Back to NCTM San Diego: Humanistic Math

This is the summary of a presentation given at the 74th Annual NCTM Meeting, 25-28 April 1996, San Diego, CA.

A look at the many points of contact between mathematics and music, including historical, phychological, compositional, analytical, and aesthetic connections.I discuss some of the historical connections between the two subjects including some mathematicians well known for their interest in music. Then I look at some of the mathematics used in music theory and in the analysis of music and note some composers who have used mathematics in a pivotal way to create new music. Then I discuss some studies that have been made trying to correlate mathematical and musical talent and the implication for education. I then delve into the idea that math and music are strictly human creations and how the creative process in the two fields are similar. I then make a case for the notion that the most significant link between math and music is a spiritual one and that the practioneers of both subjects are seeking for the true, the unchanging, the eternal; that mathematics and music are manifestaions of human idealism.

I will have some handouts outlining the talk at the conference including a bibliography of some 60 entries.

Jan E. H. Johansson (University of Vermont, Burlington, VT)

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