News & Publications
Lecture at St. John’s Explores Mathematics in Music
FOR RELEASE: September 25, 2010
CONTACT: Patricia Dempsey, 410-626-2539
St. John’s tutor Peter Pesic will lecture on “Hearing the Irrational: Music and the Development of the Modern Concept of Number” at St. John’s College. The lecture is free and open to the public and will be held in the Francis Scott Key Auditorium on Friday, October 1 at 8:15 p.m.
According to Pesic, “Our current concept of number (comprising integers along with rational and irrational quantities) only emerged fully during the sixteenth century, when mathematics did not yet exist as a separate discipline; as parts of the quadrivium of liberal arts, arithmetic and geometry were deeply involved with music and astronomy. The musical interests of Michael Stifel, Girolamo Cardano, and Nicola Vicentino influenced their respective treatments of ‘irrational numbers.’ Practical as well as theoretical music both invited and opened the way for the recognition of a radically new concept of number even in the teeth of paradox.”
Mr. Pesic received his doctorate from Stanford University. He was a research assistant and associate at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center for five years before joining St. John’s College as a tutor in 1980. Mr. Pesic has also been a Ronald James Alexander Memorial Lecturer on Musicology at Stanford University and is as a Fellow for the American Association for the Advancement of Science.