Originally published on Mon June 25, 2012 11:01 am
Musical genres always evolve in parallel worlds.
In the 1920s, composers of classical music such as Stravinsky and Copland began incorporating sensibilities of American jazz into their otherwise European musical culture. Various styles of folk music have always been fountainheads of inspiration for "classical" composers, so it was almost inevitable that blues-based music would make its way into the Western concert-music tradition.
Next year will mark the 20th anniversary of Siamese Dream, the second album by The Smashing Pumpkins and the one, along with 1995's Melon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, that broke the band into the mainstream and spawned its most lasting hits.
Human evolution is all about survival of the fittest. Over thousands of generations, the weak have been weeded out, and the strong have survived. But how would that kind of natural selection work in other settings - like, say, music? Well, one biologist decided to find out. He designed a website where listeners can rate collections of notes according to their musicality. The nice sounds survive, and other users listen to them. But the ugly sounds die off.