How is it that Beethoven, who is celebrated as one of the most significant composers of all time, wrote many of his most beloved songs while going deaf? The answer lies in the math behind his music. Natalya St. Clair employs the “Moonlight Sonata” to illustrate the way Beethoven was able to convey emotion and creativity using the certainty of mathematics. Lesson by Natalya St. Clair, animation by Qa’ed Mai.
John Marttila says: Yes, math & music are absolutely linked, but no, Beethoven was absolutely not deaf nor relying on mathematical understanding to create the moonlight sonata (which was composed well before he was deaf, FYI). By the time he actually was deaf, Beethoven had several decades of musical experience from which to draw upon which allowed him to “hear” in his head such works as his 9th Symphony. It’s the musical equivalent of writing a script for actors; an inexperienced writer may need to hear what works and what does not, but an experienced writer can hear what will work in their head well before the script is ever read. Now, show me someone who can compose great music despite being deaf from birth and then we may have an interesting discussion about how the compositional decisions were made, truly without hearing.
Also consider this observation from RedTriangle53: This is not valid for Beethoven and Beethoven only.Helmholtz discovered his theory of consonance and dissonance (1862) by stacking up his “resonators” and figuring out that a dissonant interval has simply more multiple frequencies that are clashing together than a consonant interval. Later, Fourier discovered that every complex tone can be divided down into an infinite number of sine tones/harmonics hence opening the road to the fascinating world of psychoacoustics and later developed into the fascinating chapter of physical modelling. Everything is multidisciplinary these days. Even quantum physics has something to do with music (a simple spectral analysis of a far away planet can reveal its atmosphere contents to us) or a simple spectral analysis of a tone goes deeper into the Uncertainly principle of Heisenberg ( we cannot know the time and frequency of an event precisely…this is how the universe works)…..String theory? that is another story and the journey will be amazing for sure in the coming decades!