Okay, so loooong before I became fascinated with the Glass Bead Game, and its goal of a symbolic language that unifies art, music, mathematics, and science, there was this:Close Encounters of the Third Kind that was used to facilitate communication with the aliens. Throughout that movie, the scientists were struggling to understand how the aliens were communicating using musical notes. They also used some real-life hand signals for the notes, but what everyone remembers is that five-tone sequence that got played hundreds of times in the movie...
I happened to think of this again yesterday and went to Sage Google... and found... nothing. Some comments about how the musical track and the lights weren't synched up with one another until post-production, but absolutely nothing about the design of the darned thing.
So I thought about it. (You know that old saying: "Sometimes I just sits and thinks. And sometimes I just sits." Not sure which one this was.) The board has 12 columns and 6 rows. The 12 columns may correspond to the 12 semi-tones of the chromatic scale. In fact, the first three notes of the 5-tone alien sequence are positioned correctly for that to be the case. (Thanks youtube for having this full section of the movie... with funny subtitles to boot!) So it looks like the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd notes correspond as follows:
So what does this have to do with anything useful or real? Well, probably nothing. But there has been a long tradition (from the Italian Renaissance to the 20th century Surrealists!) in finding new insights at the intersections of the traditional arts and sciences. Isaac Newton was fascinated by the correspondences between color and music, and people have invented strange devices and rigorous mental disciplines to explore these things. Even psychologists are learning about the workings of the brain by studying people who see sounds and hear colors!