SONG: A Tiny Golden Mean
ABSTRACT: Since the golden mean is the ratio that supposedly underlies our sense of beauty – the thing that describes the relationships that look or sound “right” to our brains – it was hard to resist this one. I already knew one song (written by this guy) called “Golden Mean,” so it was kind of interesting coming at the thing from a different angle. It seems strange to me that elementary school kids are taught 3.14… but not 1.618…, but I guess that’s human beings all over. Wheels are more important than portraits.
Obviously, this is not the day when this song should have been done (happy Imbolc, by the way). I’m in a new house, on the one hand, but also have a new Christmas condenser microphone, on the other, so all the flaws can shine through with crystal clarity. Yikes! There’s a borrowed banjo in there, and a couple synthy basses, but for the most part it’s the magic microphone sitting there with me playing guitar and singing the decimal places live in the room. I’ve never been mathematically minded, so numbers have a kind of mystique for me, I guess, which is where that chorus came from. The chords for the verses are *sort of* in the golden ratio (I-IV-V, that standard blues progression), but the choruses are a little different. I kind of felt like there should have been more of a mention of frozen magnetic atoms of cobalt niobate, or a diagram of E8, or at least a use of the phrase “quantum critical,” but the words kept going back to the simple fact that there’s a phi inside the atomic world. That’s pretty cool. (Oh, and the bridge about how the golden mean determines where most pop songs’ bridges are located – that was partially inspired by Douglas Hofstadter, who I’ve been rereading lately.)
So, here’s a song about it. Next up, a penitential cover. Mea culpa.