Math and Music: Do They Work Together?

Math and music are often thought of as two completely opposite school subjects. However, these two subjects may have more in common than you think. Whether you’re trying to boost brainpower while studying, find new ways to teach mathematical concepts, or understand what makes a song stuck in your head, mathematics and music go hand in hand.

Math and music notation

The language of music is also filled with math! Music notes can be equated with fractions, helping to make both concepts more understandable. The structure of the music itself can all be connected to mathematics; counting, rhythm, scales, intervals, patterns, symbols, harmonies, tone, and pitch all have a mathematical basis.

Popular music and mathematical structure

Some of the most well-known songs in mainstream music owe their popularity to their mathematical structure! Repetitive structure, beats, and breaks create patterns in music; these rhythms and patterns are what make music inherently mathematical - and increase the listening experience. Songs from Pachelbel’s “Canon in D” to The Beatle’s “A Hard Day’s Night” follow these patterns for repetitive structure.

Other ways music and math work together

The structure of music isn’t just based in math; listening to music may be able to help you with your math homework! Many researchers believe that listening to music while studying can help improve memory, attention, and the ability to do mental math; known as “The MozartEffect,” , listening to classical music or other music without lyrics can help improve study sessions and academic performance.

In addition to helping you study, studying music and the arts has long been shown to have a positive effect on academics. Whether they increase attendance and graduation rates  or make more proficient at reading and math , teaching music and the arts are an important part of improving children’s academic performance.