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Why is so hard to tune my guitar? A look at the mathematics behind the music Charlie Burrus Rice University School Mathematics Project November 2007 This.

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Presentation on theme: "Why is so hard to tune my guitar? A look at the mathematics behind the music Charlie Burrus Rice University School Mathematics Project November 2007 This."— Presentation transcript:

1 Why is so hard to tune my guitar? A look at the mathematics behind the music Charlie Burrus Rice University School Mathematics Project November 2007 This entire presentation (and more!) can be found at

2 Why is it so hard to tune my guitar? The Goal: Getting the strings “in tune”. The Method: Using Harmonics The Problem: …this is why we’re here.

3 On this slide, put a picture of a guitar or something, where they will see the strings and the names of the strings.

4 Harmonics

5 Music = organized sound Sound travels in longitudinal waves, but we frequently illustrate it using transverse waves. Put a sine wave here.

6 Terminology Musical terms: Volume Pitch Mathematical terms: Amplitude Frequency ====

7 Pitch Measured in letters - periodic

8 Melodies are relative Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, How I wonder what you are C C G G A A G F F E E D D C or D D A A B B A G G F# F# E E D or G G D D E E D C C B B A A G

9 Notes that sound ‘good’ together Octave: Different “pitch” but same “note” Major triad: C-E-G G-B-D F-A-C D-F#-A

10 Frequency Measured in Hertz, or waves/second NOT periodic The higher the pitch, the higher the frequency.

11 Pitch and Frequency

12 The Four Pillars of Education Mathematics Geometry Astronomy Music! Yes, MUSIC!


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