What Does Math Sound Like?

Experts now agree that within five years everything on planet earth will be controlled by robots. As they cruise far above us in their giant balloons, the robots will look down and decide that we look like ants, and treat us as such. That's not great, but at least we're not actual ants, who will be totally screwed.

I, for one, will warmly welcome our robot overloads. Obviously, I am sucking up to them in the hopes that they might give me an extra ration of grubs, but I'm also pretty sure that our robot friends will do a better job of running things than, say – politicians. So, overall, I am okay with their takeover.

Of course, the first thing you're asking is whether or not our robot masters will allow you to keep listening to Cardi B. Unfortunately, no. Experts also agree that in the future (or five years, whichever comes first) our robot buddies will create and perform all music. And once they are in the driver's seat, they won't pander to us anymore by composing music that mimics human composition. They will create their own kind of music. Pure music. Robot music.

So, in the interest of obtaining protein, I think it's important to begin appreciating the robot music of the future. Clearly, as math-based beings, our robot benefactors will create some kind of mathematical music. We won't know for sure what it will sound like until their first album drops, but we can make a few intelligent guesses. Intelligent in a limited, primitive, human sort of way.

Awhile back, here and here, we asked – what does music look like? Now we need to consider another question – what does math sound like? A good place to start might be with fractals. It is logical to assume that fractals would provide the perfect nexus of mathematics and aesthetics and thus would be fertile (in an asexual robot sort of way) ground for creating music.

This YouTube video introduces us to the Mandelbrot set and explores some possible musical applications. Of course, as clever as this YouTuber is, he is, after all, only a human being monkeying around with mathematical purity. The results are similar to what you would get if you gave a baton to an actual monkey and put it in front of a symphony orchestra. Our robot guardians will have an infinitely greater capacity to compose magnificent mathematical music.

And what will robot music sound like? That is difficult to say. As one commenter to the YouTube video so perceptively puts it, fractal sounds can quickly go from “Mary Has a Little Lamb” to “Screams of the Damned.” Experts are not sure which of these two styles our robot comrades will prefer. But whichever one they choose, you will like it. Otherwise, no grubs for you.

dommyluc's picture

"Screams of the Damned" happens to be my favorite Osmond Brothers album!