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Guitarist Strives to Combine Music with Science
By Shaquille Woods, Contributing Writer
Published April 12, 2018

Stanley Jordan is a platinum selling guitarist (Courtesy Photo)

The Los Angeles Sentinel Newspaper interviewed platinum-selling guitarist Stanley Jordan about his innovative music technique.  Jordan recently teamed with non-profit DiscoverE to explain connections between science and music.  The guitarist, who was a music major at Princeton University, credits his upbringing for his success.

Los Angeles Sentinel Newspaper: How did you begin your career in music and technology?

Stanley Jordan: I’ve always been interested in the arts and science.  When I was about thirteen, I decided the arts would be number one.  My mother was the artist and philosopher.  My father was a science and business person.    The more technical aspect eventually just became service to the music.  There has been so much interest and curiosity on it that I felt that I should share more of this.

Jordan’s video on DiscoverE showcased his ability to combine technology and music.  He connected his guitar to a computer program that created a colored star shaped pattern.  Each color represented musical components.

LAS: In the video, you explored a fascinating computer program using your guitar.  Could you elaborate on what you were doing?

JORDAN: I created an algorithm that can measure harmonically the distance between two scales.   Once I measured all the distances, I got this beautiful star pattern.  I got the original idea from Dave Guard from the Kingston Trio.  When I was a kid he sent me his colored guitar method.  The brilliant concept he created was the way he assigned color to the notes.  Instead of just adjacent colors, he assigned the notes that were musically apart, which made them harmonically compatible.

LAS: What was your intention for creating this program?

JORDAN: The problem that people have with music is that there is a lot of material. It can be a daunting task.   I wanted to organize all that material. This program gives you a 3D visual map. The colored points near each other have a similar sound.  You can see a rendition of your melodies.  While using a game controller, I was able to float around and see exactly where the notes are in space.

LAS: It seems the music industry doesn’t embrace new technologies.  Why do you believe that is so?

JORDAN: When rock and roll became popular, cooperation’s got involved and noticed they can make a lot of money by marketing to young people.   They made music for entertainment rather than for edification. That attitude is still in here today.  This is a moment where we can reinvigorate the education in general.  I’m hoping the tools I’ve created can get people to explore music education.

LAS: Where do you see music and science going in the next ten years?

JORDAN: Music therapy, because it has benefits.  The benefits range from psychological to emotional.  This is a big field that people should know about. I highly recommend reading a book from Barbara Crowe called Music & Soul Making.  She digs deep into the cutting-edge science behind music therapy.

To catch all the latest updates from Jordan, please visit his website stanleyjordan.com for more information.

Categories: Entertainment | Music
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