Move to the Beat

Thursday April 14, 2011 12:00AM
From Justin Bieber to Tchaikovsky, humans have a thing for music. Some, like me, also have a thing for puzzles and codes. When those two overlap, it’s as undeniably enjoyable as the Beatles-meet-the-Da-Vinci-code.

In 2009, a Scottish wood carver discovered a Renaissance-era code with music notation on a wood panel belonging to the royal family. It doesn’t stop there. Scholars have found encoded musical patterns in the writings of Plato about math, music, and his beliefs, probably to avoid persecution (like his homeboy and my personal hero, Socrates).

Sometimes it goes in the other direction. Part of why I’m so intrigued by encoding puzzles in strains of music is that I like the overlap between music and math. Numbers are everywhere in music, down to the differences between quarter notes, half notes, and whole notes. This tradition has been around for a long time, as famous composers like Machaut and Bach have been known to offer up puzzles in their music, leaving it to the audience to track down the patterns they chose.

For my part, I figure: Music is its own language, so why not literally make it say something?

This is today,
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