Question of the Week – 5/23/2018

May 22, 2018

What music inspires an appreciation for science and reason in you?

Our favorite answer will win a copy of Brief Candle in the Dark by Richard Dawkins.

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19 comments on “Question of the Week – 5/23/2018

  • Also Sprach Zarathustra.

    Not much science in those twerking asses, Zoroaster.

    My choice

    The Blue Danube Waltz.

    Culture, a mark of mastering, of understanding and extending our environment.

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  • I once posted my story about how I got into classical music by accident.

    I set my alarm clock radio for school the next morning but tuned it in to the wrong station. I thought I was getting Radio1 but must have tunes into a classical station. Th§e alarm went off at the set time but I didn’t wake up. Instead I had a wonderful dream of horses running through a Grand Canyon type setting. They were having a wonderful time running through steams lead by a white horse. It seemed to go on for a long time and all set to a piece of music that fitted perfectly. As I began to come awake, the pictures began to fade but the music was loud as ever. I soon realised I was waking from a dream but lay there listening to this wonderful music. I was moved by the music and as excited as the horses in my dream. Took me some time to find out who the piece of music was by but I eventually got my LP of Andre Previn conducting Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjues. The movement playing whilst I dreamed was mvt 2, Adagio. I have never had that dream again although I have tried ways to replicate that hit I got from the experience many times. I over used it to the point that I grew numb to its effects but still an important experience because it opened up my world and my mind further. I wanted to explain the feeling I had and to question the reality that was effected by visions in my head. Science and self observation has helped in so many ways including stopping my childhood fears.

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  • Impressive Instant by Madonna. Lyrics are about the universe and it’s creation in an ‘Impressive Instant’ as a plus it also has an amazing dance beat to it. Definitely worth a listen with lyrics folks.

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  • A song I learnt when I was about three or four was Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star, the second line of which (I am sure you all know) is: “How I wonder what you are.” Though I never went on to become an astronomer or even a scientist, the question suggested by that wee song (what are the stars?) made me aware even at that tender age that the answers to it had to be found out in the same way as the answers to any other questions about the world had to be discovered — by exploring, examining and so on. It was not until some years later that I understood how science worked, but that initial wonder was extended to everything on earth, including geology and biology, as I learnt about our solar system and enjoyed science-fiction stories about other solar systems and galaxies.

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  • Symphony of Sorrowful Songs by Górecki featuring the soloist Dawn Upshaw.

    This work is unquestionably religious scored by an unquestionably religious composer. Whereas it once spoke to me when I was a Catholic now being an atheist it speaks to me as a rallying cry for science and reason in the world. This work exists, after all, due to the abominable religious ideology of the Nazis.

    For pure pop enjoyment, however, I love the spoof on Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody called Bohemian Gravity by Tim Blais.

    Good luck to all.

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  • I love classical, jazz, rock and heavy metal, pop… But I often find myself not able to listen to anything because I don’t want to be influenced.
    Most classical music has been written on religious grounds. Jazz and gospel grew on spirituals. That leaves me rock and heavy metal and pop, although I sometimes am listening to something and I listen to the words ‘god, pray, etc’ and I have to stop listening.

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  • Atheist classical composers?







    Peter Maxwell Davies




    They may take commissions for the odd Glagolitic Mass (actually an excuse for bit of rousing Nationalism), but it is often for money or the tradition of the musical form.

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  • The music Quanta (1997) by Gilberto Gil, a greatest Brazillian musician. In a witty way, the compositor communicate your admiration by scientific discoveries and capacity to transform the world, playing with the concepts of subatomic physics:

    *(The verses below were translated from Portuguese into English by myself)

    Quanta from Latin

    Plural of quantum

    Infinitesimal fragment

    Almost just mental

    And my favorite verse:

    Of flaming thought


    Art of creating the knowledge

    Art, discovery, invention ¹

    Sometimes, there’s some abuse of “scientific license” in favor of poesy:

    I know that art is the sibling of science

    Both children from a fugacious God

    Who does in a moment

    And at the same time undoes

    That vague God behind the world

    Behind the behind ²

    He alludes to a fugacious God (maybe a transient God in human history linked to the understanding of the creation that we leave behind as science advance) and after he refers to a continuous flux in the cosmos, which is perhaps based in the vacuum fluctuations (since he consulted César Lattes, the scientist who discovered the particle Pion).
    Even though he says about God, I don’t think that it diminishes my appreciation of the confluence of his musical creativity in consonance with science, art and inventivity. I just feel the music in my own way, when he says God, I’d rather hear:

    “I know that art is the sibling of science

    Both children from a elusive nature

    Who does in a moment

    And at the same time undoes

    Those sublte laws behind the world

    Behind the behind”

    1. De pensamento em chamas / Inspiração / Arte de criar o saber / Arte, descoberta, invenção

    2. Sei que a arte é irmã da ciência / Ambas filhas de um Deus fugaz / Que faz num momento / E no mesmo momento desfaz / Esse vago Deus por trás do mundo / Por detrás do detrás

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  • phil rimmer,

    Have you heard about secular music? I just read that is any kind of non-religious music during middle-ages and Renaissance. But I didn’t find much about, like a compendium of composers, etc…

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  • Lepus

    Music outside the church in Medieval and later times was often profane. Drinking songs, wassailing, bawdy songs and then songs of romance, and gallantry. And always dance music with a good thump, sackbuts, crumhorns, shawms and drums.

    Later and especially after the English Civil War a gentler folk music, love songs, ghost tales and work songs, in homes, in the fields, or at the loom.

    Most often we don’t know the composers, but here’s one, “Pastime with Good Company” with a rather famous composer….

    This kind of music peaked in popularity in the 1970s and I rather collected it.

    Now it is a style informing modern music too.

    Look on Youtube for-

    Richard Dawson, Soldier

    -a tale of a soldier in Celtic Times

    Richard Dawson, Ogre

    -a tale of an Ogre hunt

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  • Lepus #15
    May 29, 2018 at 11:01 am

    Have you heard about secular music? I just read that is any kind of non-religious music during middle-ages and Renaissance.

    There is a lot of “folk music” which is not religious, although many of the tunes have been plagiarised by churches over the years, and the words of hymns substituted for the original lyrics!


    Why should the Devil have all the best tunes?

    Reported as a remark made by Hill when he arranged an Easter hymn to the tune of “Pretty, Pretty Polly Hopkins, in The Rambler, Vol. 9 (1858), p. 191;
    it was earlier attributed to George Whitefield, in The Monthly Review, or, Literary Journal, Vol. 49 (June 1773 – January 1774), p. 430,
    and has also attributed to Charles Wesley, and sometimes his brother John, as well as William Booth, who popularized it as an adage in promoting The Salvation Army.

    Of course some anti-establishment rebel musicians, also cite satanism or the occult in their songs, to impact on audiences and generate outrage or media attention!

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  • I am inspired by nearly every composition where man composed it and it utilizes much of what has been documented in the science of written music history to create harmony, tempo, etc etc. from “heavy metal” to “light classical” That may sound rather nefarious on the surface, as “music” as we are using that word here appears to be used (not meaning a bird ‘singing”, but a human composition), but it is meant to be specific….I am using the ‘music’ created by the human intellect to be specific to this question. One other genre I am not considering music as asked here, is a random placement of instruments together in “gobbledygook” to create a “composition”. We could accept that because even the human mind had to act is such a way on instruments, digital sound pieces or other things to throw them together to create something “random”. My interpretation here, is that it was meant music by human composition, hence intelligence/creativity.

    With that said, I like Creed “With Arms Wide Open” and Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven”. Creed and Led Zeppelin each created interesting ballads, not only in musical composition, but in speaking to certain core
    characteristics in humans that have shown nearly zero in evolutionary change, but rather a starkly consistent
    set of traits evident from the earliest of human known writings.

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  • Jazz.

    I love jazz increasingly. It is high art and art for me is a psychology experiment we perform on our selves. How can this misbegotten collection of notes or brushstrokes have this much effect, make me feel this weird never before, nameless thing.

    I love scratching these itches. I swear I can almost feel those synapses strengthening as significance is conjured from near chaos.

    So at the pinnacle of the chaos creators is Thelonious Monk. Waiting until the very last second and then a bit longer to see what his fingers do. And its a shock. Its wrong it doesn’t fit, then like the post hoc narrator we use to explain away our more automatic actions he somehow persuades us it was intentional, Ah yes, see how it fits now.

    For me this is music that does more to explain what being human is, what human cognitions are and how we make meaning. It is the opposite of spiritual. I think it is science, well neuro-science, in action.

    Can’t find the Stockolm track I want yet but this will do for the mo.

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