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Volume 24, Number 3 — March 2017

Mathematics and Music

Math and music surround us every day

By Leslie Grace | A! Magazine for the Arts | February 27, 2013

Math and music surround us every day. Music, whether it's on the car radio, in the background in an office, a coworker humming or bird song, is ubiquitous.

Math is around us as well. We just may not notice it as much, unless we're counting change or paying bills. However, it's there. Every time you read a story about a company's profit, the temperature change per day, sports statistics, build a house, get tests results from a doctor or myriad other tasks: math underlies all of them.

Even the Western "equally tempered" scale (the scale most of us think of when we think of music, sometimes called the do-re-mi scale) is based on a logarithmic order of pitches. This allows a composer to transpose a piece from one key to another and have the piece sound the same.

There has been a great deal of research into other relationships between music and math, whether studying one helps with the other, or even if the relationship is a conscious effort. We talked to several mathematicians and a physicist about this relationship.

>> THERE'S MORE: Schery Collins

Topics: Music