Math and Music: Ndugu Chancler Gives Students the Inside Track

Burbank, CA March 28, 2007: He’s played music with a wide range of musicians from Miles Davis and James Brown to LeAnn Rimes and Santana, and he has reached tens of thousands of students, breaking down the math behind rhythm.

The subject of The Futures Channel’s most popular micro-documentary, “Drumming in Fractions,” world-renowned drummer, Ndugu Chancler, recently joined up once again with Futures Channel producers to delve even further into the relationship of music and math.

In “The Rhythm Track,” the latest micro-documentary from The Futures Channel, Chancler explains how today’s digital technology has provided musicians with better recording possibilities. By using an electronic drum kit and computer software, his possibilities are endless when it comes to recording music. “Technology by itself is not creative,” he says. “Technology gets creative based on the creativity of the musician behind the technology”

Inspired at the age of six to become a drummer, Chancler was playing drums with Miles Davis by the time he was 19. He says that his main focus these days is the same as it was back then, “playing music with great people, writing music for and with great people, and recording music with great people.”

With decades of experience under his belt, Chancler is proficient in every style of music from jazz to reggae to rock. But, no matter how complex the beat may be, his expertise has been built off the fundamentals of rhythm. “The advantage of knowing rhythm patterns and knowing note values gives you an idea as a drummer what the rhythmic feel is going to be,” he says. “And for every style of music there is a particular rhythmic feel.”

For teachers, the connection that Chancler makes between music and math provides them with an opportunity to show students how math is used in careers in which they may not have expected to find it.

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