[Squeakland] music and math

mmille10 at comcast.net mmille10 at comcast.net
Wed Nov 28 13:03:42 PST 2007

>Date: Tue, 27 Nov 2007 21:06:01 -0500
>From: "David T. Lewis" <lewis at mail.msen.com>
>Subject: Re: However ...Re: [Squeakland] Panel discussion: Can the
	>American	Mind be Opened?
>To: subbukk <subbukk at gmail.com>
>Message-ID: <20071128020601.GA75166 at shell.msen.com>
>Content-Type: text/plain; charset=us-ascii
>On Mon, Nov 26, 2007 at 11:38:30PM +0530, subbukk wrote:
>> Coming from a culture steeped in oral tradition, I find 'sounds' better 
>> than 'symbols' when doing math 'in the head'. The way I learnt to handle 
>> numbers (thanks to my dad) is to think of them as a phrase. 324+648 would be 
>> sounded out like "three hundreds two tens and four and six hundreds and four 
>> tens and eight. three hundreds and six hundreds makes nine hundreds, two tens 
>> and four tens make six tens and four and eight makes one ten and two, giving 
>> me a total of nine hundreds seven tens and two". Subtraction was done using 
>> complements. So 93-25 would be sounded out as "five more to three tens, six 
>> tens more to nine tens and then three more, making a total of six tens and 
>> eight'. The technique works for any radix - 0x3c would be "three sixteens and 
>> twelve'.
>> In India, many illiterate shopkeepers and waiters in village restaurants use 
>> these techniques to total prices and hand out change. No written bills.
>> The advantage with sounds is that tones/stress/volume can be used to decorate 
>> numbers. With pencil and paper, changing colors, sizes or weights would be 
>> impractical.
>Thanks for sharing this. I think that it is very interesting that sound
>and oral skills can be a basis for mathematical thinking. My cultural
>background is less oral, so I did not even think of this as a possibility.
>It seems that music and mathematics are somehow connected, but I never thought
>to extend this to verbal types of music.

I took a couple music theory courses in college years ago. One of my professors mentioned that he noticed a correlation between those who were good at math and those who tended to grasp music theory readily. He had no explanation for this though.

mmille10 at comcast.net
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