Musimathics presents a thorough discussion of the mathematical and physical bases of music, from the basic properties of sounds through advanced topics such as acoustics, psychophysics, and mathematical systems of composition. The author, Gareth Loy, states that he once considered subtitling this book “Everything I wanted to know about music when I was eleven” because at that age he was frustrated by his inability to understand the mathematics which lie behind the phenomenon of music. So in one sense Musimathics is written for all the people who have also wished (even if they are no longer 11 years old!) that they could understand the technical bases of music but lack the necessary mathematical background: it meets them halfway by presenting the necessary technical information along with its specific application to music, and conveys that information without assuming a background beyond advanced high school algebra and a basic knowledge of music.
Loy is an admirably clear writer who has organized his material in a logical and systematic manner. He clearly believes, as he states in the preface, that “Mathematics can be as effortless as humming a tune, if you know the tune” and does not talk down to his readers or oversimplify his material. Although advanced mathematical knowledge is not necessary to understand the material presented in Musimathics, a healthy degree of persistence and selfconfidence are required. This is a serious book which demands that the reader pay attention and put forth some intellectual effort if they want to understand the content: the casual reader may soon find themselves skipping large chunks of text as the topics become more arcane, the explanations increasingly technical and the formulas and diagrams increasingly complex. Readers seeking a more popular presentation of the relationship between mathematics and music would be better served by a book such as Harkleroad’s The Math Behind the Music.
However, readers who want a technical understanding of music and are willing to devote some effort to that topic will find that the time invested in working through Musimathics will be rewarded with increased understanding and appreciation of both music and mathematics. People working in electronic music will find it particularly useful. Students of mathematics with an interest in music will also find much to interest them within Musimathics. Additional material related to Musimathics, including a downloadable version of Loy’s programming language Musimat (discussed in chapter 9), is available from http://www.musimathics.com/.
Gareth Loy is a performing musician, composer, software architect and digital audio systems engineer who received his DMA in composition from
Sarah Boslaugh is a Performance Analyst for BJC HealthCare and an adjunct professor at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri. She has written two books, An Intermediate Guide to SPSS Programming: Using Syntax for Data Management (SAGE, 2005) and Secondary Data Sources for Public Health: A Practical Guide (Cambridge University Press, forthcoming May 2007) and is editorinchief of The Encyclopedia of Epidemiology (forthcoming from Sage, November 2007).

