Music : Noise = Meaning : Data

Dear Friends,

if one likes contemporary music, one is being well cared for in Vienna,
specifically during the November festival “wien modern”. The concert cycle
“klangforum wien” also introduces creative approaches to what is the state
of the art in creating acoustic data, which some will experience as music,
while for some the performance is partly outside of the boundary of what is
music. This year’s motto “grenzwert” (“limits”) is, once more, a head-on
confrontation with rules, traditions and conventions regarding the highly
subjective delineation between writing music and finding music generated by
the interplay among physics and neurology.

There is a science in religion, like there is music in some contemporary
concertos. It may not be easy to find, and for some orthodox critics,
science is something different to the transcendent aspects that have been
raised in FIS these last few weeks; just like many orthodox critics would
deny the inclusibility of some compositions under the term “music”, while
for people familiar with the style, the goal of the composer is evident:
work on the boundaries separating unrelated instances of noise from a
coherent musical phrase. Style of Cherubini they write not, the closure of
the phrase is not an over-determined, long foretold, affaire; yet – as they
have repeatedly demonstrated – there is a difference between a composition
and a sequence of random noises.

Similarly, in our discussions here, about what is information, we can come
up with ever newer delineations between incomprehensible and predictable.
We can point out Väinämöinen, who can sing into existence a copper boat,
touching on the principle of standing waves, or the Monkey King: Sun
Wukong, who creates clones of himself by blowing on hair from his fur,
being an ancestor to Sheep Dolly.

A more conservative approach would be to restrict ourselves to that, to
which all can agree being mainstream science of information. We do not need
yet to explore the limits of what is (or: what can be
understood/experienced as) information. There is enough to learn within the
confines of classical reasoning. We are not done yet with the Harmonielehre
of how data contain information. Why don’t we pick up Joseph’s low-key
observation: (colour emphasis added)

 “ … The problem of the entire concept of "data-driven" research can be
illustrated by referring to almost any recent copy of *SCIENCE*, which I am
sure you all do from time to time. There are articles in my original field,
chemistry, which describe incredibly complex multiply-sequenced reactions
which were unimaginable when I was in university. They cannot be followed
or their products exploited without the latest concepts in data handling.
But there is a usually a little phrase "in fine print" to the effect that
the system works "provided the reactions *lend themselves to sequencing*".
As long as there is possibility of studying the chemistry of some molecular
systems, literally, as individuals, it will be hypotheses about their
reality that drive the research, not the data. … “

To me, it does not appear necessary to make a distinction between “reality”
and “data”; just like there is no necessity for musicians to distinguish
between the note printed on the partiture, and the acoustic sound, or for
Chess champions to distinguish between the description of the position in
the protocol of the game and the actual pieces one can hold in his hands.

To summarise:

If we understand science to be something that All can talk about, then we
better keep referring to such facts, the existence of which is a common
knowledge: these facts are usually called “data”;

One can and will learn a lot from investigating relations among data. As
facts have educated us to the fact, that information transmission in the
course of genetics happens by the property of data *to be sequenced*, we
should better look into *variants of being sequenced*;

There is sufficient music and noise emanating from differing *sequences*
one and the same collection can have, so presently there appears to be no
need to involve such concepts that may or may not constitute information.
Let us stick to such arrangements of data that do contain information, like
the DNA. No need yet to ask Supranatural Beings for their help with
figuring out, how to transform the collection of pupils from being lined up
on their first name into being lined up on their last name. We can solve
this problem, taking into account the impressive academic achievements we
cumulatively possess.

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