Bohumír Zámečník

Refactoring the Path to Freedom

On Friday I’ve finally quit my daily job in order to focus on building my dreams. Although leaving an actual dream job at a company, almost a family, with great people and healthy atmosphere of freedom was not easy it is sometimes necessary to get outside your comfort zone in order to move forward. It is a first step to a broader lifestyle refactoring - a path to finding happiness and fulfillment in one’s life.

For years I’ve been in love with music. Besides the most important, emotional, side of music, there is the other side, an intelectual one. Both sides drive the passion, each one differently. I started thinking about music theory (why some songs sound so interesting or strange?) and music processing (how to get various useful information from music automatically?).

Unfortunately, I left music school after a year or two when I was around eight. After years during mid high school I joined a wonderful choir and fell in love with singing ever since. Still, I didn’t give much time to classical training and reading sheet music is still slow for me. That’s probably one of the reasons I learn new songs mainly by ear and why I prefer improvization over memorizing. I’d guess I’m not alone it this situation.

Also several years ago I became fascinated by jazz, especially its freedom of expression and complicated harmony. I realized there are exciting connections between music theory and mathematics and there is a whole scientific field dealing with it.

Being a visually oriented person (and a photography enthusiast) it is natural to treat music visually. I believe that the majority of people around is trained much more in visual than acoustic perception. So the assumption is that a lot of people might be capable of recognizing patterns in music more efficiently by sight than by hearing.

Also I’ve realized that the classical musical theory and its education contains a lot of concepts and tools that bear unnecessary complexity and are less obvious than possible. If the unnecessary complexity is stripped, what remains is the essential complexity. Just like in software.

It can be well understood where this accidental complexity comes from. Music went through millenia of development and the concepts were optimized for some purpose, yet for other purposes are not optimal. Eg. the symbolic sheet music notation is efficient at paper and ink usage but might become cryptic and slow to read for an untrained eye.

Or the redundancy of accidentals, eg. (F# = Gb = E##), is a horrible example of brain torture. As most developers know (I hope) refactoring is a good way to reduce unnecessary complexity and keep the brain sane.

Another thing I’ve noticed it that people make their own mental models to understand things. Personally, for example I feel a swinging motion in some chords progressions (eg. Am-Dm-Am-E) and imagine it visually. It would be great to share such mental models.

What I’d like to eventually do is to help people like me to better understand the intelectual side of music by providing an educational course for theory and interactive applications for practice. The key would be uncluttered music theory concepts based on the solid foundation of the latest mathematical music theory and visualizations.

It would be great if this would eventually help someone overcome the pitfals of music theory in order to better express the important - the emotions.

A personal goal is to refactor my own lifestyle and eventually become location independent and happier. Remember, the goal is the path.

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