Math is used in music for everything from keeping time to compressing digital data for distribution. According to Math Central, many of the symbols within written music are actually representations of mathematical values or formulas.
Math is used extensively in music as each note, scale and rest relates to a specific quantity or relation. Each note represents a length of time, and its position on the staff indicates what tone is to be played. Each rest is a measure of time between notes, while time signatures denote the rhythm, which is also a mathematical relationship. Musical pieces are divided into bars and measures that indicate a specific amount of time, which is dictated by the time signature.
Even the tones themselves are mathematically represented by their letter assignments, where each letter relates to a different frequency of sound wave. The harmonics of these notes, either higher or lower, are multiples of the frequency of the given note, represented by octaves. Math is also essential to music production, which is centered around digital technology. Mixing the multiple tracks of a song into a single piece requires precise timing and a uniform distribution of sound from each track. Adjusting output levels, removing background noise and volume control are all achieved through direct applications of mathematics.
1. Relate music notes values to fractions through creating a music note diagram. Your students will write out the division of a whole note and relate it to the division of a whole
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1. Launch Magix Music Maker (see Resources to download) Click on the "Soundpools" heading near the bottom of the program. Select a music style from the "Styles"
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1. Create a basic spreadsheet for the students to begin with. Enter their names in the far left column (A) and then enter a basic piece of information about each student (for example
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