Baker's Dozen

Artists discuss the 13 records that shaped their lives

Because I understand very little about both maths and music theory, I can indulge in romantic ideas about them which aren’t tied to having to be true. When I first heard this piece I literally stopped dead in the street. I remember walking along the Bristol to Bath cycle path and feeling like some kind of mathematical truth had just been explained to me. The piano melodies weren’t just musically pleasing – it wasn’t a matter of taste that I liked them, they were correct in some kind of universal way that I couldn’t put into words. I know how that sounds but I just can’t describe it in any other way. Listening to Beethoven is the thing which makes me question what music actually is the most.

There is a great scene in the otherwise awful Day The Earth Stood Still remake, where the alien who is sent to destroy us is convinced there is hope when John Cleese plays him a piece by Bach… It demonstrates some higher mathematical or philosophical understanding that we had otherwise failed to convey as a species. It’s a crap film but a good idea. I should check out the original.

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