Paul Slocum is an artist and musician from Texas who combines art and digital culture with a supremely punk attitude.
His newest work is on display at Dunn and Brown Contemporary in Dallas and is made up of a vintage (euphemism for “garage sale”) amplifier hooked up to a laptop running software of his own creation.
This software is called the “Pi House Generator”, and randomly generates house music using the number PI. Much like the number itself, the music stream never repeats and constantly continues to evolve.
The software progressively calculates the sequence of digits in pi, starting at 3.14 and progressing towards infinity. As the program calculates the digits, it feeds the results into an algorithmic music generator containing my structural criteria for house music. The resulting piece of house music is infinitely long and static and never repeats itself.
The number of processor cycles required to calculate pi increase with the number of digits it is calculated to. After months or years of playing the song, any fixed computer hardware will be unable to calculate the digits fast enough for the song to play continuously.
The rate that the number of processor cycles increase per pi-digits is bound by the formula Z*log(N); however based on Moore’s Law, processor power per dollar increases at an exponential rate – doubling every two years. BY upgrading computers regularly with market trends, the song can be played indefinitely. – Paul
You can listen to a sample of the stream right here.
There is something inherently beautiful about combining mathematics with music, especially when the result doesn’t sound like it is actually a product of math – too many pop songs fall into this category! Because I’m both a math freak AND a music freak, I spoke with Paul a little bit more about how the software works, and he told me:
New pi digits are calculated every minute or so, and they are used to choose sample points, sample arrangement, drum samples, and drum patterns. I also use the pi digits to seed a pseudo-random number generator so that I can generate as many random numbers as I need from a pi digit set. Also, some elements are cyclic, like the samples sets used and general arrangement limitations.
There is also a one hour long clip here (sorry this link has been taken down to bandwidt usage – Contact us if you’d like the file. It’s long, but has some truly great sections in there.
If you want to geek out about PI, go see Paul Slocum – artist and musician .
**Update** – Paul may be making his software available for download soon – we are also likely going to be setting up a real time stream of the music.