Musical slide rules

Slide rules have always fascinated me; they are analog computers, capable of visualizing complex calculations. Having studied their use and build, I knew it should be possible to design some slide rule visualizing the calculations needed to find the correct tones for many musical building blocks, especially scales, but keys and intervals as well, and chords. Fretted instruments e.g. already contain a kind of visual slide rule. So I decided to venture into the designing of musical slide rules together with my students, and challenge them to come up with original visualizations of their calculations.

My teaching philosophy and approach here is: to mobilize students’ creativity in the processing of knowledge, to achieve and inspire a better connecting, absorbing and retaining and a higher level of understanding and skill, in a possibly playful manner throughout.

Below you find a gallery of their productions, followed by a gallery presenting the making of my own original musical slide rule, in wood. A third small gallery shows some examples of historical mathematical slide rules from all over the world. Enjoy!

Gallery 1 of students’ musical slide rules

Gallery 2 of wooden musical slide rule design and manufacture

Gallery 3 of historical mathematical slide rules world wide

External links

©Oscar van Dillen