MATH IN MUSIC: WFMT’s New Digital Series to launch on PI Day


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WFMT’s New Digital Series to launch on PI Day

March 14, 2020 at

CHICAGO, IL – February 21, 2020 – WFMT, Chicago’s classical radio station, announces a new digital series, MATH IN MUSIC, written and hosted by mathematician, author, and pianist Dr. Eugenia Cheng, Scientist In Residence at the School of the Art Institute  of Chicago, whose stated goal is to “rid the world of ‘math phobia.’” Eleven episodes of this new web series launch on PI Day – March 14, 2020 – at

The series will uncover and explore, through Dr. Cheng’s lively explanations and the use of fun and innovative visuals, some specific connections between math and music, in a way that assumes no background knowledge – just interest and curiosity. Math and the inner workings of music can seem mysterious and intimidating. In this fun explainer series, Dr. Eugenia Cheng shows everyone a way in, and shows how this can enhance our understanding and enjoyment of both music and math.

Themes in MATH IN MUSIC include: factors of 12 and which popular composer was a fan; symmetry in music; canon structures; Bach’s use of mathematical braid structure; rhythmic pattern spotting in works by Ravel and Debussy, among others; the square root of two and the tritone, and why the latter is known as “the devil in music”; Fourier analysis and timbre; graphs and music; and more.

“Contrary to popular myth, math is not just about numbers, but about patterns, structures, and logic,” explains Dr. Cheng, “and patterns and structures also pervade classical music. Logical analysis in math gives us a way to describe how music affects us emotionally, and to talk about our experience of music with other people.”

“With this new series, we hope to invite both those who are curious about all things classical music and people who have never been introduced to this intricate and exciting art form to learn about it from someone like Eugenia. She makes it exciting and accessible to students and casual listeners alike,” said George Preston, General Manager for WFMT.

MATH IN MUSIC is hosted and written by Eugenia Cheng, and produced and edited by Sean Raju.

About Dr. Eugenia Cheng In addition to her post as Scientist In Residence at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Dr. Cheng won tenure in Pure Mathematics at the University of Sheffield, U.K., and is now Honorary Visiting Fellow at City, University of London. She has previously taught at the Universities of Cambridge and Chicago, and holds a PhD in pure mathematics from the University of Cambridge. Her first math book, How to Bake Pi, was published to widespread acclaim from the New York TimesNational Geographic, and Scientific American, and she has been interviewed on the BBC, NPR, and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Eugenia was an early pioneer of math on YouTube. Her book, Beyond Infinity, was shortlisted for the Royal Society Insight Investment Science Book Prize, and  The Art of Logic, was published in July 2018. Eugenia is also math columnist for the Wall Street Journal, a food enthusiast, a concert pianist, and founder of the Liederstube, a periodic “lieder jam” at Chicago’s Fine Arts Building. Her next book, X+Y: A New Formula for Overcoming Gender Bias, will be debut in 2020. 

– WFMT –

About WFMT
WFMT, founded in 1951, is one of the nation’s most respected classical music radio stations, available on-air at WFMT, online at, and via app on Apple and Android mobile devices. WFMT showcases superlative programs, concerts, and live events – broadcasts from the Chicago Symphony OrchestraGrant Park Music Festival, the Metropolitan OperaRavinia Festival, and many more. WFMT is also a leading producer and syndicator of a diverse selection of outstanding musical series, including Exploring Music with Bill McGlaughlin, the Beethoven Network, and the Jazz Network. Connect with WFMT on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.