there are only so many combinations of musical notes in existence. So how have we not run out yet?



there are only so many combinations of musical notes in existence. So how have we not run out yet?

In: Other

Because only a fraction of all the musical notes actually sound good to us, so we reuse and recycle the same chords and melodies to create a vast amount of music. It’s why most of the last 100 number one hits have the same 4 chords, there’s been a few videos on YouTube that I can’t be arsed searching for right now, that show it.

Because genres evolve, change ect we always get some variation from it. But there are however many songs that can be found very similar, or close to identical. – Example on how we barley even notice it.

Well I’m not a music person so my verbiage and musical jargon will be non existence. But looking a just a numbers stand point we would need the amount of notes for the average song. But let’s assume it’s 100 notes, music goes off of letter scaling, A-G, 7 (not including those one kind) different notes can be played, and each one of them can be played in 6 or so ways (whole note, quarter note, and so on).

So you would multiply 6 *7= 42

Now you have 42 options per note of your 100 note song. So 42^100 = 2.113144e+162 is the amount of possible variations in this 100 note song. So yes it’s possible to run out, but it’s also not including different instruments and some notes and pauses and blah blah blah. But it’s a large number.

People smarter then me please correct or add in the wording.

Adding new notes is really a thing. Different musical cultures operate on different sets of notes. There are pentatonic cultures with only 5 notes. There are Near Eastern and Indian cultures with much more than 12 notes, they operate microtones. Western music advanced from ancient pentatonic, to various diatonic (7 note) modes, to chromatic music (12 notes). There were also less successful music systems in Western history, such as the Ancient Greek genera, ethos and melos which eventually boiled down to diatonics (more exotic versions just sorta died out).

TL/DR: it is a mistake to think that there are just 7 notes. It is all culturally and historically variable.

There are only so many combinations of characters in the English alphabet: yet we’re not going to run out of English books to write any time soon.

The musical notes can be combined in different numbers, at different tempos, in different keys, with different accents, in different instruments, creating phrases of differing lengths. We here common structures and melodies all the time, but we generally don’t perceive them as the “same song” because each has *some* unique spin on it.

On a mathematical basis only, combinations work like you sag only if you a defined number of “objects” to put in a defined number of “places”.

I have a finite number of combinations only if I say something like “how many melodies can I create with just *twenty notes* (places), considering only the *natural notes* (=7 notes, objects)?” This means you have seven notes to repeat how the hell you want to a maximum of twenty times: 7^10 = 7x7x7x7x7x7x7x7x7x7= 282.475.249 combinations. If you go up to 20 notes you have already 7^20 = 79.792.266.297.612.001 combinations.

Now, no one is telling you that you cannot create a melody with 57 notes, so, potentially, as you don’t have a defined number of “places”, you don’t have a defined number of combinations. There is an infinite amount of melodies, and as infinite is not a rational number, regardless of how many already exist there is an infinite number of melody yet to be composed.

This was the math, to that infinite number add that, as someone else already said, there is a ridiculous number of other variables to consider, for example: there are seven notes *in an octave*, and we can hear a span of about 10 octaves, from 16 to 16.000 hz, which means 70 pure notes (tones) plus all the # and b (semitones), an octave with the tones and semitones is 12 notes, so we actually hear more than 120 notes if I’m not wrong (I just did a quick math, if someone knows better they’re free to disagree).

Other variables are the tone, the various instruments, the tempo, the duration of the notes, the accent, the sound effects, the genras evolving and a bajillion other things.

So practically no, there isn’t a finite number of music melodies, and even if there was one, we’re nowhere even close to run out of combinations.

Thanks guys. All really useful info. After I posted this, I remembered that the rubiks cube has a gazillion combinations or something ridiculous and it occured to me that if thats the case, then music combinations must far exceed that