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The Math Behind the Music (Outlooks)

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Explores mathematics aspects of music from its acoustical bases to compositional techniques to music criticism.


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Explores mathematics aspects of music from its acoustical bases to compositional techniques to music criticism.

30 review for The Math Behind the Music (Outlooks)

  1. 4 out of 5

    Bob

    Ever since I took classic guitar lessons about 20 years ago, I've been very curious about how music works. The Math Behind the Music does an excellent job of explaining this, helped immensely by the CD that accompanies the book. Now I know more but: It is So Complicated that I don't think I will study this very much further. If there is such a thing as a mathematical composer, then Bach, Beethoven and Mozart must be the highest of all practitioners. They fully understood all this; I do not and wi Ever since I took classic guitar lessons about 20 years ago, I've been very curious about how music works. The Math Behind the Music does an excellent job of explaining this, helped immensely by the CD that accompanies the book. Now I know more but: It is So Complicated that I don't think I will study this very much further. If there is such a thing as a mathematical composer, then Bach, Beethoven and Mozart must be the highest of all practitioners. They fully understood all this; I do not and will not. Lucky for me, all I have to do is put on a CD, listen to what they did, and then I'm happy.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Lee Barry

    Interesting chapter on campanology.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Charles

    An amazing book that links math and music, which have a great deal in common It is no coincidence that the three areas of human endeavor where there are child prodigies are mathematics, music and chess. Success in each requires a similar form of mental reasoning, with music and mathematics being the two that are most related. Harkleroad has written an amazing book, after the base introduction in chapter one, chapter two covers the concept of pitch, in other words the fundamentals of how sounds An amazing book that links math and music, which have a great deal in common It is no coincidence that the three areas of human endeavor where there are child prodigies are mathematics, music and chess. Success in each requires a similar form of mental reasoning, with music and mathematics being the two that are most related. Harkleroad has written an amazing book, after the base introduction in chapter one, chapter two covers the concept of pitch, in other words the fundamentals of how sounds are different. Chapter three then uses this idea to describe how different sounds can either clash or reinforce each other. In chapter four, you learn how to vary a theme mathematically; it is here where group and subgroup operations are used to alter tunes to make new ones that still sound pleasing. Chapter five covers bell-ringing, where groups and their cosets are used to describe the permutations in the order of bell-ringing. Creating music by using random processes is the topic of chapter six, while it seems odd to think of random processes creating noise having a pleasing structure; some composers have been able to do it. Chapter seven deals with some of the patterns found in music, chapter eight, which is called “Sight Meets Sound”, starts with an explanation of “millimetrization.” This is the process where the rises and falls of a tune are used to trace out a graph and vice-versa. Composer Heitor Villa-Lobos used photographs of scenes such as mountains and skylines to construct the graph, from which he would compose his music. The ninth and last chapter has the title “How Not to Mix Mathematics and Music.” In it, attempts to do things like using numeric sequences such as the Fibonacci numbers to compose music are explored and the reasons why they failed explained. A CD containing the musical pieces referenced in the text is included with the book. Although I played the saxophone in elementary school and am a regular attendee at the local symphony, I make no claim to being knowledgeable in music. Yet, I was able to read and follow this entire book and truly came away with an appreciation for how mathematics can be used to explain the structure of musical pieces. This review also appears on Amazon

  4. 4 out of 5

    Laurent

    This is one of my favourite books ever. I have loved it. The typesetting is beautiful, it is very well written and its content is accessible both for mathematicians with little knowledge of music and for musicians with little knowledge of mathematics. Everything is very clearly explained, the maths are introduced with easy examples (even for abstract topics as group theory). This book illustrates one of my favourite quotes: "A good attitude to the preparation of written mathematical exposition is This is one of my favourite books ever. I have loved it. The typesetting is beautiful, it is very well written and its content is accessible both for mathematicians with little knowledge of music and for musicians with little knowledge of mathematics. Everything is very clearly explained, the maths are introduced with easy examples (even for abstract topics as group theory). This book illustrates one of my favourite quotes: "A good attitude to the preparation of written mathematical exposition is to pretend that it is spoken. Pretend that you are explaining the subject to a friend on a long walk in the woods, with no paper available; fall back on symbolism only when it is really necessary." (Paul Halmos) If you are a mathematician curious about music, or a musician curious about mathematics, this book is for you.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Bill Leach

    Main sections: - pitch - tuning - how to vary a theme mathematically - bells and groups - music by chance - patterns - sight meets sound - how not to mix mathematics and music The last chapter had an interesting discussion on how various people have tried to find Fibonacci series in various compositions, with unconvincing results. Mentions Richard Guy's paper "The Strong Law of Small Numbers", pointing out that "there aren't enough small numbers to meet the many demands made of them". The upshot is that Main sections: - pitch - tuning - how to vary a theme mathematically - bells and groups - music by chance - patterns - sight meets sound - how not to mix mathematics and music The last chapter had an interesting discussion on how various people have tried to find Fibonacci series in various compositions, with unconvincing results. Mentions Richard Guy's paper "The Strong Law of Small Numbers", pointing out that "there aren't enough small numbers to meet the many demands made of them". The upshot is that if you find Fibonacci sequences, it is likely a coincidence unless there is an underlying reason for their presence.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Mr Andrew D Cunningham

  7. 4 out of 5

    Emily

  8. 5 out of 5

    Blaine Buxton

  9. 4 out of 5

    Rollin Hand

  10. 5 out of 5

    Inkyu

  11. 4 out of 5

    Ilhami

  12. 5 out of 5

    Steven

  13. 5 out of 5

    Rory

  14. 5 out of 5

    Pascal

  15. 4 out of 5

    Birdie Rutterta

  16. 5 out of 5

    Nugunn Wattanapat

  17. 5 out of 5

    Robin Winsor

  18. 4 out of 5

    Kelly

  19. 5 out of 5

    Luis Formiga

  20. 4 out of 5

    Samuel Garnham

  21. 4 out of 5

    Pat

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jimmy Dragas

  23. 4 out of 5

    Bläk Bäk

  24. 5 out of 5

    Kristgy

  25. 5 out of 5

    Amy

  26. 5 out of 5

    oi ling

  27. 4 out of 5

    Tellycat

  28. 5 out of 5

    Sabrina

  29. 5 out of 5

    Karen Rodriguez

  30. 5 out of 5

    Ryan Akerley

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