Prof. Sotiris Skevoulis talks about “Mathematics and Music” Summer Class

Prof. Sotiris Skevoulis will be teaching a cross disciplinary class this summer focusing on the relation between mathematics and music. He took the time to write up a description of the class for our blog:

The extent to which science and society are governed by mathematical relationships is evident not only by the astronomer’s Galileo Galilei’s observation in 1623 that the entire universe “is written in the language of mathematics”, but in the ancient Greek works of scholars such as Pythagoras.  It may come as a surprise to some that music is also based upon mathematical relationships. Several musical concepts such as scales, octaves, rhythm and harmony can all be explained and understood logically using simple mathematics.

Using this knowledge questions such as – which instruments and notes actually make up that wild opening chord of the Beatles’ “A Hard Day’s Night”? – can be answered simply. Using a mathematical  tool called a “Fourier Transform” Dalhousie University mathematician Jason Brown analyzed and solved the decades-old mystery and no, it was not only George Harrison’s 12-string guitar!

The math-music connection is not limited to only those two fields.  This relation even has an effect on Education; research has shown that students who learn their academics through music retain the information better than children who learn the same concepts by verbal instruction.

This course is an extended review of the relationships of music, mathematics and computing. Simple knowledge of High School math is the only prerequisite. It will meet in a blended form onsite and with online components. It examines the relationships of music and mathematics from Pythagoras to J.S. Bach and W. A. Mozart as well as focusing on modern digital music and Ianis Xenakis. It explores the areas of mathematics that are used in music theory and music composition. Because of computing, only recently composers can incorporate complex mathematical models in composition without having to make the tedious calculations they require. Students will be able to implement simple musical algorithms and create small programs for electronic sound synthesis, explain the mapping between music and mathematical models and above all appreciate the mathematical structure of music

My work on music and mathematics involved the study of the theory of music and probabilities. The analysis and study of the probabilities moving from one musical note to another could be used in the study of musical plays and help us identify common characteristics between different composers and musical plays.

Who can take this course?

  • Current Pace students
  • Visiting students from other Schools who want to study an interesting topic over the summer and transfer the credits back to their School
  • Any student who is interested in technology, math and music

For more information please feel free to contact me at:

Sotiris Skevoulis, Ph.D.


Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems.

Now that sounds like an interesting class! And is sure to be an interesting introduction to complex mathematics and computer science for students outside the Seidenberg school Are you excited to take this class? Tell us in the comments. Be sure to follow the Seidenberg School on FacebookTwitter, or Google+ to get the latest updates about what unique classes and opportunities are available.


Twitter Digg Delicious Stumbleupon Technorati Facebook Email

Comments are closed.