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Broad Topics > Applications > Music

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Equal Temperament

Stage: 4 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:3 Challenge Level:3 Challenge Level:3

The scale on a piano does something clever : the ratio (interval) between any adjacent points on the scale is equal. If you play any note, twelve points higher will be exactly an octave on.

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Music to My Ears

Stage: 2 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

Can you predict when you'll be clapping and when you'll be clicking if you start this rhythm? How about when a friend begins a new rhythm at the same time?

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Clapping Times

Stage: 1 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

If you count from 1 to 20 and clap more loudly on the numbers in the two times table, as well as saying those numbers loudly, which numbers will be loud?

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Dancing with Maths

Stage: 2, 3 and 4

An article for students and teachers on symmetry and square dancing. What do the symmetries of the square have to do with a dos-e-dos or a swing? Find out more?

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Pythagoras’ Comma

Stage: 4 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:2 Challenge Level:2

Using an understanding that 1:2 and 2:3 were good ratios, start with a length and keep reducing it to 2/3 of itself. Each time that took the length under 1/2 they doubled it to get back within range.

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Six Notes All Nice Ratios

Stage: 4 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

The Pythagoreans noticed that nice simple ratios of string length made nice sounds together.

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Ding Dong Bell Interactive

Stage: 5 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

Try ringing hand bells for yourself with interactive versions of Diagram 2 (Plain Hunt Minimus) and Diagram 3 described in the article 'Ding Dong Bell'.

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Beat the Drum Beat!

Stage: 2 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:2 Challenge Level:2

Use the interactivity to create some steady rhythms. How could you create a rhythm which sounds the same forwards as it does backwards?

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We'll Bang the Drum

Stage: 1 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:3 Challenge Level:3 Challenge Level:3

How many different rhythms can you make by putting two drums on the wheel?

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Play a Merry Tune

Stage: 2 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:3 Challenge Level:3 Challenge Level:3

Explore the different tunes you can make with these five gourds. What are the similarities and differences between the two tunes you are given?

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Sounds Great!

Stage: 1 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:2 Challenge Level:2

Investigate the different sounds you can make by putting the owls and donkeys on the wheel.

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Count the Beat

Stage: 1 and 2

This article, written by Nicky Goulder and Samantha Lodge, reveals how maths and marimbas can go hand-in-hand! Why not try out some of the musical maths activities in your own classroom?

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Rarity

Stage: 5 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:3 Challenge Level:3 Challenge Level:3

Show that it is rare for a ratio of ratios to be rational.

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Euclid's Algorithm and Musical Intervals

Stage: 5 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:2 Challenge Level:2

Use Euclid's algorithm to get a rational approximation to the number of major thirds in an octave.

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Tuning and Ratio

Stage: 5 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

Why is the modern piano tuned using an equal tempered scale and what has this got to do with logarithms?

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When Will You Pay Me? Say the Bells of Old Bailey

Stage: 3 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:3 Challenge Level:3 Challenge Level:3

Use the interactivity to play two of the bells in a pattern. How do you know when it is your turn to ring, and how do you know which bell to ring?

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You Owe Me Five Farthings, Say the Bells of St Martin's

Stage: 3 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:2 Challenge Level:2

Use the interactivity to listen to the bells ringing a pattern. Now it's your turn! Play one of the bells yourself. How do you know when it is your turn to ring?

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Oranges and Lemons, Say the Bells of St Clement's

Stage: 3 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

Bellringers have a special way to write down the patterns they ring. Learn about these patterns and draw some of your own.

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Bell Ringing

Stage: 3 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:2 Challenge Level:2

Suppose you are a bellringer. Can you find the changes so that, starting and ending with a round, all the 24 possible permutations are rung once each and only once?

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Ding Dong Bell

Stage: 3, 4 and 5

The reader is invited to investigate changes (or permutations) in the ringing of church bells, illustrated by braid diagrams showing the order in which the bells are rung.