Beauty and the Beholder

I've just realised (late to the party) that I need to add Brian Nitz (aka bnitz) to my BlogRoll; Brian clearly has a real eye for photos (more please, the ones posted so far are beautiful) and I loved his post "This is a Windows town".

The engineer in me is never satisfied to simply respond to beauty or (very occasionally) to create it, but instead wants to be able to explain it; that's why there's something innately appealing about the attempt to tie phi and Fibonacii to beauty, such that music, architecture, nature (also here), or even cosmology respects it's dictates on proportion. Fascinating idea, and it is also possible to explore why it occurs at all. There's beauty even in the possibility of this explanation, which is why I think beauty is ultimately an effective resolution of a set of mathematical forces which the mind can perceive; truly in the mind's eye of the beholder.

Comments:

If only I could capture 1% of the beauty in this small country... In this age of specialization we can learn from the pythagoreans and others who saw clear relationships between the beauty of mathematics, science, architecture, art and music. I understand that at one time monks would sing the architectural proportions of cathedrals. I find it interesting that a music scale based on pythagorean perferction sounds strange to us, just as a perfectly symetrical (mirror refelction) face isn't regarded as beautiful as one with a few asymmetries.

Posted by bnitz on October 14, 2004 at 07:47 AM PDT #

A few typeos are also better than prefection! I meant to add this link to a site with samples played on other scales: http://www.pathguy.com/modes.htm
I'm sure some of the music toys my daughter banged around are nowhere near the 2\^1/2 equally tempered scale anymore! As usual, Ireland had a significant role in influencing world music with new modes and rythms: http://www.standingstones.com/aphuw.html

Posted by bnitz on October 14, 2004 at 07:57 AM PDT #

Perhaps our preferences for the set of notes that different musical scales combine have something to do with the harmonics that accompany the pure base note?
I've tried listening to music in different scales, most of which sound distinctly "experimental" to my ear. I suspect there is a combination of nature and nurture in our different tastes for music. http://tyala.freeyellow.com/4scales.htm is one of the better pages I've found on music scales.

Posted by Colm Smyth on October 14, 2004 at 08:43 PM PDT #

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