Tuesday, September 27, 2005


Hard to compose "bad" music?

"I think when you are hungry you relish anything. It's the same with music. Only when you are in the right mood can you appreciate a kriti."
-- Lalgudi Jayaraman, in Hindu Take
I always had this view that composing songs that were bad was a really hard task. Because of the simple fact that we "get used" to the song and start liking it after repeated listenings.

So what exactly do we mean when we say a partticular song/music is good.
It can only be governed by the following function H(t) : The 'happiness' (due to lack of a better word) we
derive from the song/music as a function of time. Four parameters for this function govern the quality of the song. The rate at which the function reaches its maximum value, the maximum value, the rate at which the function decays from the maximum value and finally "hysterisis",the rate of slow trace back(increase of happiness function) of the curve due to long periods of not listening to the song.

Let us look at the parameters individually:

1) Attack : (rate of increase): This , I guess, is dependant on the level of musical expertise of the person.
For example consider the song "Azhagana Ratchasiye.." -- If this song is heard by a person who is familiar with the raaga reetigowla, then the the attack will be higher for that person. The next obvious qustion is why? I think the answer has to deal with psychological reasons which I would reserve for a future post.

2) Decay (rate of decrease): After listening to a song repeatedly, we tend to lose interest in the song. Again I think the reasons for this are psychological. I think this phenomenon may be independent of the musical expertise of the person.

3) Maximum value: How good a song is should depend on the maximum value. But based on my personal experience it is very hard to distingush the maximum values of two good songs/music. (I get the same "kick" from all songs when I am enjoying it the greatest!)

4) Hysterisis: Suppose we hear a song continually for a week. By this time, the H value would have increased to its maximum value and would have started falling say to value 'l' (say) after a week. Then
if we we wait for a year and again hear the song. Now the H value will not be 'l' , but a much higher value beacuse of the trace back in the periods of non-listening.

Now let us explain the reasons for the following using our theory:

i) Common men enjoy film music more than classical music.
Based on two reasons:
a) Musical expertise of common man is low. So often the attack (rate at which H(t) increases) can be low.
b) Common man listens to (is forced to listen) to film songs in the initial stages, (even when the H for that songs has not risen).

ii) The old melodies dont die, the newer songs die a quick death:
This is a fallacy. Again explained using the frequencies of listening and hysterisis. (The old songs are heard at a mush lesser frequency compared to new songs).

iii) Carnatic music is of inherently higher quality than film music
I would have say no and yes to this.
I would say inherently there is no difference in the quality of music. (All the four parameters are probably not much better than film music)
But the reason for carnatic music's speciality is "manodharma" (the creative part, or the improvising part). By having this we have ensured we are not hearing the same (ditto) song/music again and again.
Each time we are hearing an improvisation. That is the reason ragas and krithis dont decay at all.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005


Strange feeling present

I experience this very very strange feeling. It is a feeling of realization.
When I am immersed in a thought, suddenly there is a context switch:
I ask myself and "realize" whatever I am experiencing is the "present".
However there is a strong sense of disbelief accompanying this realization
and hence the strangeness of the feeling.

These feelings thereby strengthen my belief that there is more in this
world - much more...

Friday, September 09, 2005


'ps' Command for Brain

A technique that could continually or continuously track what exactly a person thinks...

1) By technique, I dont mean any external means...i.e not using some fancy bio-electronic gadget that reads the electric signals of our brain...
2) I have assumed we only think of only one thing at a time. Sub question: Is it possible for a person to
think more than one thing at a time? Why or why not?

i) Do you think, that this can indeed be implemented?
It seems 'continually' may be possible. For example consider this technique:
--- We have an alarm that goes off every hour and we decide the following: whenever the alarm
goes off we 'interrupt' our brain and think about what we are thinking. --- Again, is this method
implementable? It has some caveats:
a)Suddenly if somebody asks us what we are thinking, will we be able to?
b) This technique may affect our 'normal' thinking.

ii) Assume this technique can be implemented. What are the ways in which this technique can be used?

Friday, September 02, 2005


Subjective? - Part 2

This is related to the earlier post subjective.

If we assume all people who vote are equally intelligent, (not sure
if this is the correct word) then there is
no asnwer for the "Subjective" question. (I am not explaining
the answer...A little thought will lead to this result).

But if we pose this question to general public, will we recieve
uniformly distributed votes?

To test this, I did pose this question in my college e-group.
I recieved about 10-12 responses and the results were not uniformly
distributed! Far from it. Most of the votes were for
sachin...I think. (People hate to spend time and analyse things!)

Now coming to the main reason for this post:
I want to draw an analogy between this question and the
the importance of 'news' in stock market.

Suppose there is a bad news, : For example: A natural calamity.
Generally there is a general trend of selling because of this. I claim
that in an equally objective world selling is as likely as buying because
of this news. In other words I claim that most of the 'news' should
not trigger anything in the stock market - but in the actual world it does
which I claim is because of the inherent subjectivity of people.

(I know the explanation is not good...Sorry I am bored to explain more)

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