When music meets science

Published - October 12, 2016 03:50 pm IST - MADURAI:

Renowned Pianist Anil Srinivasan played from his wide music repertoire to prove how music is all pervasive

ON A MUSICAL NOTE Pianist Anil Srinivasan at Thiagarajar College of Engineering.Photo: R. Ashok

ON A MUSICAL NOTE Pianist Anil Srinivasan at Thiagarajar College of Engineering.Photo: R. Ashok

Can you think of combining a ‘ kuthu ’ song like ‘ En Uchi Mandaile Surrunguthu ’ and the popular Mozart’s composition ‘ Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star’ ? “You can,” asserts popular pianist Anil Srinivasan. “Both can be combined and played. The music pattern of Mozart’s tune is such that it can be combined with any other tune in the world. For instance you can also mix ‘ Thendral Vanthu Theendum Pothu Enna Vannamo ’ with the rhyme,” he adds.

Lecturing on Music and STEM, an acronym that stands for Science and Technology, Engineering and Management at Thiagarajar College of Engineering, Anil Srinivasan drew parallels between music and architecture. He explained they were inter-disciplinary. “The Cologne Cathedral in Germany and Srirangam Temple in Tiruchi have something in common,” he said and added, “19h century composer and one of the Trinity of Carnatic music Muthuswamy Dikshitar’s composition Rangapura Vihara is based on the Srirangam Temple architecture. If you plot frequencies of mid notes of each line of the song on a graph, the shape resembles like the temple tower. Similarly if you do the same with the third piece of the Johann Sebastian Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos , the shape looks like that of the Cologne Cathedral. It proves how musicians drew inspiration from architecture.”

He brought out different aspects of music and explored how music is more than entertainment. “If the happy birthday song, which was first composed 225 years ago, has the power to stand the test of time and is played all around the world, the power of music can be understood. Even without sophisticated communication gadgets, the tune has spread all over the world and has become a universal song on birthdays,” he said.

The relationship between music and space is also mutual as many architects have drawn inspiration from music for their designs. “American architect Frank Lloyd Wright, who shot into fame with his Falling Waters design, was inspired by music. He had even written how he wanted his construction of a house to resemble a prelude of Bach. He wanted his constructions to be in perfect proportion and also wanted to maintain austerity without being simple,” he said.

He also demonstrated how music and science were closely related. Explaining the neuro-physiological impact of music on human body, Anil said the rhythm automatically triggered body movement and played the song ‘ Annathe Adurar Othikko ’ and ‘ Tumhi ho ’ songs. “When you play these songs the body automatically moves. It is more like reflex action. You don’t have time to think,” he said. Probably, that is why music is used as medicine for its therapeutic effect on human body.

Also, music has the power to trigger emotional impulse. When a song is played it evokes different visuals in different persons. “The brain responds with a speed no one can imagine. Scientists have proved that 30 seconds of exposure to music triggers three million images in the brain and if musicians include something educational and enriching in their compositions, imagine how music can change a life,” he said.

He urged architects to learn music, as it can do wonders in their designs. “For instance, the structure of TCE auditorium resembles the rhythmic pattern of the song ‘ Andhimazhai Pozhigirathu ’. When you listen to ragas and explore space structures one could understand the correlation,” said Anil.

The way he handled the three hours long lecture, interspersing with interactive sessions, drew attention of the audience till the last minute. Hopping from one tune to another with relative ease, Anil threw light on different musical concepts. Even a five-minute break was dedicated to musical performance. It was an enlightening session as spectators got to know the intricacies of music.

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