Friday, January 27, 2012

The Music of Innovation (and vice versa)

I am no student of music. My foray into music extends to screeching my recorder (or miming it) in unison with my other classmates at school assemblies or other such events designed to make audiences' ears bleed. Nor am I student of science - particularly the science of sound psychoacoustics. But after reading a particularly interesting article from the brainiacs at The Aftermatter, I began to appreciate the parallels between music and innovation.

The article helped me realise something very obvious. When two instruments play the same note, they still don't sound the same - I know my brain works slowly, but it does get there in the end! This, as explained in the article, has to do with harmonics and the sound vibrations produced by the instrument reacting in an infinite number of ways. The vibrations, emitted as sounds, are also affected by the musician's playing styles, the type of instrument and quite likely the number of drinks consumed.

So there is this wonderful paradox of bringing together all these competing variables to generate the harmonious sound that is music.

How is innovation dissimilar?

Innovation has its composers, students and influencers. It can be generated by individuals, teams (bands) or groups and yet still has an infinite number of variables that can be fused together to produce the same, but different, 'sound', the appreciation of which is subject to criticism, awards and ambivalence. NB: It is also subject to rip-offs and piracy.

But where are the conservatoriums of innovation? Universities are... arguably. The Fraunhofers of the world are closer to the ideal. For many hundreds of years the world has had institutions established throughout the world to perfect the art, and science, of music. Public and private sectors acknowledge the richness music bestows on us - how can we do the same to make the richness of innovation music to our ears?

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