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10 Connections Between Physics and Music


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Time and Anticipation
Even if an audience has never heard a piece of music before, listeners can intuit what will happen next, because we instinctively recognize and anticipate patterns. ©eurobanks/Thinkstock
Even if an audience has never heard a piece of music before, listeners can intuit what will happen next, because we instinctively recognize and anticipate patterns. ©eurobanks/Thinkstock

Music's patterns join together time and what would otherwise be just noise. A room full of people playing instruments independently makes nothing but an ear-rending racket. When they play their instruments in time to the same sheet of music, though, the result is amazing. It's music.

Yet it's not only the players who understand these songs. The audience, too, picks up on melodies and learns to anticipate a chorus and refrains. Even if you've never heard a particular song before, you almost instinctively begin to understand a song's structure and pattern and timing.

This speaks to a level of interconnectedness that harkens back to physics. It might not quite be quantum mechanics, but it's yet another intersection – of many – in which music and physics collide.