The Pi Page

"The Pi Song"

by Hester Lewellen

To hear the tune, use this link: Pi Song Audio

To see the sheet music, use this link: Paper Version

It is possible to hear the tune and see the sheet music simultaneously. Also, the sheet music can be enlarged to the size of your screen.

The Pi Song was written on a cold Friday night when my husband went off to play poker with the boys. As any wife would do under the circumstances, I sat down to read "Scientific American."

In the issue I was reading A.K.Dewdney had a column on the many mnemonic devices used to remember the digits of pi (in the past--before calculators and computers!). I remembered the "MIT Cheer,"* but other ideas were new to me, including some musical ones.

This gave me the idea of trying to set to music the first 50 digits of pi. In the key of C major, I set middle C = 1, D = 2, E = 3, etc. and continued up to the D above the higher C, which I called 9. For 0 I used the B to the left of middle C.

I grouped the notes in certain ways to make it sound a little less random. And I chose to end on the 50th digit (49th decimal place), because it was my "tonic."

This song can actually be learned and it doesn't sound too bad in the hands of real singers. I taught it to the members of my Math Club who also happened to be in the high school choir and the results were outstanding.

*The "MIT Cheer" goes like this:

"e to the x, dy/dx,
e to the x dx.
Cosine, secant, tangent, sine,
Three point one four one five nine."

Thanks to BW Conservatory student, Michelle Neubauer, for her help in getting the audio and sheet music ready for the computer.
Thanks to BW multi-media specialist, Brent Gummow, for taking them to the Web.

Last modified 7/23/02 by htl