Fact and Fiction

Thoughts about a funny old world, and what is real, and what is not. Comments are welcome, but please keep them on topic.

Sunday, November 13, 2005


The new album "Aerial" by Kate Bush has a song called π (Greek letter p), which is about

Sweet and gentle and sensitive man
With an obsessive nature and deep fascination for numbers
And a complete infatuation with the calculation of π...


She recites π to a large number of decimal places. Actually, she doesn't recite the precise digits of π, and even omits a large block of digits, as has been noticed by many people. Now I don't believe for a minute that KB would make careless mistakes, because she has the reputation for being a bit of a perfectionist. That means that the "mistakes" in the digits are deliberate. How intriguing! This has just got to be a number puzzle that KB has set us to solve.

I don't have a solution to this puzzle. All I have done so far is to listen closely to what KB sings and how she sings it, and I have listed what I hear below.

I break up the digits into groups the same way that KB does (actually there is more structure in the way she sings the digits than I show below), I use bold font to denote digits that she particularly stresses, I put square brackets around digits that depart from the true π sequence, I use "BV" to show a contribution from the backing vocals, and I use "?" to show where I am not sure what I hear.

[BV chorus]
[BV mini chorus]
2307816406286208[22 digits omitted]8214
8[BV 0?]
[BV chorus]
8230[BV 0?]664709384460955058223

I have had lots of ideas on how to crack this one, but I'm not so obsessed with numbers that I am going to waste a sunny Sunday sitting at a computer working on the problem. This one gets solved in "slow time".

Has anyone got any ideas on solving this number puzzle? One idea that I reject out of hand is the suggestion that there isn't a number puzzle here!


At 24 January 2006 at 13:08, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Possibly some numbers are flow better.... Maybe its an opera thing smirk ....
Maybe no puzzle at all...

- Strega

At 24 January 2006 at 18:14, Blogger Steve said...

I did some more work on Pi, and I eventually summarised my findings in a web site that I created at http://www.luttrell.org.uk/pi/index.htm.

Contrary to what you suggest, there is a great deal of interesting structure in this song, and it is used to hide information that you can decipher, provided you look at it the right way.


Post a Comment

<< Home