Resources & Bibliography

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Resources/References for Educators & Researchers


Some interesting books:

  • Garland & Kahn’s Math and Music: Harmonious Connections (Dale Seymour, 1995)
  • Scott Beal’s Functional Melodies: Finding Mathematical Relationships in Music (Key Curriculum Press, 2000)
  • Leon Harkleroad’s The Math Behind the Music (Cambridge U. Press, 2006)
  • David Benson’s Music: A Mathematical Offering (Cambridge University Press; 2006)
  • David Temperley’s Music and Probability (MIT Press, 2007)
  • Gareth Loy’s Musimathics: The Mathematical Foundations of Music (MIT Press; 2006, 2007)
  • Fauvel, Flood & Wilson’s Music and Mathematics: From Pythagoras to Fractals (Oxford University Press, 2006)
  • Jan Beran’s Statistics in Musicology (Chapman & Hall/CRC, 2004). 
  • David Wright’s Mathematics and Music (American Mathematical Society; 2009)

Note: the above books vary greatly in their level of technical precision and in classroom applicability, so browse before buying! (classroom teachers may generally prefer the ones near the beginning of the above list)

Some interesting articles…..

By me:


By others: 


Some more advanced articles:

Some bibliography for educational uses of song:  See and the article by Crowther in March/April 2006 ConnectVanVoorhis (in Teaching of Psychology, 29(3), 249-250) researched the effectiveness of using jingles for learning particular statistics concepts. While teaching psychology statistics students in two sections (whose grade-point-averages were statistically equivalent), VanVoorhis had three definitions read aloud in one section and had statistics jingles sung for the same concepts in the other section.  On four short-answer test items (maximum score of 9 points), the singing section did better (t69 = 2.01, p < .05) and also had a statistically significant correlation (r31 = .37, p = .04) between test score and self-rated familiarity with the jingle.  Other kinds of articles we’ve seen include F. Rauscher (“Music training causes long-term enhancement of preschool children’s spatial-temporal reasoning”; Neurological Research, Feb. 1997, pp. 2-8) and E.G. Schellenberg (“Music lessons enhance IQ”; 2004, Psychological Science, 15(8), 511-514). Recently, Song An and his colleagues have published papers about the potential of music-themed contextual mathematics education to improve the attitudes and knowledge of pre-service teachers:

 An, S. A., Kulm, G. O., & Ma, T. (2008). The effects of a music composition activity on Chinese students’ attitudes and beliefs towards mathematics: An exploratory study.          Journal of Mathematics Education, 1(1), 91-108. 

An, S. A., Ma, T., & Capraro, M. M. (2011). Preservice teachers’ beliefs and attitude about teaching and learning mathematics through music: An intervention study. School Science and Mathematics Journal, 111, 235-247. 

Searchable song databases:


Mathematically-generated compositions:


And there are performing musical groups whose songs are packed with mathematical language, ranging from the Klein Four Group to performers who use mathematical themes or language in some of their songs (e.g., The Mathematicians; Jonathan Coulton).  And there are plenty of other individual math teachers who write and compile math songs, such as: #1, #2, and #3.  Those teachers and students writing their own songs will find useful songwriting resources listed in my May 2000 Mathematics Teacher article, and online resources such as and  Some may want to try making their own karaoke or video. For those interested in mathematical POEMS, I recommend these articles: Keller & Davidson's in the May 2001 Mathematics Teacher; Growney’s in October 2006 J. of Online Mathematics and its Applications; Growney’s in J. of Mathematics and the Arts (2008; 2(1), pp.1-7); Graz & Liang’s in J. of Mathematics and the Arts (2009; 3(3), 123-133; Lesser in Journal of Humanistic Mathematics January 2013).  Finally, let’s remember that song is just one of a score of modalities to make learning “fun”, which in turn is just one of many ways (e.g., another is equity awareness) to increase student engagement, motivation, and retention.


THANK YOU to the following people who have supported one or more aspects of my Mathemusician journey: Ishraq Al-Awamleh, Song An, Art Benjamin, Dane Camp, Greg Crowther, Georgia Council of Teachers of Mathematics, Sarah Glaz, Kerry Go, Gizem Karaali, Ed Loewenstein, Leo Mazow, Bruce Palka, Dennis Pearl, Allan Rossman, Justin Slauson, Norm Sperling, and Alvin White.


Resources & Bibliography | Lyrics of Greatest LESSER hits | Cool Math & Music Quotes
More On Lesser | Presentations &Press   | Contact Info