CMSA Colloquium: Math, Music and the Mind; Mathematical analysis of the performed Trio Sonatas of J.S. Bach


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March 12, 2020 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm
CMSA, 20 Garden St, G10
Address: 20 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA 02138

Daniel Forger - University of Michigan

The works by J.S. Bach discussed in this talk will be performed in a free recital by Prof. Forger at Harvard’s Memorial Church at 7:30pm that evening (March 12th)

I will describe a collaborative project with the University of Michigan Organ Department to perfectly digitize many performances of difficult organ works (the Trio Sonatas by J.S. Bach) by students and faculty at many skill levels. We use these digitizations, and direct representations of the score to ask how music should encoded in the mind. Our results challenge the modern mathematical theory of music encoding, e.g., based on orbifolds, and reveal surprising new mathematical patterns in Bach's music. We also discover ways in which biophysical limits of neuronal computation may limit performance.

Daniel Forger is the Robert W. and Lynn H. Browne Professor of Science, Professor of Mathematics and Research Professor of Computational Medicine and Bioinformatics at the University of Michigan. He is also a visiting scholar at Harvard’s NSF-Simons Center and an Associate of the American Guild of Organists.