From Harmony of the Spheres to Acoustic Ecology: Intersections of Music and Science in the Works of David Dunn and Andrea Polli
Fifty years ago, we embarked on a journey for the first time in all of history \u2014 an exploration of the final frontier: outer space. Now, having been to the moon and back, we are still exploring the unknown. In the 21st century, we have pioneered genetic cloning and made other unprecedented biotechnological advances. Similarly, artists have ventured into their own frontier, branching out of their own narrowly defined areas and breaking down barriers \u2014 barriers between art and science, between the concert hall and the outdoors, between manmade instruments and the sounds of nature. At first glance, it seems that music and science have little in common. But upon closer inspection, one will discover that there are similarities and intersections between these two fields that deserve attention. Interest in the correlation between music and science can be traced back at least as far as Ancient Greece; since Pythagoras, mathematicians, physicists, acousticians and many others have addressed connections between the two fields in manifold ways. It is becoming increasingly obvious that art and science are not at the opposite ends of the spectrum, where conventional wisdom has traditionally located them, but at the opposite sides of the same coin. In my thesis, I seek to explore the connections between music and the sciences by examining the field of acoustic ecology. I will first provide an overview of music as an interdisciplinary field. Then I will undertake two case studies of musicians whose endeavors have been significant to the field of acoustic ecology, and consider the benefits that can be drawn from their work. These artists are David Dunn and Andrea Polli. I will draw on their philosophy, writings and art as well as on secondary literature. I will take a philosophical approach to the intersections between the two areas and identify heretofore little explored aspects of the interdisciplinary potential of these two fields.