Early Influences of Math in American Music: A Comparison.
The creation, interpretation, and performance of music create a complete environment of music. Reduced, this environment can be seen in raw mathematical forms. Math has been essential to music since the beginning of civilization (Newman 12). Numeric intervals and ratios can be found in any musical composition. Yet, many composers through the centuries have used math not only as a coincidental byproduct, but a tool in the process of creating music. From Gregorian chants to digitalized sound, math has made a significant impact on the evolution of music, and from the early Western composers, inspiration was found for the American composer. .
Since the early days of monasteries, music played a crucial role in the monks' daily lives. Daily, the monastery's choir would perform for the Roman Catholic leaders of the community. For the most part, the melodies arranged consisted of pentatonic scales similar to those used in more eastern areas like Hungary and even Asia (Peterson 2). Composers were more apt to use open fifths and sixths than other intervals, since those were found more aesthetically pleasing to the ear. There is even a link between the method used in Gregorian chants and the Fibonacci pattern discovered around that same time in Italy (Garland 51). The Fibonacci pattern consists of 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, etc., and continue with the sum of the two numbers prior. Found in many other realms of nature and art, the Fibonacci series is considered to be naturally pleasing to the senses (Garland 13). This idea is translated into the earliest American hymns. Many Appalachain tunes only use the pentatonic scale as well as open chords and intervals. .
After the Medieval ages, the Enlightenment gave rise to the Classical era in music. During that time, the five-tone scale gradually changed into the twelve-tone scale of modern western music.