Shannon’s Fundamental Problem (Of Music)

Information theory pioneer Claude Shannon explained that “the fundamental problem of communication is that of reproducing at one point either exactly or approximately a message selected at another point”.

The mind of a musician envisions playing a note at forte (loud), she sends brain signals to proceed through the physical motions to produce that note at forte, the forte note travels through the air, the listener hears the note at forte, and then he thinks of the note as forte.

Is it, then, trying to get as close to that forte note on any and every end of this communication spectrum: musician’s mind-musician’s body-sound waves-listener’s ear-listener’s mind?

Shannon’s problem of communication looks to be the one that we face in music every day.


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