When You Need Mathematical Courage in Kim Hee-kyung’s Art of 7 and 3 Bach

‘The Art of 7 and 3’ contains the lives of artists who left beautiful music and outstanding paintings. 7 and 3 are the 7th gradation of Doremi Fasolashi, and the ‘three primary colors of light’ of red, green, and blue. All works that move and move people’s hearts are born from these seven tones and three primary colors. It is art to think about how to combine them, and to unfold the results.

Season 1, which was previously serialized, introduced the lives and philosophies of artists, season 2, under the subtitle ‘Cinematic Art’, tells stories of various arts such as classical music, art, and dance in the film.

Prelude No. 1 from Bach’s Unaccompanied Cello Suite, performed by cellist Opheli Gaillard. /Aparte Music Channel

A middle-aged man scribbles down mathematical formulas in a notebook. I am amazed at how easy it is to solve complex and difficult math problems. He is Lee Hak-seong (Choi Min-sik), a genius mathematician who defected from North Korea. Hak-seong meets Han Ji-woo (Kim Dong-hwi), a high school student who has become a ‘desperate person (a person who has given up mathematics)’ and becomes a teacher who teaches mathematics.

This is the content of ‘The Mathematician in Wonderland’, directed by Park Dong-hoon, which was released in March. Mathematics was well-received for its fun and comfortable drawing while dealing with a rather hard subject. There is a device that lubricates the film. This is the music I listen to whenever Hakseong solves math problems and goes to bed.

This piece is the prelude No. 1 of ‘Suite for Cello without Accompaniment’ by Johann Sebastian Bach (1685~1750), a musician of the Baroque era. This is Bach’s most popular song. Even if the film has a difficult mathematical formula, it feels much smoother and more intimate when the song flows together.



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The movie ‘Mathematicians in Wonderland’.

But why did the film choose Bach’s music over other musicians? Perhaps it’s because there is no other musician who can relate to mathematics as well as Bach. Bach has many similarities with the genius mathematician, Hakseong.

Listening to Bach’s music doesn’t seem to have anything to do with math. All of his representative songs such as ‘Aria on the G String’ and ‘Goldberg Variations’, including unaccompanied cello songs are all monotonous. However, it is not packed and decorated with splendor, so it feels deeper and more refined. No matter how much I listen to it, I never get tired of it.

It is for this reason that many musicians want to be like him to this day. In the movie, there is a scene where Ji-woo asks Hak-seong why he likes Bach. Scholar responds like this: “Bach is the beginning and the end of music.”




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Johann Sebastian Bach

Such a Bach has a surprisingly mathematical side. In the movie, Hakseong says, “Even if the human race is destroyed, with only Bach sheet music, he can restore all the music.” This story is not artificially created by the film. In fact, there is a saying, “Even if the music of the world disappears, it can be restored only with Bach’s “.

is a collection of works called ‘The Old Testament of the Piano’. Until Bach published this book, musicians followed the ‘pure rule’. Purity refers to a tuning method in which the length of the string is adjusted by two-thirds to produce a note one octave higher than the original pitch.

However, if you play according to this purity rate, an error will occur. When I change the key, such as changing from C major to D major, there is a sudden dissonance.

Bach paid attention to the ‘average rate’ as a way to correct this. Temperament refers to dividing an octave into exactly 12 parts and playing the notes in equal proportions. If you combine temperament, you can perform beautiful performances without dissonance even when transposing.

Prelude and Fugue No. 1 from Bach’s Volume 1 performed by pianist Andris Schiff/Naxos Music YouTube Channel

Bach compiled everything about this temperament and published a workbook, which influenced many musicians. It is said that after Mozart came into contact with his collection of works, he studied the basics of composition again. Chopin practiced enough to memorize all 48 songs in his collection of works.

Voyager, the first satellite launched by the United States in 1977, contained a total of 27 songs representing the music of the Earth. Three of them are works by Bach, and one is ‘Prelude and Fugue in C Major’ from Volume 2 of . The other two pieces are ‘Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 1st Movement’ and ‘Unaccompanied Violin Partita No. 3’.

Like the scholar in the movie, Bach was a wonderful teacher. At the age of 44, when he was very busy and famous, he dared to take on the position of director of a group called ‘Collegium Mujicum’. This was a college-oriented music group. Bach had a passion for education, and he brought university musicians to the stage at every service.

On the cover of his , this story is written. “I hope that young musicians who are eager to learn can use it and benefit from it.” Volume 1 of this collection was written in 1721 and volume 2 was written in 1741. It is surprising that he has researched and compiled the temperament for over 20 years for young musicians.

Bach’s ‘Aria on the G’ performed by the Norwegian Chamber Orchestra./ Norwegian Chamber Orchestra

Perhaps the reason Bach’s music is simple and concise is because he has consistently faced and solved complex and difficult music formulas like mathematics, even after taking a long time. In the movie, Hak-seong tells Ji-woo how to be good at math.

The method is ‘mathematical courage’. Academia defines mathematical courage like this: “Hey, this is a very difficult problem. I’ll try to solve it again tomorrow.” A relaxed mind, that’s mathematical courage.”

Looking back, it seems that when I was in school, I didn’t have the slightest time to spare in front of math problems. If things don’t go well, I get discouraged right away, and I completely erased the problem from my mind. It seems to be the same even now, as an adult and standing in front of the bigger and more complex problem of life. Frustrated easily and often avoided. Aren’t you like that too?

The movie 'Mathematicians in Wonderland'.


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The movie ‘Mathematicians in Wonderland’.

However, we come to realize this by looking at the film and the life of Bach together. That life also requires mathematical courage. It means taking a step back and thinking about it, and the persistence to try again tomorrow. Unfortunately, I gave up on math, but life can never be like that. How about starting today, you too, have the mathematical courage and try to solve your life more carefully?

By Kim Hee-kyung, staff reporter [email protected]

The article is in Korean

Tags: Mathematical Courage Kim Heekyungs Art Bach

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