Today’s post combines math, data visualization, and mysticism all within a single song.
Yesterday while I writing, I was listening to some jazz and John Coltrane’s 11383 (Take 1) randomly played. About three-quarters of the way through the song, a bass solo by Jimmy Garrison suddenly reminded me of a hip hop sample that was originally taken from Eric Dolphy’s stand up bassist in “Mrs. Parker of K.C.” ; I listened to Coltrane’s song a few times to examine the similarities between the bass solos, and during this process I stumbled on a video that loosely interprets “Coltrane’s Tone Circle”.
The legendary jazz artist once sketched out the tonal patterns used in his music, which appear to be based off a musical theory called the Circle of Fifths. The Circle of Fifths is a visual representation of pitch and scale that are rendered geometrically to illustrate the sequence of chord progression for basic keys.
Here’s where I admit, I am NOT a musician, nor am I a student of musical theory, but this beautiful visual rendering of Coltrane’s music is not only artistically appealing, it’s hypnotic, Coltrane’s original source material has become a legendary enigma in itself, confounding scholars and mathematicians alike for decades. This video of Coltrane’s 11383 (Take 1) is a mesmerizing graphical rendition of the song that appears to combine elements of Coltrane’s Circle and the Circle of Fifths. When the piece transitions to Garrison’s bass solo, the visuals morph as well, further illustrating the improvisational elements of the mirrored in the visual shifts. Musically it’s a phenomenal piece, and it visually suggests, as Thelonious Monk once posited, that “All musicians are subconsciously mathematicians.”