My project is an interdisciplinary endeavor in chemistry and music. With a several movement, 4-8 instrument chamber orchestra piece, I will attempt to capture the beauty and miracle of molecular interactions in song. Science can so often be stark and boring, complicated multi-step experiments reduced down to charts, dry procedural descriptions, and graphs in formal lab reports. In these reports, we often lose sight of the “big picture” of science, its beauty and miracle lost in the details and jargon. My project’s ultimate goal will be to express this miracle, using different combinations of instruments and musical styles to symbolize various chemical reactions.
Chemistry and music seem an unlikely pair, but, in my opinion, complement and enhance one another beautifully. In chemistry, molecules react with each other in various conditions, breaking and forming bonds to create different molecules than existed before. The placement of different atoms in molecules give each type a distinct personality and tendency to react in certain ways. Similarly, different instruments have distinct timbres and colors and and play unique roles in an orchestra. Different combinations of instruments interact in different ways much like molecules in chemical reactions. Trumpets and other brass act as strong bases, powerfully shocking the molecules to behave in a certain way, and oboes and other reeds as strong acids, clear and deliberate in bringing about change. Steady rhythms and simple major chords can indicate stable, unreactive molecules, but the addition of non-chord tones and syncopated rhythms can upset the system enough to facilitate changes. And when you heat up certain molecules, they react in a different way than they would in cooler conditions, much like playing a piece of music at a faster tempo can give it a newfound energy and drive. The analogies are truly limitless, and I hope to explore the many parallels between science and music with the completion of this project.