The Music of Mathematical Constants

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Explore the melodies that some mathematical constants make when their decimal digits are interpreted as scale degrees in the standard Western major and natural minor scales. Melodies can be played in a variety of meters and rhythms. Adding a second voice allows experimentation with counterpoint.

Contributed by: Marc Brodie (March 2015)
(Wheeling Jesuit University)
Open content licensed under CC BY-NC-SA



For simplicity, all melodies are in the key of C. Thus, when using the major scale, the decimal digit 1 plays as "C4" (middle C), 2 plays as "D4," 3 plays as "E4," and so on up through 9, which plays as "D5"; the digit 0 is played as a rest. When using the minor scale, 3 plays as "E♭5," and so on. The offset slider is used to delay the start of the melody and can be used to listen to a constant in counterpoint with itself (Snapshot 1).

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