Music Through Math: Analyzing and Composing Scores Mathematically

Poster

Anne Basinski

Music

Abstract / Artist's Statement

Math and music have always been closely tied in the minds of great thinkers. From Pythagoras’ perfect ratios to the sinusoidal waves of various pitches, we can analyze and create music by utilizing the tools of mathematics. One such tool lies in modular arithmetic. By using a modulo twelve system, we can encompass all of the notes in a modern twelve-tone octave. Thus, we can translate notes to numbers and further, groups these number-notes into sets. Such sets describe musical patterns like chords, harmonies, and motifs, which when combined create entire compositions. While we can analyze all music in this fashion, the Second Viennese School – and most notably, Arnold Schoenberg – were the first to truly dive into the potential for composing with this method. Following their example, I have created a variety of sets based on sources ranging from the English alphabet to a simple color wheel. With one of these sets as a main motif, I composed a short piece reflecting the process of using a specific mathematical field to approach music. This method will hopefully show that both the field of mathematics and that of music are far more accessible than they may seem.

Humanities

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Apr 27th, 3:00 PM Apr 27th, 4:00 PM

Music Through Math: Analyzing and Composing Scores Mathematically

UC South Ballroom

Math and music have always been closely tied in the minds of great thinkers. From Pythagoras’ perfect ratios to the sinusoidal waves of various pitches, we can analyze and create music by utilizing the tools of mathematics. One such tool lies in modular arithmetic. By using a modulo twelve system, we can encompass all of the notes in a modern twelve-tone octave. Thus, we can translate notes to numbers and further, groups these number-notes into sets. Such sets describe musical patterns like chords, harmonies, and motifs, which when combined create entire compositions. While we can analyze all music in this fashion, the Second Viennese School – and most notably, Arnold Schoenberg – were the first to truly dive into the potential for composing with this method. Following their example, I have created a variety of sets based on sources ranging from the English alphabet to a simple color wheel. With one of these sets as a main motif, I composed a short piece reflecting the process of using a specific mathematical field to approach music. This method will hopefully show that both the field of mathematics and that of music are far more accessible than they may seem.