Swans and a Cello (Music and Maths)

Night before school starts again, back to the Barbican for a sumptuous programme: Sibelius 5 (The Swan Hymn), Elgar’s Cello Concerto (an elegy to WW1), and a world premiere by Giguere.

Conducted by Susanna Malkki, the exception that proves the rule of conducting = patriarchy.

Choice quotes from students:

  • “I didn’t know classical music was still being made”
  • “If that violinist wasn’t white he could be my grandfather!”

Thoughts on parallels between Music and Maths? (Danger area – the analogies are often really forced and unhelpful). Focus here on processes, rather than things like “You can use your knowledge of lowest common multiple to create poly-rhythms”

  • Both are being invented by professionals all the time. (Symphonies aren’t only composed by dead white men. Maths is not something that has always existed).
  • You can appreciate the genius of pre-existing discoveries (by playing great music, or by understanding for yourself great proofs)
  • Improvisation – riffing on a simple intial idea (short phrase in jazz, or geometric prompt in a prob-squad) without really knowing or needing to know where you are going
  • Interplay between practice of skills and seeking of art. See Lockhart’s Lament for more on this

Check out the Proof and Composition collaboration! Deep link or gimmick?


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