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Thread: music and mathematics

  1. #1
    Seaman, Mezzoforte
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    music and mathematics

    so, what is relation between these two forms of thought?
    firstly, i think, there's great historical evidence of music being concerned with mathematics - from paul hindemith's mathesis universalis to my home country composer rytis mazulis whose works you can find on www.megadisc-classics.com. also through names like erkki-sven tuur's architectonics or even webern's 5 pieces for string quartet. what all these have in common is the sense of musical composition being its inner form of numbers. like in pure mathematics it has no other meaning, but just its (compositional/ equational) inner formal order. like mathematics,this music starts from axioms,and stays faithful to the principal of using as little as possible. and, what is of most importance, music, like mathematics, is infinite
    - an examples of the infinite that lives in thought.
    yet, the question goes - what is it that seperates music from mathematics?
    my answer would be - singing. singing, which is subject's voice, born in particular time. mathematics has no concern with subject. music, like all other arts, is of and for subject.
    thats my preliminary

  2. #2
    Commodore of Water Music
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    It's very simple:

    Music is art.
    Mathematics is science.

    The two should never be combined in the process of creating significant meaning.
    With love,
    Rune Vejby
    *composer
    *pianist

  3. #3
    Captain of Water Music pnoom's Avatar
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    Music is math.

    Time signatures are math. Note values are math. I'm in a music theory class, and as the teacher said at the beginning of the class, people who are good at math tend to be good at music and vice versa.

    Music and math both rely on patterns. Of course they should be combined!
    "Did anybody see this snowman
    Stand there with the lord
    With proper get up, hang his hat
    Only you're feeling sleepy-eyed"

    -Damo Suzuki

  4. #4
    Midshipman, Forte
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    Quote Originally Posted by pnoom View Post
    Music is math.

    Time signatures are math. Note values are math. I'm in a music theory class, and as the teacher said at the beginning of the class, people who are good at math tend to be good at music and vice versa.
    not exactly, time signatures, note values all concern with Arithmtic. But, Mathematics is far more diverse than just simple arithmetic, it's about analytical thinking, problem solving, and geometry too.

    Quote Originally Posted by pnoom View Post
    Music and math both rely on patterns. Of course they should be combined!
    this statement is illogical. All the sciences rely on patterns, is it true that Music is also chemistry? or biology?
    Just because two things follow certain patterns, that intersect each other in some areas(albeit not much). It doesn't imply that "Music is Math". To my knowledge, all the great composers weren't great mathematicians, and the great mathematicians seldom write masterful works of music.

    think about it, science concerns with the development of "models", that can reproduce a situation with great accuracy. e.g physical laws of nature. Suppose that your statement: "music is math" is valid, then a smart mathematician/scientist can come up with a model, that describes, and to a large extend can reproduce music. Then, suppose this scientist writes an algorithm (which is not difficult to do, since it's based on a set of mathematical laws), a computer program. Hypothetically speaking, the computer then, is capable of writing symphonies, and string quartets in the style of say Beethoven? You see how nonsensical this is?
    Last edited by Gustav; Oct-24-2007 at 23:40.

  5. #5
    Admiral Honkenwheezenpooferspieler Corno Dolce's Avatar
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    If my memory serves me, Rachmaninoff said that music is to be the sum of one's life experiences: Faith, Love, Literature, Travel, Family, Home, and Nation. Sorta gives lie to the notion of music is like mathematics. Imagine having to write algorithmic code which can encompass human emotional and physical experience in the aforementioned areas. I don't see the grant funding institutions like NASA, JPL, and NSF or even the Ford Foundation pitching monies to this venture anytime soon. Who is gonna pay the scientist/mathematician team to do research on the topic of *music is like math*?

    *If a man wants God to hear his prayer quickly, then before he prays for anything else, even his own soul, when he stands and stretches out his hands towards God, he must pray with all his heart for his enemies. Through this action God will hear everything that he asks* -Abba Zeno-

    *Protagoras: "Truth is subjective. What is true for you, and what is true for me, is true for me. Your opinion is true by virtue of its being your opinion."

    *Socrates: "My opinion is: Truth is absolute, not opinion, and that you are in absolute error. Since this is my opinion, then according to your philosophy you must grant that it is true."

    "Improvisational Art": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qSxVO3EoCRM

  6. #6
    Captain of Water Music pnoom's Avatar
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    Arithmetic is a type of math. Music is not completely math (obviously), but it does touch on various aspects of it. To suggest that the two are completely disimilar is simply wrong. It's really not a matter of opinion (but maybe that's just IMO).

    And, to an extent, there are algorithms for music. Different key signatures are sadder than others. The tritone appeals to fear (as does a major seventh, as I recall). Obviously, there is an intellectual aspect that cannot be captured by a computer, but music is, in its essence, an emotional interpretation of basic mathematical properties.

    Another example of how music is math:

    If you have a string and pluck it, it produces a note (we'll choose C for good measure). If you cut the string in half and pluck one of the pieces, you again get the note C, but an octave above.
    "Did anybody see this snowman
    Stand there with the lord
    With proper get up, hang his hat
    Only you're feeling sleepy-eyed"

    -Damo Suzuki

  7. #7
    Vice Admiral Virtuoso methodistgirl's Avatar
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    Yes there's math in music. There are eight notes in an octive. There is
    the time signature at the begining before the notes. Sure! Don't forget
    to count the number of pages in your sheet music and measures.
    judy tooley

  8. #8
    Midshipman, Forte
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    Quote Originally Posted by pnoom View Post
    If you have a string and pluck it, it produces a note (we'll choose C for good measure). If you cut the string in half and pluck one of the pieces, you again get the note C, but an octave above.
    Very true, that's a physical phenomenon, and can be described by models. Such phenomenons, i admit are more than just simple coincidences, but even so, it's hardly "Music" in the conventional sense. Although it is curious how some aspect of music relates to arithmetic, the process of music making is an entirely different matter.

    Arithmetic is not math, arithmetic is a subset of mathematics. Calculus is a branch of mathematics too, so is trigonometry. But, Calculus and Trig are different from arithmetic.

  9. #9
    Captain of Water Music pnoom's Avatar
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    "Arithmetic is not math, arithmetic is a subset of mathematics"

    By saying that arithmetic is math, what I mean is that it is a subset of mathematics, not that all math is arithmetic.

    I believe my posts generally agree with your statement that music making as a process is not mathematical (necessarily).
    "Did anybody see this snowman
    Stand there with the lord
    With proper get up, hang his hat
    Only you're feeling sleepy-eyed"

    -Damo Suzuki

  10. #10
    Admiral Honkenwheezenpooferspieler Corno Dolce's Avatar
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    Hi pnoom,

    Methinks that you might be skating on thin ice with your assumption *In essence, music is an emotional interpretation of basic mathematical properties. Mathematics has not codified the emotional experiences we sense when we read Shakespeare and Dostoevsky or when we witness an act of terrorism a la 9/11. Now, Music and Poetry very much codify each other, albeit in other terms.

    When doing computer modeling using the mathematical sub-discipline of Analytical Mechanics as help in visualising various physical structures like buildings, the image seen can elicit an emotional response as can plugging in an algorithmic code for a visual computer program that generates and colors fractal images.

    As you say, there are some algorithms for music and that is a sub-discipline in itself.

    Also, I did not mean to imply that music and math are totally dissimilar - far be it from me to make such a scurrilous assumption.

    Music is also Mathematical Physics in action - think String Theory and Branes, and Acoustics even. And thats not all...

    Cheers,

    Corno Dolce
    *If a man wants God to hear his prayer quickly, then before he prays for anything else, even his own soul, when he stands and stretches out his hands towards God, he must pray with all his heart for his enemies. Through this action God will hear everything that he asks* -Abba Zeno-

    *Protagoras: "Truth is subjective. What is true for you, and what is true for me, is true for me. Your opinion is true by virtue of its being your opinion."

    *Socrates: "My opinion is: Truth is absolute, not opinion, and that you are in absolute error. Since this is my opinion, then according to your philosophy you must grant that it is true."

    "Improvisational Art": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qSxVO3EoCRM

  11. #11
    Captain of Water Music pnoom's Avatar
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    I'm not sure what you're trying to say. The very point of what I said was that "mathematics has not codified the emotional experiences we sense...," but that we use mathematical patterns coupled with our reactions to these emotional experiences to create a musical representation of the experiences.
    "Did anybody see this snowman
    Stand there with the lord
    With proper get up, hang his hat
    Only you're feeling sleepy-eyed"

    -Damo Suzuki

  12. #12
    Apprentice, Piano
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    Rune, Hi.

    It's very complex

    Music is art. Science is art. Chimistry is science. Everything is about:

    science / art / Technology.

    ¿Could be art without technology?

    ¿Could be technology without art?

    Let´s make connections.


    Mathematics is science.

  13. #13
    Admiral Honkenwheezenpooferspieler Corno Dolce's Avatar
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    Hi pnoom,

    My fault I fear - I misread, misunderstood, and misinterpreted what you wrote.

    My Bad

    Hopefully, I'm not regarded as a misanthrope

    Cheers,

    Corno Dolce
    *If a man wants God to hear his prayer quickly, then before he prays for anything else, even his own soul, when he stands and stretches out his hands towards God, he must pray with all his heart for his enemies. Through this action God will hear everything that he asks* -Abba Zeno-

    *Protagoras: "Truth is subjective. What is true for you, and what is true for me, is true for me. Your opinion is true by virtue of its being your opinion."

    *Socrates: "My opinion is: Truth is absolute, not opinion, and that you are in absolute error. Since this is my opinion, then according to your philosophy you must grant that it is true."

    "Improvisational Art": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qSxVO3EoCRM

  14. #14
    Captain of Water Music pnoom's Avatar
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    Yay! Headbang time!

    But seriously, don't worry about it. I've read that 50% of all forum posts/emails are misinterpreted (because you don't have body language and tone to help, just emoticons).

    I don't hold grudges (at least, not over the internet). Except for the one grudge that drove me away from a forum I otherwise liked (but that was for something far more serious than a mere misinterpretation - the guy misinterpreted a harmless joke I made, responded far too violently even if his interpretation was correct, then when I tried to explain things to him, blew me off; people here are far too respectful to take such a simple mistake that far).
    "Did anybody see this snowman
    Stand there with the lord
    With proper get up, hang his hat
    Only you're feeling sleepy-eyed"

    -Damo Suzuki

  15. #15
    Admiral Honkenwheezenpooferspieler Corno Dolce's Avatar
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    Hi pnoom,

    Thou art a noble mensch. Aaaach - well - maybe I'm misunderestimating sometimes.

    Cheers,

    Corno Dolce
    *If a man wants God to hear his prayer quickly, then before he prays for anything else, even his own soul, when he stands and stretches out his hands towards God, he must pray with all his heart for his enemies. Through this action God will hear everything that he asks* -Abba Zeno-

    *Protagoras: "Truth is subjective. What is true for you, and what is true for me, is true for me. Your opinion is true by virtue of its being your opinion."

    *Socrates: "My opinion is: Truth is absolute, not opinion, and that you are in absolute error. Since this is my opinion, then according to your philosophy you must grant that it is true."

    "Improvisational Art": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qSxVO3EoCRM

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