Transcendental Mathy Music

Ever wonder what π or e or other number sequences sound like when mapped into some musical sound space? I’ve written a little Mathematica Notebook, downloadable here, that lets you tinker with these possibilities with a simple interface. You can then save your work to a MIDI file which can then be loaded into your favorite music software like CuBase, Logic, Pro Tools, or even Garage Band. I would offer the full notebook as a free CDF file, but Wolfram’s current CDF format does not support writing out to files yet. However, below is the basic interface you can tinker with on this web page. You will need the free Mathematica CDF plugin installed (or a copy of Mathematica 8).

On my latest album, Smug, I use this software to create two pieces based on the trancendental number e and π. Descriptions below.

Smuggy E:
The first riff uses the first 15 digits of the transcendental number e=2.71828182845904 (0=C, 1=C#, 2=D etc.) in 15/16 time it then modulates so 0=F, 1=F#, 2=G
the interlude riff is the speed of light in vacuum c=299792458.0 m/s with (0=C, 1=C#, 2=D etc.) in 6/4. Yes, I cheated a little adding the “.0” on the end of c since, in m/s, c is defined as an exact integer.

Smuggy π:
Similar to above, uses the first 10 digits of pi and the speed of light with the mapping (0=C, 1=C#, 2=D etc.).

These are just a few of the literally infinite possibilities one can create using amusing number mappings. Let me know if you create (or have created) any of your own. I’d be interested to hear!