North Central College faculty Lawrence Van Oyen, professor of music and director of bands, and Richard Wilders, Marie and Bernice Gantzert Professor in the Liberal Arts and Sciences and professor of mathematics, together lectured on the formal systems in math, music and art at the West Suburban Music Teachers Association meeting in April.
According to Van Oyen and Wilders, music and mathematics have more in common than the fact that they both use numbers. The duo explains that the most important commonality of both fields is the use of formal systems. In music these are often called genres, in mathematics they are called axiomatic systems. In both cases, though the rules may seem arbitrary and restrictive, it is clear they are not when studying the works of such a masterful musician as Johann Sebastian Bach.
Van Oyen and Wilders teach an interdisciplinary course titled Math, Music and Art at North Central and have published articles about the interrelationships among these disciplines.
Van Oyen has been a faculty member at North Central College since 1993. He earned his B.M. from Michigan State University, his M.A. from Eastern Michigan University and his Ph.D. from the University of Nebraska.
Wilders is chair of the Division of Science and director of the Lederman Scholars and Community Scholars programs. A member of North Central’s faculty since 1975, he earned his B.S. from Carnegie-Mellon University and his M.S. and Ph.D. from The Ohio State University.