Saturday, 4 July 2020

Music is infinite

By the Darn-Poor Rhymer

The Darn-Poor Rhymer has been silent for almost six months. But yesterday, I was contemplating a phrase of a melody I had composed a few months before; which my brass band and our young cornet soloist were about to start practising, when the COVID lockdown happened. We haven’t met since; and no-one seems to have any idea when we’ll be allowed to practise together again. Let alone hold a concert. Anyone that tries to make out that the lockdown is over, is both deluding themselves and bullshitting us all. (By the way, I have a barber appointment for Monday).

I realized that this melodic line was about as simple as you can possibly write in the Western tradition. An upward scale of C, down and back up again in the scale of A flat to a top C, then a downward scale to a pause on E (the first time) or G (the second). The rhythm, though, is a complex one (7/8), and the effect when the Sibelius program plays it back is magical. It’s a pity I can’t post the .mp3 on Blogger (sigh).

That realization set the Darn-Poor Rhymer going. This is what he wrote:

Music is infinite

Eight billion monkeys
Each with a keyboard,
Writing songs at the speed of light
For the duration of the Universe.
Will they find all the melodies?

Eight bells in the church tower,
Eight monkeys each with a rope
Pulling now faster, now slower,
For ever and ever; so be it.
Can they play all the melodies?

As Kurt Gödel showed us
Some truths are not provable inside a system.
And as I’m showing you here
Music is greater than your imagination;
Music is infinite.

If there’s a god, is he in our finite Universe?
If not, why bother about him?
But if he’s in our Universe, he too is finite;
So, he can’t conduct all the melodies.
Or maybe he exists (or not), but we can’t prove it?

Now, I hope, you’ll understand why I’m agnostic.


Opher Goodwin said...

Lol - and why I'm an atheist Neil. But can finity exist within infinity?

Neil said...

Oh yes, Opher, finite things can exist within an infinite system. The problem is rather the opposite: can you fit something infinite into a finite space? The layman's answer is No, and the Rhymer is a layman in such matters. But the philosopher in me wonders: could you fit a quart into a pint pot if you diced it fine enough? A bit like the paradox of the hare and the tortoise, perhaps.