The underlying question in composing this piece was, how does one represent an event where a person was able to recite 100,000 digits of pi from memory?
For this piece, a ten-tone scale was created where an octave was divided evenly into 10 notes (as opposed to the familiar 12-notes found in a majority of Western music). Next, the first 100,000 notes of pi were converted from digits into notes into a virtual xylophone/marimba limited to the ten-tone scale, with 0 represented as the first note of the scale, 1 represented as the second note of the scale, etc.
“We can live a life according to truth” is taken from Mr. Haraguchi who is quoted in an interview with The Guardian as saying “… as long as I’m thinking about pi, I think I can live a life according to truth.” Throughout the piece, we hear the phrase repeated in over 40 different languages with the help of computer generated voices (including English, based on the voice of the composer). Although there is no way to accurately arrange languages chronologically, some attempt was made here. These various languages were included in honor of Mr. Haraguchi, who not only invented his own language to help memorize pi, but also because it has been reported that he has a great interest in learning other languages.
The patterns in pi are literally endless… any combination of numbers that one can think of can (eventually) be found in pi. To illustrate these patterns, some are highlighted by slowing down the performance of the notes.
The first example occurs around 0:41 where six consecutive 9s appear in pi. The 9s here are arranged to mimic Morse code, and if translated would be the word “pi”.
The second highlighted example occurs around 1:05, where the number “07734” emerges. This serves as a greeting to the listener. Anyone who remembers pocket sized calculators from the 1970s remembers LED displays where numbers looked a lot like letters when the display was rotated 180°…here that number 07734 rotated would form the word “hELLO”.
At approximately 1:28 we hear the beginning of a 4-note pattern that strongly resembles Westminster Quarters, a tune widely recognized throughout the world.
Around the halfway point in the piece, representation of pi numbers is briefly halted to allow for various voices to translate the phrase “we can live a life according to truth” without accompaniment. Around 2:28 the pi numbers emerge again, this time mimicking the phrasing of the voices, first with French, then Italian. Soon after, it is time for the voices to mimic the numbers of pi; as the Marathi translation begins, it adopts the melody found in pi. The Slavic, Spanish, and Myanmar voices then incorporate the next consecutive numbers of pi within their unique translation. Finally, the Portuguese voice finds the next notes in pi, and together these two elements create a melody whereby the numbers of pi become fully incorporated into singing, albeit with a computer generated voice.
At the end of the piece, the only human (non computer-generated) voice of the song appears. This is Mr. Haraguchi himself, who made the recording specifically for this composition. He is reciting a story he created, using a language that he created, which essentially morphs words into numbers, so as he is progressing through his story he is able to recite pi. The story that he is reciting takes us through the first 100 digits of pi. Mr. Haraguchi’s is the final voice we hear.
As a final example of number recurrences in pi, we hear a repeating motif in the numbers as they get closer to the end of the piece. The recurring number sequence is 24646, and begins around 4:09, and repeats at 4:20 and 4:32. With each consecutive occurrence, more instruments play the sequence until the sequence is played for a fourth and final time to indicate the 100,000 note journey has finally come to an end.