Archive - Jan 31, 2011

Music Monday - Godel, Escher, Swift

Where do stars come from? It is the sort of question I would hear from my daughters when they were young and looking through a telescope with me. Years later, they would ask the same question as they watched American Idol or some awards show. In both cases, the answer might be something similar, you take a lot of hot air and wait for something cosmic to happen.

I would love to hear Jon Swift’s response to those questions. Jon Swift is an astrophysicist. He describes his research this way:

While I find all topics of astronomy fascinating, my professional research has focused on Galactic star formation. Following the discovery of a pre-stellar core located in an evolved and isolated molecular cloud (Swift et al. 2005, 2006), I spent the last part of my graduate career designing and completing a comprehensive observational program aimed at understanding the L1551 dark cloud in which that core exists (Swift 2006, Swift & Welch 2008).

Jon Swift is also an amazing musician. His bio page ways:

As Jon derives much of his inspiration from nature, it is not surprising that his music has been featured in snowboard and ski videos, yoga DVD's, fly fishing movies, and surf films such as Shelter, The Drifter, and Melali: The Drifter Sessions. Jon's song Run River has also fueled Corona Australia's highly successful From Where You'd Rather Be television ad campaign which was expanded to South America this year.

Jon Swift, however, can probably give much better explanations to how stars are formed. In the realm of astrophysics, he might talk about “a dynamic and inflowing envelope” around “the evolved molecular cloud L1551“. When it comes to music, he might shrug off the stardom that is generated by hot air. Instead, he notes that astrophysics and songwriting are complimentary. He mentions Kurt Godel’s work.

I grew up on Godel, Escher and Bach, and have always been fascinated by music that transcends incompleteness. There is a transcendent nature to Swift’s music, yet he goes further. He talks about the importance of discipline and detachment as essential components to any constructive activity, including songwriting.

The detachment comes through masterfully, most likely because of his discipline.

So, when you want some engrossing music, something more than the hot air that makes up so much of contemporary music, when you have some time to be still, to be detached and listen to music that goes beyond thought, spend some time listening to Jon Swift’s music.

A brief digression; I like to end my Music Monday posts with a video. As I searched for a good music video of Jon Swift, I found some really impressive covers of Swift’s music. That says something. Anyway, without further ado, let me end this blog post with this video:

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