The achievement of harmony would be the end of beauty – chaos theory and music

I am after a certain forced break back in the studio, writing songs and we try to implement them with the band. I have never been a friend of fixed structures. In my opinion, music doesn’t work that way. Good music is there to create islands of order in chaos or even just to show an idea of order. There is, after all, harmony. Harmony is a strange thing, it exists outside of music and it exists outside of human experience. If it didn’t, we would have a real noise problem with the songs of birds, for example. Birdsong scrupulously adheres to the harmony sequences, only warning signals are inharmonious and then annoy us. Harmony therefore seems to be an a priori fixed form of order, which even a musician can never reach, but can only try to reach (if that is desirable at all).

All instruments at our disposal produce nonlinear, chaotic sounds. No matter if voice, strings or vibrating bodies. Even an electronic signal is never linear. Especially if, like me, you amplify a stringed instrument (i.e. my guitar) through a tube amplifier, you have a thoroughly chaotic signal. The art now (and this is an art) is to transform this signal to one, to a place of order comprehensible to the listener. True order never arises in this way, nor is it desirable.

If you look at exceptional voices, e.g. Billie Holiday, you notice that they are by no means ideal-typical, but rather “wrong”. So they give us an impression of order, they point to order, and if they are good in a way that we as listeners can understand. So music shows us how to deal with chaos rather than achieving harmony. Nevertheless, harmony, but that one must strive for, knowing that it can never be achieved and that the achievement also cannot be desired.

The achievement of harmony would be the end of beauty.