A Song of Pi

A mathematician/musician has taken the infinite decimal digits of Pi and composed a song based on them.  Take a look and listen to the song here:



(This badge will likely go much smoother for you if you’re musically inclined or have some basic training in reading music.)

Watch the video above.

  1.  First, reflect on what you think of the song.  Do you like it?  Is it pleasant to listen to?  In general, what are your feelings on using mathematics to help create a song?  Answer in a few sentences.
  2. Pause the video at the 9 second mark and look at the scale he used to compose his song (A Harmonic Minor Scale).  Hypothesize in a sentence or two why he used this scale to compose his song rather than a “simpler” one (like, for example G Major).
  3. Pick another irrational number besides Pi (Phi, e, the square root of two, etc.) Using the same scale and time signature (4/4) as the song above*, compose at least 8 bars of a song based on this irrational number.  You may print off sheet music here.
  4. I need to hear this song.  You can record it, you can bring in an instrument and play it, or you can bring in the sheet music and I can play it on guitar (just give me a heads up so I can bring in a guitar that day).
  5. Reflect on your new song in a couple of sentences. Do you like it?  Is it better or worse than the Pi song?  Has it changed the way you feel about math being used to create music?


* use a different scale and time signature if you really want to, but that seems more complicated and difficult than I am intending this to be.  But go for it if you want!  Likewise, you don’t have to worry about harmonies like you can hear in the original video, but if you’re capable and interested you are welcome to try!

This badge was suggested by USN Class of 2023 Colette.  Thanks, Colette!


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