Thursday, September 20, 2007


A link to this video can be found at

I've just started reading a fascinating book by Daniel J. Levitin: "This Is Your Brain on Music". Written by a well-known musician/engineer/producer who has now become a neuroscientist, it finds ways to describe from a neurophysical viewpoint the fascinating connections that happen when we hear different kinds of music. Dr. Levitin suggests that music may be even more fundamental to our species than language.

This is one of the central ideas from my book: what connects us all across time and space? It's the memes that represent our consciousness, and each of us is part of our own unique meme-system that exists outside of the illusion of time. Whenever I listen to a particular piece of music, there are physical, cultural, and emotional patterns that trigger responses in my mind, and in my body. And in much the same way that body language can transmit anger or fear, or contentment or joy, not just from one human being to another but even across species, the multiple layers of information that are encoded into any piece of music are a powerful example of what is really happening behind the curtain of our observed physical reality.

This song also gets into an idea I explore in my book: creative people who touch so many people's lives may be able to do so because they are more aligned with the central memes that make up larger portions of the general public. What makes pop music so popular? Where does the longevity of the Beatles or Bach come from? All creative artistic endeavors have resonant ties to specific "big picture memes" within their underlying structures. For instance: when I read a Stephen King novel, even when the situation is preposterous, I feel a connection to the underlying ideas and motivations of his characters. As Mr. King himself has acknowledged, some critics say he has been so successful because he is a hack who writes for the lowest common denominator, but I believe that is just a negative way of expressing the idea I'm talking about here: Stephen King has become one of the best selling authors of all time based upon his ability to place us in the heads of his characters. His ability to plug his audience into strongly resonant meme-systems that speak to so many is what makes him or any other successful creator so fascinating, and their work so powerful.

Quantum mechanics tells us reality and information are interchangeable. I propose that the shapes and patterns that make up that information out here at the macro level of reality are tracked within the meme-systems that we move through as ideas rise and fall in popularity, and which makes great art transcend time to communicate across the centuries.

words and music (c) by Rob Bryanton (SOCAN)

Connections in time
Connections in space
Connections we share with the whole human race
Back to the very first chemical chain
That started it all, one thing remains
It’s all about connections

Just another sappy love song
Climbin to the top of all the charts
Go ahead and ridicule it
You can say that it’s not art
But what’s inside that formula
That lets it touch so many hearts?
How could those recycled cliches
Grab so many from the start?

Connections in time…

Shared beliefs, and strong emotions
Connections of common family bonds
Draw us all together
They help to make us strong
This system of thoughts and memories
The “I” inside that I call me
There are parts I share with others here
Now and back through history

Connections in time…

Past life regression
Trips to the psychic fair
If time is an illusion
Then those other lives you share
Parts of them could be right here
Writing the books you love so well
Singing the songs that touch you deeply
Your reincarnate self

Connections in time…

I think I met myself today
I think I saw my eyes
Another me in another body
Livin another life

Enjoy the journey,

Rob Bryanton


Anonymous said...

kind of off subject, and slightly frivilous

well, in response specifically to the what makes pop music 'popular', i dont think that's a good example, seeing as how the music industry controls what is 'popular' these days. thats marketing, there are still however popular musical styles that many people connect to not considered in the pop genre, i just beleive pop is not a good example of the point you are trying to comunicate.

Rob Bryanton said...

Hi Nile, that's fair enough, but that's also why I speak about other kinds of music including classical, which is also the much wider focus of Daniel Levitin's book. This is not just about what makes pop music popular - this is about the emotional and cultural connections that give different pieces of music their ability to reach us. What makes a particular melodic phrase sad? What allows a particular rhythm to communicate agitation, or joy?
And back to the subject of popular music (which is not just the latest manufactured pop princess concoction, but any style of music that a large number of people feel a connection to): yes, the media machine still has a hold on us enough to manufacture desire for disposable music that will soon be forgotten, but that is less the case now than it was just ten years ago. Nowadays, there is just so much more music that people who are interested in searching it out can find, and unusual music that touches people is finding its way to an audience more so than ever before.
There is some music that lives on in people's hearts and makes emotional connections long after the hype has subsided - so even if we're talking about "pop" music in the narrowest sense of the term, that longevity is for me what allows us to see which is the "good" pop music and which is not.

Anonymous said...

In mathematics, 5-dimensional space and 6-dimensional space are topologically distinct. (This is true of any two Euclidean spaces of unequal dimensionality.)

Rob Bryanton said...

Yes. I agree with that, but when you define any single point within a dimensional system, it also can be pared away to include the dimensions below - my position at this instant in spacetime is created by particular expressions of the dimensions below, one planck length after the next as we travel the line of time.

But since Kaluza proved and Einstein agreed that we're in the fifth, not the fourth dimension, and David Deutsch and his team at Oxford have now proved that the probabilities of quantum superposition can be equated with the branching timelines of the multiverse, that would mean the topology that we're already part of is much larger than most of us are thinking about as we consider our existence within 4D spacetime.

And I would agree that the difference between the fifth dimension and the sixth dimension is that 6D includes the parts of our probability space for our physical reality which are never observed, and those that are impossible to observe from our position within the fifth dimension, because of branches that have already been cut off of our probability tree at this point in the fifth dimension.

In fact, I have suggested elsewhere that you can think of the fifth dimension and below as being part of what has happened or could happen for our universe, while the dimensions above represent the push away to the other realities (or ways of organizing the quantum information that equates to potential realities) that are decoherent/inaccessible to our own observed universe.

Thanks for writing!


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