Friday, October 19, 2012

Counterpoint over time, space, and pre-life

To a delightful concert given by Per Tengstrand at the Scandiavian Center in NYC. This was in a gallery on the 3rd floor which also had pictures of icelandic locations that had been painted in the 19th Centrury by a British painter called W. G. Collingwood who had been inspired to visit these locations by the Icelandic Sagas.  Thus many many resonances of time and space.

Tengstrand gave an enjoyable pre-concert talk about two of the pieces he was playing: the 1st Schubert Op 90 impromptu and Beethoven Op 14 No 2. His contemporaries thought that Beethoven was an even greater improviser than he was a pianist or composer, which is an interesting and scary thought (same can be said about JS Bach I suppose). It's also interesting to reflect that Beethoven overlapped a lot with Mozart (20 years) and Chopin (18 years) as well as Schubert (40 years, he was basically a younger contemporary).  Tengstrand said that Schubert was a master of a transition from 4 time to 3 time as was Beethoven but he couldn't think of an immediate example. I suggested the 2nd movement of the Pathetique so Tengstrand decided to play it as an encore.

He is indeed a very intelligent and interesting player, and it was a great pleasure to meet him.
A smorgasbord of Scandianvian tongues
United by music
As photographs of places in the sagas
Echo the centuries
Harmonies, dissonance, rythm, counterpoint
In music and landscape
And humanity
Fig 1b from Vaidya et al. A cooperative system comprised of three subsystems.
Numbers over arrows estimate the cooperative advantage for each step.
A fascinating paper has just come out in Nature "Spontaneous network formation among cooperative RNA replicators" by Nilesh Vaidya, Michael Manapat and others which builds (amongst other things) on Martin and Hisahsi's PNAS paper on Pre-life and observes how cooperative sub-assemblies of the Azoarcus ribozyme can interact to self-assemble in a stable way.

I think the most fundamental point is that there are astronomically more potential networks of genes/pre-genese than there are individual genes.  As always the whole idea of a "selfish gene" is a complete nonsese, genes (and their precursors) can only act in cooperation.  This point is made in the accompanying News and Views - though slightly pulling the punches possibly in deference to the Dawk and his followers.

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