How To Transform The Number Pi Into A Song Musician Michael John Blake had to exercise a little arithmetic in order to compose, record and put on YouTube his musical interpretation of the famous mathematical constant. Here, he explains how his viral hit came together.

## How To Transform The Number Pi Into A Song

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How To Transform The Number Pi Into A Song

# < How To Transform The Number Pi Into A Song

## How To Transform The Number Pi Into A Song

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RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

Today, March 14th is Pi Day. A little refresher, pi is the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. And that turns out to be the mathematical constant 3.14 and so on to infinity. So today is 3/14 and that makes today Pi Day for many math fans.

In honor of this year's Pi Day, musician Michael Blake got the idea to composer, record and put on YouTube a musical interpretation of pi.

(Soundbite of music, "What Pi Sounds Like")

Mr. MICHAEL BLAKE (Musician-Composer): I've always been kind of fascinated with how music is related to math. I think at I one point, I said I wonder if I can take some like kind of equation or a numerical sequence and just translate it into music. What would it sound like? You know, would it be totally amazing? Would it be completely nonsense?

(Soundbite of music, "What Pi Sounds Like")

Mr. BLAKE: I wanted to use pi as much as I could in the composition. So I said, okay, Im going to be in C. C will be one. D will be two. And I would just...

(Singing) One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight.

So, you know, 3.1415, you know, whatever number comes up in a sequence, that note gets played. So that creates the melody. And then the chords are also gleaned from pi. I started with one instrument, laid that down. And then I added another instrument, laid that down. And then it was just a matter of arranging it so that it, musically, felt good.

I never claimed for it to be a literal scientific interpretation. It's an artistic interpretation of pi.

(Soundbite of music, "What Pi Sounds Like")

Mr. BLAKE: For some reason, people really connected with it. And the YouTube hits are like climbing and climbing, and I've been getting a lot of requests saying, Oh, youve got to do the Fibonacci Sequence next. Or youve got to phi or Euler's constant. Or all these like mathematical things that I actually dont, you know, Im not a math guy, really. Im just a musician.

(Soundbite of music, "What Pi Sounds Like")

Mr. BLAKE: It's random enough to where it's kind of odd, but then, because it's all based in the major scale, it musically works out enough to where it's sort of pleasing to the ear.

(Soundbite of music, "What Pi Sounds Like")

Mr. BLAKE: For me, to have this great combination of like, pleasant but also slightly weird, you know, kind of haunting. So yeah, it did work out pretty good.

(Soundbite of music, "What Pi Sounds Like")

MONTAGNE: That's musician Michael Blake of Portland, Oregon, talking about his new song based on pi. You can see Blake's YouTube video on our website, NPRMusic.org.