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Sarah Vandemoortele

Michio Kaku or why a metronome is indispensable

April 16, 2012 at 4:31 PM

Apparently there is a specific place in the brain, a group of a few thousand cells that pulsate and are responsible for our feeling of time, so that we have an inner sense of time regardless from what is happening outside us. In specific situations however – dangerous situations for instance – the brain is capable of “slowing down” time so that it manages to process more images than usually, so that we see more detail and so that we have “more time” to make a decision, react and avoid danger.
This phenomenon happens in a reflex, but I believe that people could learn to control this inner ‘chronometer’ and slow down and speed up time themselves. In fact, I do it regularly for specific reasons. When I’m stressed and have a lot of things to do I “slow down time” so that it doesn’t seem impossible to do all the things I have to do, sort of like “zooming in” into my life. When I’m bored I “speed up time”, so that I easily can do nothing during what is in reality a lot of time, but seems to me only a short time, sort of like “zooming out” of my life.

Whereas this is very practical in daily life, it is not so practical when playing music. Fooling around with time is still handy however when playing for instance fast passages, as by slowing down time one can prepare much better and yet in reality play at a high speed. But the concept of a piece as a whole might get disturbed. When playing through it becomes very hard to base anything you do in the present and your decisions for future actions on an unambiguous knowledge of the past.
So the solution seems obvious: practice with a metronome! I always thought that a metronome is to be used by people who have an underdeveloped sense of time, whereas it seemed that I had an “overly developed” sense of time, being able to master my inner chronometer and all that. But the truth is, I have only used that inner chronometer to fool myself. So: metronome!

What does this all have to do with Michio Kaku? Not much... I watched a documentary “Day Time” on YouTube and that’s where the idea of the pulsating cells in the brain came from, that’s all. If you want to check it out, it’s quite enjoyable.


From Mark Roberts
Posted on April 17, 2012 at 5:53 AM
I've read textbooks by Kaku, I am curious if anyone else on violinist has, he treats topics which are at the height of fashion but his treatment is somewhat superficial...
From John Cadd
Posted on April 17, 2012 at 11:35 AM
I get the feeling he drifts of into fantasy sometimes. I was struck by a remarkable scientific discovery 2 days ago that borders on fantasy. The Physics Forum reported about a star 25 light years away that had dust particles at the diameter of one millimetre. How on earth can they know that ??? How far can you see out of the window? One millimetre??? It might have been 25 million light years away . Of course that would have been a completely different story .
From William Binkley
Posted on April 17, 2012 at 6:10 PM
Kaku is saying that time is an intangible. In correlation with the metronome and music that is completely wrong. With music, Time becomes hearable, viewable and touchable. Anyone who's practiced a Kruetzer Etude at mm 60 and then increase one notch for every 3 performances is painfully aware of this.
From John Cadd
Posted on April 18, 2012 at 4:20 PM
I had a silly accident on a raised walkway once.There was a narrow gap at the edge and my foot missed the wooden surface and I sat down very quickly before I realised what was happening. I remember thinking of 6 different things in the short time that fall took. One foot was still in place so it was a very short fall. Sarah has not told us how the time stretch works . Is there a Harry Potter spell? Don`t worry about using words like fantasy with Physicists . They are all in a world of their own by now .

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