Physicist and jazz lover, Stephon Alexander, recently released a new book that linked physics – particularly the area of cosmology – and jazz music. When I heard about it, I thought this was rather far-fetched. Don’t get me wrong. I am a big jazz lover, but somehow the concept of physics and music seemed too distant for me. Reading his interview though, I must say I was intrigued by the concept.
Alexander proposed that jazz music, with its high improvisation, is similar to the string theory of physics. This theory suggests that the universe is made from a series of strings that resonate with different vibrations and scales. The specific wave in which a string makes composes matter into what we know today. Alexander believes that in modern times, the string theory has evolved into a more improvisational system. By this, he means that forces in the universe regularly improvise scales, changing wavelengths; although these changes are repetitive and cyclical. These events could be big bangs or big crunches. Physicists consider these events as predictable, yet each event is unique because of specific factors. This is similar to the how jazz enthusiasts say no two performances are the same – even if they are played by the same artist. The song itself is the same, but there are variations every time.
I have yet to read the book, and to be honest, I am not sure I fully explained the relationship quite well. I do find this topic to be interesting and will take a further look at this.