NCTM San Diego Presentation Summary

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

Mathematics and Music: A Look at the Many Bridges Connecting the Two Subjects

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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The Math Forum * ** 26 March 1996