# Maths in Music

Music has always been a subject which I love but have never been very good at, after TRYING to learn the violin (we wont talk about that today) I discovered I was never going to be a musical genius. I love nothing more than listening to a bit of Taylor Swift or watching a good musical. Sadly, that’s as far as my musical knowledge goes.

A recent maths input, which I very much enjoyed, was discovering the links between maths and music. At the beginning of the input, we were asked to think of as many links as possible, my list consisted of rhythm and beats in a bar. After being proud of coming up with 2 links you can imagine how amazed I was to discover the list is pretty much endless. Some links, which I wasn’t aware of included:

• Note values
• Tuning/pitch
• Counting songs
• Fingering on music
• Time signature
• Scales
• Fibonacci sequence
• Patterns and repetition

Patterns and Repetition

In any piece of music, pattern and repetition are usually involved in order to create a rhythm, which is a regular repeated pattern or sound (Rhythm, 2017). According to Professor Peter Schickele, the reason for this “is that regularity of pattern builds up expectations as to what is to come next”, thus making the piece more exciting and memorable. However when composing a piece of music it is essential to create the right balance of repetition as too much can make the piece boring and predictable (Schickele, 1980).

Fibonacci Sequence

The Fibonacci sequence, according to Elaine J. Home (2013) is “a series of numbers where a number is found by adding the two numbers before it”. For example, the sequence starts like 0,1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21. Lets take the number 8, this number belongs in the sequence as the two numbers found before it equals 8 (3+5+8).

In music, a chord is made up of the 1st (the root), 3rd and 5th note on a scale. These are all Fibonacci numbers. Fibonacci numbers also re appear in the octave and multiple scales too (Meisner, 2012). The video below demonstrates how the Fibonacci sequence appears visually in a musical context.

The ‘music in maths’ input was one of my favourites as, even though music is something I listen to on a daily basis, I had never associated it with maths. This highlights the idea that maths is a common theme in many aspects of our lives. In the future, I would be interested in having a second go at trying to learn an instrument. After this input and with a basic fundamental mathematical knowledge, I might have more luck this time as I will be able to look out for the links!

References

Elaine J. (2013). ‘What is the Fibonacci Sequence?’ Available at: https://www.livescience.com/37470-fibonacci-sequence.html (Accessed 17 November 2017)

Meisner G. (2012). ‘Music and the Fibonacci Sequence and Phi’ Available at: https://www.goldennumber.net/music/ (Accessed 15 November 2017)

Rhythm. (2017). In: Oxford Disctionary, 1st ed. Oxford University Press.

Schickele P. (1980). Symmetries. Symmetry in Music, p.238.