Hi Ann --
I'm kind of new and you've hit a nerve ...
I like math too. I also like it when things are completely logical and precise.
In architecture school my nickname was "Golden Section Girl" -- but that way lies madness. At some point, I had to learn to fudge within the system because to work outside it costs too much or makes other people crazy. The width of a pencil line can vary and you have to round the numbers in order to communicate them.
So, don't know because you didn't mention it: Bach? The Well Tempered Clavier? His system of equal temperament is kind of at the heart of Western Tonal Harmony.
Yes, it's exciting to make the numbers work, but at what cost?
FWIW, I can never get any of my guitars to feel in tune. Yes, they're set up correctly. And now with more accurate tuners in my DAW and a Polytune from TC Electronics, it's even worse!
I used to play the violin, sounds like you play/played cello. I think as string players we naturally fudge to feel the vibrations line up -- which we can do easily. Not everyone has that 'luxury' so they become used to having things be a little out of tune all the time.
Which is the genius of Bach.
I'm looking forward to hearing what you come up with.