When SFI Professor Cristopher Moore participated in the PBS Documentary "The Majesty of Music and Math" in 2018, he knew he wanted to continue exploring — and sharing — the interconnectedness of music and science. With that inspiration, Moore collaborated with the Santa Fe Symphony to create "Science of Sound: Experiments at Home," a series designed to show young learners how music and science come together to enrich human experience. And for both viewers and participants, the result is pure joy.
Featuring principals from the symphony’s string, brass, and woodwind sections, along with some very talented students (including Moore’s daughter Rosemary), the series shines a light on the remarkably fun interplay between music and science.
The first three episodes, available now on Santa Fe Symphony TV, cover everything from the physics of the tuba to hearing what a clarinet might sound like on Mars and Venus. Students can also participate at home with projects like creating an orchestra with bottles and water, making a reed instrument with a straw, and building a simple string instrument.
Like many scientists and mathematicians, Moore, a self-described “bad amateur piano player,” has always had a love for music — a passion that blossomed when he joined a young composers' club in college.
“There’s a lot in common between music and math in how they bring us joy and engage both mind and soul,” Moore says. “We like to hear patterns and hum along, but if the music is too predictable or too chaotic, we lose interest. This balance between pattern and surprise is the sweet spot for our brains, and that’s where the expression of the musician and inventiveness of the composer come into play.”
Helping kids see the wonder of science is all part of SFI’s mission to use scientific understanding to promote the well-being of humankind and life on earth. For Moore, traditional math education can fall flat.
“The emphasis on arithmetic, perfection, and speed has nothing to do with how real mathematicians experience math,” he explains. “It’s really all about the joy of perceiving patterns, whether they are clear and simple or jazzy and organic. If students are bored in math class, or feel unsuccessful, I want them to know that when they’re listening to or playing music, they’re experiencing math and physics. The goal is to get both kids and adults to see structures and surprises everywhere.”
The Science of Sound series was made possible with the support of executive producer Penelope Penland, writer/producer Fedor Kossakovski, and Thornburg Investment Management.