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Re: Music, math , and chess...where do you fit in? [Re: pianoloverus] #2621916
03/09/17 02:12 PM
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
If that's true, then it begs the question why those three areas are romanticized and not others.

This is an incorrect usage of "begs the question".

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Re: Music, math , and chess...where do you fit in? [Re: JoelW] #2621921
03/09/17 02:22 PM
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Originally Posted by JoelW
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
If that's true, then it begs the question why those three areas are romanticized and not others.

This is an incorrect usage of "begs the question".

Hey, that's pretty good for a kid! grin
By which, all I mean is that I think this isn't a thing that's much known except among older folk.

It's a mild (very mild) pet peeve of mine, that the phrase is so "misused." As you apparently know, the 'true' meaning of the phrase is something more like "skirts the point."

But, the other usage has been so extremely common -- for quite some time, like at least 20-30 years, maybe more -- and the 'true' usage so uncommon, that I think we have to say that the 'wrong' usage has become correct.

In fact, if you use the phrase the 'right' way, to most listeners it will sound wrong.

We need to make certain concessions to reality. And, of course, language evolves. smile

BTW, here's another very common one:
"Stay the course."

The 'true' meaning is just about the exact opposite of the common use. It doesn't 'really' mean "keep going as we're going," it means STOP!

But if you use it that way, you won't be communicating, because almost everyone will take it the other way. So, if you use it 'right,' you're shooting yourself in the foot.

BTW I bet that someday, "shooting yourself in the foot" will come to mean something good. ha

Re: Music, math , and chess...where do you fit in? [Re: Mark_C] #2621933
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Originally Posted by Mark_C
BTW I bet that someday, "shooting yourself in the foot" will come to mean something good. ha

I hear that if you "break a leg", that's a good thing.

I met an old friend yesterday who broke his leg (both tib & fib just below the knee, for the medically astute wink ) skiing two years ago. Two metal plates, lots of screws, guaranteed to set off all security alarms - and he is still limping, and can't bend his knee properly.

Break a leg?? cry


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: Music, math , and chess...where do you fit in? [Re: JoelW] #2621941
03/09/17 03:12 PM
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Originally Posted by JoelW
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
If that's true, then it begs the question why those three areas are romanticized and not others.

This is an incorrect usage of "begs the question".
My influence is so great that when I use a phrase incorrectly it automatically becomes correct and the latest fad. Now back to the real topic, please.

Re: Music, math , and chess...where do you fit in? [Re: pianoloverus] #2621942
03/09/17 03:16 PM
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Originally Posted by bennevis

Break a leg?? cry


One wishes "break a leg" for a run of "the Scottish play." 😀

Originally Posted by pianoloverus

I've read(and maybe agree)that one reason math, chess, and music can produce prodigies while other areas can't is that they don't require life experience.


Menuhin had some interesting things to say about musical prodigies having "pristine" (if, presumably, innocent) emotions that are more intense than adult ones that have worn away, somewhat, from life experiences.


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Re: Music, math , and chess...where do you fit in? [Re: pianoloverus] #2621986
03/09/17 06:05 PM
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I have come a bit late to this thread. My degree is in mathematics, and I am now a Computational Fluid Dynamicist.

I have heard mathematics referred to as the study of abstract structure. I would say that music is certainly abstract structure. So if there is some sort of link between the two it is not surprising.

Re: Music, math , and chess...where do you fit in? [Re: David-G] #2621993
03/09/17 06:32 PM
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Originally Posted by David-G
I have come a bit late to this thread. My degree is in mathematics, and I am now a Computational Fluid Dynamicist.

I have heard mathematics referred to as the study of abstract structure. I would say that music is certainly abstract structure. So if there is some sort of link between the two it is not surprising.


Whoa, that's a neat career. I hate PDEs (was going to do algebraic geometry in grad school), but it is awesome that you have a job that...actually involves some math. I do machine learning for work, but it feels like there is very little thinking and a lot of brute force and boilerplate code frown

I think the comparison of math and music both being abstract is maybe relevant, but I don't think the analogy is very strong. Personally, I do not compose, and I tend to play pre 1950s classical music. I find that there is pretty limited room for interpretation, and the rules are fairly rigid and straightforward. As a composer, you would be constrained by the capabilities of the instruments you chose, and the fact that music has to play in a linear fashion wrt time, and otherwise it is very free form. Math on the other hand is about playing with different rules, and seeing what those rules give you, but it is very much not free form.

Last edited by trigalg693; 03/09/17 06:33 PM.
Re: Music, math , and chess...where do you fit in? [Re: pianoloverus] #2622029
03/09/17 08:26 PM
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My math sucks, but I make my living through trigonometry. My piano is for my ears only. At chess I made it to Class C once. I did give a US Expert (candidate master in the rest of the word) a bit of grief once. It was a beautiful exchange sacrifice that blew open the middle and gave me control of the 7th rank. I missed the win and settled for perpetual check. They later showed me the win.

Chess is a fascinating game. Bobby Fischer's My 60 Memorable Games is one of the best books ever written on any subject.


Gary
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Re: Music, math , and chess...where do you fit in? [Re: pianoloverus] #2622099
03/10/17 12:53 AM
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I thought about mathematics most of my waking hours when young and loved it, but I grew to dislike it's competitive aspect and let it go in favour of music. Chess is competitive by definition, but luckily I was so dim at it that I always lost and didn't have to worry. I am also useless at card games. Come to think of it, I'm probably not much good at music either, but it guarantees ecstasy, and that makes up for everything.

Last edited by Ted; 03/10/17 12:56 AM.

"We shall always love the music of the masters, but they are all dead and now it's our turn." - Llewelyn Jones, my piano teacher
Re: Music, math , and chess...where do you fit in? [Re: pianoloverus] #2622177
03/10/17 08:41 AM
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I play both Piano and Chess (both I started about 2-3 years ago) and I have a good bit of Uni level Maths as well. It's hard to compare maths to the other two, I did it at uni and enjoyed it and I like a good maths puzzle as much as the next guy, but it's not really a hobby.

Of the two, music is the one I wish I had taken up younger. But my recent progress with chess has reassured me that the only real obstacle to getting better is the amount and quality of effort I put in.

One thing I've recently realised is that the better I get at chess, the less fun it is (because I naturally end up playing tougher opponents and overall it is just a lot more tense and unforgiving!) But the opposite is true of piano: The better I get, the more fun it is because I can actually play some nice tunes!

For that reason I'm taking a step back from chess and am going to try to put more effort into piano.


Playing for 3 years. Still terrible.
Re: Music, math , and chess...where do you fit in? [Re: pianoloverus] #2622184
03/10/17 09:31 AM
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by hreichgott
Music, math, and chess are the three areas that have a romanticized narrative about child prodigies. There no doubt are also children who can read, build, cook, interpret MRI results, or identify bird calls at an adult level of skill while still very young, but there isn't the same kind of romanticized narrative of the child prodigy in other fields.
If that's true, then it begs the question why those three areas are romanticized and not others.

Also, I don't think some of the areas you mentioned are very high-level skills, e.g. reading and identifying bird calls. Are there really 10-year-olds who can cook near the level of a professional adult chef or read MRIs as well as a licensed radiologist?

I've read(and maybe agree)that one reason math, chess, and music can produce prodigies while other areas can't is that they don't require life experience.


Good thought. Perhaps one can be more general and say that these are fields in which there are relatively few "contextual barriers" to early recognition and development of talent. There are many kids who are talented in acting, but it would be hard for a child actor to make an impression on an adult like a child musician playing La Campanella would. A child actor playing, say, Macbeth would be a strange sight - at best it would be a quaint exercise. I have seen enjoyable productions of e.g. Midsummer Night's Dream by children's theatre companies, but I enjoy these AS children's theatre.

Other activities like cooking - an average kitchen and its equipment are designed for persons of certain size and greater, so there is a physical bar to child participation. I can imagine the possibility of a kid who is adept at pattern recognition learning MRI interpretation and becoming an able medical assistant; but there is no realistic social context in which this would happen.


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Re: Music, math , and chess...where do you fit in? [Re: hreichgott] #2622186
03/10/17 09:40 AM
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Originally Posted by hreichgott
Music, math, and chess are the three areas that have a romanticized narrative about child prodigies. There no doubt are also children who can read, build, cook, interpret MRI results, or identify bird calls at an adult level of skill while still very young, but there isn't the same kind of romanticized narrative of the child prodigy in other fields.


A notable quality shared by music, chess, and math (in its "pure" form) is that they are all useless activities.

I think that there have been a few child prodigies in the visual arts too, but they generally don't seem nearly as celebrated as the others - I don't know why.

Re: Music, math , and chess...where do you fit in? [Re: Ted] #2622227
03/10/17 12:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Ted
I thought about mathematics most of my waking hours when young and loved it, but I grew to dislike it's competitive aspect and let it go in favour of music. Chess is competitive by definition, but luckily I was so dim at it that I always lost and didn't have to worry. I am also useless at card games. Come to think of it, I'm probably not much good at music either, but it guarantees ecstasy, and that makes up for everything.

Like you, I prefer the guaranteed ecstasy of music!! thumb



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Re: Music, math , and chess...where do you fit in? [Re: wr] #2622265
03/10/17 02:02 PM
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Originally Posted by wr
Originally Posted by hreichgott
Music, math, and chess are the three areas that have a romanticized narrative about child prodigies. There no doubt are also children who can read, build, cook, interpret MRI results, or identify bird calls at an adult level of skill while still very young, but there isn't the same kind of romanticized narrative of the child prodigy in other fields.
A notable quality shared by music, chess, and math (in its "pure" form) is that they are all useless activities.
While one could possibly argue that chess is "useless"(but then any kind of entertainment could be called useless), I can't see that adjective applying to math and certainly not to music. I think even the most abstract kind of math often eventually finds useful and practical applications.

Are you really saying that music(and all the arts) are useless?
It sounds like your definition of useful only includes things that cure disease or feed people or prevent wars. I'm surprised that calling music useless hasn't caused the PW site to crash from so many outraged replies!

Last edited by pianoloverus; 03/10/17 02:05 PM.
Re: Music, math , and chess...where do you fit in? [Re: pianoloverus] #2622396
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I actually think it is quite accurate to say math, chess, and music are all useless.

Now that said...you can rank them. Math has practical utility the same way the gym has practical utility; learning math makes you understand how stuff works better. There are also some limited practical applications, but they are extremely rare. It is not true that "even the most abstract kind of math often eventually finds useful and practical applications" by the way, most mathematicians would admit that the chance there is a practical application for their work is close to 0.

Music comes second to math in utility IMO, because it can only produce economic value as entertainment.

Chess is strictly more useless than music, because it is also entertainment, except much less people find chess as entertaining as music :P

Re: Music, math , and chess...where do you fit in? [Re: trigalg693] #2622406
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Originally Posted by trigalg693
Now that said...you can rank them. Math has practical utility the same way the gym has practical utility; learning math makes you understand how stuff works better. There are also some limited practical applications, but they are extremely rare. It is not true that "even the most abstract kind of math often eventually finds useful and practical applications" by the way, most mathematicians would admit that the chance there is a practical application for their work is close to 0.
Well, it's possible that the most abstract math is useless, but how about all the math involved in science? No math means no modern science.

Originally Posted by trigalg693
Music comes second to math in utility IMO, because it can only produce economic value as entertainment.
Since when is something's economic value the only criterion for usefulness? To say that music(or any of the arts) are useless requires a very restricted and IMO bizarre definition of "useful".

Are you really saying art is of no value? All those people interested in great art are barking up the wrong tree? Art can't inspire and bring joy to people? All the effort devoted to preserving great art in concert halls, conservatories, theaters, and galleries is a waste of time??

Last edited by pianoloverus; 03/10/17 06:41 PM.
Re: Music, math , and chess...where do you fit in? [Re: pianoloverus] #2622411
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My brother is a chess NM. He says he started studying so he could beat me. What he doesn't know is that I was never that good; I beat a National Master once but I don't even think I have enough to beat half the chess hustlers in NYC. However I am an amateur mathematician and I taught two semesters of logic at community college.

Re: Music, math , and chess...where do you fit in? [Re: pianoloverus] #2622413
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fun topic..


I remember during a history class I had, the professor was wondering and asked why there are math prodigies but there are no history prodigies (i.e.: they come out as early history prodigies).. at the time, no one had an answer and neither did the professor.. I gave it some thought a while back and I think I have a reasonable explanation..

but was just wondering what everyone here thinks the reason is.

Re: Music, math , and chess...where do you fit in? [Re: pianoloverus] #2622416
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Well, it's possible that the most abstract math is useless, but how about all the math involved in science? No math means no modern science.


Almost all of the math people use in the sciences has been known for over 100 years, minus a handful of developments that have been useful for computer science and physics (and the ones in physics have been very theoretical with no practical application).

Quote

Are you really saying art is of no value? All those people interested in great art are barking up the wrong tree? Art can't inspire and bring joy to people? All the effort devoted to preserving great art in concert halls, conservatories, theaters, and galleries is a waste of time??


Of course art has value. My statement was a tautology; music is art (aka entertainment), so it has the value of art.

By the way, math is in some ways an artistic endeavor.

When people say "useful" they usually do mean in an economic context. I think it's perfectly fair to call these things "useless" in that sense, but worthless and useless are different.

Last edited by trigalg693; 03/10/17 07:29 PM.
Re: Music, math , and chess...where do you fit in? [Re: Gatsbee13] #2622419
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Originally Posted by Gatsbee13
fun topic..


I remember during a history class I had, the professor was wondering and asked why there are math prodigies but there are no history prodigies (i.e.: they come out as early history prodigies).. at the time, no one had an answer and neither did the professor.. I gave it some thought a while back and I think I have a reasonable explanation..

but was just wondering what everyone here thinks the reason is.


It's a lot of words, and if you give people enough words, big words, good ones, they all sound like prodigies, hence there are no prodigies.

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