The thought of how music profoundly affects our emotions used to intrigue me as a kid. Music, practiced in diverse genres around the world for millennia, instantly connects listeners across all cultural boundaries. Its mysterious magic has long been a topic of contemplation, and many, including Pythagoras, have associated mathematics to its beauty. Reginald Smith Brindle calls mathematics as the basis of sound.
The golden ratio was applied to music by Heinz Bohlen to create the ‘833 cents scale’ based on the Fibonacci sequence, while Pythagorean tuning defines the perfect fifth and the perfect fourth as ratios of small numbers. Yet it’s strange that when we listen to music in these setups, it doesn’t sound quite melodious. Either our ears are so used to the makeshift equal temperament tuning employed by all of today’s instruments that we’ve lost the sense of true harmony, or harmony in nature can’t possibly be quantified.
Intuition, which is at the heart of music, perhaps deserves to be exempted from unnecessary justification and theorization. As JJ Abrams says, sometimes mystery is more important than knowledge.