Mathematicians finally proved that Bach was a great composer

Mathematicians finally proved that Bach was a great composer

Johann Sebastian Bach He is considered one of the great composers of Western classical music. Now researchers are trying to find out the reason why Bach is in such a position by analyzing his music using information theory.

Suman Kulkarni and his colleagues They wanted to understand How the ability to remember or predict a piece of music is related to its structure. The researchers decided to analyze some of Bach’s works; Because he composed a large number of pieces with different structures, including religious hymns called Choral and Toccatas has produced artistically.

In the first step of the research, the researchers first translated each composition as an information network. For this purpose, they considered each note as a node and each transition between notes as an edge, and using this information network, they compared the amount of information in each composition. Intended to entertain and surprise, toccatas contained more information than chorales, which were composed for meditative settings such as churches.

Kolkari and his colleagues also used information networks to compare Bach’s music with listeners’ understanding of it. They conducted experiments with a kind of computer model during which participants reacted to images on a screen. In their next step, the researchers measured how surprising an element of the sequence was.

The researchers adapted the existing information networks based on the computer model with the links between each node. The links between each node indicate how likely the listener is that the two connected notes will be played consecutively, or how surprised they would be if they did.

Because humans do not fully learn information, networks representing people’s possible note changes for a combination rarely exactly match the networks based on that combination. Researchers can then quantify this mismatch.

Bach pieces convey information effectively to the listener

In the latter case, the mismatch was low, indicating that the Bach pieces convey information relatively effectively. However, Kulkarni hopes to adjust the computer model of human perception to better match actual brain scans of people listening to music.

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Randy Mackintosh “There is a missing link in neuroscience between complex structures like music and how our brains respond to it (beyond knowing the frequency of sounds),” says Simon Fraser University in Canada. This can provide good ways to find that ring. However, there are many more factors that influence how people perceive music; For example, we can mention how long a person listens to music and whether or not he has a musical education. According to Mackintosh, these issues should be investigated.

On the other hand, information theory has not yet proven whether Bach’s compositional style is exceptional compared to other types of music. According to McIntosh, his previous research found similarities between musicians who play differently from Bach (such as Eddie Van Halen, rock guitarist) have found; But more detailed research is still needed.

“I would like to do the same research for different composers and non-Western music,” says Kulkarni.

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