John Coltrane — musical innovator “with physics at his fingertips”





In a 2016 Business Insider post, the physicist Stephon Alexander – author of The Jazz of Physics:  The Secret Link Between Music and the Structure of the Universe – writes about the connections between John Coltrane, described by Alexander as a “musical innovator, with physics at his fingertips,” and Albert Einstein, who “was an innovator in physics, with music at his fingertips.”

Coltrane’s music, particularly his final three records, helped Alexander realize that improvisation is a characteristic of both music and physics.  “Much like Einstein working with his thought experiments, some jazz improvisers construct mental patterns and shapes when they solo. I suspect that this was true of Coltrane.”

His book, described by the New York Times’ Dan Tepfer as “part memoir, part history of science, part physics popularization and part jazz lesson” is an enlightening read (assuming you survive the effort required to surmount the challenge of its thesis).  This piece will give you a good idea about whether to take the plunge…Click here to read it.