Happy Pi Day!
Michael John Blake, an Austin-based musician and one half of the band Quebec Antique has put together this cool little piece of music based on Pi to 31 decimal places. I can’t decide if it’s really clever, or really simple. So I’m going with both.
It’s simple because it starts with just assigning each note or chord a number from 1 to 9, a concept anyone who has ever used a phone keypad to play ‘Baa Baa Black Sheep’ will be familiar with. There’s a quick primer on how the numbers are assigned at the beginning of the video.
On the other hand, to do this you have to know Pi to 31 decimal places to start with, and keep that in your head (I realise some of you can go a lot further than that, but I am absolutely not a math geek, so I’m impressed by anyone who can get beyond my five decimal places). All that is before being a talented enough musician and producer to put the resulting musical composition together.
Okay, Blake isn’t the first to do something like this. Geek laureate Jonathan Coulton wrote a song about Benoît Mandelbrot, ‘Lateralus’ by progressive metal band Tool is based on the Fibonacci sequence (the syllables in the verses form the first few numbers in the sequence, ascending and descending) and Edward Elgar’s ‘Enigma Variations’ has been said to be based on an approximation of Pi.
None of that makes Blake’s work any less impressive though, and the end result ‘What Pi Sounds Like’ (iTunes link) is actually pretty catchy. Let’s have 3.1415926535897932384626433832795 cheers for his work.
Here’s the video: