Robert Schneider—The Apples in Stereo bandleader, Elephant 6 co-founder, and influential record producer/engineer (Neutral Milk Hotel, Olivia Tremor Control, Beulah)—enters the PhD program in Mathematics at Emory University, to study under number theorist Ken Ono.
“To me, my interest in mathematics feels similar to my interest in music: exploring beautiful patterns and ideas beyond the reach of words,” said Schneider in a statement on The Apples in Stereo Facebook Page. “Of course, I won’t stop writing songs, recording and playing shows, but I feel a deep need to immerse myself in the mysteries of number theory. Ken Ono is one of the most exciting, creative mathematicians in the whole world and I can’t wait to stretch my imagination under his guidance.”
MAA members will remember Schneider from his “Math, Music, and Psychedelic Rock” presentation at the 2007 MAA MathFest in San Jose, California.
Schneider talks with Jim Tattersall at MAA MathFest 2007.
According to The Apples in Stereo, Schneider obtained his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Kentucky in May, having studied mathematics for a number of years while simultaneously producing ambitious indie records and touring the world. In recent years he has devised a “Non-Pythagorean” musical scale based on logarithms used on The Apples in stereo albums New Magnetic Wonder (2007) and Travellers in Space and Time (2010), composed a score based on prime numbers for a stage play by mathematician Andrew Granville (article), experimented with a mind-controlled synthesizer of his own invention, created a board game Al-Jabar based on group theory with fellow UK student Cyrus Hettle, spoken at numerous mathematics conferences and universities, and engaged in other math and science related projects.
“I realized the beauty of mathematics in my studio while repairing a sixteen-track tape machine, with schematic diagrams spread around me on the floor,” said Schneider. “I came across Ohm’s Law in a book on electronics, the equation that describes the flow of electricity in circuits, and it blew my mind. Somehow, this simple equation was responsible for the things I found most magical in life—electric guitars, analog synthesizers, stereophonic sound and the joy of making music with my friends.”
Source: The Apples in Stereo Facebook Page
MathFest 2007: A Rock Musician Finds Mathematics (August 15, 2007)
Robert Schneider Hits High Note at MathFest 2007 (August 20, 2007)
Listen to The Apples in Stereo September 2007 concert in Washington, D.C., for a shout-out to the MAA.