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Music and Maths: A Yardstick to the Stars | reviews, news & interviews

Music and Maths: A Yardstick to the Stars

Music and Maths: A Yardstick to the Stars

Exploring a sociological answer to the question of the relationship

Einstein: His Theory of Relativity was published in the same year as Schoenberg's provocative Kammersymphonie No 1

The history of maths and music is the history of early Greek philosophy, medieval astronomy, of the Reformation, the Enlightenment and the two World Wars. While mathematics at its purest may be an abstraction, the quest for its proofs is deeply and definingly human, charged with biological, theological and even political motive. Whether through performance or discussions about music, this year’s Cheltenham Music Festival (which begins this week) explores the mathematical processes that have both shaped and echoed the history of Western Europe and its art, tracing musical development from the polyphonic motets of the 14th and 15th centuries to the Minimalist patternings of Steve Reich.

Number symbols represent an enduring strand in mathematical music; one mistakenly synonymous with Bach

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