Tuesday, March 09, 2010


Tchaikovsky once embarrassingly admitted that he spent a mere six weeks writing a symphony and apologised for rushing it to the man who seeded the idea! And yet I today have completed the music to my pi "symphony" in three days. The process was made considerably easier by having the music generate itself, however, there's quite a bit of creativity in this.

There are many bases and number systems used. The opening track is a representation of the cosmos and the dawn of pi, and it features a wave of 1Hz for 1 second. It includes a curious chord that plays at a ratio of 1:pi where C is 1. The maths became very important to me. I remembered that musical scales are exponential, so a ratio of 1:2 would play C and a second C, one octave up, but 1:4 would be C two octaves up. That makes 1:pi about 50 cents above F, by my calculation. Anyway, that opening track is just the beginning of the mathematics.

Tracks generally explore the sounds of pi in different number bases and produce streams of notes. Some use the timing of pi, and some just frequency. The closing track "circles the square" if you pardon the mathematical joke and ends with a frequency of pi hertz that lasts pi seconds.

There are 12 tracks. Most are quite relaxing, and sound a little like something Brian Eno would come up with.

I'm now busy working on the cover art. Here is the idea made real. As you can see from the idea I originally wanted to bend the diameter into a circle, but the lines were too busy and, more importantly, I couldn't get the computer to tween the curves. I'm unsure whether to include the 3.141 etc. on the cover. Your thoughts?


Anonymous said...

Keep the numbers- they're cool.

Anonymous said...

I'm thinking maybe just the numbers of PI? My first thought on the PI symbol there was TT.

Everyone knows what PI is, maybe just nice and minimal in the bottom corner? or as many digits as you can fit running along the bottom edge?

It's a powerful number, it doesn't need much more.

Dan Kent said...

This is stunning! And I love the initial base-12 sounds (I just commented on that earlier post).

Kathy said...

Fantastic! Keep the numbers.