How to Use Math in Song Writing

sheet music image by Dianne Burridge from

Music is an art form whose framework relies heavily upon mathematical concepts. Math provides the structural background on which music is written. Rhythm, tempo, chords and even notes revolve around mathematical patterns. If you understand some of the mathematical ideas that are linked to music, you can write songs more efficiently. Using math in your music can make your creations more rhythmic and interesting.

Keep a steady pattern of beats throughout your music unless you have a dramatic shift within a certain section for effect. Common patterns include three and four beats per measure. Count to yourself as you play the song to make sure that it remains within the beat pattern.

Consider making the lines within your lyrics mathematically similar in syllables. For instance, the first, second and third lines of a stanza might all contain 10 syllables and the fourth line might contain six syllables. Repeat this pattern throughout the song for rhythmic, lyrical consistency.

Count the notes in each measure to make sure that they add up to the total beats per measure. For instance, if you have four beats per measure, and you only have three quarter-notes in a particular measure, you will need to add enough notes to make up one more beat. If you are unsure of the rhythmic value of notes, see the Resources section.

Count intervals between notes to determine the chords that you are playing. Major chords consist of a root note, along with a third and a fifth from that note. Minor chords consist of a root note, along with a minor third and a fifth from that note. Labeling the chords on your song will help other musicians to read your music and play along. See the Resources section if you are unfamiliar with notes and intervals.

Add instrumental solos within your music that follow the mathematical patterns of various scales. For instance, if you are writing a blues song, you could employ a traditional blues scale in whatever key your song uses.


About the Author

Charlotte Johnson is a musician, teacher and writer with a master's degree in education. She has contributed to a variety of websites, specializing in health, education, the arts, home and garden, animals and parenting.

Photo Credits

  • sheet music image by Dianne Burridge from