Posts Tagged ‘math’

A new unit of time: The Wagner

After a full evening of writing music, I am proposing a new unit of time. The Wagner (abbreviation Wg). One Wagner is equal to one thousand minutes, approximately the length of the entire Ring Cycle. Here are some useful conversions:

1 day = 1.4 Wagners

1 year = 511.35 Wagners

1 minute = 1 milliWagner (1 mWg)

This unit will be particularly useful for superficially evaluating the works of other composers:

The entire works of Anton Webern can be contained on about 6 compact discs with a total running time of 36 centiWagners.

Or making us composers feel crappy about our own productivity:

After sitting at the piano for the entire evening, I realized that I was only able to compose about .5 milliWagners of usable music. Furthermore, my maximum rate of composition rarely breaks the 1 mWg/h mark.

Anyone know anyone over at ISO?


Oct 2011

Review: Lovesong of the Electric Bear

It's cooler with the projections...

Lovesong of the Electric Bear
by Snoo Wilson
dir Cheryl Faraone
July 13-August 1
Atlantic Stage 2, 330 W 16th St
Performance reviewed 7/11/2010 (preview)

Regular readers of this blog know that I have a taste for the surreal and irrational in theater.  What they may not know is that I happen to have a degree in computer science.  My wife knowing both those facts (either that or she got REALLY lucky) brought my attention to a show opening in NY this week that was described as the biography/fever-dream of one of the founders of computer science, Alan Turing.

Playwright Snoo Wilson shows excellent choice in subject material. Alan Turing’s life is operatic in its trajectory right out of the box, from the early mathematical successes at King’s College, Cambridge through his heroic breaking of German naval codes during WWII, to the tragic unraveling of his life due to his homosexuality and his ultimate suicide.  Wilson connects the strands of this tragic biography with a host of fanciful theatrical inventions, most predominantly the interjection of Turing’s beloved Porgy Bear into almost every area of his life as confidant, advisor, narrator, protector – a sort of deus ex ursa. Alex Draper as Turing and Tara Giordano as Porgy the Bear are the only actors on stage who maintain their roles throughout the show, the rest of the ensemble playing multiple roles (although in a clever turn, while the other actors play different characters in name, they each play consistant roles in Turing’s life, Alex Cranmer as the Father/Bully/Drill Sergeant, Peter B. Schmitz as the Mentor/Schoolmaster/Colleague, Nina Silver as the Mother/Judge, Cassidy Boyd as the Boyhood Lover/Fantasy Lover).

The challenge in biographical works, Read the rest of this entry →


Jul 2010

On non-invisible music

Fractal expert Loren Carpenter brought my attention to a technical paper that found evidence that the distribution of shot lengths in cinema have been steadily evolving over the past 100 years to exhibit a 1/f power distribution.Your first question is probably, “what the hell is a 1/f power distribution”. And your second question is probably “why do  you have a photo of a hot girl on this post if you’re just gonna be talking about math?”  Ummm… Let’s start with the first question. It’s easier. (waving hands) It’s a distinctive pattern that seems to crop up all over biology, physics, nature and art, and there’s increasing evidence that this pattern is hard wired into the way our neurons fire. (stop waving hands). As for the second question… well,  uhhh… Let’s talk a bit about the paper first.

I find two interesting bits in this paper. First, since the entire art of cinema is only 125 years old, you can actually analyze its evolution from the earliest experiments on film. This paper claims that in just  few generations, editors and directors have unconsciously gravitated towards a film cutting style that we are neurologically wired to prefer. (Perhaps since it more closely mimics the natural rhythms of our eyes, how frequently we dart and change focus.)  However, the paper admits that other issues such as narrative, plot, and close ups of attractive people in revealing bathing suits will trump even perfectly neurologically correlated editing techniques.

Read the rest of this entry →


Mar 2010