Chapter 1

Algebra in Music

Music throughout history has generally been played using some type of scale and, at least within the last several centuries, was written down in some form of notation. It helps to be familiar with the basic idea of musical scales and notation in order to more deeply appreciate what composers are doing, what patterns they are using to create their music. The mathematics we introduce in this chapter will clarify the inner coherency of musical scales and some basic composing techniques. This mathematics is just the method of clock arithmetic. Musical scales, key signatures, and these composing techniques are all examples of counting hours and playing with time on a 12-hour clock.

1.1

Musical Scales

In this section we will describe the standard Western musical scales. We shall describe the elementary aspects of such scales and the notation that has been used for Western music for the last few centuries. These are most easily explained using a piano keyboard. Many composers, even when they are composing for other instruments, use a piano to initially sketch out the notes for their compositions. If you do not play an instrument, then it will help to play some of the notes and scales that we will be discussing here. A good approach would be to use software for writing out some of the examples of scores that we look at and playing them. A free version of scoring software can be found at
http://www.musescore.org/

(1.1)

Many of the scores discussed in the book have been written in this software and you can play them after downloading them from the book website. (Or, you can watch the scores being played in video recordings at the book website.)

1.1.1

The C-major scale

The simplest musical scale is the C-major scale. It corresponds to 8 adjacent white keys, an octave, on the piano as shown in Figure 1.1. These white keys are labeled C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C. The last C is considered to be the same note, just an octave higher in pitch. The eight white keys on the piano will play a C-major scale: C D E F G A B C. (1.2)

The black keys are for notes that lie above or below the notes on adjacent white keys. For example, C♯ is a note that is above the note C but below the note D. On the other hand, D♭ is a note that is below the note D but

2

1. Algebra in Music

above the note C. On the piano, and in our standard (equal-tempered) scale for Western music, the two notes C♯ and D♭ are the same note. We have indicated this by writing C♯ : D♭ above the first black key on the left side of Figure 1.1. Similar remarks apply to the rest of the black keys, which are used for these “accidentals” (they actually belong to scales for other musical keys) that occur in music written for the C-major scale. If we were to strike both white and black keys in order from left to right, beginning with the note C on the left, then we would play this scale: C C♯ D D♯ E F F♯ G G♯ A A♯ B C (1.3)

which is called the chromatic scale. The C-major scale is called a diatonic scale. The word diatonic indicates two special tones, and arises from the historical development of this type of scale. These two scales are shown
C♯ : D♭ D♯ : E♭ F♯ : G♭ G♯ : A♭ A ♯ : B♭

C

D

E

F

G

A

B

C

FIGURE 1.1. Keys on a piano keyboard for one octave.

in Figure 1.2, along with two other scales that we shall discuss soon. Notice that in Figure 1.1 there are black keys in between some white keys but not others. We have this pattern of how many keys are needed to get from one white key to the next on the piano scale: C − − D − − E − − F − − G − − A − − B − − C. −→ −→ −→ −→ −→ −→ −→ On the C-major scale, without reference to the piano keyboard, the word semitone is used instead of referring to piano keys. So we can write instead C − − − → D − − − → E − − − → F − − − → G − − − → A − − − → B − − − → C. −−− −−− −−− −−− −−− −−− −−− This pattern of key distances or semitones 2 2 1 2 2 2 1 (1.4)
2 semitones 2 semitones 1 semitone 2 semitones 2 semitones 2 semitones 1 semitone 2 keys 2 keys 1 key 2 keys 2 keys 2 keys 1 key

can be used to create major scales with other starting notes.

1.1.2

Other scales

To create a major scale we use the pattern of semitones in (1.4), starting with a different note than C. See Remark 1.1.1 for an explanation of why we will be choosing the fifth note in a given scale to begin a new scale. For the C-major scale, the fifth note is G. So we shall start with the note G and use the semitone numbers in (1.4) as key distances on the piano keyboard shown in Figure 1.1. This will produce the G-major scale. Starting at G on the keyboard in Figure 1.1, the second note is 2 keys to the right of G, and that second
Mathematics and Music, by James S. Walker.

1.1 Musical Scales

3

C-major scale

G-major scale

D-major scale

Chromatic Scale

FIGURE 1.2. Some musical scales. Try playing these scales with a real instrument, or a virtual one (using musical scoring software such as M USE S CORE). The notes are scored in the order described in the text. If you are not familiar with elementary musical notation, it will be explained in Section 1.

note is A. Then 2 keys to the right of A is B, and 1 key to the right of B is C. Since we have arrived at the note C, we now “wraparound” to the starting C on the left.1 From this left hand C we then move 2 more keys to the right to get D. From D we move 2 keys to the right to get E. Then comes a surprise, moving the next 2 keys to the right, gets us to the black key F♯ . Finally, moving 1 key to the right of F♯ gives G. Since we have returned to G, we have completed our G-major scale. Summarizing, the G-major scale is G A B C D E F♯ G. (1.5)

which we got from using this pattern of semitones: −−− G − − − → A − − − → B − − − → C − − − → D − − − → E − − − → F♯ − − − → G. −−− −−− −−− −−− −−− −−− Now, suppose we start on the fifth note D of this G-major scale. We will produce the scale known as D-major. Using our pattern of semitones as key distances on the keyboard, we get the following results: D − − E − − F♯ − − G − − A − − B − − − − − C♯ − − D. −→ −→ −→ −→ −→ − − − −→ −→
wraparound at C 2 keys 2 keys 1 key 2 keys 2 keys 2 keys 1 key 2 semitones 2 semitones 1 semitone 2 semitones 2 semitones 2 semitones 1 semitone

So the D-major scale is D E F♯ G A B C♯ D. (1.6) Try playing these three scales, C-major, G-major, and D-major on a real or virtual instrument to see the similarity in the way the pitches relate. Remark 1.1.1. Why have we emphasized going up a fifth? That is, building new major scales based on choosing the fifth note of a previous major scale. The reason has to do with the fact that the pitch of a fifth note sounds nearly as harmonious as an octave change. A note that is an octave higher sounds so close in tone to the note that is an octave lower that we call them the same note. In fact, males and females generally sing about an octave apart, so this may be the reason that we hear notes an octave apart as the same (due to long historical practice of males and females singing together). A fifth note on a musical scale is nearly as harmonious with the initial note as the note an octave higher. So when people sing together, as they have done throughout human
1 On the piano keyboard itself we could just continue to the right, but we want to explain our scales in a way that applies to other instruments besides the piano, so we shall perform this wraparound. There is another method, which we will describe shortly, that does not use the piano keyboard at all.

Mathematics and Music, by James S. Walker.

The note C is at hour 0. Using this clock figure. Example 1. The easiest way to express this wraparound property is to put the notes from the chromatic scale onto the hour positions on a clock face as shown in Figure 1. studies have been reported where people were asked to sing an octave higher note and a great many people actually sang a note that was only a fifth higher.7) as hours to add in moving around the hour positions on the clock. then adding 2 to 9 gives 11 and note B is at hour 11. We agree. This is not just a Western cultural bias. The chromatic scale arranged on a clock face (starting at 0). Throughout the world. adding 1 to 11 gives 12 and we are Mathematics and Music. which we shall call the Chromatic Clock. We then add 1 to 4 to get 5. 1. This clock has the top hour start at 0 rather than 12. Walker. The Chromatic Clock. If we start at the note C for our C-major scale at hour 0 and then apply the sequence in (1.1. In our discussion above.3. Finally. that when we circle around the top of the clock (the number 0) we will always reset to 0 by subtracting 12 (just as in telling time with this type of clock). adding 2 to 2 gives 4 and note E is at hour 4. then we get the C-major scale. almost all musical scales contain two notes that are an octave apart and a middle note that corresponds to the fifth note in our classical Western scales.3. by James S. it is extremely important to have different musical scales that are generated by going up in fifths.4 1.1 when arriving at the higher octave C on the right side. however. so that we would be back to the lower octave C on the left side. In fact.3 Scales and Clock Arithmetic The method of using the piano keyboard for describing scales is workable.7) as hour moves around the clock. we wrapped around on the piano keyboard shown in Figure 1.1 (C-major scale). and note F is at hour 5. Algebra in Music life. adding 2 to 5 gives 7 and note G is at hour 7. we can create major scales using the sequence 2 2 1 2 2 2 1 (1. There is a physical basis for this predominance of octaves and fifths which we will describe in the next chapter when we take up the relation between musical pitch and frequency of air vibrations in musical sound. There is an elegant mathematical way of creating scales using the notion of clock arithmetic (or arithmetic modulo 12 to use the more technical terminology). so adding 2 to 0 gives 2 and note D is at 2 hours. C B A ♯ : B♭ C♯ : D♭ D A D♯ : E♭ G♯ : A ♭ G F♯ : G♭ F E FIGURE 1. but a bit cumbersome. adding 2 to 7 gives 9 and note A is at hour 9.1. .

which is A. except for one. (1. Then adding 2 to 9 gives 11. we have obtained the G-major scale: G A B C D E F♯ G. and we picked up an extra sharp note in the scale. which is D.3 (D-major scale).8) We can summarize our calculations with this diagram: 0 C −→ − +2 2 D −→ − +2 4 E −→ 5 −→ − − F +1 +2 7 G −→ − +2 9 A −→ 11 − − − → − −−− −12 at top +2 +1 0 C. (1. Looking at these successive scales. Adding 2 hours gives 9. Exercises 1. Walker. (1. adding 2 to 0 gives 2. adding 1 to 6 gives 7.1 Musical Scales 5 at the top of the clock. by James S.9) B Example 1.1. if we start at G instead (to get a G-major scale) then we are starting at hour 7 for G.1. We will start from its fifth note. Finally. Adding 2 to 4 is 6. Adding 1 to 11 gives 12 but we are at the top of the clock so we subtract 12 to get 0.1. which is E. Thus. (1.2. Use the clock arithmetic method to go up a fifth from the A-major scale. shown in (1. we see that every time we went up a fifth we found the same notes as on the previous scale. which is F♯ .1. The hour number for A is 9 and the calculations go as follows: 9 A −→ 11 − − − → − −−− −12 at top +2 +2 1 C♯ −→ − +1 2 D −→ − +2 4 E −→ − +2 6 F♯ −→ − +2 8 G♯ −→ − +1 9 A B to obtain the A-major scale: A B C♯ D E F♯ G♯ A. (1. B Example 1.12) Remark 1. and the calculations go as follows: 2 D −→ − +2 4 E −→ − +2 6 F♯ −→ − +1 7 G −→ − +2 9 A −→ 11 − − − → − −−− −12 at top +2 +2 1 C♯ −→ − +1 2 D B to get the D-major scale: D E F♯ G A B C♯ D.4 (A-major scale).1. which is G. Adding 2 to 2 gives 4. .2 (G-major scale). More interestingly. and create the A-major scale. let’s go up a fifth from the D-major scale.10) We can summarize our calculations with this diagram: 7 G −→ − +2 9 A −→ 11 − − − → − −−− −12 at top +2 +1 0 C −→ − +2 2 D −→ − +2 4 E −→ − +2 6 F♯ −→ − +1 7 G. The note D has hour number 2. which gives C.1. our starting note. so we subtract 12 and get 0. We can also use this method to produce the D-major scale. Mathematics and Music. This phenomenon is summarized in the famous “Circle of Fifths” which we shall describe later. A. which is B.11) Example 1. We have found the C-major scale: C D E F G A B C. to find the E-major scale. Finally. Now.12). and note C is at hour 0.1.

A. Until we reach the scale that begins with which note? 1. and then using the following sequence of adds in our clock arithmetic method: +2 +1 +2 +2 +1 +2 + 2. except for one. (b) Why does the A-minor scale contain exactly the same notes as the C-major scale? (c) Go up a fifth on the A-minor scale and use the clock arithmetic method with the sequence in (1.) 1. (b) By comparing the sequence of clock arithmetic adds in part (a) to the one we have used to build new major scales.1. Suppose you go down a fifth on the C-major scale.2). you take as your starting note the fifth note down from the higher octave C note. Walker. The natural A-minor scale is obtained from the C-major scale by starting at its sixth note.13) to produce a new minor scale starting at E. and the note that differs will occur one hour back from the end note. the sequence of semitone changes (clock adds) for the scale looks like this: +2 +2 +1 +2 +2 +1 + 2. explain why the scale going up by a fifth (the G-major scale) will share the same notes but one with the C-major scale and pick up one sharp note. (d) Now. resulting in one flatted note.1. starting at the note A on the clock (see Figure 1.1.] 1. by James S.2. Parts (a) through (e) of this exercise develop the reasoning behind why building new major scales by going up a fifth will share all but one of the same notes as on the previous scale. the B-minor scale. which is the note F.4. Mathematics and Music. use this sequence of additions on the Chromatic Clock: +2 +2 +3 +2 +3 to generate a scale of six notes.6 1.7 (Natural minor scales). (1. Explain why going up a fifth note in a scale is always done by adding 7 hours on the Chromatic Clock. An harmonic minor scale is obtained from a given starting note by using the following sequence of adds in our clock arithmetic method: +2 +1 +2 +2 +1 +3 + 1. [Note: Make sure you do not use a note letter more than once. which starts with this note F. Starting with the note F♯ .1.6. this will determine whether you use flats or sharps for accidentals. explain why the scale going up by a fifth (the D-major scale) will share the same notes but one with the G-major scale and pick up one sharp note (so it has two sharps). the pattern of picking up one more sharp will continue. (a) Show that when we start at the fifth note of a major scale. B C D E F G A (1.14) . 1. Algebra in Music 1. Use these additions to generate an harmonic scale that begins with C (the harmonic C-minor scale).13) (a) Using our clock arithmetic method with this sequence of adding hours. and typically pick up an extra sharp. (Remember to not repeat note letters.5 (Harmonic minor scales).13) to produce a new minor scale starting at B. the E-minor scale.1. (c) Starting with the C-major scale. (e) Show that if we keep going up a fifth to create a new major scale. That is.) 1.3.3). starting with the G-major scale. shown in (1. show that the following scale is produced A which is called the A-minor scale. (Notice that its five distinct notes are the 5 black keys on a piano. Use the clock arithmetic method to find the F-major scale. (d) Go up a fifth on the E-minor scale and use the clock arithmetic method with the sequence in (1.1. explain why a new major scale will share all of its notes with the original major scale.

2 The notes in the spaces can be remembered with another mnemonic. .1.1. ℓ in H. Mathematics and Music. B. 2. . The treble clef is the staff marked with the G-clef shown on the left side of Figure 1. there is a unique k in H that satisfies j + k = 0 and k + j = 0. Every Good Boy Deserves Favour. 11}. . D.8.5. Exercise 1. Left: The treble clef.4 we have indicated where the notes are marked on this clef. by The Moody Blues produced in the 1960’s. 10. why generally is one additional sharp added (although there are exceptions)? Hint: This generalizes Exercise 1. Mathematical groups are one of the most fundamental algebraic structures in mathematics. On the right side of F E D C B A G F E FIGURE 1.1. 3. (3) For each j in H. Denote the set of hours on the Chromatic Clock by H. Every Good Boy Deserves Favour. we show some sequences of notes on treble clefs in Figure 1. The notes that are marked on the lines are E. As an example of this notation. or even skip. we have 0 + j = j and j + 0 = j. F. 1. so H = {0.4. Figure 1.2 Elementary Musical Notation 7 (e) Why does each successive minor scale obtained by going up a fifth on the previous minor scale have the property that it shares the same notes but one? Also. Show that addition of hours in H satisfies these four properties: (1) For each j.2 Elementary Musical Notation The purpose of this section is to briefly discuss some elementary musical notation. G. the sum j + k is in H (provided 12 is subtracted when passing the top of the Chromatic Clock). Remark 1. we have (j + k) + ℓ = j + (k + ℓ). 2 There was an album with that title.6 to the case of minor scales. A mnemonic device for remembering that sequence is Every Good Boy Does Fine or. k in H.4.3. Walker. . .1. 1. 1. Please feel free to quickly skim. (4) For each j in H. by James S. this time a sort of acronym: FACE.8 shows that the set of hours H on the Chromatic Clock is a mathematical group. k. this section if you already know how notes are scored and what time signatures are.1. Right: The treble clef with note positions marked. (2) For each j. as is more commonly said in Canada and England.

Right: The grand staff with note positions marked. Finally. G. the bass clef. Walker. It is referred to as middle C. D. F E D BC GA F E D C B A F G DE BC A G FIGURE 1. Algebra in Music The notes D. Notice. The bass clef contains lower pitch notes than the treble clef.5. A. G.7 we show the grand staff and the positions where notes are marked on it. by James S. A G F E D C B A G FIGURE 1. A second clef is often used together with the treble clef. E. as commonly practiced.1 Time Signatures In Western music. there is an intricate division of the length of time that notes are Mathematics and Music.8 1. that the middle note between the two clefs is C. In Figure 1. Right: The C-major scale on a treble clef. E. In Figure 1. C FIGURE 1. F. Left: The bass clef.7. these two clefs can be combined to create the grand staff.6 we show the bass clef and the positions where notes are marked on it. A mnemonic for the notes marked on the lines is Good Boys Do Fine Always and a mnemonic for the notes marked between the lines is All Cows Eat Grass.2. G. 1. Left: A sequence of notes on a treble clef. in particular. B. A. . D The C-major scale C. D. Left: The grand staff.6. Right: The bass clef with note positions marked. as its name indicates. B.

we show one measure consisting of 32 repetitions of a 1/32 note (each note being of duration 1/32nd of the duration of the whole measure): 32 thirty-secondth notes: 32 · 1 32 = 4 4 In addition to beats consisting of notes. Here is an example: 1 whole note 2 half notes 4 quarter notes 8 eighth notes 16 sixteenth notes 1= 4 4 1 2 + 1 2 = 4 4 4 · 1 4 = 4 4 8 · 1 8 = 4 4 16 · 1 16 = 4 4 In the first measure. 1 32 rest 1= 4 4 1 2 + 1 2 = 4 4 1 4 + 1 4 + 1 8 + 1 8 + 1 16 + 1 16 + 1 32 + 1 32 + 2 32 = 4 4 4 In the first measure. Finally. 4 . This division of time is part of the rhythm of the music and is indicated in musical scores by time signatures. One whole note equals 4 quarter notes. we will only describe the two most common time signatures: the 4 time signature and 4 the 3 time signature. In 4 time. In each case we have successively divided the length of a note by 2 and formed the new measure by twice as many repetitions of this halved note. 1 16 rest. The sum of all the beat durations in the measure produces the equation: 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 4 + + + + + + + +2 · = . We shall see that there is some relation 4 between the time signature. one whole rest takes up the whole measure. While in the second measure. There is a quarter note. 1 8 rest. indicates that each of those fundamental beats will be quarter notes (or rests of duration equal to a quarter note). and that gives the equation 4 · 4 = 4 . a whole note. Here is an example that illustrates both notes and rests: 4 1 whole rest 1 half note. also a 4. and the fraction. but without the fraction bar. This gives the equation 1 = 4 . by James S. 4 The 4 4 time signature The notation 4 looks like a fraction. so we have the 1 4 equation 1 = 4 . which are pauses between notes. 4 4 8 8 16 16 32 32 32 4 Mathematics and Music. and so on. the fundamental rest is a quarter rest. In every case. there is just one note.2 Elementary Musical Notation 9 played. Walker. The connection of 4 with the 4 4 time signature 4 should now be clear. 1 half rest notes separated by 1 4 rest. so that gives the equation 2 + 1 = 4 . in this case a 4. The rest of the measures. The 4 2 4 1 third measure consists of four quarter notes.1. should be clear at this point. For now. this leads to an equation with fractions that has 4 on its right side. In the second 1 measure. there are also beats consisting of rests. there is a more complex sequence of notes and rests obtained by further division of duration by 2. and then an eighth note followed by an eighth rest. we have 2 half notes. 4 As one more example of this division of note lengths by 2. and the corresponding equations with fractions. 4 . . followed by a quarter rest. resulting in the equation 1 + 2 = 4 . there is one half note followed by one half rest. indicates that there will be four fundamental beats (notes or rests) in each measure. 4 4 The top number in the time signature. in the 2 4 third measure. While the bottom number.

1 1 4 + 8 . followed by four sixteenth notes (connected with a slur). . there is a dotted quarter note. so we shall just briefly discuss this case. The basic beat-length is 1/4. Here is an example: 3 · 1 4 = 3 4 `1 4 + 1 8 ´ + 1 8 + `1 8 + 1 16 ´ + 1 32 + 1 32 = 3 4 1 16 + 1 8 + 1 16 + 1 4 + 1 8 + 1 16 + 1 16 = 3 4 In the first measure. Consequently. This gives the equation 1 + 1 + 1 + 8 + 16 + 32 + 32 = 4 for the measure. The slurs have no effect on the durations.5 ∗ (1/2). that the notes should be slurred together as they are played so that no silences are audible between the individual notes. and slurs. when a score does not have a time signature given. 4 1 expressed as 1 + 8 . Before we leave the topic of the 4 time signature. as they would if they occurred separately without a tie. and finishing with a 1/32 rest and 4 1 1 1 1 3 1/32 note. the third measure has two eighth notes (connected with a slur). and there are 3 beats to a measure. So the dotted half note has duration 1. followed by a quarter rest and a quarter note. and then a quarter note tied 1 1 4 together with an eighth note. we should point out that it is the most common time 4 signature. The second measure begins with a dotted quarter note.10 The final aspects of of these notations: `1 2 1. ties. then the convention is that the time signature is 4 . followed by an eighth rest. as indicated by the equation shown for the third measure. followed by two eighth rests. Again we can 4 8 8 Mathematics and Music. there is a quarter note followed by a quarter rest and a quarter note. The resulting duration equation is 1 + 8 + 2 · 1 + 4 + 1 = 4 . Finally. Walker. as their name implies. a dotted eighth note. we have this music notation equation: 4 = There are some additional aspects to the when they appear in later examples. without an audible silence between them. We will discuss them in the exercises. which we will express as 1 1 1 1 4 1 2 + 4 . either a quarter note or a quarter 4 rest. by James S. The tie indicates how the notes are to be played together. The basic ideas are the same as 4 with 4 . Algebra in Music 4 4 time that we will discuss here are dotted notes. Here is an example 1 4 4 4 + 1 4 ´ + = `1 4 + 1 8 ´ +2 · 1 8 + 1 4 + 1 8 = 4 4 2 · 1 8 +2 · 1 4 +4 · 1 16 = 4 4 In the first measure. For example. The duration of any dotted note is 1. The 3 4 4 4 time signature. we get the equation 3 · 4 = 3 . They indicate. The tied quarter note and eighth note have the same duration. there is a dotted half note. In the second measure. This gives the equation for the duration of the beats in the first measure to be 2 + 4 + 4 = 4 . The tying of the 4 8 8 notes has no effect in calculating their duration. Since there are 1 3 beats in a row. or as needed time signature The other time signature that is frequently employed is the 3 time signature.5 times the duration of the note symbol without the dot.

followed by a quarter rest (producing durations of 16 + 1 + 16 + 1 ).2 Elementary Musical Notation 11 see the connection of time signature notation with fractions.2. . 4 4 Exercises 1. by James S. 1.2. It consists of a sixteenth rest. For the following bass clef find the notes: . The final measure in the example above 4 provides further confirmation of this connection. and finishing with an 8 4 1 1 1 eighth note followed by a sixteenth note and sixteenth rest ( 8 + 16 + 16 ).1.2. noticing that the sum of the beat durations for 3 each measure produces the fraction 4 for this time signature of 3 . followed by an eighth note and 1 1 a sixteenth rest. For the following Grand Staff find the notes: Treble Clef: Bass Clef: Mathematics and Music.1.3.2. For the following treble clef find the notes: . Walker. 1. . Altogether these durations produce 1 1 1 1 1 1 the equation: 16 + 8 + 16 + 1 + 8 + 16 + 16 = 3 .

The following score uses all of the clefs that we have discussed. 1. Here is a Tenor Clef.2.2. 1. 1. Algebra in Music find the notes: Treble Clef: Bass Clef: .6 (Tenor clef).4. The Alto Clef is another clef that is sometimes used. by James S. . where we have indicated on the left side where middle C is located: C Find the notes marked on this Alto Clef: . Here is an Alto Clef. The Tenor Clef is another clef that is sometimes used. Name the notes that are scored.7. Treble Clef: Tenor Clef: Alto Clef: Bass Clef: Mathematics and Music.5 (Alto clef). where we have indicated on the left side where middle C is located: C Find the notes marked on this Tenor Clef: .12 1. For the following Grand Staff 1.2.2. Walker.

given the 4 time signature: 4 1.9. Here is an example of four triplets in 3 time: 4 triplet: 1 note-length 4 triplet: 1 note-length 8 1 triplet: 16 note-length 1 triplet: 4 note-length `1´ 4 + 1 4 + 1 4 = 3 4 1 8 + `1´ 8 + 1 4 +2· 1 8 = 3 4 1 8 + ` 1 16 ´ + 1 16 + 1 4 + `1´ 4 = 3 4 The first measure begins with a triplet of 3 eighth notes. Walker.2. given the 3 time signature: 4 1.1. For the following score. given the 3 time signature: 4 Tuplets Another aspect of rhythm in time signatures is the grouping of notes whose duration is not a power of 2 division of a beat length. in the second measure.2.10. for each measure write the equation with fractions that corresponds to the note lengths.2 Elementary Musical Notation 13 1. Although the triplet is notated with eighth notes.2. by James S. For the following score. for each measure write the equation with fractions that corresponds to the note lengths. For the following score. For the following score.8. for each measure write the equation with fractions that corresponds to the note lengths. their durations 1 1 add up to the duration of a quarter note. which has 3 notes in a group. so each of the notes actually has a duration of 3 · 1 = 12 . given the 4 time signature: 4 1. Likewise. In the equation below 4 1 the measure. we have listed the total duration of the triplet as 4 . . there is a triplet Mathematics and Music.2. The most common tuplet is a triplet.11. These groupings are usually called tuplets. for each measure write the equation with fractions that corresponds to the note lengths.

.13. for each measure write the equation with fractions that corresponds to the note lengths.2. please solve the following 4 exercises. in the third measure there is a triplet of 1 1/32nd notes. for each measure write the equation with fractions that corresponds to the note lengths. 1. For example. Walker. For the following score. The convention is that the duration of the triplet is twice as 8 long as the duration of the note that is repeated to form the triplet. With the invention of the metronome a tempo could be specified very accurately. Often in scores a metronome marking is given for the tempo. what are the actual durations of the notes? 1.15.2.12. But the duration of the entire triplet is equal to the duration of an eighth note. which we have denoted by 1 in the equation below the measure. what are the actual durations of the notes? 1. given the 4 time signature: 4 For each tuplet. For the following score. for each measure write the equation with fractions that corresponds to the note lengths. For the following score.2. for each measure write the equation with fractions that corresponds to the note lengths. what are the actual durations of the notes? Tempo An aspect related to how the rhythm of notes is played is its overall speed. Based on the discussion just given. For example. For the following score.14 1. by James S. given the 4 time signature: 4 For each triplet. so the length of the whole triplet is 1/16 which we have written as 16 in the equation for the measure.2. Algebra in Music denoted using sixteenth notes. given the 3 time signature: 4 For each triplet. given the 3 time signature: 4 For each tuplet. when the following marking Mathematics and Music. what are the actual durations of the notes? 1.14. its tempo.

2 Elementary Musical Notation 15 appears at the beginning of the score. find the length in seconds of a quarter note. Use the method outlined in the previous exercise to find the sequence of rests that remain in the measure after entering the notes indicated in each of these three cases: a. Show that x can be expressed in a way that reflects the rests shown in the example above.1.17. 1. 1. such as M USE S CORE. 1. the duration of a quarter note is 0. Suppose the performance is to be played at tempos that use these values for bpm (where a beat is a quarter note): Adagio = 40 Allegro = 120 Andante = 80 In each case.2. when a note is entered the rests remaining in the measure are automatically computed. Some musical scores use Italian names to indicate tempo. .18.16. Show that the following equation holds 1 3 +x= 32 4 and solve for x. Automatic Music Scoring In computer music scoring software. by James S. such as Adagio or Allegro or Andante. let x stand for the duration left in the measure after the 1/32nd note is entered.19. find the length in seconds of a quarter note. Walker. Add a dotted quarter note (right after the sixteenth note): Mathematics and Music. a metronomically precise tempo being up to the performer(s) and/or conductor. In this case the beat is a quarter note and 120 quarter notes will have a duration of 1 minute.2. In the example above. Therefore.2. then the tempo is set at 120 beats/minute (bpm). 1. Add a dotted sixteenth note: b.5 seconds. Based on this discussion. Precise bpp values are not always specified. solve the following two exercises. For each of the tempo marks below. Here is an example: Add 1/32nd note −− − − − − − − −→ The next two exercises deal with the algebra underlying how the software calculates the remaining rests in a measure after entering a note.2.

Moreover. by James S. that occur on the scale’s notes.12). All notes in the score are naturals. then it is specifically marked in the score.16 c. F. which is a G-note space). F♯ . Algebra in Music 1.8. We show an example of such marked notes in the bottom of Figure 1. a specific scale is used for the vast majority of the notes.8. Mathematics and Music. As shown in (1. The key signature of 3 sharps at the start. Add a dotted sixteenth note: 1. This emphasized scale is called the key for the music and is indicated on the scale by marking the sharps. then that indicates the C-major scale. . We have illustrated this in the top of Figure 1. and G (notice that the sharp for G is placed in the space above the F-line. Walker.8. Notice that the last note is marked as G♮ . indicates that they are sharped notes. we show a sequence of notes containing several instances of C♯ . if a score is written using predominantly notes from the scale of A-major. these notes appear as the sharped notes C♯ . The C-major scale has no flats or sharps. which indicates that that note is G and is not to be played sharp or flat. then the score will begin with 3 sharp symbols marked on the lines for the notes C. and G♯ . it is then unnecessary to mark them on each appearance of one of the three sharped notes in the A-major scale. In this section we will describe the notation for these keys and how they are connected mathematically by the famous Circle of Fifths. For each of the examples in the next section. F. A-major F♯ E D C♯ B A G♯ F♯ D A C♮ G♯ C C-major D E F G A B C C♯ B G♭ G♮ FIGURE 1.8. because of the properties of the celebrated Circle of Fifths. By placing sharps at the positions for C. like C♮ .8. For example. See the top of Figure 1. The Circle of Fifths is derived using the mathematics of addition on the Chromatic Clock. Bottom: A sequence of notes in the key of C-major. F♯ . Top: A sequence of notes in the key of A-major. no flats or sharps.3 Key Signatures and The Circle of Fifths The musical examples given in the next section are written in specific keys.8. unless the notes are specifically marked in the score. So when no flats or sharps are written at the start. in the top of Figure 1. For example. and G♯ in the A-major scale. or flats. and G. but in the score these notes are not marked with sharps. as shown in the bottom of Figure 1. it turns out that just marking the 3 flats is sufficient to identify the A-major scale. When a note is used that is not part of the A-major scale.

6 above. by James S. which has 6 flats. The scale for C-major is constructed from the Chromatic Clock in Figure 1. On the other hand.3 using the following calculations: 0 C −→ − +2 2 D −→ − +2 4 E −→ 5 −→ − − F +1 +2 7 G −→ − +2 9 A −→ 11 − − − → − −−− −12 at top +2 +1 0 C. We will explain the solution of that exercise here. which has 0 sharps and 0 flats. . This organization is called the Circle of Fifths. Walker. and is also called the key of G♭ . Each new key can be indicated on the clef with one more ♯ than the preceding key on the Circle of Fifths. Key signatures for the major scales. B When we go up a fifth to the next key of G-major at position 1♯ on the Circle of Fifths.3 Key Signatures and The Circle of Fifths 17 1.9. then each time we move one hourly position counterclockwise (numbered by flats).1.3. This occurs until we reach the position indicated by “6♭ or 6♯” marking the key of F♯ . at the top of the Circle of Fifths. if we start at position 0 for the key of C-major. then we are performing these calculations on the Chromatic Clock starting at the note G: Mathematics and Music. C F 1♭ B♭ 2♭ 0 G 1♯ 2♯ D E♭ 3♭ 3♯ A A♭ 4♭ 5♭ D♭ 6♭ or 6♯ G♭ or F♯ 5♯ 4♯ B E FIGURE 1. Starting at the top. which has 6 sharps. The reason why the Circle of Fifths can organize key signatures in this fashion was described in Exercise 1. we reach a new key that shares the same notes as the previous key except for one new note. Suppose we begin with the key of C-major. the position 0 for the key of C-major.9.1 Circle of Fifths Key signatures are connected in an organized way. and this new key can be indicated on the clef with one more ♭ than the preceding key on the Circle of Fifths. each time we move one hourly position clockwise (numbered by sharps). This figure should be interpreted as follows. The Circle of Fifths.1. The Circle of Fifths for the key signatures of the major scales is shown in Figure 1. we reach a new key that shares the same notes as the previous key except for one new note.

which is up a fifth from C-major. The notes are said to be enharmonic. and that note preceding the end is a sharp note (at least until we get to position 6♯ on the Circle of Fifths). . 1 hour before end 7 G −→ − +2 9 A −→ 11 − − − → − −−− −12 at top +2 +1 0 C −→ − +2 2 D −→ − +2 4 E −→ − +2 6 F♯ −→ − +1 7 G. which corresponds to going up a fifth on the Chromatic Clock (adding 7 hours on the Chromatic Clock). For example. like C♭ . B This diagram shows why the key of G-major. starting at the note F: matches previous key +2 +2 new note (2 before C) +1 +2 matches previous key’s beginning +2 +2 +1 5 −→ 7 −→ 9 −→ 10 −→ 0 −→ 2 −→ 4 −→ 5 − − − − − − − ♭ F G A B C D E F. When we go counterclockwise on the Circle of Fifths we are going down a fifth from the preceding key. putting a flat on a note lowers that note by a semitone. Notice that at position 1♯ on the Circle of Fifths in Figure 1. Since the convention in music is that putting a sharp on a note raises that note up one semitone. Similar reasoning applies each time we move another hourly position clockwise through positions 1♯ to 6♯ on the Circle of Fifths. As we continue to move counterclockwise around the Circle of Fifths. Since the note immediately preceding the end note of G on the Chromatic Clock is F♯ .9 we have one flat and it is marking the note B on the treble scale. but one of them is a repeat. B However.9 we have one sharp in the key signature. We have the notes F♯ G♯ A♯ B C♯ D♯ F F♯ In musical notation. it is customary to never use a note letter more than once in a scale. however. which is 3 Likewise. then we have these calculations on the Chromatic Clock: 0 C −→ − +2 2 D −→ − +2 4 E −→ 5 −→ − − F +1 +2 7 G −→ − +2 9 A −→ 11 − − − → − −−− −12 at top +2 +1 0 C. Notice that at position 1♭ on the Circle of Fifths in Figure 1. which is down a fifth from C-major. So the key signature for this scale has just 6 sharps. Going counterclockwise on the Circle of Fifths will produce new key signatures by adding flats. Since the note that is 2 hours back from C on the Chromatic Clock is B♭ . when we go down a fifth to the next key of F-major at position 1♭ on the Circle of Fifths. will have one new note that differs from C-major and that note will be the one that is back 2 hours from C on the Chromatic Clock. When we get to position 6♯ on the Circle of Fifths. And that new note will be the one that immediately precedes the end note on the Chromatic Clock. Mathematics and Music. Algebra in Music matches end sequence for previous key match at beginning new note. and it is marking the note F on the treble clef. Including unusual cases. will have one new note that differs from C-major. the key of F-major must have one flat. we can write F as E♯ . the scale above is typically expressed as F♯ G♯ A♯ B C♯ D♯ E♯ F♯ This scale has 7 sharps. by James S. This diagram shows why the key of F-major.18 1.3 Therefore. if we start again at C-major at hour 0 on the Circle of Fifths. We always end up with one note that is different. meeting up with the key of F♯ -major. then we are performing these calculations on the Chromatic Clock. Each additional hourly position counterclockwise will add a flat to the previous key signature. which is enharmonic with B. Walker. we have reached F♯ which has the note F preceding it. Until we reach the position 6♭. So it appears as if we did not pick up an extra sharp. we pick up one new flatted note at a time. the key of G-major must have this one sharped note. the one preceding the end.

and going down a fifth involves subtracting 7 hours.] a d 1♭ g 2♭ 0 e 1♯ 2♯ b c 3♭ 3♯ f♯ f 4♭ 5♭ b♭ 6♭ or 6♯ e♭ or d♯ 5♯ 4♯ g♯ c♯ FIGURE 1. one encounters key signatures with either 7 sharps or 7 flats.3 Key Signatures and The Circle of Fifths 19 enharmonic with the key of G♭ -major.1.10. Place those two key signatures on the Circle of Fifths.10 we show the Circle of Fifths for the natural minor keys. Your exercise is to check that doing this produces the keys shown in Figure 1. In Figure 1. especially in classical music.3 (Chord structure). Recall that the natural A-minor key.3. Each minor scale is obtained from a major scale in the same way. I. Each note of F♯ -major is enharmonic with the corresponding note of G♭ -major. F. by James S.10.2 (Circle of Fifths for Minor Keys). 1. Occasionally. we just have to successively go up a fifth from A-minor. In this figure we show the fundamental triadic (3-note) chords in the key of C-major: I C ii D iii E IV F V G vi A vii◦ B◦ I C The major chords are labeled by upper case Roman numerals.10. . 1. [Hint: remember that going up a fifth involves adding 7 hours on the Chromatic Clock. denoted as a in Figure 1. Walker.3. and Mathematics and Music. Therefore. going up a sixth from the major scale’s starting note. reading off the notes from the C-major scale starting at the sixth note A). IV. V. and determine their names in both major and minor keys. so it has the same notes as the C-major scale.1 (7 sharps or 7 flats). was obtained from the C-major key by going up a sixth (i.e. or successively down a fifth from A-minor. we outline the mathematical explanation for the structure of this Circle of Fifths.3. The Circle of Fifths for the natural minor keys. and are also labeled by their base notes (C. In this exercise. to get the minor keys to arrange in a Circle of Fifths. Exercises 1.

you should have only used letters from this 5 member set: {A. (b) Mark off the positions of each of the notes in these chords on the Chromatic Clock. music that is written in pentatonic scales does not employ chords. and that the intervals between this pentatonic scale’s notes follow the same pattern as in (1. (3) palindrome symmetries. In this section. Turandot. Diatonic scale transformations that composers frequently use are (1) diatonic scale shifts. F♯ . iii. The melody appears to be based on a pentatonic (5-note) scale. vi? What is different about the diminished minor chord vii◦ ? (c) If the same pattern of intervals (number of semitones) had been used for the base note B in the diminished minor chord vii◦ as was used for the other minor chords. which will be explained in this exercise. iii. Suppose that we are using the Pentatonic-C scale in (1. we will describe diatonic scale shifts. and V. Algebra in Music G)—for instance. (a) Mark the notes of the Pentatonic-C scale on the Chromatic Clock. [The superscript ◦ is indicating a diminished chord. What pattern do you see in the intervals (number of semitones) between the notes in the chords for the major chords. 1.16). Generally. Puccini uses some Chinese melodies. I. show that the notes in the chord would have been B. vi. Mathematics and Music. and the intervals separating these notes. Show that the five notes that are used for the melody are another pentatonic scale obtained from the Pentatonic-C scale by addition on the Chromatic Clock.16) (b) In his opera. chord ii is also called a D-minor chord. E. . Can you find a three-note chord.15). vii◦ . by James S. Walker.4 Diatonic Transformations — Scale Shifts A common technique in musical composition is to use transformations of small groups of notes. The most common types of transformations are known as diatonic scale transformations. chord V is also called a G-major chord. A. Find the locations of the chord C-E-G on the Chromatic Clock. The most common pentatonic scale (5 distinct notes) is the following: C D E G A C. one of these Chinese melodies is Write out the sequence of notes used for this melody. using D as the base note. The minor chords are labeled by lower case Roman numerals. B)—for instance. but the notes are not exactly the same as for the Pentatonic-C scale (since they include B and do not include C).3. ii. IV.15) which is often referred to as the Pentatonic C-major scale. D. This exercise will provide some explanation for this. ii. and for the minor chords.3. E.4 (Pentatonic scale). G}. (1. D. and show that the intervals between its notes follow this pattern: 2 2 3 2 3. Show that that chord is the minor chord iii in the key of G-major. B. which has the same (or reversed) intervals? What about a three-note chord that has E as base note? 1. (2) diatonic scale inversions.] (a) Find the notes that comprise each of these chords. What would be a good name for this pentatonic scale? 1. (c) For the sequence of notes in part (b). (1.5 (Chords in Pentatonic Scales?). which is the next adjacent key moving clockwise on the Circle of Fifths. Written in Western notation. and take up the other two types in the next section. and are labeled by their base notes (D.20 1.

which we denote by S1 . let’s consider the C-major scale: C D E F G A B C 21 A diatonic scale shift is done by shifting a set of notes up or down on the scale. obtaining D F E C. the proS S gression I-IV-V can be written as I −3 IV −1 V. E S0 E S−1 E S3 FIGURE 1. as well as the diatonic scale shifts S−1 and S3 . then they do not change.4 Diatonic Transformations — Scale Shifts To see how diatonic scale shifts work. A sequence of diatonic scale shifts of three notes. Diatonic scale shifts occur in chord progressions (changing from one chord to another). so the sequence of notes is repeated. In Figure 1. This diatonic scale shift is denoted S−1 . then we get the notes F A G E. A diatonic scale shift of four notes. so the diatonic scale shift S0 does appear frequently.4. If we shift each of them up 1 degree on the scale. Example 1.12 we show the diatonic scale shift S0 . S1 E FIGURE 1. Repetition is very important in music. In Figure 1.2 (Chord progressions in Pachebel’s Canon in D). There is a sequence of several diatonic scale shifts that link these chords. We could also have shifted the notes E G F D down by 1 degree on the scale. Another case is the progression I-vi-ii-V. Walker. in the figure below we show the basic triadic chords in the key of C-major. For example. S S−4 S .1 (Diatonic scale shifts in chords).11. If the notes are shifted by 0 degrees on the scale. → − → Example 1.4.1. appears on a score. and the fact that the diatonic scale shift S1 is used to change from one chord to the next. In Figure 1. For instance. by James S. It is easy to see how the shifting up by 1 affects the notes in the score.11. I S1 E ii S1 E iii S1 E IV S1 V E S1 E vi S1 E vii◦ S1 EI Some standard chord progressions can be written in terms of diatonic scale shifts. we show how this diatonic scale shift. An example of sequences of diatonic scale shifts in a famous piece of classical music is Pachebel’s Canon in D.12. acting on a set of 3 notes. which can be → → written as I −5 vi − → ii −3 V. suppose we have four notes: E G F D. For example. Mathematics and Music.13 we show the chords that describe the main theme from this piece.

5 S.4. and not only to chords.16 we have shown the opening measures of the song.15 we show the opening measures of Bach’s Inventio 11 (BWV 782) with four different diatonic scale shifts marked (there are several others as well). . The hierarchy is organized into at least two levels according to a short timescale and a long timescale. The whole succession is called a tonal sequence.g. with an introduction to twentieth-century music. Opening measures of Beethoven’s Symphony Number 5. p. Bach used diatonic scale shifts frequently as well.14. with an introduction to twentieth-century music.S. 2009. To hear a performance of this music. McGraw-Hill. Combining a succession of diatonic scale shifts in this way is known as sequencing in music theory. Example 1. Mathematics and Music. J.5 To ′ indicate that the diatonic scale shifts have been modified. Walker. Example 1. Sixth Edition. Kostka and D. 4 S. starting with some examples from classical music. S−1 T S6 T S−1 T S1 T FIGURE 1.22 S−2 1. Example 1. We shall now examine some sequences of diatonic scale shifts of this kind. by Alicia Keys. we show the opening measures of the score with the diatonic scale shifts marked. by James S. go to Videos link at book website and select Introduction to Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony.5 (Alicia Keys’ If I Ain’t Got You). Payne. Kostka and D. Tonal Harmony. 103.14. Sixth Edition. In Figure 1. there are various accidentals for the notes. Payne. or ♯. Notice that in the last two diatonic scale shifts. diatonic scale shifts occur in popular music as well.4 Diatonic scale shifts can also be applied to short sections of a melody.13.3 (Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony). For these diatonic scale shifts.4 (J. Besides classical music. the sequences are referred to as modified sequences in music theory. If I Ain’t Got You. McGraw-Hill. That is. In Figure 1. 2009.4. In Figure 1. A famous example of using diatonic scale shifts occurs in the beginning of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. Bach’s Inventio 11). The tonal sequencing that Beethoven performs on the initial four note motive is remarkable for the power it produces in the sound of this symphony. we have marked them with a prime symbol (e. Sequencing of diatonic scale shifts in the theme of Pachebel’s Canon in D. 104. Algebra in Music S−2 c c T S−2 S−2 T S0 T S1 T FIGURE 1. some of the notes are marked with a ♭. S1 rather than S1 ). the ones labelled ′ ′ S1 and S2 . The diatonic scale shifts in this song are quite interesting in that they have a hierarchical structure. or ♮.4.S. p. Tonal Harmony.

17) Mathematics and Music. .4 Diatonic Transformations — Scale Shifts S−1 23 S−1 E c ′ S1 E ′ S2 E FIGURE 1. Walker. For example. in the first measure there is a three note set (motive) consisting of this triplet: (1.16.1. Opening measures of Keys’ If I Ain’t Got You. by James S. FIGURE 1.15. Opening measures of Bach’s Inventio 11.

you can check that the diatonic scale shifts described here for the treble clef also apply to the bass clef for producing its notes as well.24 1. which is a longer timescale application of S0 . and then S1 is applied again. That produces the treble clef for measure 8. This produces the first 3 measures: S0 E S−1 E Notice that the diatonic scale shifts S0 and S−1 are also applied to the single notes in each measure on the bass clef.17. As if to emphasize this variation. are converted into stacked quarter notes which creates 3-note chords at the beginning of each of the motives in measure 8. Algebra in Music to which the diatonic scale shift S0 is applied two times to get the entire measure: S0 E S0 E The next two measures of the treble clef are obtained by first applying S0 to the first measure. and S0 is applied to the fifth measure to get the sixth measure. the diatonic scale shift S0 is applied to the last measure above (the third measure) to get the fourth measure. and then applying S−1 to the second measure. Walker. Mathematics and Music. and then S1 is applied to the resulting 3-note motive. See Figure 1. by James S. . the half-notes in the bass clef. In fact. which in previous measures have been the only notes there. Measure 7 is obtained from measure 6 by applying the diatonic scale shift S−1 : Measure 6 Measure 7 S−1 E And then comes an interesting variation. To get the next three measures of the treble clef. This produces the fourth through sixth measures: The final three measures (measures 7 through 9) have an interesting interplay between the short and long timescale diatonic scale shifts. The short timescale diatonic scale shift S0 is applied to the 3-note motive that ends the treble clef for measure 7. and then S−1 is applied to the fourth measure to obtain the fifth measure.

We cannot help but notice the way in which the number 3 (and also. 3 measures were created by using short timescale diatonic scale shifts (measures 1. Notice that the initial melodic motive shown in (1. all together. and 3 measures were created by applying the long timescale diatonic scale shift S−1 to a previous measure (measures 3. 7). This is the tonal sequencing that we referred to earlier. to a degree 2) keeps reappearing in the melodic structure of Keys’ song. say C in the key of C-major. In measure 8. We conclude our analysis with measure 9. 4. The special number 3 could represent the fact that two together makes a third (their unity). where a variation is introduced. 9). For example. by James S. Moreover.4. we can follow one diatonic scale shift by another one. and this combination of 3 timescales continues throughout each measure of the score.1. → → Mathematics and Music. diatonic scale shifts can be composed. 5.4 Diatonic Transformations — Scale Shifts Measure 7 S0 25 Measure 8 E S1 E S1 E FIGURE 1. suppose we just have one note. Finally. there is a “micro-timescale” of using diatonic scale shifts here: an application of S−3 on the initial note. The short timescale repetitions of S0 are done 2 times in each measure to create 3 repetitions of a 3 note motive within each measure. while 3 measures were created by applying the long timescale diatonic scale shift S0 to a previous measure (measures 2. S S .1. Diatonic scale shifts used to produce treble clef notes in Measure 8 of If I Ain’t Got You. there are in fact 3 timescale levels. Walker. which is appropriate for a love song. where 3 is of course of very special significance (alluding to the Christian notion of the Trinity). the diatonic scale shift S1 is used 2 times to create 3 repetitions of 3 note motives (which themselves begin with 3 note chords). The pattern of long timescale diatonic scale shifts from measures 1 to 7 is S0 S−1 S0 S−1 S0 S−1 so S0 is used 3 times and S−1 is used 3 times.17) is composed of 3 notes. The treble clef of measure 9 is created by applying S1 to the last of the three note motives in measure 8 and then applying S0 twice: Measure 8 S1 Measure 9 E S0 E S0 E Remark 1.17. We could apply the diatonic scale shifts S1 followed by S2 to this note: C −1 D −2 F. That is. So. followed by an application of S−2 on this second note. 1.4. the genre of this music (R & B) is influenced by Gospel music. 8.1 Compositions of Diatonic scale shifts As shown in the preceding examples. In fact. 6).

” In particular.18) is usually expressed more succinctly as S2 ◦ S1 = S1 ◦ S2 .” and the diatonic scale shift S4 is usually phrased as “going up a 5th . For all diatonic scale shifts. and S1 S2 (C) as S1 ◦ S2 (C).1. Remark 1.18) and both compositions are equal to Sj+k . Algebra in Music If we apply them in the opposite order. The reason. This obviates a defect in the traditional measurements which tell us.6 Exercises 1. the end result is the same. as follows: The intervallic measurements .” (3 + 3 = 5 ???). 17.26 1. For the set of three notes below: 6 David Lewin. The discussion above illustrates the idea behind the proof of the following Theorem.4. Mathematics and Music. For example. We have found that S2 ◦ S1 (C) = F and S1 ◦ S2 (C) = F so we can write S2 ◦ S1 (C) = S1 ◦ S2 (C). the note F: C −2 E −1 F. is that these diatonic scale shifts are just invoking an elaborate form of the addition fact 1 + 2 = 2 + 1. Equation (1. the diatonic scale shift S2 is usually phrased as “going up a 3rd . This last statement implies that S2 ◦ S1 any sequence of notes = S1 ◦ S2 any sequence of notes because both sides of the equation are equal to S3 any sequence of notes .4. The diatonic scale shifts we have described are closely related to standard musical terminology.2. for example. This equation is always understood to be an abbreviation of Equation (1. we have that S2 ◦ S1 (C) = S3 (C) and S1 ◦ S2 (C) = S3 (C).4. of course.19) (1. that a “3rd ” and another “3rd ” compose to form a “5th . David Lewin. because F = S3 (C). Theorem 1. Walker.18). by James S. interact effectively with ordinary arithmetic. Notice that S2 ◦ S2 = S4 . p. In fact. . The symbol ◦ denotes composition of the diatonic scale shifts. This situation is aptly described by the famous music theorist. → → We can write these calculations using parentheses: S1 (C) = D S2 (C) = E and and S2 (D) = F S1 (E) = F so so S2 S1 (C) = F S1 S2 (C) = F. S2 (C) = E and E is a 3rd up from C. . Sj and Sk . . S S We shall express S2 S1 (C) as S2 ◦ S1 (C). while S4 (C) = G and G is a 5th up from C. we have Sj ◦ Sk = Sk ◦ Sj (1. Generalized Musical Intervals and Transformations.1 (Commutativity of Diatonic scale shifts).

there is a unique Sk in S that satisfies Sj ◦ Sk = S0 and Sk ◦ Sj = S0 . Find at least five diatonic scale shifts in the Mozart passage in Figure 1. S−1 . Mathematics and Music.19. For the set of three notes below: perform the diatonic scale shift S2 . Within each sequence.V. .2. 14. (2) For each Sj .18. (4) For each Sj in S. S2 .4.5. (3) For each Sj in S. Walker. by James S. 1. Sℓ in S. Sk in S.4.4. . 270. .18. identify a hierarchy of diatonic scale shifts. 1. we have (Sj ◦ Sk ) ◦ Sℓ = Sj ◦ (Sk ◦ Sℓ ).4 Diatonic Transformations — Scale Shifts perform the diatonic scale shift S−1 . mark a sequence of diatonic scale shifts on the treble clef and on the bass clef. Sk . K. S1 . Write the result on this fragment of a staff: 27 1. so S = {all diatonic scale shifts S0 . . FIGURE 1. Show that composition of diatonic scale shifts in S satisfies these four properties: (1) For each Sj . the composition Sj ◦ Sk is in S.3. Write the result on this fragment of a staff: 1. S−2 .4. Denote the set of diatonic scale shifts of notes by S. Introductory passage from 4th movement of Mozart’s Divertimento No. }.1. we have S0 ◦ Sj = Sj and Sj ◦ S0 = Sj .4. For the Beethoven passage shown in Figure 1.

3.8 For example. If we reflect about the pitch at F (as if a horizontal mirror lies at the position for the note F). Sk in S∗ . only pitch classes are considered.5 Diatonic Transformations — Inversions. Algebra in Music FIGURE 1. the use of pitches by composers and the physical/psychological aspects of how we hear tones. if we look at the relation between pitch and frequency in musical instruments. C.6. then pitches that are separated by an octave are certainly not equivalent. 1. The next exercise describes one way of resolving this issue. then a single pitch of A is 2 degrees above F on the scale. we will always refer to the inversion described here by the somewhat cumbersome phrase. it is potentially infinite. (2) For each Sj . Walker. so that S∗ is a mathematical group (a finite one). F. 1. On the one hand.5. On the other hand. S1 .8 and Remark 1.4. It is also used in mathematics. at least in theory. In some areas of musical theory. S4 . At least. Palindromes The other two types of diatonic scale transformations are inversions and palindromes. So. two notes that differ by an octave are regarded as equivalent (in the same pitch class). Mathematics and Music. Exercise 1.5 shows that the set of diatonic scale shifts S on notes is a mathematical group (c. Sk . Exercise 1. and that the composition of diatonic scale shifts in S∗ satisfies the properties: (1) For each Sj . S6 }. Unlike the mathematical group H. however. We will now describe examples of their use in music. G. if Mozart or Beethoven wrote notes beyond an octave it is reasonable to assume that they meant those notes and not their pitch class equivalents within a single octave. the composition Sj ◦ Sk is in S∗ .1 Diatonic Scale Inversions When a set of notes is reflected about a fixed pitch on a scale. Our discussions of spectrograms in the next two chapters should further explain these ideas. Timbre is the psychological effect by which we distinguish the sound of different instruments. if only pitch classes are considered. S2 . The human ear only hears pitches that are within a certain range. Remark 1. 54. 7 . Remark 1. and Sk would produce notes beyond this range when k is very large (k tending toward ∞) or very small (k tending toward −∞).28 1. This reduction to viewing only pitch classes is not universal in musical theory. In that case. they will differ in timbre. 22 in F-Minor. Op. (3) For each Sj in S∗ . then we have a diatonic scale inversion.1. there is general agreement that timbre results from differing volume levels of pitch and overtone harmonics and their time variance within the attack and decay of notes.7 These two aspects. E. there is a unique Sk in S∗ that satisfies Sj ◦ Sk = S0 and Sk ◦ Sj = S0 .3). Although not completely understood.1. For one thing. B. diatonic scale inversion. But. Sℓ in S∗ . (4) For each Sj in S∗ . we have S0 ◦ Sj = Sj and Sj ◦ S0 = Sj . then the set of all diatonic scale shifts S can be viewed as just a finite set: S∗ = {S0 . S3 . we have (Sj ◦ Sk ) ◦ Sℓ = Sj ◦ (Sk ◦ Sℓ ).f. consider the C-major scale: C.19. 1. the mathematical group S is infinite.4.4. to avoid confusion. Passage from Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. by James S.4. S5 . we can view S as having infinitely many members. 8 The term inversion is used frequently in music for many different purposes. are no doubt related. D.4. Show that. A.

indicating that notes marked at that position are E♭ rather than E. Bach.20 (within the second box denoting the result of applying IE♭ ). and D is 1 note below E♭ . and is reflected to +1 degree above.5.S. and C is 2 notes below E♭ . In Figure 1. Walker. Palindromes 29 and is reflected to −2 degrees below. We shall denote this diatonic scale inversion as IF . In terms of their degree changes on the scale away from E♭ they are represented numerically as −2 −1 0 −2 which says that C is 2 notes below E♭ .S. and C is 2 degrees on the scale below E♭ .1. which is the note D. Bach’s Inventio 11). Reversing the signs of degree changes on a scale provides a way of detecting diatonic scale inversion without having to identify a mirror pitch. . we have indicated a simple diatonic scale inversion on a set of four notes from a passage by J. These four notes are C D E♭ C. Notice that there is a ♭ marked on the treble clef for the position of the note E. which is the note G.20) D E♭ C Mathematics and Music. Consider this Bach example again. illustrating a diatonic scale inversion. Measures 13 and 14 of Bach’s Inventio 11.20. we have −1 and we see that the final set of notes G F E♭ G −1 +2 (1. Or. Now. BWV 782. When IE♭ is applied. by James S. because the pitch used for reflection is E♭ . D is 1 degree on the scale above C.1 (J. and E♭ is 0 notes below E♭ . Here we have denoted the diatonic scale inversion by IE♭ I ♭ E c FIGURE 1. If we now write down the degree changes on the scale starting from the first note C in our initial set of notes C then we obtain these three numbers +1 +1 − 2. That is.20. the signs of these numbers are reversed. The pitch E♭ is for the third note in the sequence of 4 notes that we start with. the pitch at E is −1 degree below F. and E♭ is 1 degree on the scale above D. Example 1. giving the sequence 2 1 0 2 which produces the notes G F E♭ G as indicated on the score shown in Figure 1.5 Diatonic Transformations — Inversions. by reversing the signs.

consider the following set of notes on the C-major scale (with the degree changes on the scale from one note to the next): −1 A G +3 C −3 G Applying the diatonic scale inversion IB to these notes.20) to create a sequence of notes that is a diatonic scale inversion of C D E♭ C. Algebra in Music has exactly these degree changes on the scale. . 1. then we have (the top line indicating degree changes on the scale): −1 D C −1 B +2 D so D C B D is a diatonic scale inversion of C D E♭ C. Now comes the really interesting part. If we compose these diatonic scale inversions in the opposite order we obtain: IB ◦ IC A G C G = F E A E so we conclude that IC ◦ IB A G C G = IB ◦ IC A G C G . Mathematics and Music. The point of this second way of identifying an inversion is that we can start with any note and use the degree changes in (1. we can compose diatonic scale inversions. we obtain since IB (A) = C : +1 C D −3 A +3 D and then applying IC produces since IC (C) = C : −1 C B +3 E −3 B This calculation shows that IC ◦ IB A G C G = C B E B. Walker.5.2 Compositions of Diatonic Scale Inversions Just like diatonic scale shifts. This example shows that IC ◦IB cannot be the same transformation as IB ◦IC . and G is 2 degrees above E♭ on the scale. if we start from the note D. starting from the initial note G. For instance. F is 1 degree below G on the scale.30 1. That is. which we abbreviate by writing IC ◦ IB = IB ◦ IC . For instance. by James S. E♭ is 1 degree below F on the scale.

Down in the Valley. Hang your head o- ver. In Figure 1.1 (Non-Commutativity of Diatonic Scale Inversions). It is interesting to observe how this diatonic scale inversion emphasizes the corresponding lyrics of the song. With a palindrome symmetry. For instance.” The musical contrast produced by the diatonic scale inversion emphasizes a contrast in the thoughts expressed by the lyrics. FIGURE 1. Let I and I denote diatonic scale inversions. the Mathematics and Music. In this case.5.1.5. We leave it as an exercise for the reader to show that this diatonic scale inversion I satisfies the following equation: I = S−3 ◦ IE . .5. I. there is a diatonic scale inversion that plays an important part in a well-known traditional melody.5 Diatonic Transformations — Inversions. Before we leave the subject of diatonic scale inversions. which shows that these transformations appear in more popular music as well. we give another musical example.21. we have IC ◦ IB A G C G since S2 A G C G We also have IB ◦ IC A G C G = S−2 A G C G since they both produce the same note sequence. Down in the Valley. 1.3 Palindromes Our final type of scale transformation is palindrome symmetry.” While the resulting four notes after applying I correspond to the lyrics: “Hear the wind blow. Theorem 1. Palindromes 31 It is also worth observing from this work that composing two diatonic scale inversions has produced the same effect as a diatonic scale shift.2 (Down in the Valley). It is a composition of the diatonic scale shift S−3 with the diatonic scale inversion IE . Hear the wind blow. compositions of diatonic scale inversions are diatonic scale shifts: We have I◦I = Sk and I◦I = S−k for some integer k . a palindrome symmetry can be thought of as using a mirror to reflect notes. Walker.21 we show a diatonic scale inversion. Our discussion has shown the ideas behind the proof of the following Theorem. = S2 A G C G In fact. Like diatonic scale inversion. then I ◦ I = I ◦ I. F E A E. Example 1. If I = I . acting on four notes in the melody of the traditional song. Diatonic scale inversion I in the melody of the traditional song. however. by James S. The four notes that I is applied to correspond to the lyrics: “Valley so low. I c Down in the val- ley Valley so low. = C B E B.

Mathematics and Music.) Example 1. (There is also a hierarchy of diatonic scale shifts labeled by S. 63 No.23. Example 1. The notes on the left side of the mirror are reflected over to the right side of the mirror (if a note is on the mirror then it stays put). We will show how this palindrome symmetry appears as a sequence of pitches and overtones within the music.24 we show a passage of his that contains several palindrome symmetries. See Figure 1. 63 No. The mirror line is marked by m. there is a short sequence of bass notes that has a palindrome symmetry. Baghiti Khumalo. S P m FIGURE 1.4 (J. mirror is placed vertically across the scale. 3. Op. In Figure 1. Walker. 3.32 1. Bach delighted in using all of the transformations we have described. You can call me Al by Paul Simon. labeled by P with its mirror labeled m. it is enough to say that it provides a portrait of the volumes of the pitches and the overtones of the notes in the passage.23. a chain of palindrome symmetries. Example 1. as played by the African bassist. Op.5. illustrating a palindrome symmetry. using a graphical method that we will explain in detail in the next chapter.3 (Chopin’s Valse. including palindrome symmetries. Besides occurring in classical music. of three notes produces a symmetrical motif of five notes. we show a palindrome symmetry on the bottom right of the score for a passage from Chopin’s Valse.25 we show a graphical depiction of a sound recording of the bass run. First. . P.S.5 (Paul Simon’s You can call me Al). Op. It is also notable in that it contains a concatenation of palindrome symmetries.5. 3). 63 No.22.S. it is close enough to perfect for us to see that the notes in the score must have a perfect palindrome symmetry. by James S. J. We will describe it carefully in the next chapter. Measures 8 to 14 of Chopin’s Valse. In Figure 1. This display is called a spectrogram. You can call me Al. In Figure 1. A famous example is a short bass run by Baghiti Khumalo within the song. Bach’s Prelude and Fugue in E♭ -major).5. We have also indicated a hierarchy of diatonic scale shifts (some of which are modified diatonic scale shifts). from a Chopin passage and then from a Bach piece. For now. The nearly perfect symmetry of the image about a vertical mirror line stands out clearly in the figure.22. A palindrome symmetry. Here are a couple of examples of palindrome symmetry in classical music. palindromes also appear in more popular music. Algebra in Music P m FIGURE 1. Within Paul Simon’s song. Although the symmetry of the figure is not perfect.

Palindrome symmetry within the song. The notes that are played form a palindrome symmetry.1. machine recorded sound of the notes. with higher pitches appearing higher up than lower pitches. Palindromes 33 P1 m CP P2 m FIGURE 1. This is not a defect of the musician’s technique. The display indicates the volumes of the note pitches. illustrating two palindrome symmetries. within a passage from the song. . Pitch levels are marked along the vertical. The mirror for each palindrome is labeled by m. and time is marked along the horizontal. You can call me Al.24. labeled P1 and P2. It might be noticed that the display is very nearly. This last example drew a distinction between notes on a score and the sound produced by playing those notes. m FIGURE 1. Remark 1. but not perfectly symmetrical. with the mirror line marked by the line labeled m. V IDEO D EMO : Go to Videos link at book website and select 1.5 Diatonic Transformations — Inversions. by James S.1.5. Walker. There is even a concatenation of palindromes. Brighter colors indicate higher volume. The notes of the score have a perfect palindrome symmetry.5. not the precise.25. and their overtones. In the next chapter we will discuss the method we have just shown of graphically analyzing Mathematics and Music.5: Palindrome in You Can Call Me Al.S. Bach’s Prelude and Fugue in E♭ major. Measures 78 to 83 of J. labeled CP and marked with a succession of mirror lines.

In Figure 1. we show the beginning of the first variation from Mozart’s Twelve Variations on “Ah vous dirais-je.5. Mark all of the diatonic scale shifts and diatonic scale inversions that you find there (please ignore accidental markings on notes). . (c) Now. Exercises 1.V.3. on the original set of notes: perform the diatonic scale inversion IB first. (d) Explain why IB ◦ S2 = S2 ◦ IB . K. for this set of three notes: 1.5. here is a retrograde transformation: R E where we have shown R(G B E D) = D E B G. Little Star”). 265.1. For the Mozart passage in Figure 1. Maman. P.5. Mathematics and Music. Retrograde transformation The retrograde transformation.27. The following five exercises deal with retrograde transformations. Mark three palindromes on the treble clef for this portion of the score. followed by the diatonic scale shift S2 . Create a palindrome symmetry.V. is closely related to the palindrome symmetry. we show the beginning of the eleventh variation from Mozart’s Twelve Variations on “Ah vous dirais-je. A retrograde transformation R applied to a sequence of notes will produce them in reverse order. by James S. (a) Perform the the diatonic scale shift S2 on these three notes: (b) Apply the diatonic scale inversion IB to the notes you found for part (a).6.27.2.4.” K. Maman” (also known as “Twinkle Twinkle.5. Walker. In Figure 1. 1. Algebra in Music the sound of recorded music. Hint: It occurs on the the treble clef at the end. positioning the mirror at the third note.5.34 1.5. Perform the diatonic scale inversion IB on this set of three notes: 1.26.5. 1. 265. For example. finding that it closely corresponds to what we hear when music is played. 1. R. find an example of a hierarchy of diatonic scale shifts (diatonic scale shifts within diatonic scale shifts).

” FIGURE 1.5.5 Diatonic Transformations — Inversions. Prove that R ◦ R = S0 .5.” 1. Perform the retrograde transformation R on this set of three notes: 1. by James S.7. Palindromes 35 FIGURE 1. Little Star. Little Star. .9. Walker.1. Portion of a Mozart variation on “Twinkle Twinkle.8.5.26.27. Mathematics and Music. Portion of another Mozart variation on “Twinkle Twinkle. Find R(F B C D E). 1.

Prove that R ◦ Sk = Sk ◦ R for all diatonic scale shifts Sk .1 Transpositions A transposition is a uniform shift in pitch of a set of notes. One reason that retrograde transformations are used infrequently in musical compositions is that it is very difficult to perceive any connection between the sound pattern of the original set of notes and their sound pattern after retrograde transformation. Algebra in Music 1. Example 1. but they are done on the chromatic scale rather than on a diatonic scale. play this sequence of notes:9 This melody.10.36 1. is the result of a retrograde transformation of a well-known melody. Walker. we simply add 9 to all of the numbers and read off the notes on the Chromatic Clock (remembering to subtract 12 9 If you don’t have an instrument. a transposed melody sounds equivalent to the original. It preserves the pitch relationships (semitone differences) between the notes of the melody. Transposition is done by adding a fixed whole number to each of the hour numbers for the notes on the Chromatic Clock.5. 1.6. by James S. Here is the melody for a portion of the traditional song.6. Because the pitch relationships are preserved. . For example. Which melody? If you can’t recognize the tune. Mathematics and Music. Down in the Valley: The tune is in the key of C-major. and also that R ◦ I = I ◦ R for every diatonic scale inversion I. and the tonic for A-major is A with hour 9. just at a different overall pitch (a different key). 1.1. then that illustrates the point of this exercise. This shifts each of the hours by the same number of semitones and thereby achieves a transposition. if you can call it that. you could use the M USE S CORE software listed in (1. Often a transposition is done in order to play the notes in a different key.1).5.11. Here are the notes and hours on the Chromatic Clock: G 7 C 0 D 2 E 4 C 0 E 4 D 2 C 0 D 2 G 7 B 11 D 2 F 5 D 2 B 11 C 0 D 2 C 0 Since the starting note (tonic) for C-major is C with hour 0.6 Chromatic Transformations In this section we discuss two mathematical transformations of notes on the chromatic scale. These transformations are analogous to the diatonic scales shifts and diatonic scale inversions discussed in the previous section. 1. We will transpose it to the key of A-major.

The tonic (starting note) for the key of B♭ is B♭ .6. We transpose the following brief melody to the key of B♭ . Example 1. We get these hours and their notes (written as they would appear in the original key of D): 10 0 2 10 10 0 2 10 B♭ C♮ D B♭ B♭ C♮ D B♭ Here is the transposed melody. 11. If the whole number k is added.1 is T9 . 2. To change from hour 2 to hour 10 we add 8 hours.1.1. . then the transposition is denoted by Tk .6. and D has hour 2 on the Chromatic Clock. Definition 1. Walker. From this definition it follows that the transposition used in Example 1. which has hour 10 on the Chromatic Clock. A transposition is performed by adding a fixed whole number to hour numbers on the Chromatic Clock.2.6. Its notes and hours on the Chromatic Clock are D 2 E 4 F♯ 6 D 2 D 2 E 4 F♯ 6 D 2 The melody is written in the key of D. . So we apply the transposition T8 . . . as it appears in the key of C-major: Here is the precise definition of a transposition. the melody is written as follows: Mathematics and Music. There are precisely 12 distinct transpositions. by James S. 1. They are the transpositions {Tk } for k = 0. . as it appears in the key of D-major: This last scoring is simplified if the key signature for B♭ is employed.6 Chromatic Transformations when we pass the top of the clock): 4 E 9 A 11 B 1 C♯ 9 A 1 C♯ 11 B 9 A 11 B 4 E 8 G♯ 11 B 2 D 11 B 8 G♯ 9 A 11 B 9 A 37 Here is the transposed melody. Using that key signature.

however. there are 12 distinct rotational symmetries of the Chromatic 12-gon.1. It is said to be a rotational symmetry of the Chromatic 12-gon. These inversions cannot be described in terms of the note positions on clefs. There is an equivalence between transpositions and rotations of this Chromatic 12-gon about its center. let’s consider a specific transposition. We shall refer to this polygon as the Chromatic 12-gon. We record these observations as the following Theorem. the following results hold (we leave their verification to the reader as an exercise): (a) A transposition from the key of C-major to the key of D-major corresponds to a rotation of the Chromatic 12-gon by 60◦ clockwise about its center. Theorem 1.2 Chromatic Inversions There are scale inversions for the 12-note chromatic scale that are analogous to the diatonic scale inversions for the diatonic scales. The Chromatic 12-gon. For example. See Figure 1.28. any given hour Mathematics and Music.28.38 1. and this exactly preserves the shape of the Chromatic 12-gon. by James S. we get a regular 12-sided polygon inscribed within the circle for the Chromatic Clock.6. Algebra in Music Geometric Interpretation of Transpositions There is a beautiful geometric interpretation of transposition in terms of the Chromatic Clock. A regular 12-sided polygon inscribed within the circle for the Chromatic Clock. If we mark a point at each hour position on the clock and connect those points. (b) A transposition of D-major to the key of G-major corresponds to a rotation of the Chromatic 12-gon by 150◦ clockwise about its center. For example. Walker. and that altogether there are 12 distinct rotational symmetries of the Chromatic 12-gon. From these results it is not hard to infer that every transposition corresponds to a rotation of the Chromatic 12-gon by a multiple of 30◦ about its center. T9 . 1. C B A ♯ : B♭ C♯ : D♭ D A D♯ : E♭ G♯ : A ♭ G F♯ : G♭ F E FIGURE 1. For T9 . Every transposition corresponds to a rotation of the Chromatic 12-gon by a multiple of 30◦ about its center. and this is another rotational symmetry of the Chromatic 12-gon. since those clefs are not adapted to the chromatic scale (they are adapted to diatonic scales). Altogether. The method of chromatic inversion is based on a simple modification of the idea of transposition. . To see how the modification works.6.

For R9 . The melody shown in Example 1. Here is an example. we subtract each of the hour numbers from 9.6.2 is D E F♯ D D E F♯ D To chromatically invert this melody using R9 we proceed as follows. Suppose we apply the Chromatic Inversion R11 to the notes in the C-major chord. Those are the hours for the E-minor chord. So we have R9 (j) = 9 − j. . Equivalently. We summarize our work in this example with the following definition. we write down the sequence of notes to be transformed. So we have the mapping: (C-major chord) − 11 (E-minor chord) − → As we state in the Theorem below. and 4.2. 7. They are the chromatic inversions {Rk } for k = 0. Mathematics and Music. 2. and we subtract them successively from 11.6. by James S. Definition 1. A chromatic inversion is performed by subtracting hour numbers on the Chromatic Clock from a fixed whole number. R . and map minor chords to minor chords. . and their hours on the Chromatic Clock: D 2 E 4 F♯ 6 D 2 D 2 E 4 F♯ 6 D 2 Second. then the chromatic inversion is denoted by Rk . First. For example. which is much easier to apply. On the other hand.6. 11. and map minor chords to major chords. the chromatic inversion R0 is cumbersome to use. then that will give us the method for doing a particular chromatic inversion. any given hour j for a note on the Chromatic Clock is mapped by R9 to a new hour by subtracting j from 9. We have hours 0. obtaining hours 11. E-G-B. a chromatic inversion will always map major chords to minor chords.6 Chromatic Transformations 39 j for a note on the Chromatic Clock is mapped by T9 to a new hour by adding 9 to j.6. transpositions always map major chords to major chords. and 7. 4. We will denote this chromatic inversion as R9 . C-E-G. 1.3. Walker.4. we could add j to 9: T9 (j) = 9 + j. . Example 1. T5 maps the C-major chord C-E-G to the F-major chord F-A-C. For example. There are precisely 12 distinct chromatic inversions. If the hours are subtracted from the whole number k . . If we now modify this formula by subtracting j from 9. The same chromatic inversion can be notated in different ways.1. and then write down the notes for those hours: 7 G 5 F 3 D♯ 7 G 7 G 5 F 3 D♯ 7 G Here is a scoring of this chromatically inverted melody (in the same key as the original): Notice that the chromatic inversion has introduced notes that are not in the original key. It is the same as the chromatic inversion R12 . Example 1.

here are diagrams of a transposition T4 and chromatic inversion R11 of the C-major chord C-E-G: T4 G. The set of transpositions and chromatic inversions acts transitively on the set of all major and minor chords in the following sense: For every pair of chords chord1 . If we reflect through this mirror then notes are interchanged in pairs. There are 12 such mirror symmetries: 6 through opposite sides. and also transpositions. Theorem 1. E ” C. 7 E. For example. in keeping with their description as inversions. this begs the question: Where did the 9 come from? The answer is that we look at where the note C with hour number 0 is reflected to. Algebra in Music Our discussion illustrates the ideas that lead to the following theorem. We leave it as an exercise for the reader to show that this mirror reflection produces the same effect on notes as the chromatic inversion R9 . with the following theorem. Mathematics and Music. A chromatic inversion always maps major chords to minor chords and minor chords to major chords. Walker. and the chromatic inversions correspond to the mirror reflection symmetries. Here is an example. Of course. 7 t  0  t  t  E. 4 t E 7. Transpositions will map the notes of the chord. On the other hand. Example 1.40 1. The set of all transpositions and chromatic inversions corresponds exactly with the classical Euclidean symmetries of the 12-gon: the 12 distinct rotational symmetries of the 12-gon and the 12 distinct mirror reflection symmetries of the 12-gon. Remark 1. E R11 G.29 we show a mirror drawn through the centers of opposite sides of the Chromatic 12-gon. of the Chromatic 12-gon. . This example illustrates that each mirror symmetry of the Chromatic 12-gon corresponds to a chromatic inversion. there is a transposition or chromatic inversion that maps chord1 to chord2 . The proof of this theorem is outlined in the exercises. In Figure 1. chromatic inversions will invert their order. 0  11. B This diagram is typical.5. chord2 .6. B E 8. the notes A and C are switched. G♯ E 4. Those 12 mirror symmetries match up precisely with the 12 chromatic inversions. and 6 through opposite corners. We summarize our geometric interpretation of chromatic inversions. Geometric Interpretation of Transpositions and Chromatic Inversions Previously we discussed how transpositions have a geometric interpretation as rotations of the Chromatic 12gon. And the notes G and D are switched.1. The transpositions correspond to the rotational symmetries. Transpositions and chromatic inversions of standard 3-note chords can be diagrammed in an interesting way. 4 C. We now show that there is a geometric interpretation of chromatic inversions in terms of mirror reflection symmetries of the Chromatic 12-gon. A transposition always maps major chords to major chords and minor chords to minor chords. Theorem 1.6.6. by James S.6.3. It is reflected to A with hour number 9. by keeping their same order. arranged in increasing hours around the Chromatic Clock.2. G   t t  t t 4. For example. 0 E 11.

1.6 Chromatic Transformations

41

C B A ♯ : B♭ C♯ : D♭ D

A

D♯ : E♭

G♯ : A ♭ G F♯ : G♭ F

E

FIGURE 1.29. Mirror on the Chromatic 12-gon for reflecting notes in the Chromatic Scale, a chromatic inversion.

Exercises
1.6.1. Transpose the following three measures to the key of A-major (while remaining within the original key signature of C-major):

1.6.2. Transpose the following three measures to the key of B♭ -major (while remaining within the original key signature):

1.6.3. Show that the transposition T7 converts the C-major chord C-E-G to the G-major chord G-B-D. 1.6.4. Explain why there are exactly 12 transpositions. 1.6.5. In Figure 1.30 we show the introduction to the Ray Charles’ song, What’d I Say. There are several transpositions used in this passage. The first transposition is indicated as T0 . Find the remaining transpositions that are indicated in the figure. (As explained in the caption for the figure, the transformation marked C is a combination of two separate transpositions.) 1.6.6 (Rotation of the Chromatic 12-gon). The following two facts were mentioned in the text, please solve them: (a) Show that a transposition from the key of C-major to the key of D-major corresponds to a rotation of the Chromatic 12-gon by 60◦ clockwise about its center, and that this exactly preserves the shape of the Chromatic 12-gon. It is said to be a rotational symmetry of the Chromatic 12-gon. (b) Show that a transposition of D-major to the key of G-major corresponds to a rotation of the Chromatic 12-gon by 150◦ clockwise about its center, and that this is another rotational symmetry of the Chromatic 12-gon.
Mathematics and Music, by James S. Walker.

42

1. Algebra in Music

E
T0

  ©  

 

 

 

 

 

 

E ¨¨ ¨¨ ¨ ¨¨ ¨¨ ¨¨ ¨¨ ¨

¨¨ % ¨

¨¨

¨¨

¨¨

¨¨

¨¨ % ¨

¨¨

¨¨

E
C

FIGURE 1.30. Opening measures of Ray Charles’ What’d I Say, with some transpositions indicated. The transformation indicated by C is a combination of two separate transpositions. 1.6.7. Apply the chromatic inversion R4 to the following sequence of notes: C F G A

1.6.8. Apply the chromatic inversion R5 to the following sequence of notes: C F E G A B

1.6.9. Find the chord that results from applying the chromatic inversion R9 to the C-major chord, C-E-G. 1.6.10. Find the chord that results from applying the chromatic inversion R5 to the D-minor chord, D-F-A. 1.6.11. Find the chord that results from applying the transposition T9 to the C-major chord, C-E-G. 1.6.12. Find the chord that results from applying the transposition T5 to the D-minor chord, D-F-A. 1.6.13. Explain why there are exactly 12 chromatic inversions.
Mathematics and Music, by James S. Walker.

1.6 Chromatic Transformations
1.6.14. The following score fragment is taken from a composition by Mozart:

43

Find the chromatic inversion that occurs on the treble clef. 1.6.15 (Proof of Theorem 1.6.2). This exercise will outline the proof of Theorem 1.6.2. Work through the following 6 steps. (a) A major chord has intervals of 4 and 3 between its low, middle, and high notes. Show that every transposition applied to a chord will preserve those intervals. (That shows that transpositions always map major chords to major chords.) (b) Use the approach of item (a) to show that every transposition maps minor chords to minor chords. (c) A major chord has intervals of 4 and 3 between its low, middle, and high notes. Show that the chromatic inversion R0 applied to a chord will reverse those intervals so that the intervals are changed to 3 and 4 between the low, middle, and high notes, producing a minor chord. Then show, by similar reasoning, that R0 always maps a minor chord to a major chord. (d) Show that for each k = 0, 1, 2, . . . , 11, we have R0 ◦ T−k = Tk ◦ R0 then show that for each such k we have Rk = R0 ◦ T−k and Rk = Tk ◦ R0 .

(e) Combine the properties described in (c) and (d) to show that every chromatic inversion maps minor chords to major chords and maps major chords to minor chords. (f) Prove that the set of transpositions and chromatic inversions acts transitively on the set of major and minor chords. 1.6.16. Is there a geometric interpretation (using rotations and reflections of a geometric figure) for diatonic scale shifts and diatonic scale inversions? If so, describe it. 1.6.17. The following is a portion of a score for a clarinet from Webern’s Symphony Op. 21, Movement II:

Find all semitone changes, and express the second half of the passage as a composition of retrograde and transposition. Remark 1.6.2. This last passage by Webern is remarkable in that it is also a palindrome for the rhythm (note and rest durations), and the dynamics and articulation groupings for the playing of the passage. 1.6.18. Show that the set, P = {transpositions and chromatic inversions}, satisfies the following four properties of a mathematical group:

Mathematics and Music, by James S. Walker.

gmajormusictheory. and P3 in P.org/Freebies/freebiesC.22) The page will display links near the top for browsing scores by composer. there are a number of free sources available on the web. or genre. (2) There is a transformation P0 in P that satisfies P0 ◦ P = P for every transformation P in P. 1. but many classical compositions are old enough that they are now public domain. Algebra in Music (1) For every pair of transformations P1 and P2 in P. Some traditional songs and short classical pieces for piano can be found at this site: http://www. Free classical music scores can be found at this site: http://imslp. A short introduction to music theory. That is. defined in the previous exercise.21) 2.6. (4) For every transformation P in P.musictheory. there is a transformation (denoted by P −1 ) that satisfies P −1 ◦ P = P0 and P ◦ P −1 = P0 .24) Mathematics and Music. (3) For all transformations P1 . with nice animation and basic sound examples. Here are four good ones: 1. with lots of great quotations from composers along with sound clips and scores. that maps a given chord chord1 to a given chord chord2 is unique. by James S.23) (1.net/ (1. . the composition P1 ◦ P2 is also in P. it is not always the case that P1 ◦ P2 equals P2 ◦ P1 for a given pair of transformations P1 and P2 in P. can be found at http://www. Show that each transformation from the mathematical group P. can be found at http://www.7 Web Resources For additional study of basic music theory.dolmetsch.44 1. and P ◦ P0 = P Show also that P is not a commutative group. A fairly comprehensive discussion of music theory. Some scores are protected by copyright. P2 .19.com/introduction. the following identity holds P1 ◦ P2 ◦ P3 = P1 ◦ P2 ◦ P3 . Walker. It also has a search box on the left side. 1.org/wiki/Main_Page (1. 4. time period.html (1.htm 3.

See Figure 2. The most fundamental aspect of a sinusoidal wave is that it repeats itself periodically. The vibration of the pen traced out a perfect sinusoidal wave.1 Pitch and Frequency There is a well-known connection between pitches in musical notes and the mathematical concept of frequency. did an experiment with tuning forks. A transducer converts these membrane oscillations into an electrical current. We will show how sums of sinusoidal functions can be used to model musical tones. which is short for Hertz (another German physicist who did fundamental work in the study of frequency).025 = 40 Hz. In the 19th century. with digital technology. Another term for wavelength is cycle. we will apply time-frequency analysis to a wide variety of music in the next chapter. or a musical instrument. and we also introduce the notion of localized sinusoidal analysis through the use of spectrograms.1 has a time duration of 0. then the frequency of the sinusoid is 1/0.1. We have this formula for frequency: frequency = number of cycles . the famous German physicist. Spectrograms allow us to create visual representations of the time-frequency structure of music. For example. Finally. we can record a representation of the sound wave from a tuning fork as a further demonstration of Helmholtz’s idea. In this chapter we will explain the mathematical concepts of frequency and pitch and relate them to the musical concepts of overtones and chords. After laying the foundations of analyzing music in a time-frequency manner in this chapter. The sound wave from a tuning fork. the distance from one peak of the wave to the next is called its wavelength. The number of cycles that occur in 1 second is called the frequency. These oscillations cause the membrane of a microphone (or the human eardrum for that matter) to vibrate in synchrony. These sinusoidal functions are a basic model for the frequency of pure tones. He attached a pen to one of the tines of the fork and drew the fork across the paper while it was sounding a specific pitch. electronic circuitry changes the electrical . In physics.1. 2. as well as the nature and use of chords—it is necessary to study the mathematics of the trigonometric functions sine and cosine. if the cycle shown in Figure 2.025 seconds.Chapter 2 Trigonometry and Music In order to fully understand many of the most important dimensions of music—such as pitch and timbre. We have marked one cycle for the sinusoid in Figure 3. creates oscillations of air pressure above and below the ambient air pressure. Helmholtz. Nowadays. second The unit of cycles/sec for measuring frequency is also called Hz. and sums of these sinusoidal functions are a basic model for the tones from all musical instruments.

the note A in the 3rd octave on the piano scale. In Figure 2.023 0. 1 .2 we show the plot of such a digital waveform recorded from a tuning fork. and also of the pure tone produced by the tuning fork. We will discuss this point later in the chapter. so the note of the tuning fork is C4 . The frequency is about 1 cycle/0. Trigonometry and Music 1 cycle FIGURE 2.2. As the tuning fork is struck and drawn across a piece of paper at a uniform speed. other notes have precise frequencies. Illustration of a famous experiment of Helmholtz.0038 seconds.046 FIGURE 2.63 Hz. Mathematics and Music. p = 0. Typically these integers fall in the range between −2m and 2m − 1 for some exponent m. A pen is attached to one of the tines of a tuning fork. So the tuning fork is closely approximating the pitch for the note C4 .1 8000 p 4000 0 −4000 0 0.1 we show correspondences between notes and frequencies for seven octaves of the piano scale (the 12-tone It is a fascinating question how far apart in frequency pitches need to be in order for us to hear a difference. current into a digital file of integers. As described in the caption of Figure 2.012 0. denoted C4 . is known to have a frequency of 261.1.63 Hz. The note C in the 4th octave on the piano scale.46 2.0038 sec = 263 Hz.035 −8000 0. The most common exponent is m = 15 used for 16-bit audio files (sometimes m = 7 is used for 8-bit files). The approximation is so close (less then 2 Hz difference in frequency) that no one could hear the difference. the pen traces out a sinusoid. Walker. Waveform from a recording of a tuning fork with one cycle marked. In Table 2. has a pitch with frequency 220 Hz. For instance. The distance marked between two peaks of the sinusoid is called a cycle. by James S. the frequency for this pitch is 263 Hz. A3 . Just as the note C4 corresponds to the frequency 261.2. The number of cycles occurring in one second is the frequency of the sinusoid.

059463 and νC stand for the frequency of the C note that begins an octave.1.2. and compare it with Figure 1. Example 2. however. Notice how the powers of r correspond to hour positions on the Chromatic Clock.3. This Mathematics and Music. 2. except for the A notes which are exact. νC · r1 C♯ νC · r7 G νC · r2 D νC · r8 G♯ νC · r3 D♯ νC · r9 A νC · r4 E νC · r10 A♯ νC · r5 F νC · r11 B (2.1 Standardized frequency ratios The first column in Table 2.1 (Tuning note for the piano scale). Table 2. and the power 9 is equal to the hour 9 position of the note A on the Chromatic Clock. relative to the initial note C. then the frequencies of each note in that octave have this pattern: νC · r0 C νC · r6 F♯ νC · r12 C The final note C. The frequency of 440 Hz is exact. Walker. study it carefully.1 P ITCH AND F REQUENCY C ORRESPONDENCES FOR E QUAL T EMPERED S CALE∗ Octave 1 C 33 C♯ 35 D 37 D♯ 39 E 41 F F ♯ Frequency Ratio 1 21/12 2 2/12 Octave 2 C 65 C♯ 69 D 73 D♯ 78 E 82 F 87 F ♯ Octave 3 C 131 C♯ 139 D 147 D♯ 156 E 165 F F ♯ Octave 4 C 262 C♯ 277 D 294 D♯ 311 E 330 F 349 F ♯ Octave 5 C 523 C♯ 554 D 587 D♯ 622 E 659 F F ♯ Octave 6 C 1047 C♯ 1109 D 1175 D♯ 1245 E 1319 F F ♯ Octave 7 C 2093 C♯ 2218 D 2349 D♯ 2489 E 2637 F 2794 F♯ 2960 G 3136 G♯ 3322 A 3520 A♯ 3729 B 3951 C 4186 23/12 24/12 25/12 2 2 6/12 7/12 44 46 49 175 185 196 699 740 1397 1475 93 98 370 392 G G G G G 784 G♯ 831 A 880 A♯ 932 B 988 C 1047 G 1568 G♯ 1661 A 1760 A♯ 1865 B 1976 C 2093 28/12 29/12 210/12 211/12 2 ∗ G♯ 52 A 55 A♯ 58 B 62 C 65 G♯ 104 A 110 A♯ 117 B 124 C 131 G♯ 208 A 220 A♯ 233 B 247 C 262 G♯ 415 A 440 A♯ 466 B 494 C 523 Frequencies for pitches are rounded to nearest Hz. as are the other frequencies for A notes.1) . with frequency νC . See Figure 2. For example. with frequency νC · r12 = νC · 2.3.1 is included to emphasize the fact that the notes in each octave are all generated by the same frequency ratios. is an octave above the initial note C.1. The frequencies shown for the notes in Table 2. For νC · r12 . so to get the name of the note we would subtract 12 and get hour 0.1 Pitch and Frequency 47 equal-tempered scale). giving the note C. we have a power of 12. We will write r12 ∼ r0 to indicate that these frequency multiples are giving the same notes—same position on the Chromatic Clock—but the power r12 produces an octave higher pitched note than r0 . the note A has frequency νC · r9 . if we let r stand for the number 21/12 = 1. It is important to Table 2. In fact. by James S. Let’s go over some examples of relating powers of r to notes. The hour 12 on the Chromatic Clock is at the top.1 are based on A4 as the reference note.1 is absolutely fundamental for our work in this chapter.

1 is tuned to the note A4 . is not the case for the other notes. and yet the standard scale shown in Table 2. using C as reference). Walker.625565300599 Hz.182630976873 ≈ 277 Hz as shown in the table. And.3). and therefore C♯ has frequency 4 261.625565300599 · 21/12 = 277. the frequencies shown for the other notes in the table are approximations to their exact values. by James S. for instance.1 is just an approximation to the exact value.f.625565300599 · 27/12 = 391.625565300599 · r1 = 261.1. and the frequency for C4 is 261. So we have νC = (νC · r9 ) · r−9 1 = (440) · 9 r 440 = 9/12 2 = 261.48 2. Remark 2. since the pitch ranges of violins and trumpets. where νC is the frequency for C4 . Trigonometry and Music C B r11 A ♯ : B♭ r12 ∼ r0 C♯ : D♭ r1 r2 r3 r4 D r10 r9 r8 r G 7 A D♯ : E♭ G♯ : A ♭ E r6 F♯ : G♭ r 5 F FIGURE 2.625565300599 Hz ≈ 262 Hz. As shown in the previous example. Perhaps this has to do with orchestral tuning. are more centered around 440 Hz than 262 Hz. but so close (by far) that human ears could never detect any difference. . Example 2. the exact value for the frequency of C4 can be found from the fact that the frequency for A4 is νC · r9 . G4 has frequency 261. Frequency multipliers for notes arranged like the Chromatic Clock (c.3.625565300599 · r7 = 261. It seems curious that the most basic scale is C-major (no sharps or flats).1.1. For instance.2 (Finding frequency of notes.625565300599. the note C4 has frequency 261. Figure 1. The value of 262 Hz shown in Table 2.99543598175 ≈ 392 Hz Mathematics and Music.

say. But the frequency ratios from note to note in each scale are the same.1. Here are three applications of this idea—which we call the frequency multiplier method— to generating scales and transposing keys. say a man and a woman.812782650299 Hz. suppose two people.2) Example 2. we can see that the value of νC is irrelevant. the frequency for C3 is νC = 130. Here is how this is done using the frequency multiplier method. For hearing melodies. the G-major scale in (2. From this calculation.2 Generating scales. .1 Pitch and Frequency also shown in the table. Here is how this is done using the frequency multiplier method. and remember that a frequency change by a factor of r12 gives r12 ∼ r0 (producing a note C): r7 G −→ − · r2 r9 A −→ − · r2 r11 B −−→ −− r12 ∼r0 · r1 r0 C −→ − · r2 r2 D −→ − · r2 r4 E −→ − · r2 r6 F♯ −→ − · r1 r7 G (2. and our brains perceive this equivalence. . to be the frequency ratio in going from G to B in that octave. The melody will sound the same. we described how to use addition on the Chromatic Circle to produce major scales. or at least equivalent. Suppose we want the C-major scale.2. suppose we are in the 3rd octave. Since the frequency of G is r7 times the frequency of C. 49 2.2599 . this result is quite important. To see this.1 is that within each octave the ratios of frequencies for corresponding notes are the same. In Chapter 1. The notes will sound different in every case.3) will sound equivalent to the C-major scale in (2.1.3 (Producing C-major scale). the frequency ratio in going up in pitch from. .1. G to B. because they have different frequencies (different pitches). by James S.2).25992104989487. We could have νC be the value of the frequency for C in any of the octaves and we would always get r4 = 1. we simply multiply by r7 at the start of the calculations in (2. sing the same melody but an octave apart in pitch. because our brains use the ratios of frequencies to measure the amount of change in pitch.3) Again. Example 2.2). And it works the same for other pairs of notes. We use the pattern of additions on the Chromatic Circle for major scales: 2 2 1 2 2 2 1 as powers of r and multiply frequencies (we have set νC as a unit of 1 to save space): r0 C −→ − · r2 r2 D −→ − · r2 r4 E −→ − · r1 r5 F −→ − · r2 r7 G −→ − · r2 r9 A −→ − · r2 r11 B −→ − · r1 r12 ∼ r0 C (2. transposing keys: Frequency multiplier method The most important fact about Table 2. because our brains use the ratios of frequencies to measure the amount of change in pitch. Mathematics and Music. In Chapter 1 we used addition on the Chromatic Circle to change from the scale of C-major to the scale of G-major. As just one example. In other words. is the same for any octave.4 (Changing Scales). Walker. In that case. The frequency ratio in going up in pitch from G3 to B3 is then νC · r11 (frequency for B3 ) = (frequency for G3 ) νC · r7 = r4 = 24/12 = 1.

in the key of C-major. just in a different key. A nice application of the frequency multiplier method is for performing key transpositions.50 2. we multiply all of the powers of r in (2. we multiply all of the powers of r in (2. in this example.4) by r2 and write down the notes corresponding to the new powers of r: r2 D r4 E r6 F♯ r2 D r2 D r4 E r6 F♯ r2 D r6 F♯ r7 G r9 A (2. . Bottom: Transposed to the key of A-major. The melody sounds equivalent to the original.6) by r9 and write down the notes for these new powers of r: r9 A r11 B r13 ∼ r1 C♯ r9 A r9 A r11 B r13 ∼ r1 C♯ r9 A r13 ∼ r1 C♯ r14 ∼ r2 D r16 ∼ r4 E (2. Middle: Transposed to the key of D-major. In the top of Figure 2. the notes in the two versions are so close in pitch that many listeners would not hear the difference (especially those who have not musically trained their hearing).1.5) are the melody from Frere Jacques transposed to the key of D-major. Example 2. Top: In the key of C-major. In fact. In the middle of Figure 2.4. First 3 measures of Frere Jacques. relative to C.4 we show these notes on the treble clef. Walker. The frequency multiples for the original melody are r0 C r2 D r4 E r0 C r0 C r2 D r4 E r0 C r4 E r5 F r7 G (2. key of C-major Transposition to key of D-major Transposition to key of A-major FIGURE 2.1. since D has a frequency multiple of r2 . The notes of this brief melody are C D E C C D E C E F G. by James S.5 (Transposing between keys). relative to C. Frere Jacques. Trigonometry and Music First three measures of Frere Jacques.6) Since A has a frequency multiple of r9 .4) Now.6 (Another key transposition). we first write down its frequency multiples: r0 C r2 D r4 E r0 C r0 C r2 D r4 E r0 C r4 E r5 F r7 G (2.5) The notes on the bottom line of (2. To transpose this melody to the key of D-major.7) Mathematics and Music. As another example of transposing between keys.4 we show the first three measures of the traditional song. let’s transpose the melody from Frere Jacques to the key of A-major. Example 2.

however.5. Those transpositions are then inverted back to the original set of notes by multiplying by r−7 and r−5 .2. The first transposition is the identity transposition of multiplying by r0 = 1. the melody sounds equivalent to the original. Opening measures of Charles’ What’d I Say. those notes are then transposed back down to the original set of notes in measures 7 and 8. and the remaining six notes (in measure 7 and measure 8) are transposed up by multiplying by r5 .2 (Key Transpositions vis a vis Diatonic scale shifts). The frequency multiplying operations are indicating transpositions of portions of the melody. In this case.5. the notes in measures 3 and 4 are transposed up to make up the notes in measures 5 and 6. By multiplying by r−5 . but in a different key. A nice example of the use of transpositions in a musical passage occurs in the introduction to Ray Charles’ What’d I Say.5. On the bottom of Figure 2. In Figure 2.4 we show these notes on the treble clef. E ∗r0   ©          ∗r     5 E ∗r−5 ∗r ¨¨ 7 ¨¨ ¨ ¨ ¨¨ ¨ % ¨ ¨¨ ¨ ¨ ¨¨ ¨ ¨¨ ∗r ¨¨ 5 ¨¨ ¨ ¨¨ ¨ % ¨ ¨¨ ¨¨ E C FIGURE 2.1. Then an interesting splitting of the notes occurs. As with the previous example.1 Pitch and Frequency 51 The notes on the bottom line of (2.7 (Ray Charles’ What’d I Say). the notes in the A-major version are so different in pitch from the original that it is easy to hear the difference. We might say that the melody in A-major is in the wrong key. The first five notes in measure 7 are transposed up by multiplying by r7 . This reproduces the notes in measures 1 and 2 to make up the notes in measures 3 and 4.1. Then by frequency multiplying by r5 .7) are the melody from Frere Jacques transposed to the key of A-major. we have indicated a sequence of transpositions occurring in the first 12 measures of the What’d I Say. Example 2. Remark 2. Perhaps it is more precise to say that the melody has been transposed to an equivalent melody in the key of A-major. Looking at the three versions of the melody Mathematics and Music. . Walker. by James S. which we have labelled as transformation C in Figure 2.

. Addition on the Chromatic Clock is equivalent to multiplying frequencies of notes by powers of r = 21/12 .1. 2. then the notes would have been D E F D D E F D F G A.4.6.1.1.7. shown at the top of Figure 2. Transpose the melody from Frere Jacques. Theorem 2. This is an example of producing repetition with variation (the sequencing discussed in Chapter 1). rather than simply transposing to an equivalent melody. 2.4. Trigonometry and Music from Frere Jacques in Figure 2. find the frequencies and frequency multiples (powers of r) for each of these chords.1. Walker. by James S.1.2. Here is a short passage. The examples we have given in this section. One final note on this topic.1. and the discussion in Remark 2. 2.1. and S5 for the A-major case). 2. illustrate the ideas needed to prove the following theorem.4. shown at the top of Figure 2. 2. to the key of F-major. They are not diatonic scale shifts because the key signature was changed in each case. producing a slightly different melody.2. to the key of E-major. Transpose the melody from Frere Jacques. provided we also mark the key signatures that have changed as well. 2. on the treble clef. Transpose this passage to the key of F-major.1. Use the frequency multiplier method to create the A-major scale. This is a beautiful example of the close connection between mathematics and music. Mathematics and Music.4. Exercises 2.1. In this figure we show the fundamental triadic (3-note) chords in the key of C-major: I C ii D iii E IV F V G vi A vii◦ B◦ I C Using Table 2.52 2. Use the frequency multiplier method to create the D-major scale. Nevertheless—because addition in clock arithmetic underlies the Circle of Fifths and addition in clock arithmetic also corresponds to addition of powers in the frequency multiplier method—we can write down the key transpositions on the treble clefs as if they are diatonic scale shifts. If we had done a diatonic scale shift of S1 on the Frere Jacques phrase while remaining in the key of C-major.1.1. Use the frequency multiplier method to create the natural F-minor scale.1. from Beethoven’s F¨ r Elise: u in the key of C-major.3 (Minor scale). 2.1.5 (Frequencies in chords). we see that each of the two transpositions to the keys of D-major and Amajor looks like one of the diatonic scale shifts discussed in Chapter 1 (S1 for the D-major case.8. Use the frequency multiplier method to create the natural B-minor scale.

at least approximately. 2 · 329 = 658 Hz. is due to electrical oscillation from alternating current in the recording apparatus. In the graph shown there. or trombone. For example. 5 · 329 Hz. Because of this. In fact.8) 16000 8000 0 −8000 −16000 0.2.6. 2 · 329 Hz. 2 · 329 Hz. an increase of 7 hours corresponds to going up a fifth. the first two harmonics of 329 Hz and 2 · 329 = 658 Hz are the loudest.1. Left: Waveform of portion of a flute note. 4 · 329 Hz. at around 65 Hz.6 for the flute note E4 . by James S. 2. and 3 · 329 Hz.1. the increase from hour 0 to hour 7 is going up from C to the fifth note G in the key of C-major. See the left sides of Figures 2.6. Walker. So the fundamental frequency is approximately 329 Hz. Later in the chapter we will describe how this plot of magnitudes of harmonics is obtained. Which of the transpositions in Figure 2. . they are combinations of several pure tones of differing frequency and loudness.00304 seconds. This fundamental period determines the frequency of approximately 329 Hz for the note E4 . Write out the chords that correspond to each of the boxed melodic motives that are transposed in the What’d I Say score shown in Figure 2. the third harmonic 3 · 329 = 987 Hz is much fainter. 6 · 329 Hz.10. and the higher multiples of 329 Hz are even fainter. and which are modified diatonic scale shifts? 2.5? How would you describe a frequency multiplication by r4 .2 Instrumental Notes 53 2. These waveforms have a fundamental period. so we are ignoring it here. r5 .5 are also diatonic scale shifts.012 0. the heights of the peaks at 329 Hz. the harmonics of 329 Hz.1.2.11.7 for examples of portions of waveforms from a flute and piano playing the note E4 .2 Instrumental Notes The notes from musical instruments. the pure tones that are combined have frequencies that are positive integer multiples of 329 Hz (called harmonics): 329 Hz. The time p for an approximate cycle is p = 0. (2. not to the high pitched sound of the flute. . and r−5 in the What’d I Say score in Figure 2. Mathematics and Music. On the Chromatic Clock. and by r−4 ? What frequency multiplications would correspond to transposing up a sixth and to transposing down a sixth? 2. See the right side of Figure 2.63 Hz. are clearly marked by spikes. such as the human voice or a piano. For the note E4 . we say that multiplying by r7 is transposing up a fifth.9. How would you describe the frequency multiplications by r−7 . clarinet. . We can see that these waveforms are not cycling in nearly so uniform a manner as the tuning fork waveform shown in Figure 2. are much more complex than the notes from tuning forks. .023 0.046 90 60 30 0 −30 2632 p 0 0 658 1316 1974 FIGURE 2. violin. Right: Magnitudes of harmonics within the flute note E4 .035 0. as we shall examine more closely later in the chapter. where it is easier to see in the graph.) For the flute note. 3 · 329 Hz.6 and 2. (Note: The small spike near 0. which corresponds to the note E4 of frequency 329. We show this approximate fundamental period on the left side of Figure 2.5.

you find the middle C key on the piano and hold down the key for the first G to the right of it. As the C4 sound decays. . to see that the notes from instruments contain overtone vibrations. you should definitely try this experiment. Nevertheless.7 were obtained by computer processing of recordings of these notes. We will explain later in the chapter how this processing is done. For an instrumental note that contains frequencies of the form: νo . We shall emphasize this point again later. Walker. For example. we refer to 329 Hz as the fundamental for this piano note since it corresponds to the pitch E4 that the note is sounding at. 6 · νo . It is their combining together in creating the instrumental note E4 that provides that note with a much richer sound than a simple tuning fork pitch for E4 . The overtone vibration for G4 contained within the total sound vibration coming from the C4 string is causing the G4 string to vibrate (sympathetic vibration). however. however. The first spike is at 329 Hz. . . up to the seventh spike at 7 · 329 Hz. Similarly.8) are much more equally distributed in size. Mathematics and Music. by James S.035 0. the harmonics are marked by spikes at multiples of approximately 329. you hear the G4 sound coming from the G4 string. . however.2 We summarize this discussion with a definition of these frequency multiples in instrumental notes. reflect how loud those pitches would be if those pitches were heard separately. does not change the point we are trying to make about overtones. Right: Magnitudes of harmonics within the piano note. the third spike at 3 · 329 Hz.7.6 and 2. it corresponds to the fundamental period of the piano note’s waveform. If you have access to a piano.7 shows that the magnitudes of the harmonics in (2. the second spike at 2 · 329 Hz. Most notes on a piano. are produced from three strings that are struck simultaneously in order to produce more volume. An interesting feature of the plot of frequency magnitudes for the piano note is that the magnitude for the harmonic 2 · 329 Hz is actually larger than the magnitude for 329 Hz. the graph on the right of Figure 2. 2 · νo .1. however. so that the string for G4 is free to vibrate.54 2. 5 · νo . While holding down this key for G4 . Trigonometry and Music 3 · 329 = 987 Hz. There is a musical way. we phrased our discussion here as if there is a single string for each note on the piano.046 90 60 30 0 −30 2632 0 0 658 1316 1974 FIGURE 2. including C4 and G4 . Definition 2. 4 · νo . which is equal to the fundamental period of the flute note’s waveform.023 0. And it works with other notes as well. the piano note is a combination of harmonics. 3 · νo . The graphs of magnitudes of harmonics of flute notes and piano notes shown on the right of Figures 2. to demonstrate that the note C4 contains an overtone for G4 . Left: Waveform of portion of a piano note E4 .2.012 0. For the piano note. Moreover. you quickly strike the C4 key. They are not heard separately. 2 For simplicity. This extra detail. 16000 8000 0 −8000 −16000 0. A classic demonstration can be done with a piano. as it is a subtle one: The fundamental harmonic for a note is the frequency that determines the note’s pitch and that may or may not be the loudest harmonic in the waveform of the note.63 Hz. and both the flute and the piano are playing the same note E4 .

and the notes they correspond to (using Table 2. Walker. Physics.1).2. Suppose the note G3 is struck on a piano.2.2. 1967). 2.1)? 2.2.5. 2. The first harmonic is νo . To what notes do its 2nd through 7th harmonics correspond (based on their pitch/frequency correspondences in Table 2. and the notes they correspond to (using Table 2. human voices often display harmonics as well.6. Find the first 6 harmonics of the note G2 . It has a frequency of 196 Hz. To what notes do its 2nd through 7th harmonics correspond (based on their pitch/frequency correspondences in Table 2. we observe that the 3rd harmonic of C4 nearly matches the 2nd harmonic of G4 . This synergy relates to the notion of consonance. that there is a kind of half-period (a time duration equal to half of the period p shown in the figure). an important area of musical theory which is still actively researched today.3 Frequency Content of Chords 55 The smallest frequency. which is only 2 Hz more than the 2nd harmonic for G4 of 784 Hz. There are several things to observe from this table.1. 2. From now on. for the C-major chord in the 4th octave.3.3 Frequency Content of Chords Chords form an integral part of music. Consider again the graph of the waveform of the flute note. Perhaps our perception of the depth. by Harry F. and the overtones that provide depth. In Table 2. For other instruments. and that this half-period corresponds to the 2nd harmonic of 2 · 329 Hz.2. by James S. Find the first 6 harmonics of the note F2 . A common theory in music is that musical instruments amplify and extend the capabilities of the human voice. All of the frequencies are called harmonics. we will refer to these near matches of harmonics as consonances. Explain from this graph. It has a frequency of 131 Hz. but remember that our hearing responds only to intensity of sinusoidals. the third harmonic is 3 · νo .2. Remark 2.2: 3 As we shall see later. Here is a description of the consonances shown in Table 2.1). The other frequencies are called overtones. See Chapter 3 of Fourier Analysis. 1988) for a discussion of why stringed instruments have multiple harmonics. Walker (Oxford University Press. Olson (Dover. of instrumental notes is based on their connection to our voices—although the beauty of bird calls and other natural sounds cannot be discounted either.3. Find the first 6 harmonics of the note C2 .4. The 3rd harmonic for C4 is 786 Hz. Suppose we have the C-major chord: C-E-G. Example 2. (Hint: the half-period is not an actual period. or richness. Let’s look at a couple examples in detail. or reinforcement. between these two overtones. and so on. which enhances our perception of the sound.2 we show the harmonics. and the notes they correspond to (using Table 2. Find the first 6 harmonics of the note E2 .1)? 2. and the notes they correspond to (using Table 2. shown in Figure 2.) 2.2.1). especially Western music. or richness. Suppose the note C3 is struck on a piano. There is a synergy. νo . . up to frequency 4192 Hz. consult the book Music. and Engineering. The physical explanation for why notes from musical instruments contain multiple harmonics is beyond the scope of this book.2. by James S.6.2.2.7. Mathematics and Music. Exercises 2. First. In the previous section we saw that each instrumental note has a set of harmonics associated with it—the fundamental that determines the pitch of the note. 2. the second harmonic is 2 · νo . to the sound of the note. is called the fundamental.1.1). We do not hear the signs of waveform values.1 (C-major chord).3 The set of harmonics for each instrumental note provides the basis for understanding how chords function.

Item 2 illustrates that the base note C4 of the chord provides substantial consonance with the other notes in the chord by nearly matching their harmonics. If the note B4 is sounded. These eight sets of consonances can be listed according to how they lie among the harmonics of the three notes in the chord. . the chord C4 -E4 -G4 -B4 is a standard chord in music. E6 . has consonances with both of the other two notes of the chord.2 P ITCHES OF H ARMONICS FOR C. 4. D7 } (2): {E6 . G5 } (5): {D7 . and 4th harmonics of B4 would be in consonance with harmonics of C4 . G4 . ∗. as follows (an asterisk denotes an harmonic that is not in consonance): (1): {G5 . 2. Trigonometry and Music Table 2. B6 } (8): {B7 . ∗. D7 . There are several harmonics consonant with the notes B and D. 3rd . B6 . E7 . Notes in parentheses are on chromatic scale. then the 2nd and 3rd harmonics of D5 would be in consonance with Mathematics and Music. There are 8 sets of consonances in Table 2. consonances underlined. The 2nd . There are some harmonics that are not consonant with notes in the key of C-major. ∗} (3): {G6 . Item 1 shows that there are many consonances in this chord. C4 . Walker. B and D. ∗} (6): {E7 .MAJOR CHORD∗ C4 (C4 ): (C5 ): (G5 ): (C6 ): (E6 ): (G6 ): (B♭ ): 6 (C7 ): (D7 ): (E7 ): (G7 ): 262 524 786 1048 1310 1572 1834 2096 2358 2620 2882 3144 3406 3668 (B7 ): (C8 ): ∗ E4 (E4 ): (E5 ): (B5 ): (E6 ): (G♯ ): 6 (B6 ): (D7 ): (E7 ): (F♯ ): 7 (G♯ ): 7 (B7 ): 330 660 990 1320 1650 1980 2310 2640 2970 3300 3630 3960 G4 (G4 ): (G5 ): (D6 ): (G6 ): (B6 ): (D7 ): 392 784 1176 1568 1960 2352 2744 (G7 ): (A7 ): (B7 ): 3136 3528 3920 3930 4192 Based on Table 2. ∗.56 2. by James S. if the note D5 is sounded. It is a C-major seventh chord. 1. This major chord has a lot more consonances than the minor chord that we will analyze next. and some notes that are not consonant with any of the notes on the chromatic scale. Similarly. G6 } (7): {G7 . E4 and G4 .1. Item 3 shows that there is also consonance with two other notes. then we would create additional synergy. In fact. B7 . B7 }. The root note of the chord.2. G7 } (4): {∗. 3. E4 .

This will provide an interesting contrast with the major chord that we just examined. For example. Mathematics and Music. It is interesting to note that the C-major ninth chord is a simultaneous sounding of the C-major chord (chord I in the C-major key) and the G-major chord (chord V in the C-major key). It is a C-major ninth chord. Walker. Remark 2. the 4th harmonic of G will be consonant with the 6th harmonic of C. 3/2 times the frequency of the initial note. But r7 = 27/12 = 1. E4 . nor can it be considered complete. the even harmonics of G will be consonant with harmonics of C. the 2nd harmonic of G will be consonant with the 3rd harmonic of C because 2 · frequency of G = 2 · (νC · r7 ) ≈ 2 · (1. and G has frequency r7 times the frequency of the initial note C.3 Frequency Content of Chords 57 harmonics of C4 . ∗. Example 2. or even on the entire chromatic scale. Because the frequency multiplier for a note G is essentially equal to 3/2. then its frequency is twice that of the lower pitch note. let’s consider the D-minor chord (the ii chord for the C-major key). As mentioned in Chapter 1. the 6th harmonic of G will be consonant with the 9th harmonic of C. A5 } (2): {A6 . by James S. ∗. or very closely approximate to.1. In the exercises. The chord C4 -E4 -G4 -B4 -D5 is another standard chord in music. Furthermore. it is very common in music around the world to have scales that begin and end with notes that are an octave apart and to have a note that corresponds to a fifth note on our standard Western scales. or very close to 3/2. A7 . There are at least three points to note about the harmonics shown in Table 2. and so on. As another example of how frequency information for notes aids us in understanding chords. One explanation for the predominance of “fifth” notes on musical scales is that such notes have frequencies that are either exactly. . The reason for the universality of octave notes is easy to see. the odd harmonics. For example.3. . If a note is an octave higher than another note.3: 1. A7 }. A6 . There are 4 sets of consonances shown in Table 2. The standard chords are not perfect in the sense of having only having consonances with notes in a given key. Item 4 relates to the fact that the chromatic scale is not the only scale in music. the fifth note in the C-major scale is G.3.3 we show harmonics for the three notes of the D-minor chord in the 4th octave. These close approximations to simple fractions provide the harmonious sound of the equal-tempered (piano) scale. These four sets of consonances can be listed according to how they lie among the harmonics of the three notes in the chord: (1): {A5 .5 · νC ) = 3 · νC = 3 · frequency of C .2. fall neatly halfway in between consecutive harmonics of C. and G4 . is the most probable reason for such a preponderance of “fifth” notes in musical scales around the world. on the piano scale.3.5. So every harmonic of the octave higher note is a harmonic of the lower pitch note. This is related to the standard chord progressions I → V and V → I. the odd multiples of the fundamental for G. E7 } (4): {A7 . A6 } (3): {E7 . Likewise. The consonance of harmonics of two notes with frequency ratio 3/2. by examining other powers of r that also closely approximate simple fractions.49830707687668 ≈ 1. we shall expand on this point about r7 being closely approximate to 3/2.2 (D-minor chord). In Table 2.

there are no consonances with harmonics of the middle note. Walker. A4 . 3. the consonance of harmonics of both D4 and F4 with only the highest note of the chord. In Table 2. by James S.58 2.3. similar to what we did in Table 2.MINOR CHORD∗ D4 (D4 ): (D5 ): (A5 ): (D6 ): (F♯ ): 6 (A6 ): (D7 ): (E7 ): (F♯ ): 7 (A7 ): ∗ F4 294 588 882 (F4 ): (F5 ): (C6 ): (F6 ): (A6 ): (C7 ): (F7 ): (G7 ): (A7 ): (C8 ): 349 698 1047 1396 1745 2094 2443 2792 3141 3490 3839 4188 A4 (A4 ): (A5 ): (E6 ): (A6 ): (C♯ ): 7 (E7 ): (A7 ): (B7 ): 440 880 1320 1760 2200 2640 3080 3520 3960 1176 1470 1764 2058 2352 2646 2940 3234 3528 3822 Based on Table 2. If the note C5 is sounded.1. implies that there is consonance within the chord D4 -F4 -A4 -C5 -E5 . F4 . Mathematics and Music. In Table 2. In contrast to the C-major chord. In fact. and underline the consonances. and 4th harmonics of C5 with harmonics of F4 .3 P ITCHES OF H ARMONICS FOR D.3.3. Within the parentheses in this table.3. or structural instability. Furthermore. This could be interpreted as a kind of weakness. . of the chord. There are 3 harmonics for F4 that are consonant with the note C.4 we show frequencies for the harmonics of the notes F3 . 2. Within the parentheses in this table. of the chord. due to consonance of the 2nd . This chord is called a D-minor ninth chord.5 we show frequencies for the harmonics of the notes G3 . C4 . Exercises 2. Item 3 shows that there is also consonance with the note C. A3 . because there is no reinforcement of the middle note’s harmonics by harmonics of the other notes. the chord D4 -F4 -A4 -C5 is a standard chord in music. B3 . then we would create additional synergy. The G-major chord in the key of C-major is G-B-D. similar to what we did in Table 2. Items 1 and 2 show that the base note D4 provides consonance for only the highest note A4 in the chord.2. Provide an analysis of this chord as was done in Example 2. within the harmonics of A4 and D4 . The F-major chord in the key of C-major is F-A-C. Provide an analysis of this chord as was done in Example 2.1. It is a D-minor seventh chord.2. write in the notes from the equal-tempered scale that correspond to the harmonics in Table 2. Trigonometry and Music Table 2.1. consonances underlined.1.1. D4 . 2. Notes in parentheses are on chromatic scale. and underline the consonances.2. write in the notes from the equal-tempered scale that correspond to the harmonics in Table 2. could be an explanation for the plaintive sound of the chord (a property shared by other minor chords). Notice also that the presence of the pitches E6 and E7 . 3rd .1.

.MAJOR CHORD B3 ( ( ( ( ( ( ( ( ( ( ): ): ): ): ): ): ): ): ): ): 247 494 741 988 1235 1482 1729 1976 2223 2470 2717 ( ): 2964 ( ( ( ( ( ( ( ( ( ( D4 ): ): ): ): ): ): ): ): ): ): 294 588 882 1176 1470 1764 2058 2352 2646 2940 Mathematics and Music.4 F3 ( ( ( ( ( ( ( ( ( ( ): ): ): ): ): ): ): ): ): ): 175 350 525 700 875 1050 1225 1400 1575 1750 1925 ( ): 2100 2275 2450 ( ( ): ): 2625 2800 H ARMONICS FOR F.2. Walker.5 G3 ( ( ( ( ( ( ( ( ( ( ): ): ): ): ): ): ): ): ): ): 196 392 588 784 980 1176 1372 1568 1764 1960 2156 ( ): 2352 2548 2744 ( ( ): ): 2940 3136 H ARMONICS FOR G.3 Frequency Content of Chords 59 Table 2. by James S.MAJOR CHORD A3 ( ( ( ( ( ( ( ( ( ( ): ): ): ): ): ): ): ): ): ): 220 440 660 880 1100 1320 1540 1760 1980 2200 2420 ( ): 2640 ( ( ( ( ( ( ( ( ( ( C4 ): ): ): ): ): ): ): ): ): ): 262 524 786 1048 1310 1572 1834 2096 2358 2620 Table 2.

write in the notes from the equal-tempered scale that correspond to the harmonics in Table 2.3. 2.3. Explain mathematically why this is so. An arpegiatted chord is a chord where the notes are played in close. Within the parentheses in this table.6 E3 ( ( ( ( ( ( ): ): ): ): ): ): 165 330 495 660 825 990 1155 ( ( ( ): ): ): 1320 1485 1650 1815 ( ): 1980 2145 ( ): ( ( ( ): ): ): ( ( ( ( ( ( H ARMONICS FOR E. the starting note of the D-minor key). similar to what we did in Table 2. Walker.1. C4 . In Table 2. 2. G3 . The A-minor chord in the key of C-major is A-C-E. F4 . Show that the D-minor chord in the key of C-major is the first chord in the key of D-minor (by first chord. Provide an analysis of this chord as was done in Example 2.3 for the notes B3 . Within the parentheses in this table.2. Produce a table like Table 2. Your results for the previous two exercises should correspond exactly (except for note names) with the results for Example 2. Your results for the previous two exercises should correspond exactly (except for note names) with the results for Example 2. Here is an example of an arpeggiated chord of three notes: Would you say this chord is major or minor? Identify the notes (including octaves) for this chord.3.1. write in the notes from the equal-tempered scale that correspond to the harmonics in Table 2. and underline the consonances. 2.3. 2. Provide an analysis of this chord as done in Example 2.3.3.3.3.4. B3 . .8.7 we show frequencies for the harmonics of the notes A3 . 2. In Table 2. Mathematics and Music.3.3. generally overlapping. D4 . similar to what we did in Table 2. Trigonometry and Music 2.5.7.3.2. succession. The E-minor chord in the key of C-major is E-G-B. The diminished B-minor chord in the key of C-major is B-D-F. Provide an analysis of this chord as was done in Example 2.60 2.2. Explain mathematically why this is so.3.MINOR CHORD G3 ): ): ): ): ): ): 196 392 588 784 980 1176 1372 1568 1764 1960 2156 2352 ( ( ): ): ( ( ( ( ( ( B3 ): ): ): ): ): ): 247 494 741 988 1235 1482 1729 1976 2223 2.3. E4 .1.6 we show frequencies for the harmonics of the notes E3 . we mean that it has D as its base note.6.9. Table 2. by James S.3. and underline the consonances.2.3.

2. Explain how this provides consonance of harmonics of E4 with harmonics of C4 . why the third note on a major scale will have consonances with harmonics of notes of the first note on the major scale. the consonances of G with C in the C-major scale).MINOR CHORD C4 ( ( ( ( ( ( ): ): ): ): ): ): 262 524 786 1048 1310 1834 2096 ( ( ( ): ): ): 2358 2620 2882 3144 ( ): 3406 ( ( ): ): ( ( ( ( ( ( E4 ): ): ): ): ): ): 330 660 990 1320 1650 2310 2640 2970 3300 2.3. which note would you say is more harmonious with the starting note of a major scale. The following short motif is from Ray Charles’ What’d I Say. Based on the results of the previous two exercises. 2. why the fourth note on a major scale will have consonances with harmonics of notes of the first note on the major scale.3. in general.3.3.13. Explain how this provides consonance of harmonics of F4 with harmonics of C4 .3.3.12.11. Walker.2. Show that r5 is closely approximate to 4/3. the third note or the fourth note? Mathematics and Music. (b) Following this triadic chord. And.2.1.1 and 2. we showed that r7 is closely approximate to 3/2 and that this explains the consonances of a fifth note on a major scale with the starting note (for example.7 A3 ( ( ( ( ( ( ): ): ): ): ): ): 220 440 660 880 1100 1540 1760 ( ( ( ): ): ): 1980 2200 2420 2640 ( ): 2860 3080 H ARMONICS FOR A. Show that r4 is closely approximate to 5/4. Compile a table of the frequencies of the harmonics of these notes. . in general.10. The following four exercises show that this occurs for other powers of r in the frequency multipliers used for the equal-tempered scale. And. there is an octave chord of G2 -G4 . 2.3 Frequency Content of Chords 61 Table 2. by James S.3. and do an analysis of this chord along the lines of the analyses in Examples 2. Which harmonics of G2 are amplified by playing the G4 note along with it? Explaining harmonies in the equal-tempered scale In Remark 2. (a) The triadic chord in the middle of the motif is G2 -E4 -C5 .

17 (Cents). Spectrum. Springer Publishing.16 (Pentatonic chords).62 2.8. (2. The cents measure of difference between two frequencies ν1 and ν2 is (cents) = 1200 log2 (ν2 /ν1 ) = 1200 log(ν2 /ν1 )/ log(2). 2005. If two notes of fundamental frequencies.3.2? 2.3 which differ by only a few cents from the notes indicated for them on the equal tempered scale. in general.3.3. 2007. One difficulty that is often cited with the just intonation scale is the problem of key transposition. Remark 2. Show that r9 is closely approximate to 5/3. Chapter 5 of the book Music: A Mathematical Offering.3. Just intonation is used by many male singing groups (Barbershop quartets) and has been used by composers as well (such as Ben Johnston).2.3. Since frequency ratios in the equal tempered scale increase exponentially. Walker.1? 2. Timbre. 2007. Transpose the C-major scale in the 4th octave of the just intonation scale by multiplying all of its notes by the frequency ratio 3/2 (so that the transposed scale begins with G4 ).19. Spectrum.2 and 2. look at the consonances of the power chord C4 -G4 . we introduced the Pentatonic-C scale.9) (a) Show that the difference in cents between each pair of successive notes on the equal-tempered scale is 100. by David Benson. Using Table 2.3.2 (Discriminating Differences in Frequencies). How do your results compare with our analysis in Example 2. In the following four exercises we examine the just intonation scale. analyze the chord C4 -E4 -G4 on the just intonation scale. Scale. Additional scales are examined in the book Tuning. Mathematics and Music. Do the same for the chord D4 -G4 -A4 .4. Cambridge University Press.3. 2.2) is 9. as powers of r = 21/12 . by James S. Cambridge University Press. by William Sethares. Using Table 2. by David Benson.2.10. The C-major chord is a chord that could be played with this scale. But what about other chords? Produce a table like Table 2. by William Sethares. What musical reasons can you think of for playing this chord? 2. a two-note chord is played. 2005. and throughout the book Tuning. usually the notes in the chord will differ by a fifth (as in the two-note chord C4 -G4 ).4 Other scales Besides the twelve-tone equal tempered scale.20 (Key transposition in just intonation). How does this transposed scale compare (using cents as a measure of frequency difference) with the frequencies shown in Table 2. Springer Publishing. analyze the chord D4 -F4 -A4 on the just intonation scale.3. Explain how this provides consonance of harmonics of A4 with harmonics of C4 .14. Timbre.3. How do your results compare with our analysis in Example 2.3. And. Trigonometry and Music 2. the just intonation scale. This is why we listed B7 as a note corresponding to the overtone harmonic 3930 Hz in the first column of Table 2. If they are played as 15th harmonics of an instrumental note C4 . it makes sense to measure the difference between any two frequencies in a logarithmic way. Similar remarks apply to other harmonics in Tables 2. such a two-note chord is called a power chord. The difference of 9 cents found in part (b) of the previous exercise is less than one-tenth of the difference in cents for frequencies between successive notes on the equal tempered scale.9. then they are essentially equivalent. Occasionally in music. where this is done more frequently than in other genres. discusses several additional scales.2 for the chord D4 -E4 -G4 and analyze the consonances for this chord. 2. 3951 Hz and 3930 Hz were played separately it would be difficult for most listeners to hear any difference.3. there are many other scales. Using Table 2.18. Here we will just look at one different type of scale.8 for the notes that should be on a G-major scale beginning with G4 ? Which notes differ the most? 4 Further details on detecting differences of frequencies for pitches and harmonics can be found in Chapter 4 of the book Music: A Mathematical Offering. What conclusions can you draw from these analyses (especially about musical reasons why chords are not generally used with pentatonic scales)? 2. See Table 2. In rock music.23 cents. why the sixth note on a major scale will have consonances with harmonics of notes of the first note on the major scale. In Exercise 1. (b) Show that the difference in cents between the frequencies 3951 Hz (B7 on the equal-tempered scale) and 3930 Hz (the 15th harmonic of C4 in the first column of Table 2.15 (Power chords). . Scale.

such as B-major. other frequencies are rounded to nearest Hz.8 for the notes that should be on a B-major scale beginning Mathematics and Music.8 Frequency Ratio 1 16/15 9/8 6/5 5/4 4/3 7/5 3/2 8/5 5/3 7/4 15/8 2 ∗ P ITCH AND F REQUENCY C ORRESPONDENCES FOR J UST S CALE∗ Octave 1 C 32 D♭ 34 D 36 E♭ E F F♯ G 38 40 43 45 48 Octave 2 C 64 D♭ 68 D 72 E♭ E F F♯ G 77 80 85 90 96 Octave 3 C 128 D♭ 137 D 144 E♭ E F F♯ G 154 160 171 179 192 Octave 4 C 256 D♭ 273 D 288 E♭ E F F♯ G 307 320 341 358 384 Octave 5 C 512 D♭ 546 D 576 E♭ E F F♯ G 614 640 683 717 768 Octave 6 C 1024 D♭ 1092 D 1152 E♭ E F F♯ G 1229 1280 1365 1434 1536 Octave 7 C 2048 D♭ 2185 D 2304 E♭ E F F♯ G 2458 2560 2731 2867 3072 A♭ 51 A 53 B♭ 56 B 60 C 64 A♭ 102 A 107 B♭ 112 B 120 C 128 A♭ 205 A 213 B♭ 224 B 240 C 256 A♭ 410 A 427 B♭ 448 B 480 C 512 A♭ 819 A 853 B♭ 896 B 960 C 1024 A♭ 1638 A 1707 B♭ 1792 B 1920 C 2048 A♭ 3277 A 3413 B♭ 3584 B 3840 C 4096 Frequencies for C notes are exact. If needed.3. . There is a much greater problem in transposing from C-major to a key that is a lot farther away on the Circle of Fifths. How does this transposed scale compare (using cents as a measure of frequency difference) with the frequencies shown in Table 2.MAJOR CHORD . Table 2. JUST SCALE E4 ( ( ( ( ( ( ( ( ( ( ): ): ): ): ): ): ): ): ): ): 320 640 960 1280 1600 1920 2240 2560 2880 3200 3520 ( ): 3840 ( ( ( ): ): ): ( ( ( ( ( ( G4 ): ): ): ): ): ): 384 768 1152 1536 1920 2304 2688 3072 3456 3840 2. Walker.3 Frequency Content of Chords 63 Table 2. Transpose the C-major scale in the 4th octave of the just intonation scale by multiplying all of its notes by the frequency ratio 15/8 (so that the transposed scale begins with B4 ). The previous exercise showed a small problem with transposition in just intonation.2.9 C4 ( ( ( ( ( ( ( ( ( ( ): ): ): ): ): ): ): ): ): ): 256 512 768 1024 1280 1536 1792 2048 2304 2560 2816 ( ): 3072 3328 3584 ( ( ): ): 3840 4096 H ARMONICS FOR C.21 (Key transposition in just intonation). by James S. Notice that G-major is right next to C-major on the Circle of Fifths.

Mathematics and Music.64 2.3.MINOR CHORD .3.10 D4 ( ( ( ( ( ( ): ): ): ): ): ): 288 576 864 1152 1440 1728 2016 ( ( ( ): ): ): 2304 2592 2880 3168 ( ): 3456 3744 H ARMONICS FOR D. the equal tempered scale was developed as a compromise solution to the problem of having good harmony while also allowing transposition between keys. by James S. . Walker. JUST SCALE F4 ( ( ( ( ( ( ): ): ): ): ): ): 341 682 1023 1364 1705 2046 2387 ( ( ( ): ): ): 2728 3069 3410 3751 ( ): 4092 ( ( ): ): ( ( ( ( ( ( A4 ): ): ): ): ): ): 427 854 1281 1708 2135 2562 2989 3416 3843 with B4 ? Which notes differ the most? Remark 2. Historically. Trigonometry and Music Table 2. especially keys that are far apart on the Circle of Fifths. and preserve the pitch changes in melodies. What the previous two exercises reveal is that with just intonation it is impossible to transpose between keys.

and it introduces a new note that is two notes ahead of the new starting note (the fifth note) on the Chromatic Clock.1 2.2.2. (c) E F♯ G A B C D E (d) B C♯ D E F♯ G A B (e) The adds on the Chromatic Clock for a natural minor scale are +2 +1 +2 +2 +1 +2 +2 while these adds applied to the fifth note produce +2 +2 +1 +2 +2 +1 +2 and. and two notes ahead of B is C♯ as we found in (c). (b) Because the sequence of adds is the same as for C-major. two notes ahead of E on the Chromatic Clock is the note F♯ as found in (c).1.3 2.5 A C A A F C A F F A B D G E . For example. 2. but starting with A in (1.9). and so on.1. we see that there is only one new note introduced with the second set of adds.3 F A F A C E G D G B B F A E D G E F C A G A A C B G♯ B B♭ C♯ E♯ A E C♭ D♭ B Treble Clef: Bass Clef: G F C D E B D 2.Appendix A Solutions to Odd-Numbered Exercises Chapter 2 2.2.1 2. by comparing these two sequences of adds.1.1.5 E F♯ F G C D G♯ A B C♯ C D A ♭ D♯ E F B C E A B♭ E ♭ F G 2.7 (a) We have these calculations on the Chromatic Clock: 9 A −→ 11 − B +2 −− −→ −−− −12 at top +1 0 C −→ − +2 2 D −→ − +2 4 E −→ − +1 5 F −→ − +2 7 G −→ − +2 9 A.

8 4 1 1 For the first triplet.15 For the first measure. the equation is 4 (1) = . the equation is 1 1 4 1 + + = .2. 2 4 4 4 duration.2. by James S.11 The equations with fractions for the three measures are 3 1 1 1 1 + + + = 8 8 4 4 4 1 1 1 1 3 1 1 + + + + + = 8 8 16 16 8 4 4 1 + 32 1 1 + 16 32 + 1 1 + 16 32 + 1 + 32 1 1 + 32 64 + 1 + 64 1 1 + 16 32 + 1 1 1 3 + + = 32 16 4 4 2. each note is 12 duration. For the triplet. The last two notes are each 1 duration. the equation is 1 8 + 1 + 8 1 4 + 1 1 + 4 8 + 1 4 = . SOLUTIONS TO ODD-NUMBERED EXERCISES B D F♯ E C♭ G♯ C♭ B G F Alto clef: E Bass clef: A C A G E B D A C♯ E F♯ C♯ F♯ F E♭ Tenor clef: F G E B D 2.13 For the first measure. For the quintuplet. the equation is duration.2. the equation is 4 (1) = . the second 1 2 + 1 + 4 1 8 + 1 4 = . and the last two notes are 1 1 1 each 10 duration. 4 1 The first two notes in the triplet are 3 duration. For the second measure. 4 1 Each note in the triplet is 3 duration. the first note is duration 10 . Mathematics and Music. For the third measure. For the second measure. the first two notes are each 1 two notes are each 12 duration. 8 4 1 40 1 For the septuplet.9 The equations with fractions for the three measures are 1 1 1 + + + 8 8 4 1 + 2 3· 1 1 + 16 32 1 1 + 8 16 + + 1 1 4 + = 16 4 4 1 1 1 1 4 + + + = 32 8 8 8 4 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 4 + + + + + + = 32 32 8 4 8 8 4 4 2.66 2.7 Treble clef: G APPENDIX A. each note is 24 duration. 4 1 6 1 For the quintuplet. Walker. the equation is 1 2 + 1 2 = 4 . the notes are each For the third measure. For the triplet. For the second triplet. 1 1 For the quintuplet. the second two notes are each 20 duration. the notes are each 14 duration. .2. and the second note is 6 duration.2. the first note is 12 duration. the notes are each 10 duration. 6 2.

a quarter note is 2 Andante tempo. Its notes are C♯ . followed by a 1/2 rest. A♯ . by James S.2. we have 1 1 + 16 32 which yields x= 21 32 16 + 4 + 1 = 32 1 1 1 + + = 32 8 2 +x= 3 4 1 2 seconds. F♯ . a quarter note is 3 seconds. b.2. Mathematics and Music. we have 1 1 + 16 32 which yields x= 29 32 16 + 8 + 4 + 1 = 32 1 1 1 1 = + + + 2 4 8 32 +x= 4 4 so there is a 1/32nd rest. followed by a 1/4th rest. E♯ . we have 1 + 16 which yields x= 5 16 4+1 = 16 1 1 = + 4 16 1 1 + 4 8 +x= 3 4 so there is a 1/16th rest. c. All the notes are now sharps. respectively. Letting x stand for the remaining time in the first measure.19 a.17 For the Adagio tempo. C♯ . G♯ . followed by a 1/2 rest. For the so there is a 1/32nd rest. Letting x stand for the remaining time in the third measure.3. followed by a 1/4th rest.67 2. or A♯ -minor. so no further key signatures with sharps appear on the Circle of Fifths. 2. The notes E♯ and B♯ are enharmonic with the notes F and C. Letting x stand for the remaining time in the second measure. For the Allegro tempo. followed by a 1/8th rest. a quarter note is 3 seconds.1 The 7 sharp key signature is which is C♯ -major. D♯ . followed by a 1/8th rest. Walker. 4 2. B♯ . .

so its intervals are 4 and 3.4. while ii. SOLUTIONS TO ODD-NUMBERED EXERCISES The 7 flat key signature is which is C♭ -major.5 (1) Since Sj ◦ Sk = Sk+j . E♭ . Walker.5. using the intervals 3 and 4. Or. by James S. and V all have intervals of 4 and 3 between notes. 4. (2) We have (Sj ◦ Sk ) ◦ Sℓ = Sj+k ◦ Sℓ = S(j+k)+ℓ = Sj+(k+ℓ) = Sj ◦ (Sk ◦ Sℓ ). G♭ . Therefore. but G♯ is not on the pentatonic C-scale. and vi all have intervals of 3 and 4 between notes. we have Sj ◦ Sk in S. S−k is the required diatonic scale shift in S. so no further key signatures with flats appear on the Circle of Fifths. F♭ . Its notes are C♭ . D♭ . and Sk+j is in S. but F♯ is not part of the pentatonic C-scale.1 The solution is shown in the following figure: Mathematics and Music. j + k = 0 implies that j = −k. B♭ .1 The solution is shown in the following figure: −− −→ −−− −12 at top +3 2 D −→ − +4 6 F♯ . With the note E and intervals of 4 and 3. IV. respectively. or A♭ -minor. the chord would be E-G♯ -B. 2.68 APPENDIX A.4. with intervals of 3 and 4. Or. iii. C♭ . Sk ◦ Sj = S0 implies that j = −k. 2. (4) Since Sj ◦ Sk = Sk+j .3 (a) C-major (I): C-E-G D-minor (ii): D-F-A E-minor (iii): E-G-B F-major (IV): F-A-C G-major (V): G-B-D A-minor (vi): A-C-E B◦ -minor (vii◦ ): B-D-F (b) I. (3) We have S0 ◦ Sj = S0+j = Sj and Sj ◦ S0 = Sj+0 = Sj . Similarly.3 A solution is shown in Figure A. 2. the chord would be D-F-A.4. The diminished minor vii◦ has intervals of 3 and 3 between notes. A♭ . but B in not on the pentatonic C-scale. (c) The G-major scale is G A B C D E F♯ G so the iii chord starts on B with 11 B and that gives the B-minor chord. 2. which differs from the other minor chords (as well as major chords). and 7 on the Chromatic Clock.1. But. B-D-F♯ . . the chord would be E-G-B. All the notes are now flats.5 The chord C-E-G is at hours 0. the chord with intervals 4 and 3 would be D-F♯ -A. 2. Using the note D at hour 2. we must require that j + k = 0 in order to have Sj+k = S0 .3. 2. but F is not part of the pentatonic C-scale.3. The notes C♭ and F♭ are enharmonic with the notes B and E.

2. S−5 . and (c) are shown in the following figure: (a): (b): (c): (d) The notes in (b) and (c) are different. P1 P3 P2 FIGURE A. P1. in a Mozart passage. S−5 2.3 The solutions to (a).69 S4 S1 c S−5 c S2 S3 T T S1 T FIGURE A. S−5 .5. then by S−1 . P3. S4 . by James S. Five diatonic scale shifts in a Mozart passage. There is also a succession of three note motives within the boxes marked S1 and S2. (b). The notes in S2 are obtained from the diatonic scale shift S0 applied to S1.1.5 A solution is shown in Figure A. and finally by S1 ). 2. .5. Mathematics and Music. so we nearly have a hierarchy of diatonic scale shifts. P2. S3 . Three palindromes.2. Walker. where the first two notes of each motive are transposed (first by S1 . and S1 .

SOLUTIONS TO ODD-NUMBERED EXERCISES 2. we have k − j − 7. . 2. E B A G −9 The chord is D-F-A. by James S. Mathematics and Music. j + 7. j + 4. j + 7 + k. 2. k − j − 7. we have R0 ◦ T−k (m) = R0 T−k (m) = R0 m − k = 0 − (m − k) = −m + k = Tk (−m) = Tk (0 − m) = Tk R0 (m) = Tk ◦ R0 (m).9 R ◦ R reverses the notes twice. A transposition Tk maps those hours to j + k. middle.7 The solution is shown in the following figure: 2.6.4). j + 3. Those intervals specify a minor chord. k − j − 3. we would have hours of j.5. j + 7. the hours for the notes in the major chord are j. A chromatic inversion Rk maps those hours to k − j. for k = 0. so it just repeats the original sequence of notes. . 1. → The chord is A-C♯ -E. . middle. j + 7. Those intervals specify a major chord.9 2. Writing these hours in reverse order. k − j. we have k − j − 7. So we have C-major chord −9 A-major chord . and that is precisely what S0 does. k − j − 7. (d) For any hour m.3 E G♯ We have G 7 E 4 C 0 → so C-major chord −7 G-major chord . k − j − 3. . The chromatic inversion Rk maps those hours to k − j.f. 2.5.11 The original melody is the beginning of Frere Jacques (c.6. so the intervals remain 4 and 3 between low. A transposition Tk maps those hours to j + k. for a major chord. the hours for the notes in the major chord are j.3. k − j. There are only 12 hours on the clock. (c) Letting j be the hour number of the lowest pitch note. j + 3 + k.5. so the intervals remain 3 and 4 between low. since 12 + k is the same shift as k on the 12-hour Chromatic Clock. which have intervals of 4 and 3. T R T D F♯ G♯ E B D G♯ D F♯ A −→ − −→ − +7 −→ − +7 2 D 11 B 7 G 2. and high notes.6.11 2. and high notes. Figure 2. (b) A minor chord has intervals of 3 and 4 between its low middle and high notes. so there can be no more than 12 distinct transpositions.6. Walker. Each Tk .6.1 2.70 APPENDIX A. j + 4 + k.7 2. On the other hand.6. 2. Writing those hours in reverse order. k − j − 4. j + 7 + k. So we have C-major chord −→ D-minor chord . the hours for the notes in the major chord are j.6. k − j − 4. which have intervals of 3 and 4. j + 7. 11.6. j + 3.15 The solutions to each part are (a) Letting j be the hour number of the lowest pitch note. j + 4. Letting j be the hour number of the lowest pitch note. . is distinct because Tk (0) = k. We have T12+k = Tk .13 The solution is shown in Figure A.5 2. so only 12 ways to shift pitches.

we have that R0 ◦ T−k = Tk ◦ R0 . is retrograded and then transposed by +6 semitones to get the second half of the passage.71 E T0   ©          T5     E T ¨¨ 7 ¨¨ T−5 ¨ ¨¨ ¨¨ ¨¨ % ¨ ¨¨ ¨¨ ¨¨ ¨¨ T ¨¨ 5 ¨¨ ¨ ¨¨ % ¨ ¨¨ ¨¨ E C FIGURE A.3: Opening measures of Ray Charles’ What’d I Say. suppose both chords are major. −1. Therefore. Walker. Therefore. 11. Second. 0. The hours for the three notes of chord1 can be written as j. Thus. (f) First. with transpositions indicated. 0. 2. Therefore. (e) Since a chromatic inversion Rk is equal to Tk ◦ R0 . Rk = R0 ◦ T−k . −1. yields Rk = Tk ◦ R0 . We also have Rk (m) = k − m. 6. −11. suppose that chord1 is minor and chord2 is major. 4. . 0. ℓ + 4. The transformation indicated by C is a combination of the two separate transpositions. Rk maps every minor chord to a major chord. Similar reasoning shows tha Rk maps every major chord to a minor chord. while those of chord2 can be written as ℓ. Rk (m) = R0 ◦ T−k (m) for every hour m. by James S. ending at A♮ . The first half of the passage. and then Tk will map that major chord to a major chord. If R0 is applied to chord1 then it becomes major. Combining the two results we just proved. and we have shown that there is a transposition (call it Tk ). Since R0 ◦ T−k (m) = Tk ◦ R0 (m) for each hour m. j + 7. Similar reasoning can be used if both chords are minor. the composition Tk ◦ R0 maps chord1 to chord2 . T−7 and T−5 . A similar argument applies the final case of chord1 being major and chord2 being minor. −4. 0. 1. j + 4. In other Mathematics and Music. −3. ℓ + 7. the chromatic inversion R0 will map a given minor chord to a major chord.6. We showed in part (d) that Tk = Tk ◦ R0 . 3. Then the transposition Tj−ℓ maps chord1 to chord2 .17 The semitone changes are 0. that maps this major chord to the major chord chord2 . 0 They exhibit a left/right symmetry about the middle number 6 with sign reversal. 1. so we have proved that the chromatic inversion Rk maps chord1 to chord2 . but we showed above that R0 ◦ T−k (m) = −m + k.

494. Likewise. r9 r4 . 587.6.6. .3 A natural minor scale uses this pattern of additions on the Chromatic Clock: +2 +1 +2 +2 +1 +2 +2 and. 392 294. 523 392. r19 ∼ r7 3. r12 ∼ r0 .15(f).1. because B has frequency multiplier r11 . That proves that Rk is unique. 349.19 In the solution for Exercise 2. 699 523. Walker. So we have the equation Rk ◦ P −1 = T0 and therefore Rk = T0 ◦ P. Then Rk ◦P −1 maps the major chord chord2 to itself. r11 r5 . r9 . while the given chord chord2 is major. r17 ∼ r5 r12 ∼ r0 . to the first half. 784 Multipliers r0 . r16 ∼ r4 r11 .6.1. A similar argument proves uniqueness for a transformation mapping a given major chord to a given minor chord. Chapter 3 3. 440. 392.6. But T0 ◦ P = P. But that transformation must then equal the unique transposition T0 . If the given chord chord1 is minor. the second half is obtained by applying the composition T6 ◦ R. r4 . r7 . 2. implies that that transposition is unique. r12 ∼ r0 r7 .1.5 The following table contains the answers to this exercise: Chord I: C4 -E4 -G4 ii: D4 -F4 -A4 iii: E4 -G4 -B4 IV: F4 -A4 -C5 V: G4 -B4 -D5 vi: A4 -C5 -E5 vii◦ : B4 -D5 -F5 I: C5 -E5 -G5 Frequencies (Hz) 262. so we have Rk = P. 494 349.72 APPENDIX A. r14 ∼ r2 . r7 r2 . SOLUTIONS TO ODD-NUMBERED EXERCISES words. where R is the retrograde transformation.15(f). the argument for the existence of a transposition mapping a given minor chord to a given minor chord given in the solution for Exercise 2. then the solution to Exercise 2. 659 494. The argument given there clearly shows that Tj−ℓ is unique.7 The frequency multiples for the original melody are r0 C r2 D r4 E r0 C r0 C r2 D r4 E r0 C r4 E r5 F r7 G Mathematics and Music. r11 .15(f) shows that the transformation that maps chord1 to chord2 has the form Rk . r5 .1. 330. 659. 523. we showed that there is a transposition Tj−ℓ that maps a given major chord chord1 to a given major chord chord2 . Suppose there was another transformation P that does the mapping. r16 ∼ r4 . r14 ∼ r2 r9 . we have r11 B −→ − · r2 r13 ∼ r1 C♯ −→ − · r1 r2 D −→ − · r2 r4 E −→ − · r2 r6 F♯ −→ − · r1 r7 G −→ − · r2 r9 A −→ − · r2 r11 B 3. by James S.1 The calculation goes as follows: r2 D −→ − · r2 r4 E −→ − · r2 r6 F♯ −→ − · r1 r7 G −→ − · r2 r9 A −→ − · r2 r11 B −→ − · r2 r13 ∼ r1 C♯ −→ − · r1 r2 D 3. 587 440. 440 330.

73 Since E has a frequency multiple of r4 .012 0. The half-period p/2 is indicated.0304 seconds. while multiplying by r−4 is transposing down a third.3. while transposing down a sixth would be multiplying by r−9 3. Walker.023 0.4.4.2. while multiplying by r−5 is transposing down a fourth.1. The time p for an approximate cycle is p = 0. relative to C.7 The half-period p/2 is shown in Figure A. which is 2 times 1/p = 329 Hz. 3. by James S.1 The notes and consonances are shown in Table A. Multiplying by r4 is transposing up a third.035 0.2.2. . There are at least three points to note: Mathematics and Music.046 p p/2 0 FIGURE A.1.9 Multiplying by r−7 is transposing down a fifth. Multiplying by r5 is transposing up a fourth. so its frequency is 2 · 329 Hz. 16000 8000 0 −8000 −16000 0.1 The following table shows the first 6 harmonics for G2 and the notes they correspond to: 98 Hz G2 196 Hz G3 294 Hz D4 392 Hz G4 490 Hz B4 588 Hz D5 3.3 The following table shows the first 6 harmonics for E2 and the notes they correspond to: 82 Hz E2 164 Hz E3 246 Hz B3 326 Hz E4 410 Hz G♯ 4 486 Hz B4 3.5 The following table shows the 7 harmonics for C3 and the notes they correspond to: 131 Hz C3 262 Hz C4 393 Hz G4 524 Hz C5 655 Hz E5 786 Hz G5 917 Hz A♯ 5 3.2. we multiply all of the powers of r by r4 and write down the notes for these new powers of r: r4 E and the score looks like this: r6 F♯ r8 G♯ r4 E r4 E r6 F♯ r8 G♯ r4 E r8 G♯ r9 A r11 B 3. The half-period p/2 has frequency 1/(p/2) = 2/p. Transposing up a sixth would be multiplying by r9 . Waveform of portion of a flute note.

For example. B6 .1 P ITCHES OF H ARMONICS FOR F. ∗} (6): {A6 . ∗. A5 . A6 . consonances underlined. which is a transposition from the chord C4 -E4 -G4 using the frequency multiplier r−5 .MAJOR CHORD∗ F3 (F3 ): (F4 ): (C5 ): (F5 ): (A5 ): (C6 ): (D♯ ): 6 (F6 ): (G6 ): (A6 ): (C7 ): 175 350 525 700 875 1050 1225 1400 1575 1750 1925 2100 2275 2450 (E7 ): (F7 ): ∗ A3 (A3 ): (A4 ): (E5 ): (A5 ): (C♯ ): 6 (E6 ): (G6 ): (A6 ): (B6 ): (C♯ ): 7 (E7 ): 220 440 660 880 1100 1320 1540 1760 1980 2200 2420 2640 C4 (C4 ): (C5 ): (G5 ): (C6 ): (E6 ): (G6 ): (A♯ ): 6 (C7 ): (D7 ): (E7 ): 262 524 786 1048 1310 1572 1834 2096 2358 2260 2625 2800 Based on Table 2. Walker. Table A. E6 } (8): {E7 . G6 } (2): {A5 . E7 .5 The notes and consonances are shown in Table A. These four sets of consonances can be listed according to how they lie among the harmonics of the three notes in the chord: (1): {B4 . 2. has consonances with both of the other two notes of the chord. There are at least three points to note: 1. ∗} (3): {C6 . Notes in parentheses are on chromatic scale. . SOLUTIONS TO ODD-NUMBERED EXERCISES 1. ∗. ∗. ∗.3 Each major chord is a transposition of the C-major chord. There are 4 sets of consonances shown in Table A.3. There are 8 sets of consonances in Table A. C4 .1.1. There are some harmonics that are not consonant with notes in the key of C-major. 3. 3. the chord F3 -A3 -C4 is created from the chord C4 -E4 -G4 by frequency multiplying by the factor r−7 .74 APPENDIX A. C5 } (5): {G6 . There are several harmonics consonant with the notes B and D. C7 } (4): {∗. The base note of the chord.2. F♯ } 6 6 (4): {B6 . B4 } (2): {B5 . ∗. by James S. E6 .2. 4. B6 }. B5 } (3): {F♯ . These eight sets of consonances can be listed according to how they lie among the harmonics of the three notes in the chord. E4 and G4 . as follows (an asterisk denotes an harmonic that is not in consonance): (1): {C5 .3. C6 } (7): {C7 . E7 }. Mathematics and Music. G6 . . B5 . 3. The consonances in the chord C4 -E4 -G4 are (perceptually) matching frequency ratios for various harmonics. Similar remarks apply to the major chord G3 -B3 -D4 . and some notes that are not consonant with any of the notes on the chromatic scale. Consequently the corresponding harmonics in the chord F3 -A3 -C4 will also have (perceptually) matching frequency ratios.

A. so it called a first 4 inversion of a major chord (and it is being arpegiatted downward). Consequently every fourth harmonic of E4 will be closely approximate to every fifth harmonic of C4 . It is an E-minor seventh chord.3.25992104989487 which is closely approximate to 5/4.13 The fourth note on a major scale will be more harmonious than the third note. Walker.1. of the chord.75 2.7 Each minor chord is a transposition of the D-minor chord. 3. consonances underlined. by James S. Notes in parentheses are on chromatic scale. . F♯ . D5 . 3. so it is a major chord.11 We calculate that r4 satisfies r4 = 24/12 = 1. Table A. In contrast to major chords. Consequently the corresponding harmonics in the chord E3 -G3 -B3 will also have (perceptually) matching frequency ratios. and does not depend on the value of νC . A4 . For example. which is a transposition from the chord D4 -F4 -A4 using the frequency multiplier r−5 . it follows that the frequency of E4 is closely approximated by (5/4) · νC . The octaves for the notes are F♯ . The consonances in the chord D4 -F4 -A4 are (perceptually) matching frequency ratios for various harmonics. 3. If those chords are arranged as D.MINOR CHORD∗ E3 (E3 ): (E4 ): (B4 ): (E5 ): (G♯ ): 5 (B5 ): 165 330 495 660 825 990 1155 (E6 ): (F♯ ): 6 (G♯ ): 6 (B6 ): ∗ G3 (G3 ): (G4 ): (D4 ): (G5 ): (B5 ): (D6 ): 196 392 588 784 980 1176 1372 (G6 ): (A6 ): (B6 ): (D7 ): 1568 1764 1960 2156 2352 B3 (B3 ): (B4 ): (F♯ ): 5 (B5 ): (D♯ ): 6 (F♯ ): 6 (B6 ): (C♯ ): 7 247 494 741 988 1235 1482 1729 1976 2223 1320 1485 1650 1815 1980 2145 Based on Table 2. The chord E3 -G3 -B3 -D4 is a standard chord in music. There are 3 harmonics for G3 that are consonant with the note D.9 The notes of the chord are D. then the semitone changes on the chromatic clock are 4 and 3. But only every Mathematics and Music. the chord E3 -G3 -B3 is created from the chord D4 -F4 -A4 by frequency multiplying by the factor r−10 . 3.2 P ITCHES OF H ARMONICS FOR E. A. Similar remarks apply to the minor chord A3 -C4 -E4 . F♯ . Since this argument only depends on r4 ≈ 5/4. Since E4 has frequency νC · r4 .3. G3 . The reason is that every fourth harmonic of the starting note of the scale will be in consonance with a harmonic of the fourth note. 3. there are no consonances with harmonics of the middle note.3.3. it follows that the third note on a major scale (like E4 on the C-major scale) will have similar harmonies with the first note on the major scale.

13 −39.3. 3.76 APPENDIX A.17 (a) If the two successive notes have frequencies of ν1 and ν2 . by James S.2 we see that the low note C4 has consonances with harmonics of each of the overtones of the higher note G4 . .3. 3. Walker. SOLUTIONS TO ODD-NUMBERED EXERCISES fifth harmonic of the starting note of the scale will be in consonance with a harmonic of the third note. 3.21 The transposed C-major scale and the correct B-major scale are shown in the following table. For those notes.71 0 The notes that differ the most are D♯ and G♯ .3). Therefore. Mathematics and Music. eliminates its overtones G♯ and G♯ which could 6 7 be heard as dissonant with overtones of G4 . the number of consonances (within the finite range of human hearing) is greater for the fourth note.3.22624059804212 . The difference between the two cases. (b) We have (cents) = 1200 log2 (3951/3930) = 1200 log(3951/3930)/ log(2) = 9. is that the notes in the just scale are slightly lower in pitch and the relative closeness of consonant notes will differ from those found in the equal-tempered case (sometimes closer for just scale.3. along with the cents differences between the frequencies for the notes on the two scales.23 cents. Note B C♯ D♯ E F♯ G♯ A♯ B B-major (Just Scale) 480 546 614 640 717 819 896 960 Transposed C-major 480 540 600 639.93 −1.63 900 960 (Cents) Difference 0 −19. The consonances are exactly the same as those discussed in Example 2. .3.23 −39. the transposed notes are about 40 cents below the values on the B-major scale.28 7. 3.69 7. Therefore the (cents) measure of their difference is (cents) = 1200 log2 (ν2 /ν1 ) = 1200 log2 (21/12 ) 1 = 1200 · 12 = 100. then ν2 /ν1 = r = 21/12 . Omitting the middle note E4 from the standard triadic chord. .3.2 for the equal-tempered scale (compare with Table 2.19 The notes and consonances are shown in Table A. and that is where we got 9.15 In Table 2. So they are nearly a half semitone flat. while sometimes closer for equal-tempered scale).38 720 800.

MINOR CHORD∗ D4 (D4 ): (D5 ): (A5 ): (D6 ): (F♯ ): 6 (A6 ): (D7 ): (E7 ): (F♯ ): 7 (A7 ): ∗ F4 288 576 864 (F4 ): (F5 ): (C6 ): (F6 ): (A6 ): (C7 ): (F7 ): (G7 ): (A7 ): (C8 ): 341 682 1023 1364 1705 2046 2387 2728 3069 3410 3751 4092 A4 (A4 ): (A5 ): (E6 ): (A6 ): (C♯ ): 7 (E7 ): (A7 ): (B7 ): 427 854 1281 1708 2135 2562 2989 3416 3843 1152 1440 1728 2016 2304 2592 2880 3168 3456 3744 Based on Table 2. Notes in parentheses are on chromatic scale. Mathematics and Music. . consonances underlined. by James S.8.3 P ITCHES OF H ARMONICS FOR D. Walker.77 Table A.

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