Santa Fe Institute

Science symphony November 2: The Majesty of Music and Mathematics

Nov. 1, 2013 9:34 a.m.

Sound is vibration. Rhythms have ratios. Octaves are fractions of one another. For centuries, musicians have used the mathematical relationships among scales and harmonies to pluck our emotions. Composers lull us with patterns and then surprise us with asymmetries. Even the planets play unheard songs in revolutions and orbits.

On Saturday evening, November 2, The Santa Fe Symphony and the Santa Fe Institute presented a unique symphony of science. The event featured remarks by SFI mathematician and computer scientist Cris Moore, punctuated with an expansive overhead multimedia presentation and interspersed with grand musical selections by The Symphony. It’s an immersion in sound, sights, and ideas that will engage and thrill. Note: This event is sold out (October 30, 2013)

Read Moore's article in the Santa Fe New Mexican (October 28, 2013)

Hear a radio interview about the event with Moore and The Symphony's Greg Heltman on KSFR's Santa Fe Radio Cafe (October 29, 2013)

Hear a radio interview about the event with Moore and Heltman on KUNM's Performance New Mexico (October 25, 2013)

Read the article in Pasatiempo (November 1, 2013)

Read the article in the Albuquerque Journal/Journal North (November 1, 2013) 

Read the article in the Santa Fe Reporter (October 30, 2013)

“This concert presented some of the most dramatic music ever composed to illustrate exciting fundamental mathematical concepts,” says Greg Heltman, The Symphony’s Founder and General Director. “Throughout history there has been much conjecture on the commonality of music and mathematics, and this project is an effort to explore through the language of mathematics the nature of harmony, rhythm, symmetry, and harmony.”

“Mathematics can help us understand why we love the music we love and how to create new music that no one has ever heard before,” says Moore.

The program took the audience on a mind-expanding journey, from the rhythms of molecules and planets to the harmonies of dolphins and the dissonances of the “devil’s interval,” from the music of Bach to the themes from Harry Potter and Mission Impossible, from the earliest bone flutes 40,000 years ago to the soundtracks of modern cinema.

Never before have mathematical proofs been as moving. The Symphony’s performances spanned the musical spectrum, from demonstrations of harmonics and octaves on the harp and flute to movements from Bach, Brahms, Richard Strauss, Prokofiev, Handel, Holst, Wagner, Adams, and more. The Symphony will be conducted by David Felberg.

"The Majesty of Music and Mathematics" was the fourth in a series of "Voyages of Discovery" events co-organized by SFI and The Symphony.

The event was generously underwritten by the Sydney & Andrew Davis Foundation.

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