Non linearities

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What an interesting term, nonlinear. The word linear means to arrange or extend something in a straight line. In electronics we use linear to mean without deviation from the expected. So, we might say that an amplifier's response is linear if it covers an expected frequency range without hiccups. So, nonlinear seems unorganized, unpredictable, and something not tolerated well in an organized universe. At least we'd like to think that. The truth is very different. Turns out most systems are nonlinear and, guess what? The universe is actually in a constant state of chaos. Organization, structure, putting things into neat little boxes of understanding is mostly something we like to do to help us make sense of the world around us. We'd like to think that more we understand, the more boxes of facts we can fill, the more organized the universe becomes. Music is organized, but only because it may be written down as specific notes. And that's where the structure stops. Every performance is different, every listening experience is unique, though the notes may be the same. Our ear brains try to pick out organized, or at least familiar, patterns to try and make sense of things, though in reality we're immersed in a sea of chaos. One of my readers and consistent contributors to these daily posts, Accuvox, offered a link to this article. In the article, which I must admit to limited understanding of, the authors try and demonstrate how classic mathematical models of what should be required to identify pitch and frequency are exceeded by an order of magnitude by people—mainly musicians, but still, people. Once again, we don't fit accepted measurement models. The article also suggests yet another reason why listening and comprehension transcends our abilities to measure and pigeonhole capabilities. We are far better than the machines we have created to measure our limitations.
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Paul McGowan

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