by A. Tsuda, uses "Symphony No. 5 in C minor, First movement: Allegro con brio" written by Beethoven, and "Symphony No. 40 in G minor, K. 550, First movement", written by Mozart in the experiments. When the classical music was playing, the sample solution gave the characteristic LD profile of the music, where the nanofiber dynamically aligned in harmony with the sound of music.
The fact that, to quote a certain cultural commentator, you read it here first is totally irrelevant. But the findings per se are massively relevant, because they prove empirically that classical music is non-localised. This means that listeners to both live and recorded music are just one part of a highly complex molecular interaction, and changing any part of that interaction can change the whole listening experience. The findings of the Japanese researchers are just work in progress, and it is beyond the possible scope of a single post to elaborate on all the potential implications. But, as well as having much relevance to esoteric areas such as music therapy, their findings have much broader implications which start to explain the limitations of molecular-abbreviated binary music files and of molecular-attenuated live concerts.

Also on Facebook and Twitter. Header graphic is (c) ChemistryViews.org/Wiley-VCH. Any other copyrighted material is included as "fair use", for the purpose of study, review or critical analysis only, and will be removed at the request of copyright owner(s).

6 comments:

Jerome Langguth said...

I found the following quote in an excellent article by David Fine that Kyle Gann posted on his blog. The full article can be found here:

http://www.newmusicbox.org/articles/the-entertainer/

It might be relevant to your theme, which I don't find to be twaddle at all but very interesting:

"I want to discover a method so that if I want it to rain, it will start immediately to rain. If one of my friends is ill, I’d like to play a certain song and he’ll be cured. When he’d be broke, I’d bring out a different song, and immediately he’d get all the money he needed. But what these pieces are, and what is the road to attain the knowledge of them, that I don’t know. The true powers of music are still unknown. To be able to control them must be, I believe, the goal of every music."

John Coltrane

Thanks for your courageous explorations.

Jerome

Lyle Sanford, RMT said...

I just put the link to this post over on the one mentioned above.

My intuition tells me that what you're pointing to is very much there and will come up trumps as the empirical knowledge accumulates.

brutus said...

I saw the twaddle remark and thought something similar, but it doesn't exactly surprise me that some scientific support is found at the level of quantum entanglement. Problem is, the two theatres of operation are so wholly discrete that the hope of manipulating things at the quantum level, which would then manifest at the level of ordinary objects in human experience, well, that's just more twaddle. Besides, what I like about classical music is not its usefulness in curing cancer or creating baby geniuses. So as fascinating as your hypothesis might be, I'll skip over it (like I do the subject of music business) in favor of discussions of style and taste and beauty.

Pliable said...

Isn't is sad that informed debate online and any aspiration to style, taste and beauty eventually fall victim to pejoratives such as "twaddle".

My tolerance level for informed debate and constructive disagreement on this my personal website, remains high. But my tolerance level for these kind of pejoratives is now zero.

brutus said...

Am I being misunderstood? I want to read discussions of style, taste, and beauty, but I don't want to read about how science diverts music to some other agenda, or even how science purports to explain why I like something.

I admit I have a low tolerance for quantum anything, even if it's progessing (just barely) from purely theoretical stuff to having a real explanatory function. Applicability still lies far over the horizon.

Pliable said...

Brutus, no you are not being misunderstood at all.

In your first comment you used a pejorative, as in "the two theatres of operation are so wholly discrete that the hope of manipulating things at the quantum level, which would then manifest at the level of ordinary objects in human experience, well, that's just more twaddle".

You have now redacted that statement to "Applicability still lies far over the horizon", which is somewhat different.

OAOP is not an open forum where visitors can say what they like. It is a personal website which often expresses views that are contrary to popular thinking. The fact that, unlike some music blogs, comments are allowed shows that constructive discussion is welcome. But words such as "twaddle" are not part of constructive discussion. Which is why they will not be tolerated in the future.

End of discussion.