Music By Numbers – The Playlist!!

“Music is the pleasure the human soul experiences from counting without being aware that it is counting” – Gottfried Liebniz

“There is geometry in the humming of the strings” – Pythagoras

The ancient Greeks knew a thing or two about both numbers and music, and indeed Pythagoras, quoted above, knew more than anyone else of his time about the intimate connection between the structure of music and mathematics. For him music and maths were intimately connected to the planets of the solar system, with the movements of celestial bodies directly corresponding to notes of the scale – what he termed “music of the spheres” – and his teachings on the subject influenced musical thinkers for many centuries.

And he wasn’t wrong. The relationship between music and numbers is, well, fundamental actually. Rhythm is completely numerical and provides structure for music, with counts of four (4/4 time) being used for most musics, although music in both 3/4 (waltz-time) and 5/4 (used in a lot of Latin music) time is not uncommon. If you’re in some crazy prog group or play some pretty far-out jazz you might find yourself playing in 11/4 or 17/8 time, although if you do you should probably stop. Right now. That’s better…

And then there’s melody which uses scales (usually of 7 or 5 notes) based on numerical ratios, dividing the octave into 12 notes for the western scale on which almost all modern music is based upon. Indeed, all music is mathematical in nature when looked at like this, something which was not lost on classical composers from Bach and Mozart to Schoenberg and Stravinsky, all of whom were well aware of the link between the two. Although of course there is a bit more to music than merely maths…

On a slightly less fundamental level, music and numbers have a relationship which is no less enjoyable, and what we have created here is a collection of tracks connected by their use of a number or numbers in their title and lyrics. This has nothing at all to do with the teachings of Pythagoras, however we hope you’ll agree that it makes for a pretty damn awesome playlist nonetheless. Enjoy…

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