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The Math Behind the Music

If you aren’t a musician then this book will bore the hell out of you. Unless of course you love math. Then the book has a fighting chance to be interesting.

I’m a musician. I also can barely do basic math like long division. I read The Math Behind the Music, and it was interesting. Turns out math and music go hand in hand, like music and dancing. Well, maybe not the relationship isn’t quite that close, but the principals of mathematics form some of the fundamentals of the creation of music, if that makes any sense at all.

For example, have you ever wondered about the relative thicknesses and lengths of piano strings? Why some are longer than others? Well, they are divided mathematically. It’s the same with guitar strings. When you put your finger on the string and pluck it, you are dividing the string mathematically and changing the tone in a mathematical way. The layout of the fretboard is determined that way.

The Math Behind the Music also goes into some of the musical applications of math, such as the patterns used in change ringing, long passages of church tower bell ringing. It sounds like total chaos, but the old folks yanking those chords are actually following a set algorithm, if it can be called that. I told you I don’t really know what I'm talking about. But the cool thing about the book is that if you are a musician, you don’t really have to know much about math to understand the concepts of how math is used in music.