Letter 3

Math and Music – Already Universal Languages

Hello Friends,

In my next book LIFT: The Rise of M-L-M, mathematicians rule the world. From a giant obelisk anchored in an Indonesian sea, the World Council of Mathematicians (WCM) review daily simulations and police the planet.

It’s 2422 and our species is in crisis. Calculations reveal that if wars and rampant homicide are not significantly reduced, humanity will be on an irreversible course to extinction. WCM discovers that the only way out is to create an optimum language for humans so that a common understanding across all cultures will enable us to work together for our joint salvation. A universal language had been tried several times over the centuries, but it was never optimal; it was usually just a hodge-podge of popular tongues that never made a difference. As WCM struggles, calculations show that this optimum language must integrate new math with music. Why? Because both math and music are already considered to be examples of universal languages across cultures.

We’ve looked at music in recent newsletters. Let’s consider math, which is a challenge for many of us but offers windows to those who embrace it. Pictured below is Euclid teaching geometry to students in Athens, Greece, as rendered by the artist Raphael. In Euclid’s time, 325-265 BC, math showed ways to visualize and tame the world. From Euclid’s geometrical designs to Archimede’s engineering feats, mathematics grounded everyone. I’m sure you know of many later achievements.

Now, in 2422, math continues to dominate. It was instrumental in eliminating cancer and Alzheimer’s. Math found algorithms which fine-tuned weather forecasting to a 95% accuracy over an entire month anywhere on earth. The WCM is confident that when math and music are each integrated with linguistics, we will have the optimum universal language for our species. Yet, in my story, as our limited time shortens, wars and homicide increase! The world is in chaos and simulations show everything getting worse by the day. What is the matter with us? Will humanity save itself in time?

Mathematics can also be fun. Here is something simple and interesting you can try in the world of Math. It’s known as The Birthday Paradox. In any random gathering of about 40 people, at least two people will have the same month-and-day birthday (not the same year). I tried this at a birthday celebration of about sixty people and nearly ran out of prizes. From the total party group, six random people (three – two person matches) had the same day and month birthdays!

That’s it for now, friends. See you next time.

Letter 2


Hello Friends.

When I asked you in my last newsletter about music that moved you, saddened you, etc., I didn’t expect to receive so many examples. I was surprised at the variety and realized that in some ways I’ve had a narrow view. I can’t list everything here, but many replies referred to brass instruments, not always to strings or a full orchestra or ensemble. Here are some results.

  • Sad: Two people mentioned “TAPS” played by bugle at military funerals. (Yes!)
  • Hymn-“Beautiful Savior”
  • “Were you there when they Crucified My Lord?” sung by soloist in a church.
  • Happy: Children singing anything
  • Impressive: In marching bands, the trombone flourish in “Stars and Stripes Forever.”
  • In the opera Aida, the trumpet solo in the triumphal march.
  • Performers: Benny Goodman (the early 45RPM records)
  • Anything by Wynton Marsalis.
  • Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah
  • Overwhelming: Mahler’s symphony #2, The Resurrection
  • Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” with the BSO and Tanglewood Festival Chorus
  • Moving: The opera Porgy and Bess, with music by George Gershwin.
  • And the songs “Stardust,” “Still of The Night,” “Oh Holy Night”

These are just some of many responses, and I’d like to add one of my own. At my son’s college graduation, a paraplegic wheeled up to the front of the stage alone. He had a trumpet in his lap. I can’t remember for sure the song he played, perhaps it was “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee,” but it could have been “America the Beautiful.” What I do remember is that when he cracked that first note, you could hear a pin drop. A moving experience. Such is the power of music and performers.

In my speculative-fiction book LIFT: The Rise of M-L-M, (releases in 2024) humanity has to seek and create the one optimum language for everyone on our planet. Humans come to realize that music, because of its power, and already a universal language, should be integral in this effort.

In my next letter, we’ll explore the next leg of our three-legged stool for an optimal language – mathematics. Before leaving, here is a performance by my favorite trumpeter, Chris Botti:
“My Funny Valentine” feat. Sting – YouTube
Thank you, everyone.
LIFT: The Rise of M-L-M (releases 2024) (M-L-M refers to Mathe-Lingua-Musica)

MUSIC: A Universal Language (letter 1)


Hello friends and all lovers of music.

Did you know that at the height of the Cold War between Russia and the USA, a twenty-three-old American pianist, Van Cliburn, won the top prize in Moscow at the first international Tschaikowsky piano competition? Nikita Khrushchev awarded the prize on the urging of musicians and staff at the great Moscow Conservatory who claimed Cliburn was the best of everyone in the competition. Khruschev and Cliburn actually became friends and the impact of music on the world stage was noted by many throughout the world. You can see and hear about this by clicking below.

Van Cliburn, Moscow, 1958

See what I mean? The power of music brought these two countries closer together when nothing else seemed to be working. Music is meaningful and helpful in many ways, but we tend to forget that and dismiss its impact in major discussions. Why?

To experience music, we are not required to memorize musical details or study a grammar. To enjoy music, we aren’t required to pass exams or to articulate how the music pleases or displeases us. We are not obligated to compose music. Music is always just there for us, as is, in all its genres and forms. Each of us can interpret any musical experience in our own way.

Whether the music be Dixieland or electronic-avantgarde; the arresting theme music from Jaws or the “Pomp and Circumstance March” at graduations; or anything else, we readily experience music and feel its affects.

One example for me is the opening music from my favorite Sci-fi movie, 2001 a Space Odyssey. I was glued to my seat when in a triumphal moment, pre-historic man threw up a new weapon, an animal bone, amid the drums and orchestral oomph of Richard Strauss.

And I was mesmerized just after this, when that bone, high in the sky, transformed into a spaceship amid a waltz(!), the “Blue Danube,” no less, from the other Strauss. What a message–but nary a word–all in music! Listen to a performance of the first part here: 2001, A Space Odyssey-opening music

In my book LIFT: The Rise of M-L-M, we see how music comes to the rescue and plays an ever more important role as humanity struggles to create the optimum language for our species.

Please give me an example of how music has affected you. What musicians or performers influence you? Is there a particular piece of music that moved you and still does? What music saddened you? Made you happy? Scared you? Overwhelmed you? I’m interested in all kinds of examples, simple or profound.

Thank you everyone. My best to all.

Releasing in 2024,
LIFT: The Rise of M-L-M (M-L-M refers to Mathe-Lingua-Musica)