A Non-Pythagorean Musical Scale Based on Logarithms

Robert P. Schneider
Proceedings of Bridges 2012: Mathematics, Music, Art, Architecture, Culture (2012)
Pages 549–552 Short Papers


A new musical scale devised by the author, based on natural logarithms, is described. Most of the logarithmic pitches bear no correspondence to the twelve tones of the ancient tuning system attributed to Pythagoras, based on ratios of whole numbers, nor to the chromatic tones of scales in equal temperament used widely in the modern era. Logarithms obey a special arithmetic compared to whole and rational numbers, which can be heard in beat frequencies between tones of the scale, suggesting extended harmonic possibilities by incorporating the beat frequencies into compositions. The author uses the broad term "non-Pythagorean" to describe the logarithmic musical scale, as the ratios of pitches are usually irrational numbers.