Sunday, March 15, 2015
Artificial wonder, continued: Pi music
If you do a search for "pi music" in YouTube a few videos come up. Here are the top two:
I will summarize my feelings as briefly as I can: This is some ridiculously stupid bullshit right here, and the results of these experiments are total trash.
Not only am I offended by the vague, meandering diatonic nonsense of it all, I am especially offended by the premise: "What Pi sounds like."
BULLSHIT. Pi doesn't sound like anything.
Give me a fucking break. Pi has almost nothing to do with either one of these. The series of digits is used as a random number generator, which is then run through an overly simple number to pitch-class matching scheme. THEN! These bastards just sort of pick some "nice" chords and woohoo! It's music-ish!
One comment on the first one is pretty right on:
"Anybody can mash random white notes and it'll sound melodious since it is Cmaj. You could take any arbitrary random sequence of numbers and using this system you could say it was somehow "profound." No it isn't."
I am also offended by his vest.
I have written about similar "experiments" before:
So it was with some reluctance that I wrote my own pi music. But I decided to have the digits govern all the pitches throughout. I organized them in groups of four (until the very end). I went through the 100th decimal place (which is right after the first appearance of consecutive 1s, which was convenient).
0=C, 1=C#, 2=D, 3=Eb, 4=E, 5=F, 6=F#, 7=G, 8=Ab, 9=A, 10=Bb, 11=B
-My scheme is no less artificial than the ones above.
-HOWEVER--in my scheme pi dictates all elements of pitch. The occurrence of sets like [3,3,8,3] provide contrast and suggest cadential moments. So I think that the numbers of pi influenced my choices a great deal more than in the other examples, where the notes could really be any stream of numbers from 0 to 9.
-I am NOT running the numbers through the same sort of arbitrary diatonic filter. This made for a lot more work.
-There's probably a mistake in there somewhere.
-Cadences are only partially about the notes. Cadences are truly made by everything else.