Mathematical Compositions and Musical Calculations

Author: Olivia Long
Major: Mathematics
Approved: Spring 2019
Status: In progress

Gyorgy Ligeti wrote a piece entitled Desordre, which is a piece of music designed to demonstrate Chaos Theory. Throughout the piece, notes are added and dropped at intervals which appear random. Since Chaos Theory is ordered disorder, this process can be easily replicated with the analysis and use of famous musical literature. I want to expand this idea to also use fractals, Fourier series, and other techniques to keep demonstrating mathematics, since the average person understands and enjoys music more then they either understand or enjoy math. I will work towards grasping these higher level mathematics, but then take them farther and look at them through the lens of music and musical composition. I plan to apply these concepts to 11-15 songs which will then be recorded to demonstrate how the math works. My final product will be a recorded music selection that contains recordings of the musical pieces as well as a pamphlet briefly explaining the math behind each individual song. I will then take this information and create a website geared towards math teachers at the middle and high school levels to help interest students with some non-traditional uses for math. Finally, I will host an on-campus concert event to display the work that has been done.