Shame, isn't it? All those thousands of years of scientific research, all useless now. I mean, if all those scientists, all those people who have worked their entire lives to solve man's problems, had just tried to find a way to stop gay men for fondling each other, we would still be in the happy ages. We would all still die of the plague and other diseases and we would have no idea whatsoever why the sun disappears at night, but we'd be free from natural disasters, right?
You would think that those are the ramblings of a pigheaded imam, and they are too, but this is also what Ann Coulter thinks. For those not familiar with her, Ann Coulter is an American conservative social and political commentator, writer, syndicated columnist, and lawyer. All these professions have one thing in common. They all deal with opinions, rarely with facts, OK, maybe a lawyer has to deal with facts, but for a little extra cash most of them will forget about that. So, Ann Coulter is a professional opinionist.
That is also why I never ever have someone's opinion about music influence mine. If you tell me that Pink Floyd sucks and someone else tells me that Pink Floyd is the greatest band in the world and both opinions would influence mine, I'd go crazy. Therefore, obviously, I'll make up my own mind. I base my opinion on Pink Floyd, and all other bands, on a few observations.
1. Does it annoy me?
A lot of songs annoy me (a lot of people too but let's not go there for now). That's the first criterium. It's also repeatable. If you play 'Paradise By The Dashboard Light', I will be as annoyed as every single time I hear that tune. (On a side note, I don't hate Meatloaf. I don't disrespect him for making music I don't like. That would be childish.)
2. Does it have something extra?
A well written song always has something more than others. Taake's 'Myr' is their only song I know the name of, just because of the banjo solo. It's unexpected and well executed. Gorki was awesome because of the Dutch lyrics. Many others of my favorite bands are innovators and pioneers, doing something different.
There are other criteria too but I'm not going to turn this article into a science essay about music appreciation. The point is, the way you appreciate music is completely and utterly based on how your brain works. Your brain filters whatever it needs from both your DNA and your environment to make you like or dislike a song. Think about that for a second while you listen to this Taake song. The banjo solo appears in the second half, but also listen to the drums.
Science and music go hand in hand
Blastbeats and the brain
Have you ever noticed that - unless professionally mastered - blast beats never sound as loud as other times the stick hits the snare? It might seem logical to you but let's go over the entire process. To drum and keep a steady rhythm, a drummer needs to lift his arm and lower it again many times, each time with the exact same amount of time in between. The upward movement, the one you don't hear, is just as important as the hit, if not more. It's in that movement that the precise moment of the hit is being decided. To be able to do that, our brain has to react and decide in nanoseconds and it does too. According to Swaab, our brain thrives on these tempos. Our sense of rhythm is quite unique in the animal kingdom. It requires ultimate precision, thus nanoseconds. To be able to create blast beats, your arm, controlled by the brain, has to hit faster which works best by not lifting the arm up so high. That's where physics come in. Lower distance is less loud. It's simple but it needs a lot of brain effort to do it properly. That is also why musicians practice.
The science behind genres
Once upon a time a caveman was experimenting with the sound of a tubular piece of wood. When he blew through it, it made a whistling sound. He punched some holes in it and noticed that it sounded different when he covered or uncovered some of the holes. That moment might have well sparked ages of folk music.
In 1897, Thaddeus Cahill invented the Telharmonium which eventually led to to synthesizers ànd their early adopters. Kraftwerk were hooked on electronic instrumentation from the very beginning. While the technical possibilities expanded, so did the sound and so did Kraftwerk's influence on the world of music.
While electronics became a household thing, science kept having its influence on music. Around the time America landed on the moon, space rock came into existence, inspired not only by all kinds of psychedelic drugs but also about the popularity of NASA and their missions.
It works the other way around too.
Somewhere in the nineties, black metal was evolving into a number of subgenres. Inspired by local antiquity several bands started to adopt pagan influences and folk instruments. Amon Amarth, Finntroll, Korpiklaani and Falkenbach became successful all over Europe, especially among young metalheads. They loved the viking thing, they loved it a lot.
Stupid hip hop
Right, rap is dumb. But wait, what about Eminem?
"Rap God" contains 1,560 words, which gets Eminem a spot in the Guinness Book Of Records. The song was eventually replaced by MC Harry Shotta's song "Animal" (which includes 1771 words). I had a solid listen to both songs. Personally, I favor "Rap God". It's simply more creative. While "Animal" feels like an effort to outdo Eminem, "Rap God" is a massive story, something Marshall Matters can do like nobody else. "Stan" is another epic example. It even got the rapper into the official English vocabulary. A stan is an obnoxious fan. Eminem's IQ is estimated to be around 140, not bad.
You'd think that he is an exception but we found another rapper who goes very creative. Baba Brinkman raps about...science. Driven on hip beats, he introduces the listener to religion, rationalism, medicine, biology and evolution. It's fun to listen to and you can learn a thing or two. So we end this article with a few raps. It has become a strange article and I have a strong feeling that there will be more about the correlation between science and music in the near future.