The Mathematics of the Bluegrass Banjo

Start: 03/26/2008 - 3:15pm
End  : 03/26/2008 - 4:15pm


Joti Rockwell (Pomona College, Music Department)


The musical characteristics of the bluegrass-style banjo, a five-stringed instrument played with three picks on the right hand, can be explained in part through basic mathematical concepts. This talk will begin by articulating some set-theoretic properties of bluegrass banjo style, after which point it will invoke group theory to describe rhythmic patterns. The talk will conclude with analysis of specific banjo performances, discussing how the permutational logic of the banjo interacts with the prototypical rhythmic organization of a bluegrass ensemble. No background in abstract algebra is required to follow the talk.

Beckman Auditorium, B126, Harvey Mudd College

Misc. Information

Coffee & cookies at 4:00pm
Wine and cheese after the talk
Olin B161, HMC

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