The Science of Music

Music is a large part of our lives. It has structure and rules. It is learned by practice and precept.  In 550 BCE, Pythagoras considered the study of musical harmony as a one of the topics included in his name mathematics. Jean-Phillip Rameau, a superior composer and music theorist of the early eighteenth century, called music a science that needed mathematics to be understood. His seminal work, A Treatise on Harmony, changed the rules of musical composition. Johann Fux, a contemporary of Rameau’s, summarized the rules of composition that were thoroughly studied by such great composers as Bach, Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven during their early musical training. In 1937, Sir James Jeans summarized the mathematics and physics of musical sound in another non-technical canonical work, Science and Music. Our course will investigate these three texts along with the mathematics behind the science and music. Students will listen to, analyze, and create music along with their discovery of the physical and mathematical principles that underlay musical harmony. This investigation will include the use of the mathematical software Mathematica

In addition, each FYE program contains an Integrated Learning Course (ILC) required of all first-time students. In this three-semester-hour course students develop learning skills needed for successful completion of college-level academics and lifelong learning. Students will learn strategies for generating and revising good writing, how to conduct well-documented research, participate in deep class discussions, prepare effective oral presentations, and develop strong critical thinking skills. Topics also include organizational and time management skills, and how to gain the most from your college academic experience.

Prerequisite skills: This course satisfies the GEQR requirement at Principia College. Hence, you need to have some arithmetic, geometric, and algebraic knowledge and skills to use in the course. Since most graduates of high school take three years of math, including work through Algebra II that includes the quadratic formula, it is strongly suggested that you have at least a C or better in each of your three years of high school mathematics as prerequisite for this program. If you can practice and review how to read and evaluate simple formulas that includes adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing fractions and two- and three-digit decimal numbers, you will come ready to enjoy the discovery of the science of musical sounds.

MATH 111 MM: A Survey of Mathematics (GEQR) (3 SH) MWF 2:20 – 3:10 pm in SC 131– Dr. Steve Hinthorne
A survey of selected topics in mathematics from:  numeration, elementary number theory, math and music [highlighted in this program], equations and graphs, formulas of mortgages, and statistics. 
GEN 101: FYE Integrated Learning: (3 SH) – TR: 1:30 – 2:45 pm