You are on page 1of 7

Music, Creativity and Scientific Thinking

Author(s): Robert S. Root-Bernstein


Source: Leonardo, Vol. 34, No. 1 (2001), pp. 63-68
Published by: The MIT Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1576986
Accessed: 30/09/2008 18:45

Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use, available at
http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp. JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use provides, in part, that unless
you have obtained prior permission, you may not download an entire issue of a journal or multiple copies of articles, and you
may use content in the JSTOR archive only for your personal, non-commercial use.

Please contact the publisher regarding any further use of this work. Publisher contact information may be obtained at
http://www.jstor.org/action/showPublisher?publisherCode=mitpress.

Each copy of any part of a JSTOR transmission must contain the same copyright notice that appears on the screen or printed
page of such transmission.

JSTOR is a not-for-profit organization founded in 1995 to build trusted digital archives for scholarship. We work with the
scholarly community to preserve their work and the materials they rely upon, and to build a common research platform that
promotes the discovery and use of these resources. For more information about JSTOR, please contact support@jstor.org.

The MIT Press is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to Leonardo.

http://www.jstor.org
Music, Creativity
and Scientific Thinking
ABSTRACT

RobertS. Root-Bernstein Are musicandsci-


encedifferent typesofintel-
ligence(aspositedinthe
contextofHoward Gardner's
multiple or
intelligences),
aretheytwomanifestations
ofcommon waysofthink-
ing?Byfocusing onscien-
Mathematicsand music! The mostglaringpossibleoppositesof who have set their science to mu- tistswhohavebeenmusi-
humanthought! and yet connected,mutuallysustained!It is as sic were included [8]. For ex- ciansandonthewaysthey
if theywoulddemonstrate thehiddenconsensusof all theactions ample, biochemist Harold Baum's haveusedtheirmusical
knowledge to informtheir
of our mind, whichin therevelationsof genius makesusforefeel The Biochemists'Songbook[9] is a
unconsciousutterancesof a mysteriously activeintelligence. work,theauthor
scientific
complete guide to biochemical arguesinthisarticle that
-Hermann von Helmholtz, pathways-available on cassette- musicandsciencearetwo
that is scientifically accurate and waysofusinga common
"On The Physiological Causes of Harmony
amusing. (Imagine the tricarboxy- set of"tools forthinking"
in Music," 1857 [1] thatunify He
alldisciplines.
lic acid pathway sung to the tune
explores thenotion thatcre-
of "WaltzingMatilda." That gives ativeindividualsareusually
Imagine that you are attending an orchestral concert. You
listen with great appreciation to compositions by William you the idea .. .) Or think of polymaths whothink in
Harvard-trained mathematician trans-disciplinary
ways.
Herschel (1738-1822), Hector Berlioz (1803-1869),
and professional entertainer Tom
Aleksandr Borodin (1833-1887), Sir Edward Elgar (1857- __ I
Lehrer and his song "The Ele-
1934) and Ernest Ansermet (1883-1969); and new pieces by
ments" [10]. As I have Eisner say,
Iannis Xenakis (b. 1922) and Richard Bing (b. 1909). At the
there really are doctors' symphonies and other orchestras,
end of the concert, the conductor, Tom Eisner (b. 1930), mo-
such as the New Orchestra of Boston, composed largely of
tions for silence and makes the following announcement:
medical and scientific professionals and, once again, the par-
This has been a veryspecial concert in waysin which most of ticipants include an unusually large proportion of well-known
you are probablyunaware.Everythingaboutthis concertis per- scientists, including many Nobel laureates [11]. Less formal
meatedwithscience. I, myself,am an expertin insects.The en-
tire orchestrais made up of scientistsand physicians.Indeed, concerts take place regularly at institutions such as the Woods
you may well know that "doctor'ssymphonies"exist in most Hole Oceanographic Institute and meetings of the Geological
majorcities in the United States.But most importantly,all of Society [12]. In fact, in 1987, WalterThirring (b. 1927), an in-
the composerswhose music we have playedtonight also have
ternationally known physicist and composer at the Institut fur
ties to science. Herschelwasperhapsthe most famousastrono- Theoretische Physik of the University of Vienna, actually car-
mer of the earlynineteenth centuryand some of his composi-
tions have recentlybeen recordedon the NewportClassicsla- ried out a concert like the imaginary one described above.
bel [2]. Berlioz was a practicing physician; Borodin was a Thirring tells me he studied with Anton von Webern during
Professorof Chemistrywho pursuedtwoprofessionalcareerssi- World War II, with Josef Marx and with two pupils of Arnold
multaneouslythroughouthis life; Ansermettrainedas a math- Sch6nberg-Edwin Ratz and Josef Polnauer-after the War.
ematician and taught mathematics at the University of
Lausanne before turning his attention solely to music [3]. For the concert, he gathered his scientific colleagues together
IannisXenakisis also a mathematician,who addsto his accom- to perform music, including some of his own, all of which was
plishmentsthose of a practicingarchitect,and he has written composed by scientists.
extensivelyon the interconnectionsbetween the arts and sci- Enough scientists have actually designed or built musical
ences [4]. Elgarnot only had a privatechemistrylaboratory, instruments that one could even play such a concert with
but actuallyfiled a patentfor a processfor producinghydrogen
sulfide [5]. Bing is a cardiologistand medicalresearcherof in- those instruments alone. Hermann von Helmholtz, for ex-
ternationalrepute who has been awardedsuch international ample, was an accomplished poet and a fine pianist who had
prizesas the ClaudeBernardMedalfor his scientificwork [6]. a piano built with an unusual tonal development upon which
Whatyou have heard, then, is notjust music,but musiccre- he experimented both privately and for his physics and psy-
ated by people with an unusualfacilityto crossthe boundaries
of disciplinaryknowledge.In our super-specializedworld,it is chology students [13]. Walther Nernst, the Nobel laureate
worth considering what they, and their musical accomplish- who coined the third law of thermodynamics, is also credited
ments, tell us about creativity.Thankyou, and good night. with inventing the first electronically amplified musical in-
struments [14] (although that honor may arguably belong to
The concert just described never happened and Tom Eisner inventor Elisha Gray,whose attempts to invent the telephone
never said the words I have put into his mouth. But Eisner,
Schurman Professor of Biology at Cornell University, really is
an entomologist who plays piano and conducts concerts. He
Robert S. Root-Bernstein (physiologist), Department of Physiology, Michigan State Uni-
was trained by the conductor Fritz Busch [7]. The list of scien-
versity, East Lansing, MI 48824, U.S.A.. E-mail: <root-bernstein@psl.msu.edu>.
tist-composers and of composers who have dabbled in science This article is modified from the keynote address for Music and the Brain: A Sympo-
is actually much longer than the one I have had Eisner use sium, organized by the Foundation for Human Potential, Chicago, Illinois, at The Art
Institute of Chicago, 18-20 November 1992.
(see Table 1) and could be extended significantly if scientists

? 2001 ISAST LEONARDO, Vol. 34, No. 1, pp. 63-68, 2001 63


utilized electrified keyboards and violins to summiarize my basic thesis would be tween the styles of James Galway and
[15]).James Dewar, the ultra-low tem- to say that correlative talents represent Jean-Pierre Rampal? The answer I get
perature physicist who invented flasks harmoni ous ensembles of skills that en- from my cardiologist colleagues is that
designed to hold frozen gases, made his able mussicalscientists to "duet"better. you certainly do not want a tone-deaf
own violins [16]. Virginia Apgar, the ob- How does music help the scientist per- doctor performing stethoscopy!
stetrician whose name attends the birth form bet:ter (yes, the puns are purpose- Karl Rudolph Koenig was a violinist
of every child when they are given an ful!)? Mi usical scientists often make sci- and one of Helmholtz's physics stu-
Apgar score, made her own stringed in- entific usse of their musical training and dents, who also melded music and sci-
struments. Colleagues recently played a interests . A musical geophysicist at the ence. As a young man, he became so in-
quartet using her instruments [17]. Californiia Institute of Technology, who terested in musical instruments that he
Okay: so what? What difference does wished t<o remain anonymous, justified apprenticed himself to the violin maker
it make that so many scientists indulge his dual interests to me as follows: sup- Vuillaume. Melding vocation and avoca-
in musical avocations? Well, on the one pose, he said, "someone is getting inter- tion, he began to invent new types of
hand, we have cognitive theories, such ested in rmusical problems. He may then acoustical and optical equipment, some
as Howard Gardner's multiple intelli- apply what he finds there back to his sci- of which was incorporated into Edison's
gences [18], which argue for domain- entific reesearch. That is something that inventions and the apparatus used by
specific ideation linked to disciplinary may afferct very much the result. I think Michelson and Morley to measure the
specialization. In other words, skills it is goo(d. I think for a scientist who is speed of light [23]. Many inventors of
learned in one domain do not inform working very hard, anything is good that scientific instruments, including physi-
work in another. I, on the other hand, brings from time to time another angle cists Dewar and Charles Wheatstone
believe that creative thinking is trans-dis- about geeneral ideas into the picture" and physical chemists Wilhelm Ostwald
ciplinary and transferable from one [20]. Niumerous historical examples and Martin Kamen, have similarly musi-
field to another. More specifically, I be- bear him out [21]. cal backgrounds [24].
lieve that musical and scientific abilities Rene ]Leannec, an early nineteenth- Helmholtz himself not only invented a
are what I call "correlative talents" [19]. century physician, painted, played the new tonal development for the piano
By correlative talents, I mean skills or flute and invented the stethoscope [22]. but was also one of the major developers
abilities in several different areas that Is it real]ly conceivable that chance dic- of the siren, which he used, notably, not
can be integrated to yield surprising and tated that his invention, and even its spe- to make obnoxious noise as we do today,
effective results. Skills associated with cific fornn (a long, thin wooden tube), is but more in keeping with the original
music-pattern-forming and pattern so similar to the instrument he played? meaning of its name, to make beautifully
recognition, kinesthetic ability, imaging, Could h e have made the instrument pure tones that would woo the listener.
aesthetic sensibility, analogizing and without the kinesthetic skills of an artist? Helmholtz used his sirens to investigate
analysis-and indeed an understanding Could he. have used it effectively without the psychological and physiological
of music itself-have often been impor- the trainled ear of a musician that can bases of harmony. He also invented a va-
tant components of the correlative tal- hear the whisper of a valve not closing riety of new harmonic oscillators, includ-
ents of many famous scientists. One way properly as easily as the difference be- ing the "resonator,"and worked out the
basic physical laws governing their func-
tion [25]. He used these resonators to
Table1. Scientist-Composers[76]* demonstrate that complex sounds can
ErnestAnsermet(1883-1969) Mathematician be generated by adding simple, pure
George Antheil(1900-1959) Endocrinologistand Inventor tones-the logical and historical basis
Joseph Auenbrugger(1722-1809) Physician for modern-day synthesizers.
M.A.Balakirev(1837-1910) Mathematician Helmholtz's resonators became mod-
Hector Berlioz(1803-1869) Physician els both mechanistically and mathemati-
TheodorBillroth(1829-1894) Surgeon cally for the development of black body
RichardBing(b. 1909) Cardiologist
AleksandrBorodin(1833-1887) Chemist theory-the historical basis of quantum
DianaS. Dabby(contemporary) Mathematician theory-at the hands of two other musi-
EdwardElgar(1857-1934) Chemist cally talented scientists, Ludwig
John ConradHemmeter(1863-1931) Boltzmann and Max Planck, at the be-
Physiologist
WilliamHerschel(1738-1822) Astronomer ginning of this century. Planck's notion
ElieGagnebin(1891-1949) Geologist of the quantum-meaning simply a dis-
HilaryKoprowski(b. 1916) Microbiologist crete state-is based purely on the math-
B.G.E.Lacepede (1756-1825) Zoologist ematics of resonating strings, or har-
Alexis Meinong(1853-1920) ExperimentalPsychologist monic frequencies. Electrons, as the
AlbertMichelson(1852-1931) Physicist Prince Louis de Broglie, another of our
ArthurRoberts(nd - 20th century) Chemist active physicists, discovered,
RonaldRoss (1857-1932) musically
Epidemiologist can vibrate like strings around the
CamilleSt. Saens (1835-1921) Astronomy
Bela Schick (1877-1967) nucleus of the atom. It followed from
Microbiologist
Mathematician this discovery that electrons, like strings,
Joseph Schillinger(1895-1943)
WalterThirring(b. 1927) Physicist should have harmonic frequencies, a
Georges Urbain(1872-1938) InorganicChemist musical analogy that de Broglie pub-
EmileVotocek(1872-1950) Chemist lished with predictions of what these
lannisXenakis(b. 1922) Mathematicianand Engineer harmonic frequencies would be; these
* Basedonmaterialfromreferences
[2],[4],[5],[8],[65]and[76]. harmonics were experimentally verified.

64 Root-Bernstein,Musical Creativity and Scientific Thinking


These harmonics, like those of a vibrat- sounding at different frequencies and in dozens of variables changing simulta-
ing string, are "quantized," or divided, intensities" [34]. Physician Lloyd Morey neously,just as it can hear and analyze an
into discrete standing waves. Planck's notes (another pun!) that the sympho- entire symphony orchestra with dozens of
discovery of quantum states also re- nies that emerge through Biomuse or separate musical parts, whereas it is im-
sulted directly from treating these elec- similar technologies may someday "help possible for the eye (or even for most
tron waves as if they were vibrating us understand various psychiatric prob- computers) to handle that many chang-
strings making music. The mathematical lems, mood swings and probably brain- ing variables and derive sense from them
formalisms of these cases are identical dysfunction disorders as well" [35]. After [40]. Thus, the mathematician, poet and
[26]. Thus, the histories of music and all, we are not merely a set of param- musicianJoseph Sylvesterasked himself a
quantum physics are inextricably linked, eters, such as blood pH, hematocrit, century ago: "Maynot Music be described
as Einstein recognized when he pro- blood glucose and melatonin levels, but as the Mathematic of sense, Mathematic
claimed Planck's version of Bohr's a complex interweaving of all of these as Music of the reason? The soul of each
atomic model "the highest form of musi- and many more-multi-stranded inter- the same! Thus the musician feels
cality in the sphere of thought"-a weavings that only music can allow us to Mathematic, and the mathematician
double tribute to its "miraculous" har- eavesdrop upon in real time. thinks Music-Music the dream,
mony with experimental results and its These selected examples illustrate a Mathematic the working life" [41].
literally musical structure [27]. Einstein phenomenon I call synosia. Synosia is a I believe Sylvesteris right, and I would
went on to say that his own relativity term I invented as an analogy to the neu- add that mathematics (like most ways of
theory ".. . occurred to me by intuition. rological concept of synaesthesia [36]. In knowing) is convertible into many other
And music is the driving force behind neurology, synaesthesia refers to a phe- forms, including visual and kinesthetic
this intuition. My parents had me study nomenon in which a person experiences ones, as well as into music. Certainly,
the violin from the time I was six. My a sensation in one of the five senses when most scientists and mathematicians of
new discovery is the result of musical another of the senses is stimulated. For any stature in their field report a semi-
perception [28]." example, a person eating a banana may conscious stream of thought composed
Contemporary scientists continue this experience the sound of bells, or a per- of kinesthetic feelings, images, verbal or
integrative tradition. Almost everyone son seeing the color red may smell a cake acoustical patterns, and/or musical
has heard of Johann Kepler's music of baking. While only a small percentage of themes accompanying their problem-
the spheres; analogously, Heinrich Kai- people experience such unusual synaes- solving. Einstein said that he never
ser has written out De Broglie's tonal thetic experiences, we all know things thought in equations; he felt or visual-
harmonies and harmonics of the atoms ("know"being from the root word gnosis) ized the answers, then converted his in-
[29]. The use of musical techniques to in several ways simultaneously. An equa- sights into mathematics at a later stage
analyze scientific data is also coming into tion can have mathematical, verbal, aural for communicating his insights to others
its own: biochemists at Michigan State and visual meanings, and some people [42]. Richard Feynman, arguably the
University, for example, have invented experience all simultaneously. We may most creative physicist since Einstein,
musical urinalysis [30]. This transforma- know a gene sequence as music, chemis- also described this translation process
tion makes data accessible to visually im- try and a set of alphabet letters all at following an initial period of imagistic
paired individuals and to physicians once. Synosia, then, is derived from the and kinesthetic insight consisting of a
whose eyes and hands may be busy else- words synaesthesisand gnosis-to know literally synaesthetic sense of equations
where (e.g. operating on the patient). and feel simultaneously in a multi-modal, that appeared to his imagination as spe-
Also, people are much more sensitive to synthetic way. cifically colored symbols. Equations also
tonal discrepancies than they are to vi- Music plays a special role in my con- manifested themselves to him as particu-
sual alterations in peak height or nu- cept of synosia because it can simulta- lar sounds that he would express to col-
merical differences, so that they can ana- neously be kinesthetic (we must move to leagues and students as whoops,
lyze musical data more quickly and make music), emotional, analytical and glissandos or patterns of drumbeats. He
accurately than visual forms. For these sensory. "Music is unique in combining even described thinking in "acoustical
reasons, geneticist Susumo Ohno has quality and quantity precisely and sponta- images" [43]. Rolf Nevanlinna, a Scandi-
converted DNA sequences into musical neously so that sense impression can be navian mathematician who was also a
equivalents that sound like Chopin noc- measured and proportion can be experi- concert-caliber violinist and president of
turnes in order to listen for the patterns enced," writes Siegmund Levarie [37]. the Sibelius Society, remarked that mu-
that lie hidden within our genes [31]. "The human sense of hearing has re- sic was in some mysterious way a con-
Meanwhile, John Dunn and MaryAnne markable powers of pattern recognition," stant accompaniment to his mathemati-
Clark [32] and Phil Ortiz [33] have adds chemist Robert Morrison, "buthear- cal researches [44]. Similarly, Philip
transformed protein sequences into mu- ing has largely been ignored as a means Davis and Reuben Hersh, the authors of
sical equivalents that convey not only lin- of searching for patterns in numerical The MathematicalExperience,report hav-
ear but conformational data simulta- data" [38]. "Wehave really great comput- ing worked on a mathematical problem
neously. And physiologist Hugh S. ers between our ears," agrees Joseph for many months to the accompaniment
Lusted and electrical engineer R. Ben- Mezrich, formerly of AT&T Bell Labs of various mathematical images and re-
jamin Knapp have collaborated to con- [39]. In consequence, these and other re- petitive musical themes. Other commit-
vert electrical signals and muscle move- searchers at Lucent Technologies, Exxon, ments caused them to lay aside their
ments into music by means of a simple Xerox, and various universities are ex- work for several years, but when they
electronic instrument known as the ploring methods for transforming com- took it up again, the images and musical
Biomuse. They note that their research plex data such as taxonomic and eco- themes also recurred [45].
reveals that "the body is literally a sym- nomic data into music. Very simply, it is The synosial phenomenon is common
phony (or society) of electrical voices, possible for the ear to hear the patterns enough that many scientists report work-

Root-Bernstein,Musical Creativity and Scientific Thinking 65


ing best to the sound of music. Metallur- as sensory images, musical themes or ki- my interpretation may be correct. Many
gist Charles Martin Hall, who discovered nesthetic feelings and must, as Faraday very successful scientists have themselves
how to extract aluminum from its ore in and Maxwell pointed out long ago [55], associated their success with their
economical quantities, was reported to then be translated laboriously into for- polymathic aptitudes. Flautist-poetJ.H.
go to his piano whenever an intractable mal languages such as words or math- van't Hoff, the first Nobel laureate in
problem presented itself, thinking more ematics in order to be communicated. chemistry [57], physicist-artist Pierre
clearly as a result of the music [46]. The creative individual must therefore Duhem [58], biologist-artist David
Einstein's son also said of his father that, be synosic in order to link the preverbal, Nachmansohn [59], physicist-historian-
"Whenever he had come to the end of intuitive forms in which ideas occur to philosopher Gerald Holton [60] and
the road or into a difficult situation in their descriptive, communicable forms. physicist-inventor-novelist Mitchell Wil-
his work, he would take refuge in music, Thus, no one with monomaniacal inter- son [61] all claim that the entire com-
and that would usually resolve all his dif- ests or limited to a single talent or skill plex of skills and experiences that we call
ficulties" [47]. Einstein himself said, can, to my mind, be creative, since noth- personality are reflected in the specific
"both [music and research] are born of ing novel or worthy can emerge without form that individual scientists' discover-
the same source and complement each making surprising and effective links be- ies take. Two other Nobel laureates, art-
other through the satisfaction they be- tween things-like the puns with which I ist-neuroanatomist Santiago Ramon y
stow" [48]. Richard Bing, our cardiolo- have purposefully peppered this article Cajal [62] and novelist-immunologist
gist-composer, has also stated, "Writing in order to reveal commonalities be- Charles Richet [63], both argued that
music enriches me to look at science in a tween musical and scientific language. the great advances in science are not due
different way.It helps me emotionally to To create is to combine, to connect, to to monomaniacal specialists, but to
feel more about science. You see, I am a analogize, to link and to transform. people who have excelled broadly in
romanticist. I perceive science as an Thus, everyone of eminence, to quote their vocations and avocations [64].
emotional exercise of searching the un- novelist Henry Miller (himself an artist), Pioneers of psychology such as Francis
known" [49]. For Charles Darwin, music "has his or her violin d'Ingres" [56]. Galton [65], Henri Fehr [66], P.J.
was tooeffective in stimulating the mind. Ingres, of course, was one of many artists Moebius [67], R.K. White [68] and
He found that he had to avoid concerts (Henri Matisse and Ansel Adams also Jacques Hadamard [69] have verified
as he became older because they "set my come to mind) well known for musical this idea with anecdotal evidence, show-
mind to too rapid perambulations" [50]. performance. Miller's point is that all ing that scientific and mathematical "ge-
Is synosia all-pervasive?Does everyone creative individuals have avocations that niuses" have alwaysbeen unusually "ver-
do their best problem-solvingwhile doing they practice at very high levels along satile" in their range of skills and
something else? Does the musical theme with their vocations. This is not to equate hobbies. Historian Paul Cranefield
link and carrydiverse thoughts, bridging having multiple interests or skills with found the same thing when he did re-
the silences or gaps between them? Do its creativity;it is not simply that the people search on the founders of biophysics,
patterns provide structured guidance, or I have described are multi-talented, or such as Helmholtz, Du Bois Reymond
themes, along which ideas can travel and polymathic. Their talents are correlated and their students. The more hobbies
merge like the carrier waves of radio fre- in such a way that they interactfruitfully. and cultural pursuits each scientist had,
quencies? Or, do these musical patterns I stress the fruitfulness. Creativitycomes the more discoveries he made [70].
simply remove the intellectual constraints from finding the unexpected connec- More recently, Roberta Milgram has
that have blocked the paths of creative tions, from making use of skills, ideas, been studying the professional success of
solutions by focusing the conscious mind insights and analogies from disparate thousands of Israeli students who have
elsewhere, so that intuition can do its fields. Thus, my concept of correlative performed extremely well in the sciences
work? Recent work by Rauscher and talents and its own correlate, synosia, and mathematics. She has found that a
other investigators on the so-called help explain for me why true creative much better predictor of career success
"Mozarteffect," in which students listen- ability is so rare. Of the set of multi-tal- than IQ, grades or discipline-specific test
ing to Mozart regularly or learning how ented people, who are in turn a subset of scores, or any combination of these, was
to play musical instruments scored higher all the people who are singly talented, presence or absence of challenging lei-
on visual problem-solving tests, suggests only some will develop the necessary in- sure-time activities that require substan-
that something like this phenomenon tegration of thinking modes necessary to tial cognitive input and practice. Playing
may be going on [51]. A physical basis for make their talents interactive. It is my an instrument or composing music,
this may exist, since structuralbrain asym- belief, after many years of study, that painting, writing poetry, carpentry,build-
metries have been observed in musicians those who do develop interactive or cor- ing electronic devices and computer pro-
that are not present in non-musicians relative talents often do so because they gramming are examples [71]. I and my
[52] and it appears that the unusual ne- have a predisposition-learned or innate collaborators have compiled similar data.
cessity of using the left hand (especially or a combination of the two, I cannot We have shown in a group of 40 male sci-
in string players) actuallyrestructuresthe tell-to view their intellectual world glo- entists that success (whether measured
right, visual side of the brain [53]. bally and holistically. Thus, the view I by impact of publications or other re-
Indeed, I have found that musical have just given of music as a manifesta- lated measures) was statistically corre-
scientists use visual forms of thinking tion of thinking, rather than as an inde- lated with their active participation in
to a greater degree than even scientists pendent type of thinking, is colored by music, arts and literature as adults. We
with visual arts avocations [54], but this my interest in these polymaths and by my also found that the scientists' styles of
is a topic on which much more needs particular theory of creativityas being an thinking (visual, verbal, auditory, kines-
to be known. integrative, transformational process. thetic, etc.) were correlated with their
The critical point here is that ideas Needless to say, I am stretching the hobbies in that visually oriented scien-
manifest themselves to creative scientists available data, but there are hints that tists have more images in their imagina-

66 Root-Bernstein,Musical Creativity and Scientific Thinking


and Mathematicsin Composition
(Harmonologia Series: M.M. Root-Bernstein, Sparksof Genius (Boston, MA:
tion, while verbally oriented ones are No. 6) (New York:Pendragon Press, 1992). Houghton Mifflin, 1999); and R.S. Root-Bernstein,
more likely to become science commen- "Sensual Education," TheSciences(Sept.-Oct. 1990)
tators and theorists [72]. 5. G.B. Kauffman and K. Bumpass, "An Apparent
pp. 12-14.
Conflict between Art and Science: The Case of
So, if we are to succeed in under- Aleksandr Porfirevich Borodin (1833-1887)," 20. Root-Bernstein, Bernstein and Garnier [19] p.
standing creativity, we must understand Leonardo21, No. 4, 429-436 (1988). 126.

polymathic people and their multiple 6. See R.S. Root-Bernstein, "Harmony and Beauty 21. See J.C. Kassler, "MusicAs a Model in Early Sci-
talents. We must understand how to deal in Medical Research," Molecularand CellularCardiol- ence," Historyof Science20 (1982) pp. 103-139; and
with integrative intersections in the field ogy19, 1043-1051 (1987); RJ. Bing, "MySearch for J.C. Kassler, "Man-A Musical Instrument: Models
the Romantic Unknown," on Distar: The Voiceof the of the Brain and Mental Functioning Before the
of creativity, where music and science Physician (record) (Muenchen-Graefeling, Ger- Computer," Historyof Science22 (1984) pp. 59-92.
meld too completely to be differen- many: Werk-Verlag Dr. Edmund Bansschewski
GmbH LP, 1981). 22. Marmelszadt [11].
tiable. Inventions are a result of a con-
7. J. Pettifer and R. Brown, Nature Watch(London: 23. Gillispie [13] Vols. 7-8, pp. 444-446.
tinuum of experiences that necessitate
the rethinking and re-categorization of MichaelJoseph, 1981) pp. 87-103. 24. Root-Bernstein [11] pp. 312-340; Martin
all that went before [73]. We will there- 8. See WJ.M. Rankine, Songs and Fables (London: Kamen, Radiant Science,DarkPolitics (Berkeley: Uni-
Macmillan, 1874); L. Campbell and W. Garnett, The versity of California Press, 1985).
fore be able to recognize the greatest
Life of James ClerkMaxwell (London: Macmillan, 25. Warren and Warren [1].
breakthroughs in the use of the human 1882); Lord Rayleigh, The Life of Sir J. Thomson,
O.M. (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge Univ. Press,
imagination precisely by their inability 1943) p. 147; and G. Beadle and M. Beadle, The
26. See G. Gamow, Thirty YearsThat ShookPhysics:
The Story of Quantum Theory (Garden City, NY:
to be subsumed into the existing catego- Language of Life (New York: Doubleday, 1966) p. Doubleday, 1966); and T.S. Kuhn, BlackBody Theory
ries of sciences or arts. Each such ad- 162. and the QuantumDiscontinuity,1894-1912 (Oxford,
vance will create new possibilities that U.K.: Clarendon, 1978).
9. H. Baum, TheBiochemists'Songbook(Elmsford, NY:
we could not even have imagined be- Pergamon Press; Hants, U.K.: Taylor & Francis, 27. P.A. Schilpp, ed., AlbertEinstein:Philosopher-Scien-
1982 [reprint]; Pergamon Press cassette tape, tist (New York:Harpers, 1959) Vol. 2, p. 45.
fore, which is just why biologist John 1983).
Rader Platt believes that the melding of 28. S. Suzuki, Nurtured by Love: A New Approachto
10. T. Lehrer, An Evening Wastedwith TomLehrer(Re- Education, Waltraud Suzuki, trans. (New York: Ex-
sciences and arts will remain so exciting:
prise Records CD, 1959). position Press, 1969).
"Our verbal and musical symbols
11. See W. Marmelszadt, Musical Sons of Aesculapius 29. J. Brandmueller and R. Claus, "Symmetry: Its
scarcely represent the whole field of pos- (New York, NY: Froben Press, 1946); B. Holland,
sible sounds; painting, sculpture and ar- Significance in Science and Art," Interdisciplinary
"Scientists Who Make Music as Readily as They Do ScienceReviews7, 296-308 (1982).
chitecture scarcely scratch the surface of Research," New YorkTimes(25 March 1984) Part H,
the organization of visual space; and I p. 23; and R.S. Root-Bernstein, Discovering (Cam- 30. C.C. Sweeley, J.F. Holland, D.S. Towson, B.A.
bridge, MA:Harvard Univ. Press, 1989) pp. 322-324. Chamberlin, "Interactive and Multi-Sensory Analy-
am not sure that mathematical symbols sis of Complex Mixtures by an Automated Gas
12. See G. Weissmann, WoodsHole Cantata:Essayson
represent all the forms of biological Scienceand Society(New York: Raven Press, 1985); I
Chromatography System,"Journal of Chromatography
399 (1987) pp. 173-181.
logic. What new kinds of symbols are we learned about the meetings of the Geological Soci-
ety from Holly Stein of the U.S. Geological Survey, 31. See S. Ohno and M. Ohno, "The All Pervasive
preparing to manipulate, color organs, Principle of Repetitious Recurrence Governs Not
personal communication, 1998.
Labanotation for the ballet, or a dozen Only Coding Sequence Construction but Also Hu-
others, calling for new talents and devel- 13. C.C. Gillispie, ed., Dictionaryof ScientificBiogra- man Endeavor in Musical Composition," Immunoge-
phy (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1973- netics24 (1986) pp. 71-78; and S. Ohno, "ASong in
oping new types of youthful genius? ... 1981). Praise of Peptide Palindromes," Leukemia7 Supp. 2
What symphonies they will compose! (1993) S157-S159.
14. E. Heibert, "Walther Nernst and the Applica-
What laws they will discover!" [74] And tion of Physics to Chemistry," in Springsof Scientific 32. J. Dunn and M.A. Clark, "Life Music: The
what insights can polymaths such as Creativity,R. Aris, H.T. Davis, R.H. Stuewer, eds. Sonification of Proteins," Leonardo32, No. 1, 25-32
Apgar, Bing, Borodin, Dewar, Einstein, (Minneapolis, MN: Univ. of Minnesota Press, 1983) (1999).
pp. 203-231.
Thirring and Xenakis provide for our 33. P. Ortiz, "Sounds of Science" <http://
15. D.A. Hounshell, "TwoPaths to the Telephone,"
understanding of creativity! in ScientificAmerican244 (1981) pp. 156-163.
www.skidmore.edu/foureyes/phil/sos/sos.htm>.
34. I. Amato, "Muscle Melodies and Brain Refrains:
Music the dream, Mathematic the
16. J.G. Crowther, Scientific Types(London: Barrie Turning Bioelectric Signals into Music," Science
working life-each to receive its con- and Rockliff, 1968). News 135 (1989) pp. 202-203.
summation from the other when the
human intelligence, elevated to its per- 17. A.A. Skolnick, "Apgar Quartet Plays Peri- 35. L.W. Morey, "Musingson Biomuse," ScienceNews
135 (1989) p. 307.
fect type, shall shine forth glorified in natologist's Instruments," in Journal of the American
some future Mozart-Dirichlet or MedicalAssociation276, No. 24, 1939-1940 (1996).
36. See Root-Bernstein [11]; R.S. Root-Bernstein,
Beethoven-Gauss-a union already not 18. See H. Gardner, Framesof Mind: The Theoryof "The Sciences and Arts Share a Common Creative
indistinctly foreshadowed in the genius MultipleIntelligences(New York:Basic Books, 1983);
Aesthetic," in A.I. Tauber, ed., TheElusive Synthesis:
and labors of a Helmholtz! and H. Gardner, CreatingMinds (New York: Basic Aestheticsand Science(Amsterdam: Kluwer, 1996) pp.
Books, 1993). 49-82; and R.S. Root-Bernstein and M.M. Root-
-Joseph Sylvester, 1864 [75] Bernstein, Sparksof Genius [19].
19. See R.S. Root-Bernstein [6,11]. Also, see R.S.
37. S. Levarie, "MusicAs a Structural Model," Social
Root-Bernstein, "Creative Process As a Unifying and BiologicalStructures3 (1980) pp. 237-245.
References and Notes Theme of Human Cultures," Daedalus 113 (1984)
pp. 197-218; R.S. Root-Bernstein, "VisualThinking: 38. I. Peterson, "The Sound of Data," ScienceNews
1. R.M. Warren and R.P.Warren, Helmholtzon Percep- The Art of Imagining Reality," Transactionsof the 127 (1985) pp. 348-350.
tion: Its Physiologyand Development(New York, NY: AmericanPhilosophicalSociety75 (1985) pp. 50-67;
John Wiley and Sons, 1968). R.S. Root-Bernstein, "Tools of Thought: Designing 39. I. Peterson [38] p. 349.
an Integrated Curriculum for Lifelong Learners,"
2. The Mozart Orchestra, Sir WilliamHerschel.Music 40. I. Peterson [38] p. 349.
Roeper Review 10 (1987) pp. 17-21; R.S. Root-
by theFatherof ModernAstronomy(Newport Classics Bernstein, M. Bernstein and H. Garnier, "Correla-
CD, 1995). 41.J. Sylvester,"Algebraical Researches Containing
tions between Avocations and Professional Success a Disquisition on Newton's Rule for the Discovery
3. BJ. Novak and G.R. Barnett, "Scientists and Mu- of 40 Scientists of the Eiduson Study,"Journal of Cre- of Imaginary Roots," PhilosophicalTransactionsof the
sicians," ScienceTeacher23 (1956) pp. 229-232. ativity Research8 (1995) pp. 115-137; R.S. Root- RoyalSocietyof London 154, 613n (1864).
Bernstein, "The Sciences and Arts Share a Com-
4. See Iannis Xenakis, Arts-Science,Alloys:The Thesis mon Creative Aesthetic," in The Elusive Synthesis: 42. J. Hadamard, The Psychologyof Invention in the
Defenseof lannis Xenakis,et al., (New York:Pendragon Aestheticsand Science,A.I. Tauber, ed. (New York: MathematicalField (Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ.
Press, 1985) and I. Xenakis, Formalized Music:Thought Kluwer, 1996) pp. 49-82; R.S. Root-Bernstein and Press, 1945).

Root-Bernstein,Musical Creativity and Scientific Thinking 67


43. J. Gleick, Genius: The Life and Scienceof Richard 56. See K. Hjerter, DoublyGifted:TheAuthoras Visual (New York:Praeger, 1993); E. Hong, R.M. Milgram
Feynman(NewYork: Pantheon, 1992). Artist (New York: Abrams, 1986);J.H. van't Hoff, and S.C. Whiston, "Leisure Activities in Adoles-
"Imagination in Science," G.F. Springer, trans., Mo- cence As a Predictor of Occupational Choice in
44. 0. Lehto, "Rolf Nevanlinna," Suomalainen lecularBiology,Biochemistry,and Biophysics1 (1967) Young Adults: A Longitudinal Study,"Journal of Ca-
TiedeakatemiaVuosikirja(Finnish Academy of Sci- pp. 1-18. reer Development 19 (1993) pp. 221-229; and E.
ences Yearbook, 1980) pp. 108-112. Hong, S.C. Whiston and R.M. Milgram, "Leisure
57. Van't Hoff [56]. Activities in Career Guidance for Gifted and Tal-
45. P.J.Davis and R. Hersh, TheMathematicalExperi-
ented Adolescents: A Validation Study of the Tel-
ence (Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin, 1981). 58. A. Lowinger, The Methodologyof Pierre Duhem
Aviv Activities Inventory," Gifted Child Quarterly37
(New York:Columbia Univ. Press, 1940).
46. A.B. Garrett, TheFlash of Genius (Princeton, NJ: (1993) pp. 65-68.
Van Nostrand, 1963). 59. D. Nachmansohn, "Biochemistry As Part of My
72. See Root-Bernstein, Bernstein and Garnier [19]
Life," Annual ReviewofBiochemistry41 (1972) pp. 1-
47. R. Clark, Einstein: TheLife and Times(New York: 21. pp. 136-137.
World Publishing, 1971) p. 106.
73. Root-Bernstein [11].
60. G. Holton, ThematicOriginsof ScientificThought:
48. Clark [47] p. 106.
Keplerto Einstein (Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. 74. J.R. Platt, TheExcitementof Science(Boston, MA:
49. Pettifer and Brown [7]. Press, 1973). Houghton Mifflin, 1962).
61. M. Wilson, A Passion to Know (Garden City, NY: 75. Sylvester [41] p. 613n.
50. C. Darwin, TheAutobiographyof CharlesDarwin,
1809-1882 (New York: Harcourt, Brace, World, Doubleday, 1972).
76. For further information, see G. Antheil, Bad Boy
1958). 62. S. Ramon y Cajal, Recollectionsof My Life, E.H.
of Music(Garden City,NY:Double Day Doran, 1945),
51. See F.H. Rauscher, G.L. Shaw and KN. Ky, "Lis- Craigie andJ. Cano, trans. (Cambridge, MA: MIT J.C. Hemmeter, "Theodor Billroth, Musical and
Press, 1937). Surgical Philosopher: A Biography and a Review of
tening to Mozart Enhances Spatial-Temporal Rea-
His Work on Psychophysiological Aphorisms on
soning: Towardsa Neurophysiological Basis," Neuro- 63. C. Richet, TheNatural Historyof a Savant, Oliver
sciencesLetters185 (1995) pp. 44-47; Rauscher, Shaw Music,"JohnsHopkinsHospitalBulletin 11 (1900) pp.
Lodge, trans. (London:J.M. Dent, 1927). 297-317; Hilary Koprowski, FleetingThoughts.Songs
and Ky, "Music Training Causes Long-Term En-
hancement of Preschool Children's Spatial-Tempo- 64. See also Root-Bernstein, Bernstein and Garnier and ChamberMusic by Hilary Koprowski(Woburn,
ral Reasoning," NeurologicalResearch19, No. 1, 2-8 [19] and 0. Lehto [44]. MA: MMC Recordings CD, 1999); R.L. Megroz,
(1997); and A.B. Graziano, M. Peterson and G.L. RonaldRoss,Discovererand Creator(London: George
Shaw, "Enhanced Learning of Proportional Math 65. F. Galton, EnglishMen of Science:TheirNatureand Allen & Unwin, 1931); I. Peterson, "Bach to Chaos:
Nurture(London: Macmillan, 1874). Chaotic Variations on a Classical Theme," Science
through Music Training and Spatial-TemporalTrain-
News 146 (1994) pp. 428-429;J. Schillinger, Math-
ing," NeurologicalResearch21, No. 2, 139-152 (1999). 66. H. Fehr, Enquetede L'nseignement Mathematique ematicalBasis of the Arts (New York:
Philosophical
sur la Methodede Travail des Mathematiciens(Paris:
52. G. Schlaug, L. Jancke, Y. Huang and H. Library, 1948); and F.W. Sunderman, "Theodor
Steinmetz, "In Vivo Evidence of Structural Brain Gauthier-Villars, 1912). Billroth as Musician," Bulletin of the MedicalLibrary
Asymmetry in Musicians," Science 267 (1995) pp. Association25 (1937) pp. 209-220.
67. PJ. Moebius, Die Anlagezur Mathematik(Leipzig:
699-701.
J.U. Barth, 1900).
53. T. Elbert, C. Pantev, C. Wienbruch, B. 68. R.K. White, "The Versatility of Genius," Journal
Rockstroh and E. Taub, "Increased Cortical Repre- Robert Root-Bernstein, biologist, historian
of SocialPsychology2 (1931) pp. 460-489.
sentation of the Fingers of the Left Hand in String and artist, believes in synthesis through
Players,"Science270 (1995) pp. 305-307. 69. See Hadamard [42].
complementarity. His unusual mixture of ac-
54. See Root-Bernstein, Bernstein and Garnier 70. P. Cranefield, "The Philosophical and Cultural tivities was made possible by a MacArthur
[19]. Interests of the Biophysics Movement of 1847,"
fellowship.
Journal of theHistoryof Medicine21 (1966) pp. 1-7.
55. C.W.F.Everitt, "Maxwell's Scientific Creativity,"
in Springs of Scientific Creativity,R. Aris, H.T. Davis 71. See R.M. Milgram, R. Dunn and G.E. Price,
and R.H. Steuwer, eds. (Minneapolis, MN: Univ. of eds., Teachingand CounselingGiftedand TalentedAdo-
Minnesota Press, 1983) pp. 44-70. lescents:An International Learning Style Perspective Manuscript received 1 September 1999.

68 Root-Bernstein,Musical Creativity and Scientific Thinking