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Musician Creates a Million-Hour Song Based On the Number Pi

Thursday March 14, 2019. 11:10 PM , from Slashdot
Musician Creates a Million-Hour Song Based On the Number Pi
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: Now, for Pi Day (March 14), music software programmer Canton Becker has crafted a million-hour song based on Pi that unfolds generatively on a virtual tape deck. Titled 'Shepard's Pi,' the song combines two of Becker's favorite infinities: Pi, and an auditory illusion called a Shepard tone, which he describes as an 'unsettling sonic illusion of a pitch that climbs or descends forever, never reaching a top or a bottom.' Found at PiSongs.com, users can tune into 'Shepard's Pi' in real time with a custom virtual tape deck. The track itself evolves moment to moment, but the synthesized and sampled tones will be familiar to anyone who has ever listened to the electronic music of Kraftwerk, Tangerine Dream, Aphex Twin, and Global Communication. Far from being a mere gimmick, it is a highly evocative and transporting piece of electronic music, alternately ambient, glitchy, and interestingly rhythmic. The 58,999 GB MP3 file needed to be distributed via a webpage or app, so Becker 'started hacking away at the basic algorithm in the programming languages PHP and Javascript,' reports Motherboard. 'In between coding marathons, Becker composed and recorded the loops and samples that would form the basis of the song. He experimented with sounds that would work well together regardless of being stacked one upon the other.'

'When users hit 'play' on the virtual tape deck, the algorithm actually 'performs' the piece,' the report says. 'This way, the 114-year song can fit in just one gigabyte of space, which is mostly comprised of the digits of Pi. The virtual tape deck was also a solution to a built-in quirk of browsers such as Chrome, Safari, and Firefox -- users must click on a webpage to trigger a sound.' From start to finish, the song lasts 999,999 hours, 'a limitation imposed by only considering the first one billion digits of Pi.'

Read more of this story at Slashdot.
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