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“How Music and Mathematics Relate” is Examined in New DVD Lecture Series Released by St. Mary’s College Professor

February 27, 2013
Press Release #13-030


St. Mary’s College of Maryland Professor of Mathematics David Kung has released a DVD lecture series through The Teaching Company’s “Great Courses” series. The twelve-lecture course, “How Music and Mathematics Relate,” takes you through the musical journey, explaining how mathematics helps us understand individual instruments, chords and scales, compositional techniques, and even the delivery of music in today’s digital world.

Kung started learning to play the violin through the Suzuki method at age four. After attending the prestigious Interlochen Arts Academy, he decided to pursue a career in mathematics, leaving his love for music as a hobby. While working on his Ph.D. in Mathematics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, he continued to work as a semi-professional violinist with the Madison Symphony Orchestra. “I always made sure I was in an orchestra so my playing wouldn’t decay too much,” said Kung.

In 2000, Kung joined the math faculty at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, where he found ways to merge his dual interests in mathematics and music. In addition to playing chamber music with students and serving as concertmaster in the local community orchestra (the COSMIC Symphony), he teaches a first-year seminar called “Math, Music and the Mind.” Lectures in that class formed the basis for his Great Courses lectures. “I'm excited to be able to share my passions for math and music with a wider audience," said Kung of his course. "These lectures are the product of years of work and the suggestions of many St. Mary’s students and faculty.” 

The lectures include surprising facts about sounds including how our ears do advanced mathematics, why a piano is never in tune, and why the thousands of errors on CDs are corrected so that you never hear them. “Most people will be amazed to find out how interconnected math and music really are,” said Kung, “and will hear the world around them differently.”

To find out more about Kung’s DVD lecture series, visit