the dimensions of music    A recently started new project set up by Rice University has investigated the neuronal features that appear in musical perception. It’s not easy to sum up an interesting and rigorous scientific investigation in just a few lines, but even though Punset (well known Catalonian scientific populariser) is not among our collaborators, we will do our best to throw some light on the latest research into the dimensions of music. So, get your glasses on and listen!

Music has two dimensions: vertical and horizontal. The vertical dimension is composed of relationships of notes occurring simultaneously. The distances between those notes is called harmony and it is this dimension, called “vertical dimension” that has been most developed in western music. Intervals are described as being either consonant or dissonant. Consonant means simply that the interval seems stable and pleasant, while dissonant implies the opposite: unstable and unpleasant. This definition is obviously highly subjective. When defining what is either pleasant or unpleasant to the ear, we must take into consideration cultural elements that have been accepted as thus for those growing up in the West. If we change culture, this explanation loses any meaning it might have. Nevertheless, as this has nothing to do with dimensions, we’ll carry on with our music classes. If you thought the vertical dimension was simple, the horizontal dimension is a real push over. It is composed of relationships among a succession of notes and silent pauses. More easily put, this would be the temporal element of music. Therefore, music is based on the space and time between notes.

If the vertical dimension is the space filled by notes and the horizontal dimension is the relationship between notes and time… is there a music that would enable travel through time and space? We have absolutely no doubts about it. Of all human activity music is surely the most powerful way of moving through space and time.