Music surrounds you, is a part of you, and can be found all over the world in every culture. But what exactly makes music so powerful?

Radio-rithmetic dives into this subjective realm, using math and science to enlighten you as you investigate two main aspects of music: rhythm and pitch.

Rhythm is when you hear certain musical events, and covers beats, basic notation, meter, percussion instruments, etc. In the external investigation you will mathematically analyze the beats and rhythm of real songs, as well as what different cultures do with the idea of rhythm and why. In the action project you will choose your own song and analyze it in a similar fashion, to determine what makes it so special.

Pitch is more about what you actually hear, the sounds themselves and how they’re organized. You’ll learn about sound waves, intervals, dissonance and consonance, how science and effects can manipulate what you hear and what you like to hear, and once again how different cultures perceive pitch differently. Then you’ll focus on how to record and edit songs in the external investigation, eventually combining various elements into your own piece for the action project.

Course Units

How do you organize the rhythm of beats?

In this unit you will be learning about rhythm – that means understanding how music keeps time and how beats are notated, comparing common rhythms and making your own, analyzing the form of music, and studying patterns such as the Fibonacci Series and Golden Ratio. You will learn how various instruments and cultures make their own unique rhythms, and then investigate a song of your choice to objectively find out what makes it so powerful.

Throughout this unit you will be investigating these questions:

  • How do you visualize rhythm?
  • What does rhythm tell you about a piece?
  • Why do you love this beat?

How do you calculate the pitch of sounds?

In this unit, you will focus on pitch – that is, what you’re hearing. This will begin with an investigation into what is sound and how does it travel, followed by a look into how sounds can be organized and stacked. You will learn about notation, what kinds of digital effects can be used to modify sounds, and how randomness can be used to create music. You will think about why you feel the way you do when you hear certain things, and then learn about recording music before you create your own musical collage.

The guiding questions you will be pursuing are:

  • How do you organize sounds?
  • What goes into recording a song?
  • How do you write a hit?