David Kung: Harmonics in Action
June 19, 2012
Using a violin, jump rope and plastic tube as his instruments, Dr. David T. Kung, associate professor of math at St. Mary's College of Maryland, explored with Exonians the connection – and disconnection – between mathematical and musical approaches to scales.
"This is a talk for both sides of your brain," he announced at the beginning of his fast-paced, humorous assembly presentation, entitled How Math Made Modern Music
"When you pluck a string, when you do anything with a stringed instrument, you're hearing not just a single note but a symphony of different vibrations," Kung explained, as he launched into the mathematics of vibrating strings and partial differential equations.
During the 50-minute assembly, Kung not only covered a lot of math, physics and music theory, he also played a bit of Mendelssohn and the chaconne from Violin Partita No. 2 in D minor by Bach.
Ultimately, he proved that no piano can truly be in tune. "You can have your fifths in tune or you can have your octaves in tune, but not both."
Not your everyday math lesson.
Students were clearly excited by Kung's presentation. After assembly, Kung met with 4 math classes, including an advanced class in Selected Topics: Game Theory and Advanced Integrated Mathematics.
Interested in learning more?
Read about Exeter's Mathematics Department…
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— Nicole Pellaton