Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Turning Pi into Music!

Click HERE to go to a site that enables one to turn the digits of the decimal expansion of Pi into music. You pick ten notes to represent the ten digits and then hear what the music sounds like when the notes are playing out the decimal expansion of Pi!


Blogger Edward said...

Mapping the digits of pi to already-harmonious notes seems like cheating. Any random digit source can be made to produce harmonious music that way.

On the other hand, the first 15 digits of pi in base twelve sound great if you map them straight to half-steps. (Let 0 = B, 1 = C, 3 = D, 5 = E, 6 = F, etc.)

3 . 1 8 4 8 0 9 4 9 3 (11) 9 1 8 6
D . C G Eb G B Ab Eb Ab D Bb Ab C G F

Base twelve and the ratio between half-steps (the twelfth root of two) go well together. For scales based on the nth root of two, twelve is the smallest value for n that produces a scale where the notes come close to the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th harmonics. So it makes sense to convert pi to music in base twelve.

And yet there is enough freedom in the twelve notes of the scale to provide much discord. It is interesting that the first few digits of pi don't do that. (e sounds much more random.)

After those digits, pi disintegrates into random noise, or maybe I was just listening to floating-point round-off error. It's been a long time since I tried this. I can't recall how much precision I was using...

January 16, 2005 at 12:40 AM  

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