Music is deeply connected to your mental health and your sense of wellbeing that we discussed in chapter 3. Music has the ability to comfort and connect you to others and yourself by providing motivation, gratification and empathy. There’s plenty of scientific evidence that listening to music can enhance your mood. (Zatorre, Chen, and Penhune 2007; McGilchrist 2011)
Besides entertaining you and lifting your spirits, there’s also lot of wisdom captured in the lyrics of many songs too, offering sound advice on how you can live your life. If that wasn’t enough to convince you that music is important for your future, there’s no shortage of links between mathematics and music too. (Harkleroad 2006; Fauvel, Flood, and Wilson 2006)
This chapter explores the musical references scattered throughout in this guidebook in a series of playlists which are accompanied with some explanation and context to help you enjoy them.
In Hearing your Future (chapter 20) we ask our guests (coders) to recommend a tune that is important to them. These are gathered together in The Coder’s Playlist and incremented by one with every new episode of the podcast. In the words of Arthur O’Shaughnessy, figure 17.2: We are the music makers and we are the dreamers of dreams. Wandering by lone sea-breakers, and sitting by desolate streams; World-losers and world-forsakers, On whom the pale moon gleams: Yet we are the movers and shakers of the world for ever, it seems.
Do say: It’s
- Don’t say: Music isn’t important to me. You don’t really care for music do ya? (Cohen 1984)
- Listen at youtube.com/playlist?list=PLyxEvjuBJhvDi4guctovrW3ncSgqoVik_
- Browse the playlist notes in section 17.1.1
Some notes to help you enjoy music on the coder’s playlist:
- “Anything” (we chose No Idea) by rapper Don Toliver was chosen by Jason, see chapter 23. (Toliver et al. 2019)
- LOUD by singer Sofia Carson was chosen by Carmen, see chapter 24. (Carson 2022)
- November Rain by rockers Guns N’ Roses was chosen by Sneha, see chapter 25. (Rose 1992)
- Uptown Funk by Mark Ronson is in this playlist because Aidan Blowers use of this music in his teaching has inspired me, see section 0.9.24 Thanks Aidan 🙏 (Ronson and Mars 2014; Blowers 2015)
- Iguana by singer Inna was chosen by Alice, see chapter 26. (Apostoleanu 2018)
- As It Was by Harry Styles was chosen by Alice, who managed to sneak two songs onto the playlist, see chapter 26. (Styles, Hull, and Johnson 2022)
This playlist celebrates electronica and other computationally influenced music. In 1951, engineers of the Ferranti Mark 1 computer, implemented a
hoot() function that was used to sound a prompt when input or action was required. (Turing 1950) Alan Turing realised that this could be reprogrammed to make different notes and created a routine that played a note of a specified pitch. (Copeland and Long 2017)
Using Turing’s code the computer scientist Christopher Strachey wrote programs to play music. Strachey’s first success was a version of the UK’s national anthem God Save the King (Anon 1745) which was played at the end of what is very probably the first video ever game created, draughts shown in figure 17.3. (Link 2012) The earliest existing recording of computer-generated music was made in 1951 by the BBC shown in figure 17.4.
In the recording you can hear the Ferranti Mark 1 computer playing three songs:
Computers have been changing the way we create, distribute and listen to music ever since. Sing like no one is listening, love like you never been hurt and dance like no one is watching:
- Do say: Turn it up DJ!
- Don’t say: Why can’t they play real musical instruments, you know, analogue ones?
- Listen at youtube.com/playlist?list=PLyxEvjuBJhvCC2vbFMosi5l-IXPPSKwck
This playlist starts and ends with one of the best known bands on the planet: The Beatles shown in figure 17.5. You will find plenty of other Lancashire lads, lasses and even Lucifer in here too. (M. E. Smith and Hanley 1986)
Which cities are actually in Lancashire, I hear you say? Don’t let bureaucrats trick you into believing that:
These are meaningless bureaucratic abstractions, not real places that people identify with! Liverpool and Manchester have always been, and will always be, in Lancashire. Aye! (Groom 2022)
Bursting with Lancastrian Red Roses (see figure 17.7) this playlist will educate and entertain you in equal measure, while my keyboard gently weeps (Harrison 1968). To paraphrase Robbie Williams shown in figure 17.6:
- Do say: Chippy tea, chippy tea, I wants a chippy tea! (Thresher et al. 2007; D. Carroll 2018)
- Don’t say: But Liverpool and Manchester aren’t even in Lancashire are they? (Hull 2019)
- Do say: This land’s the place I love and here I’ll stay (Marsden 1964)
- Listen at youtube.com/playlist?list=PLyxEvjuBJhvDvG0TRu63n3i12kR89niFJ
Using the medium of rock, this playlist grumpily reminds you that “when I was your age” music was much better and it’s all gone downhill since the good old days. Nostalgia isn’t what it used to be but these classics were made by true artists using proper musical instruments, see figure 17.8. None of this social media powered digital nonsense thank you very much! (Lanier 2018)
Cherished by men of a certain age, the Dad-rock playlist thrives on past glories but is a shadow of its former self. Proponents of Dad-rock can’t understand why more people don’t enjoy these seminal tunes of yesteryear (Mitchum 2019; Rogers 2008):
- Do say: Expiry date: What expiry date? Classic music like this is timeless!
- Don’t say: Oh no, not this again!
- Listen at youtube.com/playlist?list=PLyxEvjuBJhvDUyr9hPvUP3IeriN8aaTW0
- Note: we’ve broadened the definition of Dad-rock to include any music that your Dad might have listened to “when he was your age” …
Wetter and muddier than the traditional summer downpour at the Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts in Somerset (see figure 17.9), this playlist encourages you to swing your cardigan mournfully while shoegazing and wondering if its ever going to stop raining, either metaphorically or meteorologically: ☔️
- Do say: It’s indie rock and roll for me! (Flowers et al. 2004)
- Don’t say: Cheer up hun, life’s not that bad is it? (Fonarow 2010)
- Listen at youtube.com/playlist?list=PLyxEvjuBJhvBUO8jaKvJtZLuXfnKc8iz3