Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Fractal patterns in music

Fractal ice pattern
Earlier in the year I posted pictures of ice cracks that reflected nature's fractal patterns.  So, it was with great excitement that I learned researchers at McGill University discovered all musical pieces also reflect fractal patterns, where a part has a limited repetition of the whole (The beat goes on: the geometry that makes music pleasing). These fractal patterns in rhythm were more strongly recognizable in Beethoven and least likely predictable in Mozart.  Turns out the fractal rhythmic patterns were almost identical in works composed by Monteverdi and Joplin.

Ice cracks that look like dendrites
It is now believed that our brains are wired to both perceive and produce fractal patterns, not only in the three dimensions of space, but also across the time spectrum.  Seems to me the left and right lobes of our brains are a great example of a fractal pattern, with the intricate patterns which contain millions of neurons. The fractal ice patterns pictured both remind me of our nervous system's synapses and dendrites. Dr. Daniel Levitin's research was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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