The mind-bending mathematics of ColorMusic

I may have mentioned this before … but M.C. Escher was a genius. Seriously, it’s like he had some kind of x-ray vision that let him see things in a totally unique way. When he looked at the world, he definitely saw it as a bunch of patterns. I mean, how else could someone draw a picture like this?

 If he was like some artists, he might have created something less interesting. For example, he could have just added a few birds in the sky. And maybe included a cloud here and a building there. But because M.C. Escher was … well, M.C. Escher, he always took things to the next level. Like he was living in a different dimension.

The main reason Escher was so great is that he understood patterns. He saw how patterns really work and he knew that nature is full of them. So while most people were simply looking at the surface of life, Escher was digging deeper … unlocking a whole new world of creativity.

Like all great artists, Escher sort of stumbled upon his great inspiration. On a trip to Spain, he decided to visit an old Islamic palace called the “Alhambra,” which dates back to around the 14th century. And when he arrived, he was blown away by the location’s mosaic artwork and beautiful architecture. Many of the buildings and pathways were covered with patterns like this:

Feeling totally inspired, Escher was determined to create his own art using these same kinds of simple, repeating patterns. And needless to say, he succeeded. After a ton of research and experimentation, he came up with some seriously mind-boggling designs based on basic, natural patterns.

For example, check out his greatest masterpiece from 1969 entitled “Snakes.” Like the mosaics he saw in Spain, Escher’s print is really just the same pattern repeated over and over again. And that’s why it’s so awesome. Sure, it’s a very cool design, but it’s also surprisingly basic.

“So what does this all mean to us?” you might ask. Well, it turns out that music is a lot like this, too. At first glance, it might seem complex … or even magical. But once you take a closer look, you’ll see that music is surprisingly simple. You just have to see its patterns.

Like anything in nature, music is made up of only a few simple patterns. And like those old mosaics Escher found in Spain, ColorMusic shows us exactly how it all works. Using basic patterns, it lets us see the simple nature of sound. So we can easily start to play and create our own amazing art.

(M.C. Escher’s work is a copyright of Cordon Art, Netherlands.)



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