Posts tagged ‘song’

Best Math Song Ever

There are lots of great math songs — you can check out my top five six — but now there’s a new contender for the number one spot.

Blatantly stealing the tune from Barenaked Ladies’ A Word for That, writing a new set of geeky lyrics, and convincing Adam Sickler to strum and sing, Math Jokes 4 Mathy Folks is proud to announce the world premiere of (drum roll, please)…

A (Math) Word for That

For a little fun, you can try to guess the words referenced in the song before you watch the video. Here’s a PDF of the lyrics for A (Math) Word for That. If you’re too excited, though, just click the play button…

Enjoy! And if you find yourself singing, “I’d sound so smart if…” while sitting in class or a board meeting today, well, my apologies.

October 15, 2013 at 10:10 am Leave a comment

Math Jokes for the Holidays

Happy holidays from MJ4MF!

Ho Ho Ho

Okay, pop quiz!

  1. How many total gifts did my true love give me during The Twelve Days of Christmas?
  2. How many candles are burned in a menorah during the eight days of Hanukkah?
  3. How many candles are burned in the kinara during the seven days of Kwanzaa?

If you’re feeling in the holiday spirit, you can sing a mathematical song, possibly one that starts like this.

Deck the halls with boughs of holly,
Fa (La)9

Or if not, you can just enjoy these jokes…

Which burns longer, a red candle or a green candle?
Neither! Candles burn shorter, not longer!

Did you hear about the modest computer scientist who declared one of Santa’s helpers obsolete, with the hope of eventually phasing him out?
He was elf deprecating.

December 14, 2012 at 9:26 am Leave a comment

Top 6 Math Songs

On cold days, I look for creative ways for my sons to burn energy indoors. If I were forced to give it a title, today’s game would be called, “Up and Down the Stairs with a Song.” Eli ran up the stairs to the second floor while Alex ran down the stairs to the basement; then they both returned to the main level where they sang a song; then each boy ran up or down the other set of stairs; and, finally, they returned to the main level and rang the “dinger,” a bell included with one of their toddler games.

During the game, the song that Eli sang was mathematical:

1, 2, 3,
4, 5, 6, …
That’s how the numbers go.

7, 8, 9,
10, 11, 12, …
That’s all you really need to know.

13, 14, 15, 16, …
On and on they go.

17, 18, 19, 20, …
Gotta line ’em up just so!

The song is from “1-2-3, Count With Me,” a Sesame Street video starring Ernie (sans Bert). My favorite song from the video is Martian Beauty, but sadly, it just doesn’t hold the same appeal for Eli and Alex.

There have been lots of math songs through the ages, and the number has risen exponentially with YouTube. Generally, math songs are humorous. (Maybe because no one would listen to a math song that wasn’t funny?) Below are my top five six.

7 8 9 – Barenaked Ladies

Thanks to Joshua Zucker for reminding me of this gem! How could I have forgotten? One of the moldiest of all oldie math jokes turned into a song. Shame on me for not including this in the original “Top 5 Math Songs” list.

5. That’s How the Numbers Go – Ernie (Sesame Street)

This is the song from the Sesame Street video “1-2-3, Count With Me.” I worried that it wasn’t sophisticated enough for readers of MJ4MF, but if Steven Strogatz can reference the video in a column for the New York Times, well, that’s credibility enough for me.

4. Lateralus – Tool

Even if you don’t like the genre, Lateralus by Tool gets big props for its intricate use of the Fibonacci sequence. The time signatures of the chorus change from 9/8 to 8/8 to 7/8. Drummer Danny Carey said the song “was originally titled 9-8-7 for the time signatures. Then it turned out that 987 was the 17th number of the Fibonacci sequence. So that was cool.” They exploited this relationship in several ways.

  • The number of syllables in the verses follow the pattern ‎1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 5, 3, 2, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 8, 5, 3, which rise and fall with the Fibonacci sequence.
  • The song mentions spirals several times.
  • The first word is sung at 1:37 into the song, and 97 seconds ≈ 1.618 minutes, which just happens to be the golden ratio, a number strongly associated with the Fibonacci sequence.

As it turns out, Tool has several other mathy songs, including Parabola, Forty Six and 2, and Cesaro Summability.

3. What You Know About Math? – Ethan Gilbert and Aaron Flack

Ethan Gilbert and Aaron Flack created a numerical sensation with What You Know About Math. With almost 4 million visits on YouTube, the song deserves a place on this list.

2. New Math – Tom Lehrer

This list could have easily been composed entirely of Tom Lehrer songs, since his titles include New Math, The Derivative Song, and Lobachevsky, but that seems unfair to the other artists who have contributed so much to the math music genre. So I tried to pick just one song that represents his body of work. (Personally, I think his best song is The Elements, but it’s not very mathy. And my apologies for linking to that particular video… I beg your forgiveness for including a link to a video that spells Lehrer’s name wrong and mistates the song title, but I chose it because it nicely displays the lyrics while the song plays.)

1. Finte Simple Group of Order Two – The Klein Four

The lyrics of Finite Simple Group of Order Two contain enough bad math puns to keep an undergraduate math major chuckling an entire semester. Doesn’t hurt that these guys are pretty good singers, too.

February 22, 2011 at 11:27 pm 3 comments

Song: New Math

Bo Burnham is an off-color, singing comedian. His song New Math, while slightly distasteful and potentially offensive, is catchy, funny, and filled with many jokes for mathy folks. When I listened to the song on his live CD, I noticed that some of the funniest jokes elicited almost no laughs from the audience. So below, I provide annotations for the math in the song, knowing full well that things just aren’t as funny if they have to be explained. As E. B. White said, “Humor can be dissected as a frog can, but the thing dies in the process and the innards are discouraging to any but the pure scientific mind.” Oh, well.

So here’s a song that takes something that’s not so fun — math — and makes it offensive.

What’s a pirate minus the ship? Just a creative homeless guy.
And an anteater plus a large hungry mutant ant? An ironic way to die.
And what’s domain, domain, range? A kid with too much in his pants.

Domain refers to x‑coordinates and range refers to y‑coordinates. So “domain, domain, range” implies XXY, the genetic makeup for a male with Klinefelter’s syndrome.

And two balls minus one? Six titles at the Tour de France.

A reference to Lance Armstrong, who survived testicular cancer.

Split a decision with long division,
Take the circumference of your circumcision.
Live like your data, and when you’re all “set,”
Put it all together, and whatever you get…

It’s new math.

What’s a bag of chips divided by five? Well, that’s a Nike worker’s meal.
And Santa Claus multiplied by i? Well, I guess that makes him real.

The imaginary part of a complex number contains i, the imaginary value equal to the square root of ‑1. Since i × = 1, the product of two imaginary numbers is a real number. The implication is that Santa Claus, being imaginary, becomes real when multiplied by the imaginary number i.

And the square root of the NBA is Africa in a box.
How do you trace a scatterplot? Give the pencil to Michael J. Fox.

Take the approximate moral proportion
Of the probable problem of a pro-life abortion.
Live like your data, and when you’re all “set,”
Put it all together, and whatever you get…

It’s new math.

And if you made a factor tree
Of the factors that caused my girl to leave me,
You’d have a tree…
Full of Asian porn.

Well, C-A-L, see you later.

A clever way to divide and pronounce the word calculator: C-A-L-C-U-LATOR.

Mathematical minds make industrial smog.
And what’s the opposite of ln(x)? Duraflame, the unnatural log.

ln(x) is the natural log, so it’s opposite would be an unnatural log.

Support the farmers with a pro‑tractor.

One of my favorite jokes!

Link Kennedy and Lincoln with a common factor.

Numerologists have made a lot of hullaballoo about the coincidences between Kennedy and Lincoln. You can read about them, and their veracity, at

Live like your data, and when you’re all “set,”
Put it all together, and whatever you get…

Yeah, it’s new, it’s new, it’s new, it’s new…
It’s new math.

Okay, word problems…

If there’s a fat guy in a pastry shop with a $20 bill and he’s ready to buy,
In order to predict his volume change, you need to know the value of π.

A pun since π could refer to the mathematical constant (pi) or to the dessert (pie).

And if there’s a metal train that’s a mile long
And at the very back a lightning bolt struck her,
How long till it reaches and kills the driver,
Provided that he’s a good conductor?

Another pun, conductor referring either to a train engineer or an electrical conduit.

And if 10% of men are gay,
And 20% of men are Chinese,
What are the odds that a man chosen at random
Spends his free time and his mealtime while on his knees?

And if Kim is half as old as Bobby,
Who is two years older than 12‑year old Tory,
For how many more 30‑day months
Will their threesomes be considered statutory… rape?

A distasteful reference to standard algebra age problems.

Because math can be sexy…

Cause having sex is like quadratic expansion —
If it can’t be split, then it’s time to stop.

A trinomial expression (in the form ax2 + bx + c) can often be factored into two binomials. But the general rule for high school algebra classes is to simplify the expression only if it divides nicely; otherwise, leave it alone.

And having sex is like doing fractions —
It’s improper for the larger one to be on top.

An improper fraction is a fraction where the numerator is larger than the denominator.

And having sex is like math homework —
I do it best when I’m alone in my bed.

And squaring numbers are just like women —
If they’re under 13, just do them in your head…

In school, students are often expected to memorize the values of the squares of small positive integers.

October 26, 2010 at 8:52 pm 2 comments

About MJ4MF

The Math Jokes 4 Mathy Folks blog is an online extension to the book Math Jokes 4 Mathy Folks. The blog contains jokes submitted by readers, new jokes discovered by the author, details about speaking appearances and workshops, and other random bits of information that might be interesting to the strange folks who like math jokes.

MJ4MF (offline version)

Math Jokes 4 Mathy Folks is available from Amazon, Borders, Barnes & Noble, NCTM, Robert D. Reed Publishers, and other purveyors of exceptional literature.

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