Honors | Topics in Music Theory (MUS)
T410 | 19137 | Julian Hook


MUS–T410: Topics in Music Theory (19137)
MUS–N399: Honors Seminar in Music (18799)
Topic: Mathematical Approaches to Music

Professor Julian Hook (juhook@indiana.edu)
Tuesday and Thursday, 11:15 a.m.–12:30 p.m., room M 350
3 credits

Since the time of Pythagoras it has been recognized that mathematical
relationships underlie many musical phenomena, but the precise nature
of these relationships remains elusive to this day. Scholars in the
middle ages grouped music together with arithmetic, geometry, and
astronomy in the quadrivium, the higher division of the Seven Liberal
Arts. More recent generations of music theorists have tried to codify
music according to mathematical rules, sometimes applying
sophisticated mathematical techniques, with varying degrees of
success.

This course will survey some of these mathematical approaches to
music, both historical and contemporary. Specific topics to be
studied include Pythagorean music and mathematics, Johannes Kepler
and the “music of the spheres,” selected topics in acoustics,
geometric representations of musical phenomena, group theory and its
applications to pitch-class set theory and twelve-tone theory, and a
brief introduction to recent research in musical transformation
theory and diatonic set theory.

Course requirements will include regular attendance and
participation, assigned readings, several short homework assignments,
one major paper, and a class presentation. The paper and presentation
will give students an opportunity to explore topics of their own
choosing, depending on individual interests and backgrounds.

Prerequisites: Knowledge of pre-calculus mathematics and junior
standing, or consent of instructor. Non-music majors with some
knowledge of basic music theory are welcome.