Mathematical music theory is an interdisciplinary field that combines mathematics and music theory to study the relationship between the two. It involves using mathematical concepts such as geometry, topology, group theory, and number theory to analyze various aspects of music.

History of Mathematical Music Theory

The study of mathematical music theory can be traced back to the ancient Greeks who believed that there was a connection between numbers and music. The Pythagoreans were the first to discover the mathematical basis of musical intervals. Later on, during the Renaissance period, scholars such as Johannes Kepler and Marin Mersenne used mathematics to explain musical phenomena.

Applications of Mathematical Music Theory

Mathematical music theory has several applications in modern-day music. One of its primary uses is in composition where it can help composers create new and innovative pieces by providing them with a deeper understanding of musical structures and relationships.


Mathematical music theory can also be used for analysis where it enables us to understand various features of a piece of music such as its harmony, melody, rhythm, and form. For example, group theory can be used to analyze symmetrical patterns in a piece while topology can be used to understand how different notes relate to each other in a composition.

Tuning Systems

Another area where mathematical music theory has had significant impact is tuning systems. The equal temperament tuning system which is widely used today was developed using mathematical principles. This system divides an octave into twelve equal parts which are then used for tuning various musical instruments.


In conclusion, mathematical music theory provides us with a deeper understanding of the relationship between mathematics and music. It has several applications in modern-day music including composition and analysis. As technology continues to advance, we can expect mathematical music theory to play an increasingly important role in shaping the future of music.