I’m trying not to waste time

But that doesn’t mean I can’t waste your time, right? You’re dying to procrastinate, I can tell. Well, I’m here to help, because I’m thoughtful like that!

At my son’s guitar lesson last week, his teacher showed him something called a “step sequencer”. Here’s a website with one you can use. Click on the squares and listen to the interesting results.

This keeps my boy busy for… well, for as long as I’m willing to let him play with it. Which is sometimes, I confess, probably longer than I should. But it’s fascinating, right? No matter what you do, it comes out sounding like music, and that gets one thinking about music. What is music, exactly? Why is this randomness (or not, depending how you approach your note selection) so musical?

Part of the answer is the regular rhythm. Part of it is the fact that they’re using a pentatonic scale, so none of the notes really clash. But part of it is, I think, the tendency of our brains to want to make sense of things, to gravitate toward patterns and find meaning in them.

My son enjoys drawing pictures and writing words with the squares. The result is the Smiley-Face Song, or the Sound of Hello. As intently as he listens, I sometimes wonder whether he’s trying to see if he can tell what the word or picture must be by listening, extrapolating backwards from the sound. I wonder whether that’s even possible.

Did I say I’m trying not to waste time? Apparently I can waste time without even trying!


One Comment on “I’m trying not to waste time”

  1. Arwen says:

    Thank you! I mentioned this thing someone at the beginning of the summer, but didn’t know what it was called and kind of flailed on Google trying to find it. Found other interesting things, but not a Step Sequencer. Yay!


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