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If Physics Be the Framework of Music, Play On

If Physics Be the Framework of Music, Play On

Donald Spector, “If Physics Be the Framework of Music, Play On,” Revista Portuguesa de Filosofia 75, no. 4 (2019): 2103–36,

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  • If Physics Be the Framework of Music, Play On

    Type Journal Article
    Author Donald Spector
    Rights © 2019 Aletheia - Associação Científica e Cultural | © 2019 Revista Portuguesa de Filosofia
    Volume 75
    Issue 4
    Pages 2103-2136
    Publication Revista Portuguesa de Filosofia
    ISSN 0870-5231
    Date 2019
    Language English
    Abstract We explore a variety of fundamental questions regarding music that arise philosophically and culturally, and find that they can be usefully analyzed with ideas that have their home in and around theoretical physics. The notions of Kolmogorov complexity, of micro and macro states in statistical mechanics, and of dualities among physical theories turn out to be effective tools for understanding how people respond to various genres of music and how the identities of pieces of music can be understood. As we range across issues associated with the contrast between tonal and atonal music, with ontological questions regarding music, with digital and analogue encodings and error correction, and with thermodynamics, magnetic systems, and particle physics, the common thread is the question of how information is represented and followed. Thus, the deeper message is that the apparently surprising connection between music and physics is really just a reflection of the fact that both systems are rooted in processing and analyzing information about particular entities.
    Short Title RPF
    Date Added 1/28/2020, 4:32:37 PM
    Modified 1/28/2020, 5:18:28 PM


    • complexity,
    • dualities,
    • information theory,
    • ontology,
    • philosophy of music,
    • physics


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