Music’s Intellect: Math

Math, science, history, reading, language. Five skills learned in school that researchers and musicians argue are tied to music, especially to those who learn music. A previous post, “The importance of music in schools,” quickly goes into these aspects and how they can benefit those five areas of learning. However, this post, as well as future posts titled “Music’s Intellect” will dive into how I think each of these skills learned, ties into music and goes beyond. So, how does music tie into math?

Rhythm is the division of short and long sounds or silences. Much like fractions, you have a whole and can break it down into smaller or “shorter” sizes that can still equal the whole. Like a dollar, a whole note (a type of rhythm) is equal to four quarter notes. They equal the same length, but one is one long sound and the other is four shorter sounds. Those that are familiar with music can think of a variety of rhythm combinations that create unique songs.

Another mathematical aspect in music is Tempo (the measurement of time). Some songs are fast and some are slow, all of which is measured by beats per minute. You could have 60 beats per minute, just like 60 seconds, or 120 beats per minute which is much faster.

So math is the technicality of how music is measured. However, it also can create expression as well. One song, played at two different speeds can change the whole feeling of the music. Also, slowing down the speed in certain sections of a lyrical song can tug at your heartstrings, but doing the same thing in a song that is supposed to sound like a racing train, ends up loosing its feeling. Rhythm usually does not change, because the combination of short and long sounds/silences make a song unique to other songs, but the interpretation of the tempo or speed can make a piece of music unique to the performer.

All in all, music is an intellectual pleasure that ties math into technicality and expression. If you enjoyed this post, be sure to give a like and leave your thoughts or ideas of future content in the comments section below.

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