Sunday, March 14, 2010

Pi Unleashed!

Pi is released! This music uses the digits of pi in different number bases and substitutes the numbers for notes, allowing you to hear the structure of this mathematical constant. The full album can be ordered in MP3 or FLAC (lossless) format from my website,

Here is a description of the tracks:

1. The Ratio

The Ratio explores the ratio of 1:pi and ends with a chord of C:C*pi. Musical scales are exponential so a chord of 1:2 would play a note and the same note an octave higher. A ratio of 1:4 would play the root note and a tone two octaves higher. A ratio of 1:pi places the second note somewhere in the second octave, which is just above F compared to a root note of C. The track opens with clicks that bracket a tone of 1 Hz that lasts 1 second. Many of the timings in the track are pi beats (3.141 beats).

2. 256 Binary Digits

256 Binary Digits plays the first 256 digits of binary pi, that is pi in base two.

3. The Clockwork Harpsichord

The Clockwork Harpsichord explores tetratonic pi; pi in base four. Pi is played on the notes C, E, F and G, the only notes used for this piece. The timing is regular. This is an edit of 314 notes.

4. Stranded At Moonbase Eight

Stranded At Moonbase Eight plays pi over a regular octave, C to C, using pi converted to base eight. The timing is also in base eight, with the gaps between notes represented by the digits of pi. Base eight pi on this natural scale tends to sound organic and calming.

5. Decimal Drumkit

Decimal Drumkit explores the timing of decimal pi (3.14159 etc.) and uses a drum kit to play the first few digits.

6. Binary Ocean

Binary Ocean uses binary pi (base two) to play different overlapping instruments. A slow wave undulates, then a deeper drum at double speed (that plays only the ones), then wind chimes at double speed again, then a piano, then a piano and flute at the maximum speed. As is the nature of binary, only two notes are used for each instrument, high and low.

7. Pentatonic Fantasy

Pentatonic Fantasy uses the pentatonic scale (black notes) and pi converted to base five. The timings are regular but the music pauses on multiples of five beats and the music appears to harmonise in a natural and comfortable way.

8. The Crystal Garden

The Crystal Garden explores pi in base six, and uses the notes C,E,G,A,C and E. The effect is a calming mix of major and minor tones. The timing is regular.

9. Trio

Trio explores pi in base three. A regular waltz timing is used, and the notes D,E and F.

10. Base 36

Base 36 is pi in base thirty six, spread over three whole musical octaves. The timing is decimal. The effect is rather jarring and unsteady, but this track reveals more of the natural structure of pi than perhaps any other. The track is 31.41592654 minutes long.

11. Pi

Pi is pi played in base twelve over one octave, the most natural base to explore the sound of pi. The track is played in a pure sine wave with a tiny amount of echo. This special edit is 314 notes long.

12. The Enigma Of Pi

The Enigma Of Pi acts as an epilogue and layers many of the earlier representations of pi before ending with a piano playing C raised to the ratio of pi. Between the closing clicks a tone of pi Hz is played for pi seconds.

Edit: The tracks have been removed from free download now but can be heard on my site, link at the top of this post. Thank you.


Sheila said...


I didn't know what to expect and then when I listened, I was blown away with what I heard. I don't know if it's because your formulaic music is mathematically based which is so often seen in nature, but it just was awesome. I heard all the sounds of nature in "The Ratio." I felt both sides of my brain enjoy a wonderful walk with 256 Binary Digits. The Clockwork Harpsichord was a tonal delight.
Decimal Drumkit would make a great club tune. Pentatonic Fantasy is ethereal and Trio was mysticl. Congrats Mark!

Mark Sheeky said...

Wow! Thanks for the comments, and for taking time to listen Sheila. This turned out better than I expected it would.