Is Music Proof that the Universe Is Not an Accident?

faith
June 14, 2017

A musical note is really just the sound of something like a string or surface vibrating hundreds or thousands of times a second, with a series of overtones dictated by the rules of physics. We need to stop and think about what it means that our world was made to have music in it.

Transcript of Andy Crouch's talk from Explore God:

"There's an amazing thing about music which is that it's actually based on physics, which is to say you take a string and you pluck it or strike it, and it starts resonating. And it resonates with the overtone sequence. It actually doesn't resonate with just one note. It resonates with a fundamental frequency, then an overtone, and another overtone, and those overtones, when they add up, create what, what we think of when we think if you pluck a guitar string or play a note on the piano.

"And our minds are tuned to find that overtone sequence beautiful, which is kind of an incredible thing. We, we are predisposed when we hear chords or music that fits in that overtone sequence, it sounds harmonious like we, we kinda feel at home there, and I think this is quite amazing that we are tuned to hear music in the world because you, you never hear that unless you stretch a string. And you don't stretch a string unless you're a person. There are no other creatures that stretch things out and then pluck them, right? There's sound in the world but only when human beings come into the world do you have music.

"It is amazing to have a 16-year-old son now who has been playing the viola for 8 years and has taken it really seriously, and a lot of what you practice when you're serious is not actually very interesting. It's scales, it's these simple figures that you just do very slowly and very meticulously, and so it's not like whiz-bang, amazing music that comes out of his room most days. It's very patient, simple stuff played on a very- in a way- a very simple instrument: 4 strings, a resonating box, a bow, but I hear this beauty coming out of his room because it's beautifully in-tune, it's carefully done, and it, it kinda floats down out of the room, and this, this is totally different from when he was like 8 when it was, what floated out of the room was not beautiful. But now that he's taken it seriously and practiced and worked at it, he's achieved this kind of excellence - even the simplest things are just beautiful. And you, you want that in your house, and I think I can't believe my- the awkward 8-year-old is now this accomplished 16-year-old and to me it's a picture of what every human being in one way or another is meant to do, which is to take some part of the world and work at it so carefully, so patiently, and diligently that we're able to create something truly beautiful out of just the simplest materials in the world.

"The beauty of the world doesn't happen until human beings come and start making things, making music, and the fact that the world was built to have music - it has these harmonious frequencies just waiting to be played by human beings - to me, says we're created for beauty. And then the way we respond to it, like how deeply we respond and the way that it activates both our heart and our mind, the way that it's it's about, it's this kind of mind-body experience. Music, more than any other, more than any other experience, I think, it, it combines the heart and the soul and the body and the mind. To me, says we're made, it's a, it's a picture of what we're made for. We're made to make beauty, we're made to appreciate beauty, and notice beauty, to be drawn to beauty because the God who made the world loves beauty and wanted the world's beauty to be elicited by us. I believe more and more that God is not absent. God is present."