Mahurin Honors College Capstone Experience/Thesis Projects



Additional Departmental Affiliation


Document Type



Many musicians have a limited understanding of chemistry, while many chemists aren't familiar with details of music theory or composition. Through the composition of a four-part musical work based entirely on several broad areas of chemistry, certain relationships have been shown between music and chemistry. Because of the overlap between certain scientific concepts and many aspects of music theory, it is possible for members of both fields to use what they already know in order to gain a deeper understanding of the other, very different, subject. Because everyone has learning strengths in differing areas, I believe the use of disciplinary overlap allows for individuals to learn and remember new information more easily, and also allows educators to teach more information in a shorter period of time. The purpose of this composition is to depict how different disciplines can be used in teaching to express knowledge or concepts in new ways. This composition is made up of an Allegro introduction based on inorganic chemistry, a ballad based on nonreactive elements, a scherzo based on organic chemistry, and a Vivace finale based on elements of biochemistry. A range of basic music theory fundamentals including musical motifs, varying scale types, half and whole steps, tonality, and even postmodern music and twelve tone rows are addressed. In examining inorganic chemistry, chemical reactivity, organic chemistry, and biochemistry, the focus was placed on a number of concepts including basic atomic structure, bonds, valence electrons, stereoisomers, enantiomers, and metabolic pathways. Though unable to cover every aspect of both music theory and chemistry, "A Study of Chemistry: for Wind Ensemble" provides an example of the abundant and still untouched ways in which interdisciplinary methods can be used throughout education in the future.

Advisor(s) or Committee Chair

Dr. Brian St. John


Chemistry | Composition | Music Education