Education Technology

Building a Band With Famous Mathematicians

Posted 06/21/2019 by Erica Schiller, Marketing Programs Manager

"There is geometry in the humming of the strings; there is music in the spacing of the spheres." — Pythagoras

In honor of #WorldMusicDay, let’s explore some musical connections in math, as shared by math consultant and musicologist David Sword, during his “Seven for Seven” presentation at the 2019 Teachers Teaching with Technology™ International Conference (T3IC).

While it’s generally known that math and music are closely intertwined — chords in all keys are numbered in a standard pattern, for instance — Sword went deeper into the topic by introducing an imaginary band comprised of historical mathematicians.

Envision the Euclidean Fibonacci Pythagorean Sword-Play Band (or EFPSPB for short) …

Pythagorean ratios not only define the 13 notes of the chromatic scale, those same intervals define the placement of the frets (the small bars of metal across the fingerboard) on a guitar.

“So I imagine it as Pythagoras was the very first rock ’n’ roll guitar hero,” Sword said.

Euclid lays down the band’s beat because his algorithm for distributing a certain number of objects over a certain number of spaces creates rhythmic patterns, as found in Elvis Presley’s American rockabilly standard, “Hound Dog.”

And the Fibonacci sequence shows up in the keys of a piano, so the Italian mathematician “is not only on keyboards, he’s ‘in’ the keyboard,” Sword explained.

Our imaginary band of famous mathematicians features:

  • Euclid on drums
  • Fibonacci on keyboard
  • Pythagoras on lead guitar
  • And Sword out front as lead singer, of course

Check out Sword’s entertaining presentation to hear how the Euclidean Fibonacci Pythagorean Sword-Play Band might sound.

T³™ National Instructor David Sword shares why “music is math with feelings” at T³IC.

The “Seven for Seven” conference session features seven motivating speakers presenting seven inspiring topics for seven minutes each. You can find additional “Seven for Seven” thought-leadership talks on the T³IC website

About the author: Erica Schiller is a Marketing Programs Manager at Texas Instruments Education Technology. In this role, she promotes professional development opportunities using TI technology to educators to support student success. Schiller has over 25 years of experience in marketing, public relations and event planning in technology and education markets.