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Topic: Math and music
Replies: 44   Last Post: Oct 20, 2004 7:38 AM

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 Jon Slaughter Posts: 881 Registered: 12/6/04
Re: Math and music
Posted: Oct 13, 2004 7:39 PM
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"David Dalton" &lt;dalton@nfld.com&gt; wrote in message
<a href="news://sb9rm0hkuur5735dcl9iqsnskjcd7d4vrq@4ax.com...">news://sb9rm0hkuur5735dcl9iqsnskjcd7d4vrq@4ax.com...</a>
&gt; Could you recommend good book(s) on the mathematics of music?
&gt; Such could be a book on music theory with a lot of mathematics.
&gt;
&gt; I am very advanced mathematically and know a good bit about
&gt; acoustical physics and related mathematics but not much yet
&gt; about music theory including the frequencies of various notes,
&gt; the mathematical definition of musical keys and of harmonization
&gt; and more. But again I am mathematically advanced and
&gt; also have a good ear I think now, and may try to learn an
&gt; instrument soon.
&gt;
&gt; David
&gt;

This is a quite from <a href="http://geodyne.com/schillinger/index.html#top:">http://geodyne.com/schillinger/index.html#top:</a>

"Music has remained in the dark, without geometric form, because we still
refer to C as 1 instead of zero. Geometry begins with 0, not 1. With C as 0,
coherent visual form ensues. The twelve notes in our primary selective
system are used because 12 is the most versatile number; 12 is the smallest
number with the most divisors."

Now, as an "advanced" mathematician, does that make sense to you? If it
does, then your not as advanced as you think.

I've been studying music theory for about 5 years now and math for about 10
and, while music can be setup in a very mathematical way(such as using
musical set theory, etc...), they all only seem to confuse the subject.
Just go take a look a several "music theorists" work and see if you like it.
Most "mathematical" musicans tend to treat music as a set of objects that
are related, but they make up there own relations between them, in general,
and throw them together and get "music". Just ask one to compose in the
style of Bach or Beethoven... most likely you will not something that is
nearly as satisfying the original... the reason is, not all "laws" have been
stated and the ones that do exist are not stated properly(IMO).

What I have "discovered" is that music theory is no theory at all(not in the
mathematical/physics sense)... but just a set of so called common guidelines
that "music theorists" have found in studying composisions by the great
composers... the problem is, and they note this, that there are tons of
exceptions... and if there are so many exceptions then how can it be a
"rule".... people say all the time in music that rules are ment to be
broken... well, in my book, there not rules then. For example, there is a
"rule" that says parallel motion by perfect intervals are bad, and if you
take a class in counterpoint and use those in your examples, you will get
marked off... doesn't matter how they sound. Yet, Beethoven uses them all
the time. Its not that they are "bad", but that you have to know how to use
them... and ofcourse, they don't teach you that. Why? I don't know, but my
guess is that its to complex for them to understand as a rule. Music is
composed of 3 main area's: Melody, Harmony, and Rhythm. But you cannot
analyze, in general, one without the other two... for example, there are
many melodies that consist of the same notes but have different rhythms...
and hence different "functions". But, atleast AFAIK, they do not teach you
how these all work together. While, music theory has helped me a great deal
in sounding more classical, it hasn't helped much in sound better.

I suggest that you do not venture down this path, as I did, unless you want
to take a chance of wasting your time and money. I've been studying, as I've
said, music theory for about 5 years and have read some pretty "advanced"
books such as Theory of harmony by Schoenberg, and many books on
counterpoint. Yet, a friend of mine who's never studyied music theory can
imediately improvise much better music than I can. Now, the reason is that
I've spent to much time studying the theory and haven't put it into
pratice... and to do that, you pretty much need to have mastered an
instrument. Just cause you know what a Neapolitan chord is, if you can't
play it in context to hear how it sounds, then it does no good. I've found
that "music" theory to be very easy to understand, but hard to hear. So,
I'm sure you could easily pick up the theory, so I wouldn't focus on that.
I mean, "most" musicians "think" that chord construction is somewhat
advanced "music theory". To me, its very basic... its like knowing how to
add.

So, I think, if you just dive into music theory you might become frustrated
like I have... the reason is, the theory is so easy to understand, but so
hard to put into pratice unless you are very good at playing an instrument
such as a piano(well, you pretty much have to use a piano if you want to do
the theory). To me, music theory is really just a langauge so that two
musicans can easily communicate. Its not so much to explain how music
works. I suppose if your ear was so great, then you wouldn't need any music
theory.. your brain would have all the theory already. Ofcourse, I don't
think anyone has such an ear, and hence some theory helps... helps you
atleast to know what you are doing so you can try to break away from it and
do something else. But first you gotta be able to do something.

Anyways, There are many music theory books, but you might want to pick up
something to teach you how to play an instrument such as piano(I think you
need to learn piano first)... and almost all books, atleast ones for adults,
have basic music theory in it... Then, by the time you can play some songs
and you know your chords, you can dive into a harmony book and start playing
around with harmonic concepts such as modulation... which you might have
already discovered while learning the piano... and just didn't know what you
were doing and why it sounded good/bad.

Date Subject Author
10/13/04 David Dalton
10/13/04 Timothy Murphy
10/14/04 Thomas Mautsch
10/13/04 Bob Pease
10/14/04 hs
10/14/04 Bob Pease
10/13/04 Dave Schutt
10/13/04 Matthew Fields
10/13/04 Jon Slaughter
10/14/04 David Webber
10/14/04 Phil Carmody
10/14/04 David Webber
10/14/04 Jon Slaughter
10/14/04 David Webber
10/14/04 Martin Penderis
10/15/04 lutonomy
10/15/04 Robert Israel
10/15/04 David Webber
10/15/04 paramucho
10/15/04 lutonomy
10/15/04 Chan-Ho Suh
10/15/04 Matthew Fields
10/15/04 Bob Pease
10/15/04 Matthew Fields
10/15/04 Bob Pease
10/15/04 Gerry Myerson
10/15/04 Jon Slaughter
10/14/04 Bob Pease
10/14/04 George Cox
10/14/04 David Webber
10/13/04 Gerry Myerson
10/14/04 Bob Pease
10/15/04 John M. Gamble
10/15/04 Allen L. Barker
10/16/04 Allen L. Barker
10/16/04 David Webber
10/16/04 Matthew Fields
10/16/04 Graham Breed
10/16/04 David Webber
10/16/04 Matthew Fields
10/16/04 Graham Breed
10/16/04 Matthew Fields
10/16/04 Matthew Fields
10/19/04 K. E. Pledger
10/20/04 Eckard Blumschein

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