Sound is vibration. Rhythms have ratios. Octaves are fractions of one another. For centuries, musicians have used the mathematical relationships among scales and harmonies to pluck our emotions. Composers lull us with patterns and then surprise us with asymmetries. Even the planets play unheard songs in revolutions and orbits.
The Santa Fe Symphony and the Santa Fe Institute collaborated to produce “The Majesty of Music & Mathematics: Voyages of Discovery IV,” a unique program that illuminates and explores the intersections of music and mathematics. The original production debuted in 2013, featuring dramatic music by the Symphony and narration by SFI mathematician and computer scientist Cris Moore, all complemented by an expansive overhead multimedia presentation. Due to the presentation’s success and noteworthy educational content, the Symphony and SFI are working with New Mexico PBS to produce of a high-definition edition of the program for distribution to the widest possible audience, to be filmed in June 2017.
The program took the audience on a mind-expanding journey, from the rhythms of molecules and planets to the harmonies of dolphins and the dissonances of the “devil’s interval,” from the music of Bach to the themes from Harry Potter and Mission: Impossible, from the earliest bone flutes (40,000 years old) to the soundtracks of modern cinema. Never before have mathematical proofs been as moving. The Symphony’s performances spanned the musical spectrum, from demonstrations of harmonics and octaves on the harp and flute to movements from Bach, Brahms, Richard Strauss, Prokofiev, Handel, Holst, Wagner, Adams and more. “The Majesty of Music and Mathematics” was the fourth in a series of “Voyages of Discovery” concerts presented by The Santa Fe Symphony and the Santa Fe Institute.
This concert presented some of the most dramatic music ever composed to illustrate exciting fundamental mathematical concepts . . . Throughout history there has been much conjecture on the commonality of music and mathematics, and this project is an effort to explore through the language of mathematics the nature of harmony, rhythm, and symmetry.
Mathematics can help us understand why we love the music we love and how to create new music that no one has ever heard before.