© 2021

How Music Works

A Physical Culture Theory


Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xviii
  2. Part I

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 1-1
    2. Rolf Bader
      Pages 35-56
  3. Part II

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 69-69
    2. Rolf Bader
      Pages 71-104
    3. Rolf Bader
      Pages 105-115
    4. Rolf Bader
      Pages 117-130
    5. Rolf Bader
      Pages 131-148
    6. Rolf Bader
      Pages 149-151
    7. Rolf Bader
      Pages 153-165
    8. Rolf Bader
      Pages 167-172
    9. Rolf Bader
      Pages 173-180
    10. Rolf Bader
      Pages 181-189
    11. Rolf Bader
      Pages 215-227
    12. Rolf Bader
      Pages 229-240
  4. Part III

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 241-241
    2. Rolf Bader
      Pages 243-252

About this book


How do we understand culture and shape its future? How do we cross the bridge between culture as ideas and feelings and physical, cultural objects, all this within the endless variety and complexity of modern and traditional societies? This book proposes a Physical Culture Theory, taking culture as a self-organizing impulse pattern of electric forces. Bridging the gap to consciousness, the Physical Culture Theory proposes that consciousness content, what we think, hear, feel, or see is also just this: spatio-temporal electric fields. Music is a perfect candidate to elaborate on such a Physical Culture Theory. Music is all three, musical instrument acoustics, music psychology, and music ethnology. They emerge into living musical systems like all life is self-organization. Therefore the Physical Culture Theory knows no split between nature and nurture, hard and soft sciences, brains and musical instruments. It formulates mathematically complex systems as Physical Models rather than Artificial Intelligence.  It includes ethical rules for maintaining life and finds culture and arts to be Human Rights. Enlarging these ideas and mathematical methods into all fields of culture, ecology, economy, or the like will be the task for the next decades to come.


Music Culture Theory Self-organization Consciousness Musical Acoustics Music Psychology Music Ethnology

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Systematic MusicologyUniversity of HamburgHamburgGermany

About the authors

Rolf Bader is a professor for Systematic Musicology, which he studied in Hamburg, Germany, together with Physics, Ethnology, and Historical Musicology. After teaching at Stanford University as a Visiting Scholar, he teaches at the Institute of Systematic Musicology at the University of Hamburg since 2007. His main research interests are Physical Modeling of Musical Instruments, Timbre and Rhythm Perception, Musical Signal Processing, Room Acoustics, or Music Ethnology. He also works on Self-organization and Synergetics of Musical Instruments and Music Perception. He is the editor of the Springer Handbook of Systematic Musicology, and wrote monographs like Computational Mechanics of the Classical Guitar or Nonlinearities and Synchronization in Musical Acoustics and Music Psychology, and edited volumes like Sound-Perception-Performance or Computational Phonogram Archiving in the Springer Series Current Research in Systematic Musicology, where he also is an editor-in-chief. He works as an Ethnomusicologist, mainly in Myanmar, Cambodia, China, India, or Sri Lanka. He is also a musician and composer in the fields of free improvised and electronic music, as well as Fusion and Rock, and published several CDs.

Bibliographic information