“There is geometry in the humming of the strings, there is music in the spacing of the spheres.”
It may go against the common idea of there being a divide between the arts and the sciences, but at its heart music is deeply connected to mathematics. All the ideas we discuss so often; form, rhythm, pitch, tempo, can all be described mathematically, and represented in geometry.
Going as far back as ancient Egypt, people have attempted to find ways to study the mathematical principles of sound. The Pythagorean Greeks, in particular Philolaus and Archtyas, were the first to note musical scales in terms of numerical ratios, working under the underlying doctrine that, “all nature consists of harmonies arising out of numbers”.
A number of composers have attempted to incorporate mathematical patterns into their music, the likes of Bach, Mozart and Schuman regularly hiding cryptic number puzzles and complex numerical sequences into their compositions. Art and music might not obviously be analogous to mathematics, but like so much of the world we see, hidden within them are wonderfully complex patterns and undeniably beautiful, subtle mathematics.
French musician, Halo Maud, has always had an interest in something very numerical, the passage of time, a process she suggests, “never passes at the right speed”. This interest is present in her sophisticated take on pop music; Halo Maud’s music is rich with percussive ideas, cutting up musical phrases and tonal ideas and stitching them back together as complex patterns on which her impressive vocal range can dance majestically.
Recently signed to Heavenly Recordings, Halo Maud first garnered attention in her native France with the release of her three track EP, Du Pouvoir. A record that set about exploring ideas of solitude, of self-confidence, the way love comes and goes and the way her life seems to exist always between waiting and running away.
Recent single, Baptism, was an exploration of the a rite of passage of a woman, how we often expect women to carry off a number of faces and roles. Musically, the track mirrors this idea building from childlike vocals to a more mature female voice before multiplying and exploding into a choral explosion of sound.
With more material set to arrive next year, Halo Maud is emerging as an intriguing songwriter, fusing a deep understanding of pop music with a more sophisticated and complex approach. Today Halo Maud has put together a mixtape inspired by the ideas of time, figure and noise, which features the likes of Deerhoof, The Shangri-Las and Pusha T.
Time, figures and noise.
These are three things that catch my attention in music.
Time, meaning tempo and rythmic patterns of course, but especially temporality; in what scale of time are we floating in that song? Is it a picture of one moment? Is it a three days story stretched to eternity? Are we out of time or traveling backwards?
Figures here are mainly the number of times in one bar, a music geek interest; I like when it is asymmetric and even when I do not manage to count. Lost in time again in a way.
Noise is the beginning of a song, a guitar pedal “accident”, the sound of a breathe, of an everyday life object recorded and played in loop. I am always amazed by the expressiveness of a noise, when uncontrolled and unique.
1. Deerhoof – Begin Countdown
Start at nine – I can not choose between softness and violence. Deerhoof is the best band live ever for sure, they play all together as if they shared the same body.
2. Fred Firth – Nine By Nine
Nine again – It sounds like what is inside my head today.
3. Palm – Time Times Three
Divide it by 3 – this year’s discovery, it sounds like my fantasy teenage band; I love their odd bars and dissonant chords. It works with Fred Frith’s noise played at the same time.
4. Blonde Redhead – 10
Add 7- this song could have been in another mixtape i’ve been thinking about, with the theme: claps.
5. PJ Harvey & John Parish – Sixteen, Fifteen, Fourteen
In motion – I am in a dear friend’s van last summer, we are driving to the beach listening to this song and I am watching the road and I am not waiting for anything to happen.
6. Pusha T – Numbers On The Boards
Please send me some new stuff, this is the only hip hop track I’ve been listening to for 4 years now. The wonky beat is crazy.
7. Alex Calder – Time
Lost in time.
8. The Shangri-Las – Past Present Future
Recap – I love the spoken voice and tragic tone.
Baptism is out now via Heavenly Recordings. Click HERE for more information on Halo Maud.