Honours 390: Mathematics in Music


Instructor   Dr. Thomas Ivey   office: RSS 327, phone: 953-7276,

email: i v e y t at c o f c dot e d u,  web page: https://iveyt.people.cofc.edu

My office hours are tentatively 2-3pm Monday, and 11-12pm Tuesday and Thursday.  If these times arenÕt convenient for you, please contact me to make an appointment for another time.


Music, A Mathematical Offering, David W. Benson

The Math Behind the Music, Leon Harkleroad

Other helpful references include:

Music and mathematics: from Pythagoras to fractals, Fauvel, Flood & Wilson (eds.)

Measured Tones: The Interplay of Physics and Music, Ian Johnston

Other interesting references will be posted on my webpage.


Course Description  This course is about the interface of mathematics and music.  WeÕll examine the musical applications of the following areas of math: arithmetic and number theory; Fourier series and differential equations; probability; symmetry and group theory.  A tentative schedule for the course is given on the back of this syllabus.

An interest in music and some basic mathematical ability are essential to getting the most out of this course.  While a background in calculus is assumed, other areas of mathematics will be covered as we go along.  Some familiarity with basic music theory will be helpful.


Course Work   Each class will include reading assignments and homework problems.  WeÕll discuss the readings and questions about the homework at the beginning of the next class. Homework problems will be due one week after they are assigned.        There will be two in-class midterms, and a final project.  Some suggestions for final projects will be available.


Important Dates   The last date to withdraw from the class with a grade of W is Feb. 23.  Midterms take place on Feb. 17 and April 7.  Project outlines are due March 24, and final projects are due on May 2.


Grading  Your grade will be based on your course work, in roughly the following proportions:  25% final project, 20% for each midterm, 30% homework, and 5% class participation.


Academic Honesty  Discussing assignments and comparing results with your classmates is expected and encouraged.  However, when you hand in an assignment with your name on it, it is expected that it represents your own thoughts and is your own work.