Numerical Variations

Faculty Mentor

Dr. Jonathan Middleton


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Document Type

Creative Work

Publication Date

Winter 2020




This a piece of music I wrote through mathematical analysis of the word “Variations.” I divided the word into five sections, each with two letters – VA, RI, and so forth – to which I then assigned the alphabetical numbers – VA becomes 22 and 1, RI becomes 18 and 19 … After this process I put the numbers on what is called the pitch class circle, the twelve notes in an octave put on a circle like the twelve hours on a clock, and thus got a pitch for each number. Since I was working with five pairs of numbers I naturally came up with two notes per pair, thus creating five intervals I could use for chords. I added up all the notes to create a scale I used for my composition. The composition itself roughly uses the notes of the scale, in addition to using the intervals created through this process.

The piece is written for two guitars, both “dueling for attention” since their parts interrupt each other at multiple points throughout the piece. The piece is considered atonal since it has no key, but multiple key centers could be argued for as there are multiple repeated notes and re-used patterns.

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