“The works of Bach are frequently cited as having a mathematical logic. Igor Stravinsky stated that “musical form is akin to mathematics,” and Arnold Schoenberg, Iannis Xenakis, and Karlheinz Stockhausen went even farther by expressly basing their compositions on mathematical concepts. However, according to Eli Maor, arithmetic has affected Music at least as much as Music has influenced math. Music by the Numbers tells a fascinating story of composers, scientists, inventors, and eccentrics who played a role in the long-standing relationship between Music, mathematics, and the sciences, especially physics and astronomy, beginning with Pythagoras, moving through Schoenberg’s work, and concluding with modern string theory.
In particular, how issues originating in Music have motivated mathematicians for millennia is explored in Music by the Numbers and other significant moments in this history. The vibrating string problem, which pitted some of the finest mathematicians of the eighteenth century against one another in a discussion that lasted more than fifty years and eventually led to the establishment of post-calculus mathematics, is possibly the most well-known of these puzzles. Other noteworthy aspects of the book include an examination of a suggestive twentieth-century development: the nearly simultaneous emergence of Einstein’s theory of relativity and Schoenberg’s twelve-tone system; a comparison of musical meter and geometric metric; and examples of rhythmic patterns from Bach to Stravinsky.
Music by the Numbers will enthrall everyone who enjoys both mathematics and Music by fusing these captivating historical incidents with Maor’s personal insights as a mathematician and fan of Classical Music.”