Wednesday 13 March 2013

The recipe for Alan's Pi Soundtrack

Musician (and school teacher) Alan Stewart created the score for our video about "Pi with Pies".

Here he explains the music's hidden depths:

When Brady invited me to prepare a soundtrack for this year’s Pi Day special I was very keen to throw as many mathematical ingredients into the musical mix as I could.

Thoughts of irrational time signatures, Pythagorean scales and the Circle of Fifths all sprang to mind.

But, just as too many flavours can spoil a dish, too many musical ideas can render a piece unlistenable!

The final composition includes only 4 musical references to Pi.

In order of how convincing you might find them, finishing with the most tenuous, they are: 

1. The Melody
Picked out on pizzicato strings, the tune follows Phil Moriarty’s method of mapping the digits of Pi onto a musical scale. In this case we have the first nine, 3.14159265, translated onto the notes of the C minor scale.

2. The Rhythm 
Like Dave Brown and Phil Moriarty’s Phi Song, the rhythm drummed out by the timpani towards the end of the piece turns the digits of Pi directly into quavers.

3. The Tempo
Alan Stewart
This may be the only original mathematical idea I brought to the piece. Unfortunately, it’s also the only idea that no-one would notice unless it was pointed out and explained!

I’d be most impressed if someone was able to say “Ah, the tempo of this music is 104.72 beats per minute. That’s approximately one third of Pi, times 100!”

I did play around with 314.16bpm but found performing at this speed somewhat challenging.

4. The Style 
The music has a military feel to it, so might be described as a march. And Pi Day is in March... and yes, that is indeed the sound of me scraping the very bottom of this barrel.

Visit Alan's YouTube channel - AlanKey86


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