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Thread: Can you believe the Edward Elgar constructed his original theme out of 3 hints at Pi?

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    Default Can you believe the Edward Elgar constructed his original theme out of 3 hints at Pi?

    The first four notes are a hint at decimal Pi, scale degree 3-1-4-2. Fractional Pi as 22/7 is woven into the first four bars. Elgar wrote that "the two drops of a seventh in bars 3 and 4 should be observed". I observed 11 notes precede the two drops of a seventh giving us, 11 x 2/7 = 22/7. The third clue to the "Enigma" was the dark saying. From the old English nursery rhyme, Sing a Song of Six Pence comes the line, "Four and twenty BLACK birds baked in a pie (Pi). A pun on a nursery rhyme was a favorite jape of Elgar. There are exactly four and twenty black notes in Elgar's Pi. He closed off the first six bars with a curious double bar.

    To assure posterity would know when they had the correct solution to the enigma, Elgar wrote three seemingly mundane sentences about the variation shortly before his death. Each sentence has a hint at fractional Pi.

    Bravo Maestro.

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    Senior Member Barbebleu's Avatar
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    Mmmm! Very interesting. But stupid! (With thanks to Rowan and Martin!)
    Remember that the lesser of two evils is still evil

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    Senior Member millionrainbows's Avatar
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    At first, I thought it said, Can you believe that Edward Elgar constructed his original theme after 3 pints?
    Last edited by millionrainbows; Apr-14-2019 at 01:07.

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    Senior Member Barbebleu's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by millionrainbows View Post
    At first, I thought it said, Can you believe that Edward Elgar constructed his original theme after 3 pints?
    Actually more likely!
    Remember that the lesser of two evils is still evil

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    Senior Member Becca's Avatar
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    I keep seeing this pop up in various locations including here at TC some 9 years ago, and each time it is the same person pushing the idea. The results of a poll taken back then were yes:4, no:4 and maybe:14. Put me in the maybe but dubious category. I certainly think that the part about those 3 sentences is a considerable stretch and seems more of a case of force-fitting a theory.

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    Senior Member Barbebleu's Avatar
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    I think it's actually just a road of old cobras. But that's just me. Other opinions may apply!!
    Last edited by Barbebleu; Apr-14-2019 at 01:27.
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    Senior Member Luchesi's Avatar
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    Art is all about artifice.
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    Could the first four notes of the Enigma Variations be scale degree 3-1-4-2 by coincidence? Could the "dark saying" be "Four and Twenty BLACKbirds baked in a pie (Pi)" by coincidence. Could the unexplained double bar after the first 24 black notes be a coincidence? Could Elgar's three sentences (written after 30+ years of no correct solution) be hints at 22/7? The first sentence describes 2 crotchets and 2 quavers? The third sentences mentions bar seven (/7) The second sentence directs attention to the two sevenths (2/7) in bars 3 and 4, which come exactly after the first 11 notes. 11 x 2/7 = 22/ 7. Could that be another coincidence? The Enigma was written in the year following the "Indiana Pi Bill of 1897". What a coincidence!

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    Senior Member Larkenfield's Avatar
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    If the Enigma Variations are suggestive of the people that he knew, why would he be encoding the mathematical Pi into the theme? It is a warm and enigmatic opening theme that does not sound to me like an abstract, non-human reference, but no one will probably ever know what it specifically means. If that happened, I believe the work would lose its magic. I’m more inclined to think that the entire work is in reference to people and not measurements, Pi, or math.
    Last edited by Larkenfield; Apr-21-2019 at 17:24.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Larkenfield View Post
    If the Enigma Variations are suggestive of the people that he knew, why would he be encoding the mathematical Pi into the theme? It is a warm and enigmatic opening theme that does not sound to me like an abstract, non-human reference, but no one will probably ever know what it specifically means. If that happened, I believe the work would lose its magic. I’m more inclined to think that the entire work is in reference to people and not measurements, Pi, or math.
    I am certain that the theme came before he started making variations based on distinct characteristics of his friends. The theme was created as a joke/riddle which he called Enigma. The humorous embarrassing incident (he called them "japes") caught his fancy and as a lover of puzzles, he thought he might make some melody using three forms/hints of Pi. The first was easy, the 3-1-4-2 scale degree, his first four notes. Then he wove fractional Pi,22/7, in a clever fashion and last he worked in a pun based on a nursery rhyme. He stated that the work was begun in a spirit of humor. As he was working out the kinks in his new creation he noticed he could use his original theme in a number of variations based on some unique characteristics of some of his friends. Elgar famously said that music was all around us and all we needed to do was take what we needed. He certainly did that. He may have considered that Pi was related to a circle and he thought of his circle of friends. He used the term circle of friends in some of his correspondence but did not use the word "circle" in any of his hints. That would have been a give away and as you know he was determined not to give away his enigma's solution. Instead he dedicated the work "To my friends pictured within." That was typical Elgar misdirection just like his reference to a theme that was not played was taken as a musical theme or melody by nearly all puzzle enthusiasts, but he was referring to "theme" in the sense of a general direction, like a theme park, or party theme where people dress up like the characters. I still find his opus 36 to be a wonderful work of music even though I know how it was created, I appreciate the man even more for his very clever use of non musical subjects to create some of the most musical wonder ever.

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    Senior Member Bwv 1080's Avatar
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    And all the sound waves when the piece is played contain multiples of pi!

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    Senior Member mikeh375's Avatar
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    a little more prosaic (and likely) ....Pergolesi's Stabat Mater.

    https://medium.com/world-of-music/pe...s-5f1f7dd2158a

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    Senior Member Becca's Avatar
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    What is your opinion of the facts presented in recent research?

    The first four notes are a hint at decimal Pi, scale degree 3-1-4-2. Fractional Pi as 22/7 is woven into the first four bars. Elgar wrote that "the two drops of a seventh in bars 3 and 4 should be observed". I observed 11 notes precede the two drops of a seventh giving us, 11 x 2/7 = 22/7. The third clue to the "Enigma" was the dark saying. From the old English nursery rhyme, Sing a Song of Six Pence comes the line, "Four and twenty BLACK birds baked in a pie (Pi). A pun on a nursery rhyme was a favorite jape of Elgar. There are exactly four and twenty black notes in Elgar's Pi. He closed off the first six bars with a curious double bar.

    To assure posterity would know when they had the correct solution to the enigma, Elgar wrote three seemingly mundane sentences about the variation shortly before his death. Each sentence has a hint at fractional Pi.

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    Then there's the person that took Elgar's statement that he would "never, never," reveal the enigma and discovered that the Enigma theme corresponds to the part of the melody of Rule Brittania where England "never, never," never shall be slaves.

    I like that idea because it's so obvious.
    Last edited by Manxfeeder; Apr-29-2019 at 17:05.

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