Thursday, May 10, 2007

Jazzy math

I came across an interesting experiment in sound art that I had once imagined, but never with this kind of clarity. Using different notes to represent numbers 0-9, artist Tom Dulkich sonifies mathematical constants with some incredible results. This one is a piano playing the first hundred digits of pi, complete with a display of the numerical sequence. By adding a bass and a flute to accompany the piano, a much more jazzy feeling is evoked. The piano plays all numbers (except the zero, which serves as the musical rest), the bass plays the low numbers, and the flute the high ones. It sounds like jazz fusion with highly chromatic melodies and almost discernible rhythms. It's a similar experience listening to river rapids. Listen long enough and the chorus of sounds will lead you to believe that a familiar rhythm is about to emerge just as it collapses back into the the noisy chaos. For a more samba feel, try Euler's five constants (1, 0, π, e, i) played simultaneously with a circus of instruments - bass, piano, trumpet, sax, mallets, whistle, and the cuica.

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