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One of the features of 20th century art is its increasing level of abstraction from cubism and surrealism in the early years to abstract expressionism and mathematical photography later. So an interesting question is what further abstractions can we look forward to in the 21st century?

Today we get an answer thanks to the work of Karl Svozil, a theoretical physicist at the University of Technology in Vienna and his pal Volkmar Putz. These guys have mapped out a way of representing music using the strange features of quantum theory. The resulting art is the quantum equivalent of music and demonstrates many of the bizarre properties of the quantum world.

Svozil and Putz begin by discussing just how it might be possible to represent a note or octave of notes in quantum form and by developing the mathematical tools for handling quantum music.

They begin by thinking of the seven notes in a quantum octave as independent events whose probabilities add up to one. In this scenario, quantum music can be represented by a mathematical structure known as a seven-dimensional Hilbert space.

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