So how can we see sound? What do music patterns look like? At first, you might think, “Music notation, of course! It shows what notes look like. And it lets you see how patterns rise and fall as you move through a song.”
In a way, that’s right—but also wrong. If you’ve ever seen a page of sheet music, you probably noticed that it’s just a lot of black dots on a page of lines. It kind of shows you what music patterns “look” like. But to say that notation lets you see sound is like saying this stick figure looks like an actual person … it doesn’t.
In fact, standard music notation does a pretty bad job of showing patterns. It gives you the outline of a song, But how are you supposed to know which note is which? And what exactly are we supposed to be seeing? Because every note looks the same, notation looks more like a bunch of ants than any meaningful pattern.
No, when I say music is made of patterns, I mean real patterns. The kind that are so easy to see they jump off the page. I mean patterns that clearly tell you something. Patterns that are as easy to see as they are to hear.
And what’s cool is that music patterns are already right there. In fact, they’re staring us right in the face. Only until now, musicians have been wearing a blindfold. Or better said, we’ve been colorblind.
To see what I mean, check out the image below. In the black-and-white picture on the left, you can see 12 balls. Each one looks just like the others, so nothing is special. But when you look at the same picture on the right, everything seems to pop. With color, we suddenly see how the balls are arranged in a clear, organized pattern. In fact, the pattern is so obvious, it’s almost embarrassing.
“So,” you say, “we have the answer! We should use color to see music patterns. Then we’ll know what sound looks like—and we can easily play music.” But before we get ahead of ourselves, we have to stop and think.