Scott Rickard, an engineer, gave a TED talk in 2011 in which he attempts to describe simply his somewhat complex accomplishment of creating a pattern-free piece of music, using mathematics as his guide. He compares it to one of our most popular pieces of music, Beethoven’s 5th Symphony, which contains an instantly recognizable (and often repeated) motif.
Check out the end-result composition, starting at minute 7:14
One can find plenty of conflicting evidence (some say yes, some say no) as to whether music lessons create mathematical geniuses, though there is no doubt they are highly correlated. Nevertheless, nobody can dispute the idea that music, itself, has many mathematical properties. This link makes music a great vehicle for teaching math. For instance, rhythm is indelibly connected to fractions. Also, strings vibrate at different frequencies, and there are mathematical reasons why certain pitches resonate with other particular pitches. Conversely, when you remove all patterns from music, as Mr. Rickard did, we as humans lose connection to the notes. Patterns form the foundations of mathematical concepts, too—the Fibonacci sequence even shows up on the piano keyboard!
What connections do you find between music and math? Please feel free to share.