You want to know how many songs there are, well how about how many songs there can possibly be! Music, as I see it, is based on finite resources and it can then be statistically compiled just how many different arrangements and combinations of those resources are mathematically possible.
Let us take classical music. Ever wonder just how many songs can be composed? Can one determine statistically, the exact number of different songs that can be composed? Here's my argument...
For the most part, musical resources are finite. There are only a select number of instruments in the world. They are diverse and come from many ethnicities, but there is a finite number none the less. There are a finite number of beats in each measure, including the rests. You could have two measures that are basically the same except one instrument plays the downbeat in one, and not the other. Still a large number, but a finite number. There are a finite number of sounds that can be made by this finite list of instruments. Even changing the scale and the key every measure (or note) would yeild a large number, but a finite number. One would also need to restrict the number of measures in each piece as you could make the song drone on forever. Also, we would need to control for musical notation outside the realm of mere notes; codas, repeats, etc... There would have to be some assumptions made to make this calculation possible, but nothing extreme.
For example: You have to assume that the lowest sub-division in any given measure was, say, 64th note. Also, you would probably have to assume a finite number of musical styles (classical, jazz, blues, etc...) as one could be made up at any given time regardless. Think about the impact of this. We could effectively predict, log, and reference every possible song that can possibly be writen; ever! Mathematics, in this case, seems to destroy creativity by predicting it.
Agree - disagree?
Edited by drunkle, 19 November 2007 - 11:26 PM.