Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Music and mathmatics

At Seed magazine, The Shape of Music:
Roughly 2,500 years ago, Pythagoras observed that objects, such as the anvils he purportedly studied, produced harmonious sounds while vibrating at frequencies in simple whole-number ratios.

More complex ratios gave rise to more dissonant sounds, which indicated that human beings were unconsciously sensitive to mathematical relationships inherent in nature. By showing that the world could be described mathematically, Pythagoras not only provided an important inspiration for physics, but he also discovered a particular affinity between mathematics and music--one that Gottfried Leibniz was to invoke centuries later when he described music as the "unknowing exercise of our mathematical faculties."
Fascinating reading if you are into music, or math, or both.


  1. I have been fascinated by the relationship between music and math since I first learned about it. I don't care for math, but I did play guitar and piano for a while, so I was initially surprised to learn that creative expression in music could be explained by mathematical ideas and theories. I still don't care for math, but I think the whole concept is cool nonetheless.

  2. Music is universal language..even animals can detect sour notes.

    Fascinating stuff.