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SAVY 2019: Session 5, Day 5 – Math and Music (Rising 5th/6th)

Posted by on Friday, July 19, 2019 in Grade 5, Grade 6, SAVY.

The trial of John Cage was a rousing success! I was so impressed with the work done by both sides to put together an spirited, engaging, yet respectful debate. In the end, John Cage was declared guilty of crimes against music! Some excerpts from the trial are posted on the SAVY Facebook page. I had great fun listening to their presentations!

After the trial, we learned how to construct a twelve-tone matrix to write music like Schoenberg, Berg, and Webern. We had listened to a movement from a Webern string quartet earlier in the week, which I doubt did much to sell the students on serialism as a method of composition! We looked at the interesting mathematical patterns that develop (actually more related to modular arithmetic than matrices) in the matrix, and I loved how students were able to spot and explain the patterns even if they lacked the necessary mathematical vocabulary.

Right before lunch, we had our student performances. I was impressed by the talent of the class and also their willingness to perform! Their genuine excitement for each other and their interest in listening to all of the various things that I presented throughout the week will remain a class highlight for me.

After lunch, we had a brief introduction to mathematical matrices before wrapping up with at look at the Fibonacci numbers and their relationship to the Golden Ratio. In order to do this, we had to learn some algebraic skills like the quadratic formula. We wrapped up the content part of class with looking at how certain musical pieces seem to fit a model given by the golden ratio.

Thank you all for a fantastic week! Enjoy the rest of your summer!