Friday, July 02, 2004

Do the Math

While on the treadmill today, I was thinking about how an advanced artist's career is a lot like mathematics. We all can understand basic math, and everyone uses it in daily life. Then math starts to become more complicated and abstract (algebra, for instance) and it's harder to understand and seems less useful. Many people start to abandon math at this point, but most are still on board. Then calculus is forced on high school students, and that is the end of the road. Yet there are some people who are thrilled by calculus and go deeper and deeper into theoretical mathematics. It might seem to an outsider that it is a waste of time to devote one's life to the obscure corners of mathematics, but that is because the deeper you go into math, the harder it is to understand. But people who do understand theoretical mathematics find a lot of beauty and meaning in it. Plus, they appreciate basic math more fully. And so it goes with the advanced artist's music. It starts out easy to understand, but it becomes more difficult as the artist advances. This alienates a lot of people, but those who stick around are rewarded by the beauty and meaning they discover in advanced music.

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