Music and Numbers

My previous posts introduced Music and Multiple Intelligence; Music and the Body, Music and Nature, and Music and Words.

It is often said that music and mathematics are related. Essentially though, music and mathematics are poles apart. Mathematics is about the physical world. It is the first principle of science, and it is used to study the objective, measurable phenomena of our world. In contrast, music does not and cannot express the physical world. Music is all about human subjective experience, a subject upon which mathematics sheds no light. We use our ears in music and our eyes in mathematics, but both use the mind. Music incorporates sense with reason. Music incorporates structures that reflect mathematical planning, but it is often the deliberate violation of expectation that creates interest.

Music is never reducible to mathematics, but both disciplines are pattern rich so the temptation to draw connection can be irresistible. For some people discovering patterns and connections between music and mathematics is enjoyable. For example, in mathematical index form classical melody phrases conform to the formula p=2x, where p is the phrase length and x is an integer.  In other words, phrase lengths are generally two, four, eight, or sixteen measures long. As discussed in an earlier post, the ‘sum of seven’ rule can assist one to remember key signatures. Chord progressions, intervals, time signatures, metronome markings, sequences, and musical climax points all provide opportunities for finding connection with numbers.

My next post will explore Music and Pictures.

 An excerpt from ‘Learning Strategies for Musical Success’ by Michael Griffin

The Music Trust (review)    VMTA (review)

“A must read for all music educators” – Robert Adams, New Haven, USA.

“Super book. I am so impressed!” – Donna Michaels, USA

“Fantastic book, simply brilliant! – Ian Cooper, Norfolk, UK

“Don’t miss this opportunity!” – Mary George, USA

“Rarely do I come away feeling so inspired. Incredibly beneficial.” – Music Matters Blog

“Such a practical book. SO glad I purchased this. – Jocelyn Beath, NZ

“Most stimulating!” – Nicholas Carpenter, Prebendal, UK

“A must buy for every music teacher and music student” – William Bruce, Teacher of Strings, UK.

“Deeply impressive, the breadth of research is fascinating!” – Robert Chamberlain, Team of Pianists and Monash University Piano Staff, Victoria Australia.

“Awesome! I want to recommend it to every teacher I know” – Michael Williamson, Australia

“I loved it. Extremely helpful and inspiring!” – Cheryl Livingstone, Australia

“The best resource for music educators” – Andrew Heuzenroeder, Australia

“I have read your book and it has made an amazing difference in my teaching and in my studio.” Beth Cruickshank, Past President – Ontario Registered Music Teachers Association.

Amazon UK
Kindle US
Kindle UK
Australia: Contact for direct mail.

front cover final

Also by Michael Griffin


Music and Keyboard in the Classroom: Fundamentals of Notation is a unit of work for general music middle school classes. Designed around the mastering of practical skills, it integrates theory, aural and history, and allows students to progress at their own rate. View Table of Contents.  “This has been a great buy; the books are just superb! Interesting topics with a wide range of pieces. Great content with clear progression of learning. Fascinating teaching philosophy! BRAVO!” -The Grieg Academy, London. Available at

BookCoverPreview Bk 2

Music and Keyboard in the Classroom: Let’s Get Creative! is the fun and creative extension to ‘Fundamentals of Notation’.

View Table of Contents. “We have been using your keyboard course and the results have been amazing!”  – St George College, Australia

Available at

BookCover VR

‘Bumblebee: Rounds & Warm-ups for Choirs’

Second edition. Bumblebee! is more than just a collection of 123 choir exercises and rounds. The author shares timeless wisdom to help you get your choir – primary or secondary – into shape.
View Table of Contents.

“This is really good for all kinds of vocal groups, choirs, conductors. Bravo!!”

“The thinking person’s guide to training a choir. Love it!”

“It’s great to have some fresh warm-ups to add to the repertory. The tips for actions and techniques are really useful, and the advice at the back of the book has made me review some of my strategies.”

harmony bk cover

Modern Harmony Method: Fundamentals of Jazz and Popular Harmony (Third Edition, 2013) is a clear and well organised text suitable for students of arranging and composition, and for classically trained musicians wishing to grasp the beautiful logic of jazz harmony. Essential understandings include chord selection, voicing, symbols, circle of 4th progressions, extensions, suspensions and alterations. Included in the 107 pages are explanations, examples, exercises and solutions. The course can be started with students in year 9 and worked through to year 12 musicianship, composing and arranging.  Available at


Public speaker, music education trainer, conductor and pianist. Author of 'Learning Strategies for Musical Success', 'Bumblebee: Rounds & Warm-ups for Choirs', and 'Modern Harmony Method'.

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Posted in math, Multiple Intelligence, Music Education, numbers, prep, primary
One comment on “Music and Numbers
  1. Dr. Prof. Edward Charles. says:

    What a creative, enlightening, inspirational thinker is Mr. Michael Griffin!

    I have authored 100’s of articles on Conducting, Singing, Playing, Motivation, Humour Health, etc.etc.
    They are 4, 8, 16 or + pages long, because I found that i didn’t have the time to read a whole book – but Mr. Griffin writes so that you want to read more. That’s a GREAT trick!!!

    However, my articles and advanced choral works are ALL FREE from Catalogues with synopses also FREE! Please ask.

    I want to share with you too!

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