Music Meets Math: The Sweet Sounds of Pi

  • Share
  • Read Later
Michael Blake playing Pi


Sure, you can memorize pi. But can you play it on a piano?

Musician Michael John Blake imagined our favorite irrational number not as the endless string of digits it’s known to be, but instead as a mathematical symphony.

(More on Why do we celebrate Pi Day?)

The musician melded the two disparate hemispheres of his brain in writing his ode to pi. Blake assigned a number to each note in the musical scale, equating C to 1, D to 2, following the notes all the way up to 9. He then “played” the digits of pi in melodic fashion, at a very clever 157 beats per minute (314 divided by 2!). While the tune theoretically could go on forever, Blake courteously cut the endless number at 31 digits and struck up the tune. 3…1…4…1…

Blake, half of the Austin, Texas-based duo Quebec Antique, didn’t limit his musical talents to just the piano keyboard. He tapped and plucked the pi symphony on a ukelele, xylophone, clavichord, accordion and other instruments that are foreign to NewsFeed’s untrained eye.

The song starts as an ethereal, post-rock rendition, but with the help of chords (which also have numerical values, in sticking to his original formula) quickly becomes a peppy toe-tapper.

On this most nerdy pi day, Blake allows us to have our pi and hear it too. But now we’re left to wonder: will we see the ode to e (2.71828…) next?

(More on See the top 10 nerdy competitions)