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Nicholas Clay Communicating Mathematics III Supervisor: Mikhail Belolipetsky

FIBONACCI NUMBERS AND MUSIC

The Fibonacci Numbers

The Fibonacci numbers are a famous series where each term is the sum of the previous two:

0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21,

These are deﬁned by the following recurrence relation, where F n is the nth Fibonacci number

F n = F n2 + F n1 ,

n 2,

F 0 = 0,

F 1 = 1

Golden Ratio

If we take a line and break it into two pieces in such a way that the whole line has the same ratio to the larger segment as the larger segment has to the smaller segment, then the two segments are said to be in the golden ratio.

When you look at the sequence of ratios F n+1

F n

tive Fibonacci numbers, it converges to 1.618033

which is also the golden ratio, ϕ.

of consecu- as n ,

Piano

The layout of the piano keys has an obvious relation to the Fi- bonacci numbers. The white keys form the diatonic scale of C major. The thirteen notes of an octave are split into eight white keys and ﬁve black keys, which are then split into a group of three and a group of two:

Beethoven

In his 5th Symphony, Beethoven appears to have used the golden mean, although there is no evidence to suggest that it was intentional. The famous ﬁve bar motto from this great work appears at the beginning and end of the piece, but is also present at bar 377, out of a total of 610 bars.

610

377 1.618 = ϕ

That is, the motto divides the piece into the golden ratio.

Music

Music has a foundation in the series of Fibonacci numbers:

there are thirteen notes through an octave

the most common scales in Western music consist of eight notes

the third and ﬁfth notes of a scale form the basic foun- dation of chords

major scales are based on whole tone steps from one note to another, which is two steps from the previous note

all of which are Fibonacci numbers!

Chromatic Scale

The chromatic scale uses all of the semitones in an octave and forms the foundation of Western music. There are thirteen notes in a chromatic scale through the octave - a Fibonacci number!

All of the twelve different notes of the chromatic scale are found by ascending in ﬁfths and can be done from any starting note. For example, if we start on C we obtain:

C-G-D-A-E-B-F#-C#-G#-D#-A#-F-C

which when rearranged becomes:

C-C#-D-D#-E-F-F#-G-G#-A-A#-B-C

a chromatic scale on C.