J.S.Bach appreciation in Duvall, WA. The University of Oregon Lectures Vladimir Chaloupka Professor of Physics Adjunct Professor, School of Music Adjunct Professor, Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies University of Washington October 29, 2009
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Professor of Physics
Adjunct Professor, School of Music
Adjunct Professor, Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies
University of Washington
October 29, 2009
A physicist reflects on Music: why is Bach’s last fugue unfinished?
Selected topics from Physics of Music (consonance and dissonance, tuning and temperament, studies of absolute pitch, musical acoustics) will be followed by some reflections on Physics and Music, culminating in considerations of the role of Music in the overall Human Civilization.
I. Pythagoras (500 BC) on Consonance and Dissonance: first ever mathematization of human experience
II. Vladi’s Opus 0.5: A Little Harmonic Labyrinth
An illustration that the problems of temperament are NOT limited to keyboard or fretted instruments
Math: 3 3M up, the 4 3m down: 3*4=4*3
But: 1200 log2[(5/4)3/(6/5)4)] = 104 cents
III. Absolute (and relative) pitch studies. Non-intrusive studies of the hearing mechanism.
IV. The role of imperfections in creating the perception of perfection.
V. Acoustics at Saint Mark’s Cathedral
f1 and f2
3 times 2 = 2 times 3
a) Note C
b) Note G
3 major thirds up, the 4 minor thirds down: 3*4=4*3
(see the Acoustical Journal publication, on web page)
Dependence of the difference between stimulus and response frequency on time. Days 17-31 correspond to Carbamazepine, preceded and followed by placebo.
Correlation of stimulus and response for two different possessors of absolute pitch.
More: measurements of relative pitch; remote measurements; measurements of color perception; …
Left: The pipe organ at the St. Marks Cathedral in Seattle
Above: the 1743(Bach was just composing the Art of Fugue then!) instrument at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg.
Bach as Amadeus phenomenon
Amadeus as a movie phenomenon
Amadeus as opera phenomenon
And above all: Bach as a phenomenon that we don’t understand (and probably don’t deserve).
Recall counting buttons on Bach’s portraits (and “finding” 14 = B+A+C+H)
The ultimate: a Music Doctoral Thesis explaining, with a great feeling of a DISCOVERY, why the Unfinished Fugue breaks off at bar 239
Johann Sebastian Bach (yes, he was young once, too …)
art of composing a fugue
art of playing a fugue
art of listening to a fugue
To attempt to complete the life of a genius is worse than silly …
(ergo: “Princeton String quartet”)
Senator John Pastore: “what is the value of Elementary Particle Physics for National Defense?”
Dr. Robert R. Wilson: “none, except it makes the Nation worth defending”
question: “what is the value of J.S.Bach’s Art of Fugue ?”
Vladi: “none, except it makes the Civilization more worthy of preserving”
To solve the Basic Problem, we will have to find a way to combine Exuberance and Humility – and (Bach’s) Music can help!