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Coherent Rudimental Drumming

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Posted by Richard Ruquist on November 12, 2002 16:20:14 UTC

The following is an article I will try to publish in a magazine for fifers and drummers that one or more of you might be interested in reading. The article claims that there is a quantum coherent effect when drummers lock-up that goes beyond feedback processes. The physical mechanism of that process I will discuss here but not there.

My contention is that the mental processes of two locked up drummers behaves holistically. Such behavior is known in physics for materials near absolute zero and in the EPR experiments where separate particles like electrons and positrons created together continue to behave like a single particle. It can happen for mental processes if, as I have often discussed on this forum, our mental processes are copied or perhaps originate in an axion superfluid, a possible constituent of dark matter. The axion fluid is super just because it resides at or very near absolute zero. Thus, in this superfluid, separate mental processes can couple as if they were one particle- they become entangled in physics nomenclature.

My claim is that at least the thrill of locking up comes from this quantum effect, and perhaps the actual lock-up process of live drummers is enhanced by this coherent effect as well as feedback. There is no thrill if you lock-up with recorded music as only the feedback mechanisms are available.

Coherent Rudimental Drumming

The experience of ‘locking up’

Richard Ruquist

I must apologize ahead of time for writing yet another physics article in the Ancient Times. The last article, called appropriately “The Physics of Fife and Drum”, was perceived by many to be out of place in the Ancient Times, and those with that perception let the former Editor know exactly what they thought of it. These same people might be similarly be put off by this article. But I promise that this article will be more experiential than theoretical, for the experience of ‘locking up’ is one of the best experiences available in music of any sort- even fifing. Forgive me for trying to understand it.

When two drummers lock-up, they experience what is known in physics as coherence- hence the title. Fortunately many of you reading this article are sufficiently competent as drummers to have had the ‘lock-up’ experience and so you know what I am talking about. Lock-up is characterized by the two drummers sounding exactly like one drummer. But much more than just that, the process of locking-up is thrilling, for me.

My experience of ‘lock-up’ is that my drumming becomes almost perfect. Either the attempt to lock-up makes me drum better, or the lock-up process itself makes me drum better. My contention is that there is a coherent effect that enhances the lock-up process. My experience is that when two drummers get close enough, what happens is that some strange type of force draws the beats together. Suddenly you can feel the other drummer’s beats in the response of your drum and in your fingers. Then to certain extent you remain locked-up even if you relax.

For instance if the other drummer stops drumming, I may continue drumming the same, but my experience is that I am more likely to drum less perfectly. That suggests to me that there is some kind of force of coherency that aids the lock-up process. Fifers must experience this effect as well. Perhaps that’s why we often see two very good fifers playing directly at each other. Likewise, more than two drummer can lock-up, but the difficulty of doing so increases nonlinearly with the number of drummers.

In order to understand this process better, I would like to appeal to a process that seemingly involves ‘lock-up’ that you are all familiar with-ordinary speech. The proof in some sense that language communication involves something like a lock-up process is that many of us can, in a crowded very noisy room, focus in on a single speaker to the exclusion of all other conversations. That is because we are mentally processing the speech of that speaker in order to draw it out of the noise. Signal-to-noise processing of that sort is well known in electrical engineering and it is thought to apply to speech as well. It cannot be done if the noise level is too high. At my age, I’m writing this on my 65th birthday, I have pretty much lost the ability to process individual speech out of the noise.

Another example of speech lock-up is that if you hear a foreign language, one that you do not know, you cannot distinguish any words. As a child you learn to recognize words by mental comparison to words already stored in your head. It is the process of comparison with what is already known that amounts to signal processing that increases the hearing of a particular language. The comparison of the heard words with the words stored in your brain is a coherent process. If the words do not match, if they are not coherent, then the language will not be recognized.

In speech recognition, if the words are sufficiently close, then the word is just recognized to be the stored one. In rudimental drumming the process is slightly different. I am speculating now, but I think that what happens in drumming lock-up is that a mental comparison is made, perhaps beneath the level of our consciousness, and that the difference between what is heard and perhaps our mental sound image of what is intended, is used as a feedback signal to enhance lock-up. This process is not so different from the feedback of drumming alone and making conscious adjustments to improve the sound of your drum. This feedback effect alone may well explain the lock-up process.

However, I cannot help but think that there is an additional coherent effect or force as well. Perhaps it is because I relate locking-up to a quantum coherence effect recently discovered in physics. If you use a focused high power laser to make an electron and a positron at a point in space, they will fly off in opposite directions and seemingly be separate particles. Yet they still behave as though they were a single particle in the sense that if anything happens to one particle, the opposite will happen to the other particle. Physicists do not understand why this happens. So they gave it a name, entanglement, and then can say that it happens because of entanglement. Physics is like that.

My opinion is that mental processes can become entangled, such as in communication by speech. When you lock-up in speech, the experience is more intimate than might be possible from just a feedback process. If so, then two drummers lock-up when their mental processing of the drumbeats lock and the two drummers in effect behave holistically as one particle. This is a well known and understood process for materials near absolute zero resulting in superconductivity of metals and superfluidity of liquids. I have a physics model that suggests that mental processes may behave like they are at absolute zero, but that’s another story you needn’t be burdened with.

Enough theory. I find that I can lock-up with individual snare drummers, but we cannot all lock-up together. This I believe is because of divergent drumming styles. In order to lock-up with another drummer, you have to copy the other’s drum style. So if your style is sufficiently flexible, you can lock-up with many different drummers, but three or more drummers can lock-up only if they have the same drum style.

So a possible test of whether a holistic coherent effect is at work, is whether you can lock-up with recorded music. Put on your favorite CD to drum to and see if you can lock-up. My favorite is a celtic rock CD called ‘Hooligans in Suits’ by Lenahan. I find that if I can anticipate the music, I can lock-up with it, but the thrill of locking up with another drummer is missing. So my guess is that you use the feedback process to lock-up with recorded music, but the extra coherent effects are missing, along with the thrill.


As a postscript, some Russians have theory and experimental validation of such coherent effects. They are referencd in my
dark matter article.


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