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Department of mathematics and informatics

Faculty of Sience
University of Kragujevac
MATHEMATHICS AND MUSIC
Professor: Student:
Radmila tajn Suzana or!evi"
File num#er:
$$%&'$&
(athemathics and music Suzana or!evi" $$%&'$&
1. INTRODUCTION
(athematics is involved in some )ay in every field of study *no)n to man*ind+ ,n fact- it could #e
argued that mathematics is involved in some )ay in everything that e.ists every)here- or even everything
that is imagined to e.ist in any conceiva#le reality+ /ny possi#le or imagined situation that has any
relationship )hatsoever to space- time- or thought )ould also involve mathematics+
(usic is a field of study that has an o#vious relationship to mathematics+ (usic is- to many people- a
nonver#al form of communication- that reaches past the human intellect directly into the soul+ 0o)ever-
music is not really created #y man*ind- #ut only discovered- manipulated and reorganized #y man*ind+ ,n
reality- music is first and foremost a phenomena of nature- a result of the principles of physics and
mathematics+
(anu musicians often use mathematics to understand music+ (athematics is 1the #asis of sound1 and
sound itself 1in its musical aspects+++ e.hi#its a remar*a#le array of num#er properties1- simply #ecause
nature itself 1is amazingly mathematical1+2hough ancient 3hinese- 4gyptians and (esopotamians are
*no)n to have studied the mathematical principles of sound- the Pythagoreans of ancient 5reece are the first
researchers *no)n to have investigated the e.pression of musical scales
$
in terms of numerical ratios
&
-
particularly the ratios of small integers+ 2heir central doctrine )as that 1all nature consists of harmony
arising out of num#ers1+
From the time of Plato- harmony )as considered a fundamental #ranch of physics- no) *no)n as
musical acoustics+ 4arly ,ndian and 3hinese theorists sho) similar approaches: all sought to sho) that the
mathematical la)s of harmonics and rhythms )ere fundamental not only to our understanding of the )orld
#ut to human )ell6#eing+ 3onfucius- li*e Pythagoras- regarded the small num#ers $-&-7-8 as the source of all
perfection+
2o this day mathematics has more to do )ith acoustics than )ith composition- and the use of
mathematics in composition is historically limited to the simplest operations of counting and measuring+ 2he
attempt to structure and communicate ne) )ays of composing and hearing music has led to musical
applications of set theory- a#stract alge#ra and num#er theory+ Some composers have incorporated the
golden ratio and Fi#onacci num#ers
7
into their )or*+

$
/ scale is any set of musical notes ordered #y fundamental fre9uency or pitch+
&
/ ratio is a relationship #et)een t)o num#ers of the same *ind+
7
2he Fibonacci numbers or Fibonacci series or Fibonacci sequence are the num#ers in the follo)ing integer se9uence:
'-$-$-&-7-:-;-$7-&$-78-::-;<-$88=
6 $ 6
(athemathics and music Suzana or!evi" $$%&'$&
. MUSIC
,t is a difficult tas* to properly define the )ord 1music1- since many individuals have 9uite different
opinions+ /ccording to many musicians- music is sound that is organized in a meaningful )ay )ith rhythm-
melody- and harmony+ 2his is )hat they consider the three dimensions of music+ 2his definition )ould
e.clude such things as 1rap music1- )hich has rhythm #ut has virtually no melody or harmony+ , perceive
1rap1 to #e poetry- that is spo*en rhythmically )ith a minimum musical element at #est+ 2here are other
things that pass as music- such as the )or*s of >ohn 3age- that fail to meet their definition of music+
0o)ever- many people consider things to #e music that they do not+ 2he only definition of music that could
#e universally agreed upon- then- is that music is any sound- or any com#ination of sounds- of any *ind- that
someone- some)here- enjoys listening to+
!. SOUND
2o understand )hat music is #y this definition- )e must understand )hat sound is+ ?lson defines
sound as an 1alteration in pressure- particle displacement- or particle velocity )hich is propagated in an
elastic medium- or the superposition of such propagated alterations creating the auditory sensation that is
interpreted #y the ear1+ ,n 4nglish- sound is a form of energy that is perceived #y our ears+ Sound is
produced )hen a medium- usually air- is set into motion #y any means )hatsoever @?lsonA+ Be spend our
lives surrounded #y the earthCs atmosphere- )hich e.erts a pressure on everything in it+ /t sea level this air
pressure- or #arometric pressure- is a#out $: pounds force per s9uare inch+ 2he actual value of the
atmospheric pressure at any given place changes a little from time to time- #ut its value at any given time is
called the am#ient pressure+ Small #ut rapid changes in the am#ient pressure produce sensations in the ear
)hich )e call sound @Dac*usA+ ?ur ears transform these pressure variations into a form our #rains can
understand- *no)n as the sense of hearing
". FRE#UENC$ AND HARMON$
/ musical scale is a discrete set of pitches
8
used in ma*ing or descri#ing music+ 2he most important
scale in the Bestern tradition is the diatonic scale
:
#ut many others have #een used and proposed in various
historical eras and parts of the )orld+ 4ach pitch corresponds to a particular fre9uency- e.pressed in hertz
@0zA- sometimes referred to as cycles per second @c+p+s+A+ / scale has an interval of repetition- normally the
octave+ 2he octave of any pitch refers to a fre9uency e.actly t)ice that of the given pitch+ Succeeding
superoctaves are pitches found at fre9uencies four- eight- si.teen times- and so on- of the fundamental
fre9uency+ Pitches at fre9uencies of half- a 9uarter- an eighth and so on of the fundamental are called
su#octaves+ 2here is no case in musical harmony )here- if a given pitch #e considered accordant- that its
octaves are considered other)ise+ 2herefore any note and its octaves )ill generally #e found similarly named
in musical systems @e+g+ all )ill #e called %o& or A or Sa- as the case may #eA+ Bhen e.pressed as a
fre9uency #and)idth an octave A

'A
!
spans from $$' 0z to &&' 0z @spanE$$' 0zA+ 2he ne.t octave )ill
8
/ (itc& is a perceptual property that allo)s the ordering of sounds on a fre9uency6related scale+
:
/ %iatonic scale 6from the 5ree* - meaning 1FprogressingG through tones1- also *no)n as the &e(tatonic (rima.
6 & 6
(athemathics and music Suzana or!evi" $$%&'$&
span from &&' 0z to 88' 0z @spanE&&' 0zA+ 2he third octave spans from 88' 0z to ;;' 0z @spanE88' 0zA
and so on+ 4ach successive octave spans t)ice the fre9uency range of the previous octave+
Decause )e are often interested in the relations or ratios #et)een the pitches @*no)n as intervalsA
rather than the precise pitches themselves in descri#ing a scale- it is usual to refer to all the scale pitches in
terms of their ratio from a particular pitch- )hich is given the value of one @often )ritten 1)1A- generally a
note )hich functions as the tonic
H
of the scale+ For interval size comparison cents
I
are often used+
Common name
E*am(le
name
H+
Multi(le
o, ,un%amental
Ratio
-it&in octa.e
Cents
-it&in octa.e
Fundamental
/
&
-
$$'
$x $%$ E $x '
?ctave
/
7

&&'
&x
&%$ E &x $&''
&%& E $x '
Perfect Fifth
4
8

77'
7x 7%& E $+:x I'&
?ctave
/
8

88'
8x
8%& E &x $&''
8%8 E $x '
(ajor 2hird
3
:

::'
:x :%8 E $+&:x 7;H
Perfect Fifth
4
:

HH'
Hx H%8 E $+:x I'&
0armonic seventh
5
:

II'
Ix I%8 E $+I:x <H<
?ctave
/
:

;;'
;x
;%8 E &x $&''
;%; E $x
2he e.ponential nature of octaves )hen measured on a linear fre9uency scale+
2his diagrams presents octaves as they appear in the sense of musical intervals- e9ually spaced+
/. AM01ITUDE
H
2he tonic is the first scale degree of a diatonic scale and the tonal center or final resolution tone
I
2he cent is a logarithmic unit of measure used for musical intervals+
6 7 6
(athemathics and music Suzana or!evi" $$%&'$&
,n addition to the fre9uency- or pitch- of the vi#rating sting- there is another factor to consider+ 2he
harder you pluc* the string- the further the string vi#rates- creating a greater amount of energy- )hich is
perceived #y our ears as #eing louderJ this is *no)n as the amplitude of the sound )ave+
/mplitude- or loudness of sound is measured in deci#els @dDA+ 0uman ears #egin to perceive sound at
a deci#el level of a#out : dDJ this is called the threshold of hearing+ /t a#out $7' dD the sound amplitude
level is actually high enough to overload our human limitations and- in effect- hurt our earsJ this is *no)n as
the threshold of pain @Pierce $'<A+ / detailed scale of deci#el levels is given in figure &+2hey have personally
#een given a citation #y the 1sound police1 in /ustin- 2e.as for e.ceeding legal deci#el limits in a #ar they
)er) performing in on Hth street+ 2he local cops no) carry hand held deci#el meters and )rite tic*ets to
offenders+
/. SINE 2A3ES
6 8 6
(athemathics and music Suzana or!evi" $$%&'$&
,f )e )ere to graph the )ave of a single perfect musical note of a specific fre9uency on a KL a.is-
)ith K #eing fre9uency and L #eing amplitude- the result )ould loo* something li*e figure 7- a )ave )hich
rises and falls sinusoidally )ith time- and is called- simply- a sine )ave+ 2he sine )ave is the most perfect
type of sound )ave- and usually e.its only in the la#oratory- or in the sound )ave produced #y a tuning for*
@Pierce 8$A+ ,n fact- )hen a tuning for* is vi#rating- the motion of the prongs is sinusoidal+ 2he simple
e.periment sho)n in figure 8 demonstrates this+ ?ne prong of the for* is provided )ith a light pointed stylus
as sho)n+ / glass plate is coated )ith a layer of soot or other material that )ill yield a fine line )hen the tip
of the stylus is dra)n across it+ 2he for* is then set into vi#ration and the vi#rating stylus is dra)n across the
plate #y moving the for* in the direction of the arro)+ 2he stylus then inscri#es a line in the coating )hich is
found to have the shape of the sine )ave @Dac*us 7'A+
(ost acoustically produced sound )aves are not perfect sine )aves #ecause of harmonics and other
factors+ /lso- the actual shape of the )ave can #e changed electronically- as in the case of synthesizers and
other electronic musical instruments+ Some e.amples of these )aves are sho)n in figure : @Rossing 7:8A+
4. RH$THM
6 : 6
(athemathics and music Suzana or!evi" $$%&'$&
,n most music- a given note generally is not sounded for more than one second- therefore they are
confronted )ith the transition from one note to another as time goes #y+ 2he relative time durations of such
notes determine )hat in musical language is called rhythm+ ?ur #ody- through its various periodic functions-
such as heart#eat- #reathing- )a*e6and6sleep cycles- etc+- has its o)n rhythms- and so music- )hich also has
a rhythm- seems natural to us @(oravcsi* $$'6$$'A+ Rhythm is the )hole feeling of movement in music-
)ith a strong implication of #oth regularity and differentiation+ 2hus- #reathing @inhalation vs+ e.halationA-
pulse @systole vs+ diastoleA- and tides @e## vs+ flo)A are all e.amples of rhythm+ Rhythm and motion may #e
analytically distinguished- the former meaning movement in time and the latter movement in space @/pel
I&<A+
2he standard of measurement in musical time is the #eat+ 2he #eat is not a fi.ed length of timeJ it can
#e long or short according to the character of the particular musical composition+ 2he nature of the #eat is
commonly e.perienced #y most persons )hen listening to music+ For e.ample- )hen )al*ing to the
accompaniment of a military march- your footsteps mar* off e9ual measurements of time- )hich can #e
considered as #eats @?ttman ::6:HA+ Deats are usually grouped into sets of &- 7 or 8 called #ars or measures+
2hese measures follo) each other in time as a repeating pattern of #eats+ 2he first #eat of each measure is
usually stronger or accented- to esta#lish the #eginning of each measure- i+e+ ?M4 t)o three four+ ?ther
#eats of the measure are often accented as )ellJ for e.ample- roc*6N6roll is distinguished #y accenting & and
8 @one 2B? three F?URA+ 2his organization of #eats into measures is called meter+
,f each measure has 8 #eats- a note value that )ould fill the entire time value is called a )hole note+ /
note that is one6half of that value- & of )hich )ould fill the time space of the measure is called a half note+ /
note that is one6fourth of the value of the )hole note- 8 of )hich )ould fill the time space of the measure is
called a 9uarter noteJ in this case- this )ould #e an e.ample of 8%8 time or 8 #eats per measure )ith the
9uarter note #eing e9ual to one #eat+ 2his designation num#er of #eats per measure and )hich note value
e9uals one #eat is called the time signature+
4ven as measures are divided into #eats- #eats are then su#6 divided into smaller pieces+ For e.ample-
half of the value of a 9uarter note is a eighth note+ 2his su#6division continues using po)ers of &- i+e+ $Hth
notes- 7&nd notes and sometimes even H8th notes+ 2his form of time division into po)ers of & is called
simple meter+
2here is another type of meter in )hich #eats are su#6divided into 7 e9ual parts called compound
meter+ 2he same note values are used #ut )ith the addition of a dot #ehind the noteJ a dot adds one6 half the
value of the note it follo)s- so if a 9uarter note e9uals & eighth notes- a dotted 9uarter note e9uals 7 eighth
notes+ 2he most common e.ample of compound meter is H%; time- )hich actually has t)o #eats per measure
)ith a dotted 9uarter note #eing e9ual to one #eat @?M4 t)o three F?UR five si.A+ 4ven in simple meter-
any given #eat can #e divided into three e9ual partsJ this is *no)n as a triplet+ Figure $' is an ta#le of simple
time signatures and figure $$ is a ta#le of compound time signatures+
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(athemathics and music Suzana or!evi" $$%&'$&
15. TEM0O
2empo is nothing more than the speed of the #eat+ For many years- ,talian )ords )ere used to
indicate tempo such as largo @#roadA- lento @slo)A- adagio @at easeA- andante @)al*ingA- moderato @moderateA-
allegro @fastA- and presto @very fastA+ 2he pro#lem is that these designations )ere open to personal
interpretation- and )ere therefore sort of am#iguous+ 2he common practice today is to use metronomic
mar*ings- or #eats per minute+ For e.ample- there are H' seconds in each minuteJ if the tempo )as such that
a #eat e9ualed one second- and each 9uarter note got one #eat- the tempo )ould #e )ould #e 9uarter note E
(( H'+ (ost musical compositions fall in the range of (( H'6;'- )hich is a#out the speed of human
heart#eats or moderate )al*ing @/pel ;7H6;7IA+ ?f course- the tempo can easily #e t)ice that fast if the
music is intended for dancing- especially the music of those younger fol*s that are still full of energyO
6 I 6
(athemathics and music Suzana or!evi" $$%&'$&
15. CONC1USION
2here are many e.amples of the relationship of music and mathematics )hich , have managed to
identify #y reading some te.t of different authors+ 2his su#ject could #e e.panded into a doctoral dissertation
of hundreds of pages- and , am 9uite sure that someone- some)here has already done just that+ , chose the
su#ject #ecause , )anted to learn something relevant to my career fieldJ , honestly feel that , have succeeded
in that goal+ ,t could #e argued that music is- in fact- a #ranch of mathematics+ (y final conclusion is that
music is a uni9ue #lend of mathematics- physics- and many other fields of our lives+ /nd finally-
mathemathics has #een used for centuries to descri#e- analyze- and create music+
6 ; 6
(athemathics and music Suzana or!evi" $$%&'$&
15. 1ITERATURE
http:%%jac*hdavid+thehouseofdavid+com%papers%math+html &7+$&+&'$& '':'<
Chambers' Twentieth Century Dictionary- $<II- p+ $$''
,mogen 0olst- The AC o! "usic- ?.ford $<H7- p+$''
6 < 6