chemistry

Maybe you could think it’s a stretch, to believe that music and chemistry can be related to eachother. We know mathematics and music are very intertwined in many ways but how could it work with the science of the elements?

In 1865 there was a proposition made by John Newlands which consisted in dividing 62 known elements into eight groups based on similar properties and then went on to publish “On the Law of Octaves”. As the inert gases were not known at this time, it is easy, to see that every eighth element would have been in the same family up until the transition metals.

This problem with transition metals made the findings denied by the Society of Chemists but he later made his way into recognition with the Davy Medal in 1887. However, there is in fact a connection between piano scales and the transition metals that may be useful in teaching students the periodic table which can be fun and a nice change of pace.

Chemistry

Chemistry and Music have many connections in both practice and practitioners. Both have layered complexities underpinned by harmonics and mathematical roots. Where music has its octave, chemistry has its octet. Famous in both fields

David Devraj Kumar

It’s interesting to see these connections and not only find them to be fun facts but also serve useful purpuses.

Skills That Chemistry and Music Have In Common

According to an article by the cen.acs.org, there are a few things that music and chemistry have in common which can determine a sort of familiar ground between the two.

This connections are a good teaching tool, and it works both ways, although of course it may be a bit more fun for the average student to learn chemistry through music.

Patterns

In music the use of scales and repeating certain rythms and melodies is essential, this requires a refined abillity to recognize patterns and knowing how organize every note.

In chemistry, patterns need to be recognized to a very specific degree, that’s why there is a periodic table and instruments that allow this kind of presicion.

Motor Skills

Every instrument requieres a different kind of skill, but every single one also requires a good amount of dedication and time in order to master it and experience its full potential.

Chemistry has its own set of instruments, though not in the musical sense, they pretty much require the same mindset. Every tool in a lab has a purpose and a different way to use it.

Timing/Rhythm

Timing is also essential to music and very much in line with mathematics, that’s why it’s not strange to find similarities with chemistry as there is a very important focus in time, quantities and learning when is the right moment to do a specific action.

Mistakes and Trying Again

While this is obviously a very general thing to say, it has a lot more value when you put all the other things together. It’s easier to see the whole process having some close relation to how the process of composition works in both areas.

It’s also interesting to take a closer look at the word “Composition” as it works fairly similar in both cases even though they have dfferent meanings and different contexts. According to “chem.libretexts.org“:

A chemical composition refers to the arrangement, type, and ratio of atoms in molecules of chemical substances. Chemical composition varies when chemicals are added or subtracted from a substance, when the ratio of substances changes, or when other chemical changes occur in chemicals

There are never enough weird connections, so it’s always good to find these paths that connect music with several other disciplines, not only to see the reach of it but to consider new ways to teach.

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A musician is a performer, and usually a performer is in some way an actor, there is a show that has to be given to an audience, but no one is born super confident, and it’s no secret that playing in front of a large crowd is an obvious reason to be nervous, insecure and even scared.

Confidence

Of course if you are a cello player in a big orchestra, you may feel like the attention is not that focused in you but in the whole group of people playing, and even if you do feel nervous, it’s hard for the crowd to notice.

Things get a little bit scarier in a quartet or a piano performance, since there are not that many many instruments and musicians, the crowd can see what is happening with the few that are there, however, the crowd doesn’t really expect the performer to do crazy stunts, scream at the crowd or be extra confident, they are there, for a good performance in terms of musical prowess.

However there is a certain kind of magic that happens when you let yourself go, there should be a more clear way of putting it, but as a musician lets himself go, everything changes, body language changes, the performance itself becomes more captivating and fewer mistakes are made because of the lack of nervousness that makes a performer hesitate or doubt. This can happen in any genre of music, but it’s most notable in Jazz, Blues and Rock, as history has shown.

Moments such Elvis Presley dancing like crazy while singing, Jimmy Hendrix playing the guitar with his teeth, the alien energy of Chuck Berry or drug like magic of Charlie Parker and even the many times Kurt Cobain just jumped towards the drums, are some examples of this “letting go” experience a musician goes through when they let confidence take over.

Confidence in Experience

There is a very good article on the importance of confidence in music that shows a special session with Victor Wooten and how he encourages musicians to embrace their own unique styles.

I don’t remember details but at some point, the conversation came to whether the students in the room felt like they were “good” at their instruments or not. A lot of students said no. I think it’s because they didn’t want to come across as “arrogant”. Wooten countered that. He made a point that I will never forget: he said whenever someone asks you if you’re good at guitar, your answer should always be “yes”. He said it’s not arrogant to do so. Remember, you’re not saying you’re the greatest or anything, all you’re saying is you’re good. And who’s to say you’re not? Even if you only know one scale, there are so many great things you can do with that. Or, so what if you can’t sweep pick just yet — who said that’s the only style of playing? If you keep telling yourself and others that you’re not good, the only person you’re harming is you! Constantly downplaying your ability and constantly doubting yourself will make you not want to pick up the guitar ever again. And when you don’t play, that’s when you stop getting good! He didn’t say all these things, but even his first comment made me think of all these thoughts. I figured it was time to stop making excuses and telling myself I wasn’t ever going to get “good”. I realized I already knew quite a bit, and I was going to use that as my foundation and keep building.

Alper Memioglu

The point here is that confidence begins by understanding that everyone has their own style, and that if a musician doesn’t trust in his own ability to play and get better, no one else will. Music is a language and if confidence is what is being put out there, the people who listen will get it.

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