As of this past weekend, Music Mathematics has been launched. Really, a venture between my father and myself, putting online some ideas about the mathematics of musical melodies that have been percolating since my father’s retirement from particle accelerator physics. The application measures what we call “surprise”. That is, how surprising subsequent notes are and the whole melody seems to be. The algorithm is based on collected data of many common melodies as well as the proximity between two notes in an uploaded melody. For melodies with much repetition (e.g. Philip Glass), there is an addition damping algorithm to remove repeated patterns so that those particular melodies yield appropriate results.

In addition, the user also has the ability to save a melody’s results to our database, thus making available a data set for others to look through. Also, this new site features a write-up of the mathematics involved along with appropriate references.

Our next venture will be to use a little of what we have learned analyzing past notes put to further use by predicting subsequent notes.