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  • Hey, Vsauce. Michael here. And the iTunes store contains 28 million different songs.

  • Last.fm carries 45 million songs and the Gracenote database of artists, titles, and

  • labels contains 130 million different songs. That's a lot. If you were to listen to all

  • of the songs in the Gracenote database one after the other in a giant playlist, it would

  • take you more than 1,200 years to complete.

  • But since there are a finite number of tones our ears can distinguish and because it only

  • takes a few notes in common for two musical ideas to sound similar, will we ever run out

  • of new music?

  • Will there ever be a day where every possible brief little melody has been written and recorded

  • and we are left with nothing new to make?

  • A good rule of thumb might be to say that if modern recording technology can't distinguish

  • the difference between two songs, well, neither could we. So, let's begin there, with digital

  • downloads, MP3's, CD's, and a calculation made by Covered in Bees.

  • Digital music is made out of "bits." Lots and lots of bits. But each individual bit

  • exists in one of two states: a "0" or a "1."

  • Now, what this means in that for any given, say, 5-minute-long audio file, the number

  • of possibilities, mathematically speaking, is enormous, but mind-blowingly finite.

  • A compact disk, which samples music at 44.1 kHz, is going to need about 211 million bits

  • to store one 5-minute song. And because a bit can exist in two states, either a "0"

  • or a "1," the number of possible different ways to arrange those 211,000,000 bits is

  • 2 to the 211th million power.

  • That value represents every single possible different 5-minute-long audio file. But how

  • big is that number? Well, let's put this in perspective.

  • A single drop of water contains 6 sextillion atoms. 6 sextillion is 22 digits long. That's

  • a long number. But the total number of atoms that make up the entire earth is a number

  • that is about 50 digits long. And estimations of the total number of hydrogen atoms in our

  • universe is a number that is 80 digits long.

  • But "2 to the 211 millionth power," the number of possible, different 5-minute audio files, is a number

  • that is 63 million digits long. It is a number larger than we can even pretend to understand.

  • It contains every possible CD quality 5-minute audio file. Inside that amount is everything

  • from Beethoven's "5th" to Beck's "Loser" - it even contains a 5 minute conversation you

  • had with your parents when you were 3 years old. In fact, every one of them. It even contains

  • every possible conversation you didn't have with your parents when you were 3 years old.

  • But, it is finite, not infinite. It's cool to think about, but it doesn't come very close

  • to answering the question of this video, which is "how many possible different songs can

  • we create and hear the difference between?"

  • So, for that, we're going to need to narrow down our hunt.

  • On Everything2, Ferrouslepidoptera made a calculation that involved some assumptions

  • that I think helped narrow the field down in a really nice way.

  • She took a look at the total number of possible different melodies you could create within

  • one octave, containing any or all of the intervals we divide octaves into. Of course, sound frequencies

  • can be divided much more granularly than that, but giving ourselves more notes might mean

  • we could make more technically different melodies, but they wouldn't necessarily sound any different

  • to our ears.

  • Now, given a single measure containing any combination of whole, half, quarter, eighth,

  • sixteenth or thirty-second notes, she calculated that there would be this many possible unique

  • measures, which is a smaller number than we had before, but, to put it in perspective,

  • this is how many seconds old the universe is.

  • Yerricde's calculation is even more specific. He stayed within one octave, but instead of

  • looking at a complete measure, he only considered the number of unique combinations of 8 notes.

  • He also assumed that typical melodies, as we know them today, only contain about three

  • different types of note length. For instance, quarter, eighth and sixteenth or whole,

  • half and quarter.

  • To be sure, that will most likely not always be true. Musical tastes hundreds, thousands

  • of years from now will most assuredly be different, but given melodies as we know them today,

  • across 8 notes, over 12 intervals, there are about 79 billion possible combinations.

  • We're getting relatively small here. I mean, under this definition of melody, 100 songwriters

  • creating a brand new 8-note melody every second would exhaust every possible melody within

  • only 248 years.

  • But it's still a huge number, way bigger than the total number of songs that have been written

  • that we know about. So, you can quite safely say that, no, we will never run out of new

  • music. But here's the rub. If that's the case, why are there so many commonalities between

  • songs? Even across hundreds of years, how come so many songs kind of sound the same?

  • I mean, if we have more possibilities than we could ever exhaust, why is "Twinkle Twinkle

  • Little Star," the "Alphabet Song," and "Baa, Baa, Black Sheep," all the same melody?

  • "My Country Tis of Thee," and "God Save the Queen," interestingly enough, are the same

  • song.

  • "Love Me Tender," is exactly the same as the old American Civil War song "Aura Lea."

  • And a seemingly uncountable number of songs merely sound like other songs. The Spongebob

  • Squarepants theme has a very similar cadence to "Blow the Man Down."

  • Soundsjustlike.com is a great resource for exploring this further. It'll show you two

  • songs and how they sort of sound alike.

  • And when it comes to musical chords, it's almost as if there's no variety at all, as

  • was famously shown by The Axis of Awesome's "4 Chords." I've linked it in the description,

  • it's worth a watch if you haven't seen it already. These guys sing more than 40 different

  • songs using the same four chords...

  • Even though the number of possible different melodies is gigantic, us humans tend to gravitate

  • towards certain patterns that we like more than others and we are influenced by what

  • came before us. Kirby Ferguson has a fantastic series looking into this called "Everything

  • is a Remix." I've also linked that down in the description. The commonalities he shows

  • are pretty crazy.

  • Well, even when it comes to lyrics, to writing, even though, mathematically, there are more

  • possibilities than we could ever exhaust, we have gravitated towards a few. In fact,

  • there's a form of poetic meter that is so common it's called "Common Meter."

  • I've composed a verse using it to explain what it is.

  • Line one contains eight syllables. The next contains just six. For emphasis: iambic stress.

  • That's it, no other tricks.

  • Here is a list of songs that are written in common meter, also known as "Balad Meter." The commonness

  • of common meter is the reason you can sing the Pokemon theme song to the tune of Gilligan's

  • Island. Or House of the Rising Sun. Or Amazing Grace. You could also use almost any of Emily

  • Dickinson's poetry. Sure, they're different melodies, but their lyrics are written in

  • the same meter.

  • There's a great video on YouTube that I've linked below in the description that uses

  • captions to let you see just how these all fit together.

  • Oh, and don't forget one of the greatest compositions taking advantage of common meter's commonness:

  • Stairway to Gilligan's Island.

  • And you know what? Our brains may also be keeping us from enjoying the entire mathematical

  • space of available songs. For instance, research has shown that the way a song compresses,

  • using software, can help us predict how enjoyable it will be. Too simple, too easy to compress,

  • like, say, a rising scale, and the song doesn't challenge us - it's boring. But too complicated,

  • say, white noise, and the file won't compress very much at all, and, likewise, we don't

  • seem to enjoy it. There's a magic zone where a file is compressible by a computer, and

  • also happens to be enjoyable by us.

  • So, interestingly, even though mathematically speaking, there are so many possible unique

  • melodies that we can safely say, there will always be room for new music, we don't seem

  • to be wired to care. We enjoy certain patterns and melodies and calculating how many there

  • could be is a lot less interesting than how connected and similar all the ones that we

  • enjoy are. It's as if we have more space than we need, more space than we could ever hope

  • to see all of, or visit all of, or know all of, but no matter what new place we go, in

  • a general sense, new, popular music will always remind us a bit of home.

  • And as always,

  • thanks for watching.

  • Fantastic, you're still here. If you want to hear music from people like you, from Vsaucers,

  • go check out WeSauce. You can submit music, animation, short films, anything that you're

  • making and putting on YouTube to us and we'll feature it on WeSauce. It's like a trailer

  • for what Vsaucers are doing.

  • Speaking of which, Jake Chudnow, who does all of the music in these videos, has a brand

  • new song out over on his channel, which I highly suggest you go give a listen.

Hey, Vsauce. Michael here. And the iTunes store contains 28 million different songs.

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新しい音楽が尽きることはないのか? (Will We Ever Run Out of New Music?)

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    林宜悉 に公開 2021 年 01 月 14 日
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