What is Music

Igor Polk, January 2, 2007

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What is dancing

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What a topic for the first article in a new 2007 year! It is quite a topic for any article. One can probably find volumes of writing and hordes of authors discussing this never resolving question. Let me put some of my insights here, purely for the sake of philosophing out what is dancing..

Since I defined dancing as music played by body, in order to be clear, I have at least to find what is that in music that differentiates dancing from other activities.

I'll start very far away, and my story would be very sketchy for now.

Everything has a beginning, development ( growth ), plato, and the declination with the end. These are the properties of everything which surrounds us either we live in modern world or 50 000 years ago. At least wisest of us can see it and differentiate one particular thing which goes through these transformations from another one. In modern scientific language it is called a system. A system has a property of unity. It is the whole. And as a whole we perceive, and observe, and experience it.

On the other hand, as philosophers figured it out, any system is a collection of interacting parts. At least two. Minimum two!

Often we are not able to see beginning and development of a system, but if we can see or feel interacting parts, we know that there is a system. Do we need to know about systems around? Of course, they could be our bread or death ! That is the surviving mechanism.

Interaction of the 2 parts in the simplest, cleanest way produces two exemplary forms of any signal we are able to perceive through senses or logically. These curves are exponential and sinusoidal ones ( I draw the pictures later ). Let us put exponents aside for now. Speaking more roughly, if we see any periodicity - there is some sort of a system behind it !

And why do we need to know about it? See above - to survive ! That is why we are extremely alert to anything periodical. It is a sign from which our attention can not get away that easily. It means beat, rhythm. Even if it is a sign of nothing, which is often the case. That is how our lowest of signal systems works.

It makes any pulse magical even if it is just a steady beat of a stick into a hollow stump.

Why steady? Because, non-steady beat is a signal of chaos, not a system. The more mathematically precise the beat is the louder it signals: "There is something here, attention !!! "

We ourselves are systems expressed very much with various rhythms. We sleep daily. We regularly want to eat. Our heart beats. We walk rhythmically, as well as do any other physical work with a rhythm dictated to us by the weights handling, tension of muscles. It is just easier - we spend less energy if we work rhythmically. Everything has its resonance..

Walking is a highly rhythmical process, but we can not call it dancing, exactly like beating steadily in a drum does not produce music. Why? Our attention is lost. When beat starts - it is something new, but if it continues without changes and nothing happens, we are used to it. It looses importance. Our brain switches to something else. It means we need changes. Fortunately it is easy to do.

Take a stick and beat into something. Now make it every second time louder. The whole sound picture is changed! The main beat is there, we beat steadily, it means our "main" system is there, but if we analyze the result mathematically, a beat twice as slow appears in the picture our brains sees inside. Yes. That is like that. It means "another" system appears. If you change from totally steady beat to "amplitude variated" beat and back the simplest music is born. It holds our attention much longer. ( And I am not telling you a secret, if I say that a third, much slower sinusoid appears there too.)

You can variate the strength you beat every third time, forth, whatever, introduce extra beats, keeping attention for a very long time. With every variation, you introduce more and more "systems" on top of your "main" system presented with the main beat. You can simulate creation, development, and death or those systems creating the whole illusory world behind your simple stick and a primitive drum. Music is born!

Ok, it looks like I have explained what is music from rhythmical side. What about melody, harmony? Melody is a variation of "beats" produced with other means than a drum-like ones. It is more complex to explain my views on it, but it is similar. Besides, it is not really important for the sake of the current article. We consider dancing, and we can not make melody with dancing, but we have other means in our artistic palette, like playing with space, forces, touch..

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Please, mail me about what you think, and was this article useful for you to use for the dancing.
Thank you!

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In terms of General Systems Theory, and Theory of Creative Problem Solving (TRIZ).

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"dance is not just something which accompanies music, dance actually is music"
Igor: Oh-oh, I am not alone here.. [Link]. Nothing is new in this world.

( I should check this site out: http://www.kuro5hin.org/ )

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