Musica Speculativa For The Twenty-First Century: Integrating Mathematics And Music In The Liberal Arts Classroom

Jonathan Hyatt Kochavi, Swarthmore College


With its deep historical roots and its central position in the foundation of ancient knowledge, music, as a discipline, can claim an esteemed position in the modern liberal arts curriculum. Introductory music theory at the undergraduate level, however, still tends to focus on skill acquisition and fluency. This paper proposes a different model for such a course, one that integrates mathematics and music to provide a baseline knowledge of the language of music theory while exploring structural aspects of a system grounded in acoustics, algebra, and geometry. The Swarthmore College course "Mathematics and Music" aims to build on the musica speculativa tradition by adapting topics in the recent research literature in order to provide a classroom experience of collaborative exploration and discovery.