Concord Student Presents Research in England
Athens, W.Va. – Attending a conference on mathematics might be boring to some, but what if the conference were in England, and what if there would be a way to use your love of mathematics to enhance recordings of your favorite music?
To Oceana native, Russell P. Stewart, thinking of music and mathematics together is natural since he majored in mathematics, computer science, and interdisciplinary music at Concord University. Stewart graduated in May 2006 and is now pursuing graduate studies in mathematics at Virginia Tech.
On December 18, Stewart presented a paper entitled, “Bach and Fourier: The Odd Couple?” at the Seventh International Conference on Mathematics in Signal Processing in Cirencester, England. Concepts presented at this conference might, for example, be used to improve the quality of a cellular telephone call or a television picture. Signal processing involves some extremely difficult mathematical problems and conference organizers are hoping to attract mathematicians into this field of study.
Stewart drew his inspiration from both Bach and Fourier. Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750), as most of us know, was a German musician who is regarded as one of the great composers of all time. Jean Baptiste Joseph Fourier (1768-1830) was a French mathematician and physicist who is best known for creating widely used mathematical tools that, in layman’s terms, can determine the composition of chemical compounds (spectroscopy, for example) or analyze acoustical signals.
The paper was part of Stewart’s senior project in an independent study course taught by Professor of Mathematics, Dr. W.R. Winfrey, at Concord University. Stewart’s research proved that he could, through mathematical formulas, change the key of a musical composition and that change would not have artifacts noticeable to the trained ear.
Professor Winfrey said, “The significant thing about this is that a professor and a student from a modest-sized school like Concord can go to an international scientific conference and have research recognized and accepted.
“Russell’s family has a small recording studio, recording the music of amateur performers. Quite often, an amateur performer will not know which key is the best for his or her performance: Russell’s software allows him to shift keys electronically and still retain the quality necessary for determining the proper key.”
PHOTO: Russell P. Stewart stands beside his research project. He proved that he could, through mathematical formulas, change the key of a musical composition and that change would not have artifacts noticeable to the trained ear.