As Google CEO Larry Page looks backward, he’s realizing how much his musical education inspired critical elements of Google—especially his impatience and obsession with speed.“In some sense I feel like music training lead to the high-speed legacy of Google for me,” Page said during a recent interview with Fortune. “In music you’re very cognizant of time. Time is like the primary thing.”
“I do think there is an important artistic component in what we do,” he said. “As a technology company I’ve tried to really stress that.” Page says he learned to appreciate that “artistic component,” in part through music.
Now, Page’s interest in music has taken a new turn. How it will impact Google, if at all, remains to be seen. “The last couple of years I’ve been trying to learn percussion a bit, which has been challenging,” he said.
The scientific community created this technological age but where did that impetus come from? If you ask many of the people like Larry Page it was music – he said it was music.
So if these people who have this attachment to the arts created this technological age we’re living in then in order for it to thrive we need the arts, the same way they needed it.
This conversation continues …
Jazz inspires the developers of the WordPress software this blog uses. Since 2004 each major new version is named after a jazz musician, the first being Miles Davis. 10 years before he made the hip-hop/scratch pioneering Rock IT, Herbie Hancock was involved in another pioneering effort as one of the musicians who recorded On The Corner with Miles .
Both sides of the record were based around simple, repetitive drum and bass grooves (the track delineations on the original album were arbitrary), with the “melodic” parts snipped from hours of meandering jams. These techniques, refined via the use of computers and digital audio equipment, are now standard amongst producers of electronically-based music.
Even the album cover art spoke to a digital theme:
In keeping with the sci-fi theme of African-American Music Month here on STEM Drum, On The Corner “sounded” like a soundtrack for a sci-fi movie. One writer wonders whether Miles actually invented the sci-fi/cyberpunk genre of William Gibson(inventor of the term cyberspace)
There’s also something cybernetic about that sound. The 1972 technology probably didn’t have many computers in the mix, but you can hear the hints toward sampling and digital editing. It is the street finding it’s own use for technology, but to a beat that William Gibson never imagined. It’s the shape of funk to come, pointing the way to rap, hip-hop, techno, the Afro-pop of King Sunny Ade and Fela Anikulapo Kuit.
Speaking of Gibson, I’m reminded of a picture I recently received from a friend which put a whole new meaning to “on the corner”
which makes me think of the locative art and augmented reality of Gibson’s Spook Country
Last but not least , Don Cheadle is using the tech-driven Indiegogo to help fund his Miles Ahead movie. Supporting these kinds of efforts will help keep more of the value of our innovation in the village.
Amiri Baraka(RIP) ends his brilliant sci-fi short story Rhythm Travel with a warning not to pick “a corny tune” but I guess the cat at the end of the Bar-Kay’s video didn’t get that memo 🙂 He probably needed to hear something more like The Staples Singers I’ll Take You There(hmmm more from Memphis) or Lakeside’s Fantasic Voyage or EWF’s Boogie Wonderland or Interstellar Space by Coltrane(perhaps this was a prototype for how some advanced form of teleportation will work).
Beyond participation, folks currently underrepresented in the STEM fields should thing big, be leaders! From Sun Ra to P-Funk to OutKast and Janelle Monae black scifi has always been innovative, has always had an impact on the community. Now, with the power of the internet, we have an opportunity to connect innovative artists with innovative STEM pros. This combination can go a long way towards rescuing black and brown folk, the planet and maybe the entire universe! Imagine a world where where creative STEAM geniuses collaborate on “instruments” that not only play music, but heal, transform pollutants and manage marketplaces.
This power to imagine is the first step in changing the world!
“Black To The Future” Walter Mosley
In the late Amiri Baraka’s “Answers In Progress”, a group of aliens land in NewArk, NJ looking not for the political, business or space industry leaders, but for the great jazz drummer Art Blakely.
Typically we see the relationship between math and music from the perspective of applying mathematical ideas to music but Listening To Mathematics explores the notion of music informing math. That’s a powerful idea our lives may depend on. As JazzHopRevolution says in The Myth: It’s all math and history every gun battle.
Physicist and 2013 Edward Bouchet Award winner Stephon Alexander can be seen below with Jim Gates, who as we’ve previously noted was the first(1994) recipient of that award.
In the background of the photo above you can see that the two physicists are at the E.E. Just Symposium. Stephon Alexander is the Ernest Everett Just 1907 Professor of Natural Sciences at Dartmouth. Just was a visionary biologist who saw
that organisms are holistic systems with emergent properties that arise from their organization and complexity …
Only today, with powerful tools such as low-light, high-contrast optical-sectioning microscopy (Yuste and Konnerth, 2005), are we beginning to noninvasively image molecular activities and other events inside cells as they occur during development.
E. E. Just understood, long before such technologies were available, that treating the cell as a holistic system necessitates using methods that do not destroy its integrity. Today, as ecology and biological development, separated for a hundred years, are reunited under the auspices of Eco-Devo, we can celebrate the work and insight of Ernest Everett Just.
Stephon Alexander is also exploring relationships between disciplines:
“There is a conceptual connection between physics and music,” Alexander observes. “In composition or improvisation I see geometric parallels to physical laws like gravity, with the musician gravitating to or away from certain tonal tensions. I see geometry as a principle that governs physical law and also harmonic and rhythmic ideas in music, especially in jazz.”
Dartmouth Now(emphasis mine)
In this Ted Talk he even demonstrates how John Coltrane’s Giant Steps can be related geometrically to quantum gravity and dna! As he notes in his presentation it might be “a bit much”, however recalling the notion that Drummers Are Natural Intellectuals, perhaps it’s quite Natural.