Math and Music: Algebra Featuring Mickey Hart is a lesson collection aligned to 7th to 9th grade math standards that invites students to explore the mathematical and scientific principles of sound and music.
In this 4-lesson unit, students:
- Conduct hands-on activities to discover the physical principles of sound waves, and why sounds vary so widely
- Calculate, plot, and graph sound waves based on measurable, real-world acoustic data
- Calculate pitch, tension, and frequency using Mickey Hart’s famous beam instrument
- Discover the math and science behind Pythagoras’ calculations of ratio, tuning, and harmony
As a summative assessment, students draw upon the skills they gained in the lessons to create with mathematics their own custom musical riffs, which they present to Mickey Hart.
The Science of Sound
What is sound, and how are its characteristics explained scientifically?
The Mathematics Behind Sound
What are the mathematical variables that give a sound its particular quality, and how can these variables be measured, visualized, and calculated?
How do musical instruments produce different pitches, and what variables allow you to calculate the pitch of an instrument?
What role do ratios play in the Western musical concepts of rhythm and harmony?