Music Makes Mad Math More Manageable? Maybe:)

December 12, 2006 at 06:34 PM · this brain vibrato reportedly makes 9 out of 10 college grads sing out of tune, but again, we are not dealing with pizza and beer.

i will play the bad guy and borrow couple gracious characters for illustration.

warning again: stop if you have no time to waste.

here it goes...

so Jim the fruitguy came across this smelly violin in a plantation estate sale for 5 bucks. he brought it over to Free-Tip Buri who decided to keep it for 15 dollars. Yeeha. Jim was happy with all the apples and oranges to come.

Al the suspicious looking asian guy came into the scene and nosed out that violin. Buri and Al settled at 70 dollars because the smell was indeed a bit pungent. Al presented Buri with a 100 dollar bill.

Buri, who fancied only Yen, did not have enough change so he staccatoed over to break the bill at Gennady's, the reportedly FAMEd french bow joint. afterwards, Buri arigato-ed and Al sayonara-ed and headed for the published chemist for secret decoding if there was any.

Life was beautiful. Buri munched on the sashimi and drooled over the delicious thoughts of acquiring more books, until, suddenly, Gennady showed up. A FAKE, 2 words that spoke vuillaume through Gennady's front teeth.

finding the last bits of the koi hard to swallow, Buri took out a real 100 bill out of his own pocket and handed to Gennady for exchange. friends forever,,, again.

all in all, what is Buri's financial loss?

(listen, one vote per on-break violinist so we can pack more bodies on this polar express. be philosophical if you desire. one winner will be picked to file taxes for everyone here next year for free)

Replies (52)

December 12, 2006 at 11:11 PM · How come Jim`s a fruit?

December 12, 2006 at 11:59 PM · Stone guaranteed to be in the 90th percentile of non-fruits up in this heah thing. Booya!


December 13, 2006 at 12:00 AM · Let's see if I've got this straight.

- Take the year Stradivari was born.

- Add your own age.

- Divide by the number of recitals Yo Yo Ma gives every year.

- Subtract the number of swipes it takes to rosin your bow.

- Now multiply by the square root of the number of Vivaldi violin concertos.

- Add the number of days it takes a ripe banana to spoil if you leave it in your violin case.

Now, the question is this....................











How many minutes have you wasted doing this stupid puzzle?

December 13, 2006 at 12:10 AM · My question is, where are the prunes?

December 13, 2006 at 01:33 AM · Sorry to break up the jokes- I've talked to a lot of musicians, and this seems to be a 50/50 sort of thing. There's the half of musicians who love math, are quick,intuitive,creative, great with spacial relationships,etc. And the half who aren't. ;) Sue

December 13, 2006 at 02:36 AM · Greetings,

what does 50/50 mean?



December 13, 2006 at 02:53 AM · Buri would never lose any money.

December 13, 2006 at 07:24 AM · Buri lost $15. The $15 to "keep the violin" At the end he apparently "exchanged" $100, meaning he didn't lose any money (I assume he got it back in Yen), and we never hear that Al actually came to buy the violin from Buri....and $15 is the only expense that we see Buri incurring throughout the puzzle....

I found it a little hard to follow, but that is my take on it!

December 13, 2006 at 08:56 AM · the 100 was Monopoly money... Buri was easy. I kept the real hundred, the violin, a basket of fruit to give to Jim, and used the real hundred for two lessons. A country boy will survive.

December 13, 2006 at 03:44 PM · Hmmm. Can't tell if I should answer with my favorite fruit recommendation or a philosophical response. It does seem like the responses have been better than 50/50 in favor of fruit. ;)

Seems like the mathemeticians are underrepresented, as usual. And since my wife is a mathemetician here goes...

All of math, in an extremely, extremely oversimplified way, is adding and subtracting. Division is subtracting very slowly or very quickly. Multiplication is adding very slowly or very quickly. Slopes tell you how slowly or quickly you are adding or subtracting. Limits tell you what number you reach when you continue to add or subtract in the current fashion at which you are doing so. Calculus is also adding and subtracting. Multivariable calculus is adding and subtracting different things at different rates. Different types of analysis compare rates of adding and subtracting.

A mathemetician (like my wife) could continue with this list, although it's oversimplification would likely offend them. (shocking but true for the rest of us mere mortals...)

If you have a knack for that sort of thing, music also produces relationships between harmonies, scales, minor or major keys. Not only does one gain a feel for relationships with music, but you also get an auditory feedback (sound) to reinforce it.

Getting a familiarity or feel for this sort of thing makes you a better mathemetician.

Thinking mathematically helps you tease out these sorts of relationships when you're reading a score or piece of music.

December 13, 2006 at 06:38 PM · how much math concepts does one need to analyse complex scores efficently?

hehe, intersting responses so far,,,to say the least. may be the prunes are still in the can, thus the lack of flow:)

a very simple proposition that i got it wrong after 3 tries. all the bs from me in between the numbers is to cloud your thinking. here is a simpler version:

jim bought the violin for 5 and sold to buri for 15.

buri sold the violin to al for 70 but al gave a fake 100 bill but took the 30 change.

gennady gave back the fake bill to buri to exchange for a real 100 from buri's own pocket.

how much money did buri lose in total?

not zero, not 15.

but wait, where're the prunes?

December 13, 2006 at 06:12 PM · 45 dollars?

December 13, 2006 at 06:21 PM · $145

December 13, 2006 at 09:08 PM · Loss of $85 out of pocket expense or a stinking violin worth ???

Sorry Buri. I tried to veil your..., but... :-)

Then again, how would we know Buri's second $100.00 was real? :-)

December 13, 2006 at 08:52 PM · Greetings

When the last fish has died,

when the last tree has been chopped down.

Will we finally realize you can't eat money?



December 13, 2006 at 09:05 PM · I don't eat money, but without money I don't have anything to eat. :-)

December 13, 2006 at 09:56 PM · i'll send ramps buri--Don't worry.

December 13, 2006 at 10:52 PM · as long as that`s not a misspelling of `gramps`

December 14, 2006 at 01:13 AM · Hmm, the title "Music makes math more manageable?", what does it mean?

I am not a musical person, but I could do logarithm on my Biochemistry final by hand (forgot my calculator)...Can solve a riddle with math (about age), and got it right!

However, I just had a jury, errr, I meant bad performance (going too fast). Does math and music have anything in correlation? I think my head has two disparity or some kind of birth defect in music... :-(

December 14, 2006 at 01:23 AM · ramps--lots of'm.

December 14, 2006 at 03:46 AM · Hey, c'mon now. I've only got ten fingers and toes to count on.

December 14, 2006 at 03:59 AM · what happened to the other ten?

December 15, 2006 at 09:59 PM · So Al, what's the final answer?

December 15, 2006 at 10:03 PM · you are going to file taxes for everyone for free next year:)

i have no idea why that simple twister twisted my mind 3 times and you got it right just like that. U of R student, what can i say!

December 18, 2006 at 03:37 PM · Let's see, he gained 70 from Al, originally paid 15, so that's a plus of $55. I'm assuming that by the "exchange of 100" that means that he paid 100 for the violin and thus there was an "exhange", meaning that he is all in all out $45. Which is a 900% price hike over what Jim the fruit-guy paid, which is basically the same as what every single store is doing to me with my Christmas shopping. The answer's $45... I think, unless I missed something.

Musicians do make good mathematicians, but we make even better short stories... that's highly amusing.

December 18, 2006 at 05:37 PM · yes, i believe 45 is correct. as i said, little things like this sounds simple but often they are not. not something you really learn in math or even accounting class. except if you worked for the enron top brass:)

i have posted the same question in several other sites, say, for prof golfers, for security traders, for medical profs, etc

they seem to be more eager to give it a try, but, almost all fall short of the correct answer and logic. i am surprised with the stock guys... i would have thought more of them would get it, but apparently not.

so far, low turnouts on this thread but not a bad hit rate:)

December 19, 2006 at 04:00 PM · I think that Vivian Guo's answer of $85 is correct.

We can look at this from either a cash flow or and an accrual profit concept.

Cash flow: Receipts $30 Expenditures $115 Net $85 outflow.

Profit: Violin transaction: Revenue $70 less expense of $15 for $55 profit - temporarily. The $70 revenue is then reversed when the bad bill is recognized leaving an expense of $15.

Foreign exchange transaction: Expense of $100 for reimbursement of counterfeit bill and revenue of $30 for change in transaction. Net is $70 loss on the transaction.

Combining the violin transaction with a $15 loss and the forign exchange tranasaction with a $70 loss produces a total loss of $85 - the same as the cash flow number.

It is not surprising that Wall Street traders cannot do this. Few have good Accounting backgrounds, but can work arithmetic quickly. This is an Accounting problem and anyone with a some Accounting background should be able to work through it. I took one undergrad Accounting course and two graduate Accounting courses, but still remember it.

December 19, 2006 at 07:50 PM · michael, i killed some aging brain cells on this because i never paid much attention in accounting class in college because the prof was british with a thick accent and every time he said, DEBT, with excitement and moistened eyes, i lost myself.

may be george or christina can elaborate on their thinking, but let me re-word the situation this way...

assume Al's 100 dollar bill was real instead, do you agree that Buri would have made 55 dollars (70-15)?

if you do, then, since Buri took a real 100 dollar bill out of his own pocket (for Gennady), do you agree that now Buri is at a loss of 45 (100-55)?

do you?:)

if i ask this in a white collar federal prison camp, i bet everyone will get it and teach me even more:)

December 19, 2006 at 07:05 PM · Al,

Your math stinks; $85.00 is the answer. Even a Classical Chinese major knew the answer. :-)


Thank you very much for the illustration. :-)

December 19, 2006 at 07:24 PM · vivian, with me, problem is that both math and music stink:)

here is a line from Michael...

"Cash flow: Receipts $30 Expenditures $115 Net $85 outflow"

now, receipt of 30: did buri receive 30 at any time, or was that 30 given to al via buri?

December 19, 2006 at 09:25 PM · Ok, here's my thinking.

Buri paid 15 for the violin from Jim. So far, he's lost 15.

Then Al offers to buy it for 70, but only has a 100 dollar bill. So, Buri gives him the change of 30. So far, loss of 45. Remember, since the 100 is a fake, he made nothing from it.

When he goes to break it with Gennady, Gennady tells him that it's a fake. So, Buri just hands Gennady a 100 dollar bill from his own pocket, which Gennady breaks into smaller denominations for him. But, he gives him all the money back. There is no loss in the exchange. So Buri's loss still stands at 45.

I could still be very wrong about this...

December 19, 2006 at 11:27 PM · I was mistaken about who got the change from the $100 bill. The original question states:

"Buri, who fancied only Yen, did not have enough change so he staccatoed over to break the bill at Gennady's, the reportedly FAMEd french bow joint. afterwards, Buri arigato-ed and Al sayonara-ed and headed for the published chemist for secret decoding if there was any"

but doesn't say whether Al or Buri got the change. My answer is absed on Buri keeping the $30 change. Presumably, Al would get the change and not Buri.

In that case, the loss is $30 greater or $115.

You could remove $30 in receipts from the cash flow or $30 in revenue from the income in my two calculations to get $115.

The other way to look at it is that Buri is out the $15 he paid the violin plus the $100 to repay the counterfeit bill.

The "profit" on the price agreed with Al is irrelevant. You could just as easily have made it $3 million and the result is the same.

December 19, 2006 at 11:31 PM · mike, another way to look at,,wait a minute, what does this have to do with music, with learning to read scores better?:)

2 times buri dished out money.

15 and 100.

1 time buri got real money, from Gennady,,,70 dollars, (the 30 real money went to Al)

loss of 115 offsets gain of 70....-> 45.

took me couple days to come around, but still open for suggestions:)

December 20, 2006 at 12:43 AM · Al,

I was only "playing". Your music is good unless you have not practiced since I last heard you play.

Oh yeah, your English is confusing...Ooops... :-)

December 20, 2006 at 04:12 AM · Buri paid $115 and got nothing. The $70 from Gennady went to Al as did the $30 in change.

Al got $100 and a violin and gave nothing but a worthless bill.

Gennady gave our $100 to Al through Buri and got his $100 returned from Buri so Gennady broke even.

December 20, 2006 at 05:33 AM · Okay, same answer, different explanation:

Buri has spent $45

Buri paid $15 for the violin from Jim. So far, he is out $15.

He is given a fake 100 dollar bill from Al for the violin and goes to exchange it for $100 worth of yen. He keeps $70 worth and gives Al $30 in change, since that was the agreed upon price. Even though it was a fake bill he traded it for, he now is in possession of $70 worth of real yen.

He then has to reimburse Gennady for the $100, since it was a fake.

So, working backwards, it means that although he paid Gennady $100, only $30 of it is "out of pocket" because he already has $70 worth of yen from Gennady and therefore is only paying $30 of his own money to reimburse him the full $100. This means that he's now at a loss of $30.00. Couple that with the $15 dollar loss that he began with, and you get to $45.

Or, you can work from the beginning forwards using the information above. He originally paid $15.00. Then he gains $70.00 through a transaction- although the money is based off of a fake, he gets REAL money in the exhange at Gennady's. He's now at a credit of $55 ($70-15). When he realizes that he's been scammed and now owes Gennady $100, he must pay that over to Gennady. This means that he loses all of his credit ($55) and has to pay another $45.00. Therefore, he's out $45 in this entire transaction.

December 20, 2006 at 05:43 AM · "Cash flow: Receipts $30 Expenditures $115 Net $85 outflow"

One thing is inaccurate here- Buri was PAID 70 for the violin by Al and gave him 30 in change off of the 100 bill which turned into $100 of Gennady's yen. Buri did not make 30 on the transaction, he made 70. He had no idea that he was scamming Gennady (we're very sorry for you) but he did, at this point, have a profit due to the criminal activities of Al.

I'm pretty sure that's accurate, I've reworked the math in many ways. By the way, if you change the "$30" profit from Al's transaction to a "70" profit as it is in the actual story, it then means that Buri has 40 more dollars than Michael and Vivian thought. This means that the calculations of $85 should be substracted by 40, which still brings you to $45. The wording's kinda confusing in the story....

December 20, 2006 at 03:49 PM · As Christina indicated:

"The wording's kinda confusing in the story...."

Once you figure out who got what in the sushi bar it isn't too hard. I got it wrong twice so let's try a third.

If Buri got $70 in yen and the $30 in change went to Al then:

Buri is out $30 and a violin

Al is up by $30 and a violin

Gennady is even.

If the violin is valued at cost ($15) then Buri is out $45. If the violin is valued at selling price ($70) then Buri is out $100.

December 20, 2006 at 05:17 PM · So are we discussing actual out of pocket expenses or are we including assets such as the violin? I guess we need an appraiser to decide how much the violin is worth- although if it was originally bought for $5, then it's probably not worth a whole lot!

December 20, 2006 at 05:26 PM · thanks mike and christina, now you both raised an interesting question...

December 20, 2006 at 07:24 PM · This problem is a variation of an internet scam that was discussed on Maestronet a year or two ago.

You post a violin for sale for, say $2000 on EBAY or somewhere. You get an email from Nigeria offering to buy your violin for $2000. THe buyer sends you a money order or cashier's check for $3000 and asks that you remit the difference. After you send $1000 difference and the violin you find out that the money order or cashier's check is fake.

The seller is out $1000 and a violin.

On Maestronet there was an exchange where the seller knew the buyer was fraudulent and kept jerking along the fraudulent buyer. It was hilarious.

December 20, 2006 at 07:33 PM · yup, those internet requests for help from negeria really give our nice nigerian scammers a bad name.

here is another one for you, mike, not to see your smarts, but your preferences.

2 scenarios:

1. i will give you 5 dollars because you have been an active participant of this thread. just before i give you the money, i give you a choice: we flip a coin. if you win, i will you 10 dollars. if you lose, you get nothing. your choice?

2. you owe me 5 dollars for agreeing with others that my purposefully confusing writeup was confusing. then i propose we flip the coin again. if you win, you owe me nothing. if you lose, you owe me 10. your choice?

this is more american than nigerian which i will explain later.

December 20, 2006 at 07:44 PM · The reason why I said $85 was because in Al's second post (I passed the first one for too many empty words in there), he said Buri...and took $30.00, which turned out to be Al took the $30.00, not Buri. That was the reason in my post to Al's reply saying his English was confusing. :-)

I think Michael also read Al's post the same way I did. Therefore, MATH WAS NOT THE PROBLEM...It was English comprehension... :-)

Now back to eBay...According to Chicago Tribune, a couple of homes got busted for selling stolen merchandise on eBay, which is part of a bigger group if I remember correctly...

December 20, 2006 at 07:53 PM · Al,

How about my choice? => Give me your freaking real $5.00 now. :-)

A couple of years ago, I advertised my violins on and ever since I had to give up that account...

Too many email starting Dear Sir or Dear Madamme...

December 20, 2006 at 08:08 PM · vivian, here is what i wrote:)

"buri sold the violin to al for 70 but al gave a fake 100 bill but took the 30 change."

just wired the 5 but now want it back.

December 20, 2006 at 08:56 PM · In either of the two scenarios I would take the sure thing rather than 50/50 of twice as much. Anyone with diminishing marginal utility of wealth would take $5 on the first scenario, or at least they should. Likewise on the second.

My old econ teacher used to say that there is no such thing as an even bet since the utility of the second $5 gained is not as great as the first $5. Likewise the utiltiy of the second $5 lost is more than the utiltiy of the first $5 lost.

Hope this isn't confusing. I had a little accounting but lots of econ.

A man walks up to a card game in which WC Fields is playing and asks "Is this a game of chance?" The reply by WC Fields is "Not the way that I play it"

December 20, 2006 at 09:02 PM · good, mike. if we present these 2 scenarios to a large number of people, what do you think their responses will be?

December 21, 2006 at 12:00 AM · Just as a guess they would take the bet instead of getting $5 for sure but not take the bet instead of paying $5. Most people are averse to losses.

December 21, 2006 at 12:29 AM · First of all, in dealing with Al, you need to make sure he does not give a fake bill. He is a quick boy and has friends from all over the world.

Secondly, since he is too quick in forming a scam, you would be better off taking the $5.00 rather than going through all that conumdrum (how do you spell the word?)...Otherwise, you would end up losing $50.00 :-)

Happy Holidays, Al and co! :-)

That sentence you quoted is exactly what I thought: Buri...took the $30 (leaving Gennady to deal with you from your first scenario...) :-)

December 21, 2006 at 03:19 AM · Can somebody please find me a violin for as cheap in the story? I already have a wonderful instrument, but if you could find me one from a fruit guy for $5... I dunno, I could take it.

I've had enough math, I already had fun doing accounting with my parents today, so I think I'm going to have to high tail it off this thread and say, "Happy Holidays" to all you math nuts!

December 21, 2006 at 01:44 PM · by the time Al finally reached the chemist's modern lab, christina, with a head full of numbers, has departed in search for yet another 240 dollar strad mandalin, vivian has managed to reread that line for the 96th times but still remained dreamy and mike has uncovered the risk management theory which actually won someone a Nobel, that more people tend to gamble, to take risk when faced with a potential loss, that the behavior is so pervasive and predictable that it literally shapes the way wall street trades, how a cancer patient may value different treatment alternatives, and how a 6 yo kid would choose when presented with the following: if you play well 3 times in a roll, we stop and have ice cream, and if not, we play 10 times...

Dr Nada, the chemist, was looking for another violin to be included for the second Nature paper when the perfect VSO presented itself.

As the doctor was scraping some samples through the F holes, Al flipped through his publication in Nature.

Al, who was neither well versed in classical chinese literature nor anything else, asked: doctor, what do you think is the most important element of a scientific experiment?

the best equipments of course,,,we have the latest spectroscopies, we have MMM to RRR.

i mean of ANY scientific study...

well, also we have the best team of scientists, the dream team on wood if you will.



it is a 7 letter word and starts with C...

you mean Prune?

No. C, as in CONTROL, said Al

yes, of course, we have controls. we tested strad and del gesu against controls: later violins, modern day wood fried and steamed by wong, said Dr Nada.

Al, who was clueless when strad and del gesu were made, asked: i am confused,,, do you control strad/del gesu with wood from the same period or later period?


well..... strad and del gesu were made c1700 and the controls were later and much later. but they are all wood, though! bluffed the Dr.

i C, said Al. may be for your next paper, because my VSO is involved, you may want to include some controls that match the period. this is science 101. if you study strad of c1700, you need to control it against time and element by comparing with other wood of c1700, and preferabbly not violins. otherwise,,,


otherwise, what you found could be prunes...

December 21, 2006 at 03:22 PM · Egad, this is like my Math SAT from last week, only on crack.

Al, write me into the next word problem and maybe I'll try and solve it. :) LOL

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