Discovery Music Series Concert to Harmonize Math and Music

Monday, May 09, 2022
collage photo of John Rickert, David Chapman and Rose-Hulman students playing musical instruments.

This spring’s Math & Music course has math professor John Rickert, PhD, and music professor David Chapman, PhD, exploring how concepts within math and music foster a better understanding and appreciation for both disciplines.

The link between musical talent and mathematical aptitude will be explored in the Discovery Music Series concert on Sunday, May 15, at 5 p.m. in the White Chapel on the west end of campus. This special event is free and open to the public.

The concert will feature classical pianist Clare Longendyke, PhD, from Bloomington, Indiana, and the Madison, Wisconsin-based percussion quartet Clocks in Motion. They will be performing a collection of contemporary music by living composers that includes “Empathy,” by Ivan Trevino, “Shui,” by Juri Seo; “Democracy Dies in Darkness,” by Jennifer Jolley; and “Rise,” by David Colson. Audiences will also hear “Credo In Us,” written by the late American experimental composer John Cage.

For the past 20 years Rose-Hulman’s Hatfield Hall Theater has presented quality performing arts events as part of its Mainstage Series, performed by artists from all over the United States and world. The Discovery Music Series, offered by the Department of Humanities, Social Sciences, and the Arts, supplements those offerings by focusing on music programming that is directly related to the department’s course offerings and featuring musicians and artists from throughout the Midwest.

A Math and Music course is being taught this spring by Professor of Mathematics John Rickert, PhD, and Associate Professor of Music David Chapman, PhD. The class explores how concepts within math and music foster a better understanding and appreciation for both disciplines.

“Musical sound can be analyzed and manipulated mathematically, whether describing frequencies of pitch or calculating rhythmic values or identifying mathematical processes at work in creativity and composition,” says Chapman, a music historian with interests in music theory. He encourages Rose-Hulman students to explore the creative, expressive, and intellectual sides of music as part of their science, engineering, and math educations. 

Longendyke and Clocks in Motion member Christopher G. Jones proposed the upcoming Discovery Music Series concert after learning about Rose-Hulman’s Math and Music course. In prepared musical program remarks for the show, the musicians state, “While not all musicians are excellent at calculus, the ties between musical structure, form, and rhythm do imply in the very least an appreciation for the inextricable connection between music composition and mathematics.”

Joining Jones in the Clocks in Motion quartet are John Corkill, Adam Rosenblatt, and Sean Kleve. Their passion for education and for reaching new audiences is a natural fit for the Rose-Hulman’s Discovery Series.

Meanwhile, Longendyke blends a passion for music’s classical tradition with an infectious commitment to what she calls “the music of our time.” Her advocacy for innovative music and programming are evident through Music in Bloom, an annual summer music festival in Indianapolis that she founded in 2019. She earned master’s and doctorate degrees from Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music and now leads workshops and masterclasses whenever now presenting more than 50 concerts each year throughout the U.S. and Europe. Longendyke is a frequent and favorite Music Discovery Series performer.