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Post details: Quantum Music

Quantum Music

Quantum mechanics was born out of a sheer mystery. If electrons are revolving around the nuclei, they must be continuously radiating their energy out (like all charged particles), slowing down in the process and eventually fall into the atomic kernel. But they don't. It was only after Max Planck postulated that particles can lose their energy only in discrete quantities (called quanta), an intriguing possibility for stable orbits appeared. After some heavy duty math lifting was applied, it turned out that if electrons move at a very specific energy levels, they do not have to lose their momentum at all. They just keep circling around the nucleus, never losing a single photon, never falling into the central abyss.

I think that music is subject to a similar phenomenon. Most musical pieces become duller and grayer with every new spin on the turntable (or an iPod). They may seem like a feast for your disbelieving ears when you hear them the first time - a sure hit in the making - but as time goes on they slowly lose their luster and eventually fall into the well deserved oblivion. Regardless of a genre, author or an interpret. But every now and then you come across a rare composition which breaks all the classical rules and enters the mysterious quantum state in which it can - at least in principle - live forever. You can play it day in and day out and its wings never tire. Like resonances, these tunes of distinction strike the right ratio of your internal wavelengths and out comes the musical equivalent of the Elixir of Youth.

Which compositions enter this fabled state is, of course, highly subjective. One man's evergreen is another man's flash for the trash. The elusive quantum orbits are hard wired differently in each mind. Sometimes I am actually surprised what makes the cut in my own. The other day I was driving back from a soccer game down in DC and my car stereo starting crooning an old Abba song titled "Me and I". Despite the world's infatuation with Dancing Queen and the likes, this little known late opus was always my Abba favorite. As the song cantered its lighthearted gallop to my eardrums, I realized that over the 20 years since I have known it, it hasn't lost a single bit of its spunk. It was as fresh as the first green maple leaves I see outside of my window every Spring. And I am pretty sure it will stay that way.

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