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Saturday, March 31, 2007

The Music of the Spheres

Continuing in the vein of art and mathematics, I encountered a jazz musician named Rudresh Mahanthappa who is employing his knowledge of crytography to his compositions. His recently released Codebook takes old standards and applies a kind of cypher to them to arrive at an original composition. The code is based on the Fibonacci sequence where each number is the sum of the two preceding numbers. 1,1,2,3,5,8,13,... Fibonacci, also known as Leonardo of Pisa, is said to have found the sequence while studying the breeding habits of rabbits, but the numbers have since popped up all over. From flower petals to seashells, the numbers continually crop up and they are intimately related to the golden ratio, the number mathematicians refer to as the Greek letter phi (Fibonacci also factored heavily into The DaVinci Code, for those of you who get your math from Dan Brown.)

It just goes to show how fruitful the marriage of music and mathematics can be.

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