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Summer SAVY Session 5, Day 2, Math and Music

Posted by on Tuesday, July 18, 2023 in blog, SAVY.

Day 2: Today was filled with both learning and fun as we explored two fascinating topics: copyright versus inspiration and fractions versus time signatures.

In the morning session, we dove into the world of creativity and originality. Students learned about the important distinguishing features between infringing copyright and being inspired by another artist’s work. We looked at quite a few examples of artists that have ended up in court in recent years because of how similar their music was to another artist’s songs and let students be the judge before sharing how the case was actually decided or settled. We also explored the difference between interpolation and sampling and discussed how parody (like Weird Al) interacts with copyright.
Before lunch, we got to experience a French horn performance from a special guest. Students learned how sounds are created on brass instruments by buzzing, and how the valves on the instrument increase or decrease the length of tube the air vibrates through to change the pitch of the sound produced.
After lunch, we shifted gears and explored the captivating world of fractions within music. Students learned about time signatures, which represent the organization of beats within a musical composition. We looked at some equivalent fractions of time signatures like 3/4 versus 6/8 and discovered how can create a very different feeling or pulse even though they mathematically contain the same number of beats per measure. We listened to a variety of musical samples and decoded the time signature by listening for the pattern of beats within each song. We dissected some really difficult time signatures and even some pieces that switched time signatures throughout the piece! Finally, we discussed the effects of some irregular time signatures on making a song feel like there is either extra space between phrases or that a pause is cut short. The mathematical construction of a time signature can be an effective way to create a sense of tension in the soundtrack of a scary movie, or a reflective tone in a contemplative song.
Tomorrow, we’re looking forward to exploring how geometry presents itself through music, learning how conductors communicate with an ensemble silently, and experiencing a special guest performance by an exceptional banjo player!