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Courtesy of Erika Gerdemark / The New York Times

February 27, 2019

ROLNICK | Tropical House and Time Travel

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will begin by saying that traveling by plane can do wonders for the mind. Being suspended tens of thousands of feet above ground in a comparatively tiny aircraft makes any sane person think about this world, while literally passing through whatever concept of time we have so mindlessly succumbed ourselves to.

Before we created our modern notion of time, music has, somehow, always operated within it. Many are aware that the monumental 19th century building of trains and the threat of collision propelled us to standardize the inherently subjective notion of time. Prior to the invention of rail travel, there always seemed to be an objective way in which music deals with the concept of time. From ancient orchestras to production tools like Logic Pro, where tempo and “keeping time” are necessary, it feels safe to say that music is the exception to time’s subjectivity, as it does not exist without a seemingly objective conceptualization of time.

In preparation for February break, in which I visited friends who are studying abroad in Barcelona, I plugged in my headphones — not my AirPods — and prepared for take-off. I put on some Kygo, stared out the airplane window and watched the clouds engulf me in their beauty. It was all in good fun, until I pulled out my newly purchased book entitled This Book Will Blow Your Mind, which truly it did.

Skipping directly to the quantum physics section, I grew entranced by a specific chapter on time, in which Einstein’s widely known space time theory is used as its primary basis. For those unaware, Einstein’s space time theory can lead many philosophers to view time largely as a social construct, or in the words of Kanye West, “a myth.” With Kygo’s “Happy Now” loud in my ears, here’s what I gathered: music is one of the best  proofs for Einstein’s — or I guess Kanye’s — space time theory, or the debunking of our society’s largely skewed view of time.

What differentiates music from mere noise? Well, patterns; in other words, it is music’s predictability which allows for listeners to become stuck in time. At that split second in time, we are simultaneously living in the past, present, and future.

There is something about the Kygo in my ears during that flight to Barcelona that made me feel this notion more than I believe any other artist could on my playlist. There is something about the predictability of EDM, “tropical house” in Kygo’s case, which I feel really exemplifies the integration of music and time. Predictability is what keeps Kygo remixes hitting streaming records which surpass the original tracks’ stats. Remixing, EDM and feel-good music can all be grouped together as a science and as an art, and Kygo certainly has perfected both aspects.

Through Kygo and tropical house, we are time travelers. So next time, when you’re stuck wondering why you like that beat so much, maybe it’s because you found a time machine.

Juliette Rolnick is a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences. She can be reached at jr798@cornell.edu. Eyes Wide Shut runs alternate Thursdays this semester.