(Roughly) Daily

“After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music”*…

Artistic approximation…

Charles Ives set himself an impossible problem [in his 114 Songs of 1922]. He wanted to use pitch distance to represent the fact that God is infinitely close to man. But what is an infinitesimally close pitch distance? In the end Ives gave up and left it to the singer to decide. Maybe what Ives wanted was a smallest perceptible pitch difference. There is no standard notation for this.

Wilfrid Hodges, “The Geometry of Music,” in John Fauvel, ed., Music and Mathematics, 2006

Vaguely apposite (but in any case beautiful): “Mystical Photographs Taken Inside a Cello, Double Bass & Other Instruments.”

Via Futility Closet.

* Aldous Huxley

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As we ponder proximity, we might send liberated birthday greeting to another musician deeply concerned with wrangling pitch: Ornette Coleman; he was born on this date in 1930. A saxophonist, violinist, trumpeter, and composer, he was the principal founder of the “Free Jazz” movement, which abandoned the chordal and harmony-based structure found in bebop for an avant-garde (sometimes jarring) approach to improvisation. Coleman’s “Broadway Blues” and “Lonely Woman” became genre standards; his album Sound Grammar received the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for Music.

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