March 14, or 3/14, or 3.14, is National Pi Day and math teachers everywhere are psyched to have something fun to talk about in class today, and to maybe serve up some circular desserts in the name of science.
But math classrooms won't be the only ones celebrating Pi Day ... music teachers can teach a lesson using our favorite Greek letter, which is used to find the circumference of a circle, by setting to music the endless number that begins with 3.14. It's possible to translate the first 31 decimal places into notes and play Pi on the keyboard.
I took an Introductory to Music course as a freshman in college, and one of our assignments was to write a few bars of a symphony. Not knowing anything about music, but understanding the math behind it, I was able to come up with something and hand it in. When the professor played a beautiful piece the next week in class, I was jealous of whomever was able to come up with something so smooth. When he announced it was mine, I thought it was a mistake.
Having not heard what music I had written, nor having the ability to play it or even hear it in my head, I had no way of recognizing it if I couldn't see the notes on the page. It was then that I really grasped the powerful connection between math and music.
Turns out Michael John Blake knows what I'm talking about. He's the smarty behind the musical interpretation of Pi. The short three-minute video explains in understandable layman's terms how he figured out what number is what note, and how to play it on different instruments. The result is ... unreal.
Pi sounds awesome. I'm now curious if we can't start playing our phone numbers and socials to see what they sound like. Wait. If we lined up all the birthdays in my immediate family for example: 12.05.50.2.18.50.08.17.18.104.22.168.03.21.84 ... perhaps the sound those numbers would make is our new family crest. Forget the old-fashioned shields with lions, swords, and highlanders; break out the keyboard and some headphones. Musical interpretations of family birthdays is the new family crest.
Where you surprised by how Pi sounds?
Photo via YouTube