Nature Blog Network Future Earth: Music, maths and mystery

Monday, 7 January 2008

Music, maths and mystery

It is just an observation, but music and maths seem connected by more than their “m & m”s. Why are so many mathematicians musical? And more broadly, why are so many scientists (definitely physicists, chemists, botanists... possibly also engineers) also skilled, particularly at classical music? Why is it that Early Music is the best background to stimulate learning (sorry kids)? Something to do with patterns, timing and neurons, but just what? Another mystery to unravel – but perhaps we are outpaced here by our inability to formulate the questions in this space between culture and science.

1 comment:

Jin-Yu said...

Have you read Douglas Hofstadter's Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid ? He explores your M&M theme pretty comprehensively. There is definitely a deep connection between music and maths. A lot of classical music is highly mathematical anyway - Bachian fugues, contrapuntal lines, chord progressions, etc. So I suppose it is no surprise that an ability to grasp complex mathematical concepts means the same facility can be applied to music. I remember having this discussion with a music professor who said you could see a musical line as a mathematical equation.