Connections Between Mathematics And Music

There are many examples of how mathematics and music are connected. In this essay, a few examples will be examined. It is important to note that mathematics touches almost every other form of communication known to man... and that, perhaps, music is a perfect expression of that math, mixed with some creativity for your listening pleasure…

Consider, if you will, the tempo of the music. Tempo is the speed at which the beat is played. Tempo used to be announced with Italian words; one for walking, one for fast, moderate and slow. The problem was that these words were subjective, that is, based on the author’s own interpretation of them, and therefore were not very useful to others. Now days, we use beats per minute as demarcations for changes in tempo.

Consider the mathematical possibilities in the rhythm of the music; and, see again where math touches nearly everything. The rhythm can be said to be the overall feeling of the movement in a given song. Rhythm implies both differentiation and regularity. Human bodies have their own rhythms, such as heartbeat, waking and sleeping cycles, etc…

It can be argued that music is not really made by man but really exists in nature as a mathematical possibility or happening; and, that music is simply discovered, manipulated and redistributed by humans. But music, viewed by some, has nothing to do with logic and more to do with the human heart. Ultimately, unlike mathematics, music can be a hard term to define because people have differing opinions on just what music is. The best way to describe music is to say that it is meaningful sound, made up of rhythms, harmonies and melodies. But, what is sound?

Sound is a form of energy that is perceived in the ear. Changes in air pressure and such can produce sensations in our ears and our brains translate this into hearing. Sound perceived by the human ear is measured in cycles per second (known as Hertz). Vocal cords, just like guitar strings produce frequencies, which are measured with numbers. Amplitude is also measured in numbers.

This is a simplified version of how mathematics and music relate. Yet, further study of the relationship may be a bit complex for those unfamiliar with physics or advanced mathematics. Research has suggested that the two are more alike than different. That same research suggests that mathematics can be found in everything around us. Is it possible that some things are illogical and still sound great? You decide.