Is there any correlation between mathematics and Indian classical music or dance?
Manjul Bhargava is a mathematician and professor at Princeton University who has explored the connections between mathematics and Indian classical music. He is known for his work on number theory, and his research on the mathematics of Indian classical music has revealed deep connections between the two fields. In an interview with NPR, Bhargava said:
"Both music and mathematics are all about patterns. They're about structure, they're about symmetry. There are connections between the two, and that's something that people have been realizing for a long time."
Bhargava has also spoken about the mathematical nature of Indian classical music in his book "The Music of the Primes: Searching to Solve the Greatest Mystery in Mathematics." In the book, he explains how the mathematical principles of number theory are used in Indian classical music to create intricate rhythms and melodies.
Pingala's Treatise on Meter
One of the earliest examples of the correlation between mathematics and Indian classical music can be found in the work of the mathematician Pingala. Pingala was a scholar who lived in India around 200 BC, and he is known for his treatise on meter and rhythm in Sanskrit poetry. His work, which is called the Chandaḥśāstra, includes a detailed analysis of the rhythms used in poetry, as well as a system for generating new rhythms.
Pingala's system of rhythm generation was based on a binary notation that used long and short syllables to create patterns. This binary system is similar to the way that computers use binary code to represent information. In this way, Pingala's work on rhythm can be seen as an early example of the correlation between mathematics and Indian classical music.
Mathematics in Indian Classical Dance
Indian classical dance, like Indian classical music, also has strong connections to mathematics. In Bharatanatyam, one of the most popular forms of Indian classical dance, the movements of the body and the gestures of the hands are based on precise mathematical ratios. For example, the distance between the dancer's feet and the height of the raised arm is often in a 1:2 or 1:3 ratio.
The use of mathematical ratios in Indian classical dance is believed to have originated from the ancient treatise on dance known as the Natya Shastra. The Natya Shastra was written by the sage Bharata Muni, and it includes detailed instructions on the use of mathematical ratios to create aesthetic harmony in dance.
These case studies and anecdotes demonstrate the correlation between mathematics and Indian classical music or dance. From Pingala's early work on rhythm and meter to Bhargava's research on the mathematical principles of Indian classical music, it's clear that mathematics and the arts have deep connections. These connections have been explored for centuries, and they continue to inspire new research and innovation today.
Jogiraj Sikidar is an Indian classical musician and founder & director of Malhaar