Physics and Mosh Pits

The intersection between math and music is seen through Vijay Iyer’s process of creating music. His background in math, his undergraduate and the majority of his graduate program spent on physics. Through this ability, he was able to mesh two unseeingly related fields and create a connection. It could be one of the particular features that separate him from different jazz artists. His playing is sporadic which is an acquired taste for most because it is different from a song with strong melody. Listening to his music seems to be almost spontaneous like other events in life. But maybe it is not as spontaneous as people would like to think.

In an interesting section of NPR music, there isan article done by Geoff Brumfiel. The name of the article is Mosh Pit Math: Physicists Analyze Rowdy Crowd. Through this article two graduate students from Cornell University present an unseeingly connection between two unrelated fields or phenomena, just like Vijay Iyer’s creative process. This connection brings together physics and mosh pits. From their observations, they described roles of people in mosh pits by variables that come together in an equation. The motion of the mosh pit is a, “random mess of collisions, which is essentially how you want to think about the gas in the air that we breathe.” This odd coupling of math and social gathering of metal heads is just interesting because it shows that there is always something deeper than what is first expected.

Vijay Iyer’s musical uniqueness is much deeper thanhis skin color. At first, this is all most people can see because it is the biggest marker that shows he is different. When people hear different sounds or the fact that he doesn’t play soothing jazz, they attribute it too the biggest marker: skin color. They begin to ask questions concerning how foreign he lives his life and how does his culture influence his music. Iyer quotes a friend, Pamela Z saying, “When people can see you, they hear something else.” When people first see Iyer, they do not really see him as a person with unique qualities for jazz. They only see his assumed culture and how that it influences his jazz. The fact that his biggest influence is Thelonious Monk shows he is a person, not a culture. When people see him as Iyer with no films around their eyes they may hear something different. Although, it is never guaranteed they will enjoy it.

mosh pit

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One thought on “Physics and Mosh Pits

  1. I like your creative connection to the article on mosh pits–but expanding on this further to consider a clearer relation to the concepts from class would be helpful. For example, does the seemingly random connection relate to connections we make about attributions or stereotypes? How do the different connections change ways of thinking?

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