Lateralus

I have been thinking about numbers a lot in the past week.  Prime numbers, the Fibonacci sequence, polygons.  Why my Bucky Balls work best in multiples of six.  How our culture might be different if we had evolved thinking in base 8 instead of base 10.  I was introduced to the concept of modular arithmetic on Thursday, quite by accident; while we obviously use it in daily life, it had never previously occurred to me how one would express it mathematically.

Numbers are, of course, inextricably related to music.  Scales (there’s our modular arithmetic again), beat structure, tempo.  Few musicians seem to call this relationship out, but Tool’s “Lateralus” is, among other things, about the Fibonacci sequence, with an apparent nod to the Golden Ratio.  The references are not within the lyrics; rather, it is a part of the music itself.

I am curious to know whether there are other artists who have explicitly explored mathematical concepts in the rhythmic and melodic structure of their music.  I am aware of some that explore math in their lyrical content (Jonathan Coulton and Tom Lehrer come to mind), but I suppose the nature of what I am looking for makes it more difficult to find.

You know which button to press.

When I started this blog, I made the decision that if I wasn’t up for creating art that day, I should at least post something inspirational to keep me thinking about it.  Of course, since then, I’ve used “post something someone else made” twice and have skipped way more days than that for reasons other than “no internet access.”

So here, have something inspirational. I should really learn how to do stuff like this myself.

War Again

This song has been in my head for roughly the past week.

Don’t you know we got smart bombs
It’s a good thing that our bombs are clever
Don’t ya know that the smart bombs are so clever
They only kill bad people
Don’t you know though our kids are dumb,
We got smart bombs, what a joyous thing
Here we go so let’s drink a toast
To those clever bombs, and the men who built them

Chorus:
There they go now, there go all my friends
There they go now, marching off to war again
With their bright flags waving in the wind
There they go now, marching off to war again
Smiling proudly, with their heads in the clouds

Don’t you know this is better than any video friend
It’s an action movie
Here we go watch the bad guys get their butts kicked
Really makes me feel good
Here we go watching CNN, the adrenaline rushes through my veins
Don’t you know it’s a feel good show, electronic bliss
It’s a video, a video…

[Chorus]

Aren’t you glad we got smart bombs
It’s a damn good thing our bombs are clever
It’s a shame that our kids are dumb,
But our bombs are smart, what a lucky thing now
Don’t ya know it’s a feel good show and it’s suitable
For the whole darn family
Come on out everybody shout give a big salute to our ingenuity
Don’t you know this is better than, any video friend
It’s an action movie
Here we go watch the bad guys get their butts kicked
Really makes me feel good
Don’t you know it’s Nintendo
Really gets the blood running through my veins now
Don’t you know it’s a feel good show, electronic bliss
It’s a video, a video

There they go now, there go all my friends
There they go now, marching off to war again
With their bright flags waving in the wind
There they go now, marching off to war again
Smiling proudly

There they go now, there go all my friends
There they go now, marching off to war again
With their bright flags waving in the wind
There they go now, marching off to war again
Smiling proudly, with their heads in the clouds
See them smile now, marching off in lines

There they go now, there go all my friends
There they go now, marching off to war again…