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Thread: Did you know that Elgar's Enigma is "Pi"?

  1. #1
    Seaman, Mezzoforte
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    Did you know that Elgar's Enigma is "Pi"?

    In 1899 Edward Elgar introduced his Variations on an Original Theme with these words:
    The Enigma I will not explain - its 'dark saying' must be left unguessed, and I warn you that the connection between the Variations and the Theme is often of the slightest texture; further, through and over the whole set another and larger theme 'goes', but is not played.... So the principal Theme never appears, even as in some late dramas ... the chief character is never on the stage.

    After 30 years, no one had solved his enigma, so at age 72 he wrote these words:
    The alternation of the two quavers and two crotchets in the first bar and their reversal in the second bar will be noticed; references to this grouping are almost continuous (either melodically or in the accompanying figures - in Variation XIII, beginning at bar 11 [503], for example). The drop of a seventh in the Theme (bars 3 and 4) should be observed. At bar 7 (G major) appears the rising and falling passage in thirds which is much used later, e.g. Variation III, bars 10.16. [106, 112] - E.E.

    The first few bars of his music can be viewed at the following website:

    File:Enigma theme.png - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    After three years of research I have found numerous hints at Pi. One or two hints might be coincidence but more than 10 hints becomes "proof" in my opinion.

    1. The first four notes are scale degree 3-1-4-2, a common approximation of decimal Pi.

    2. He dedicated his work to his "Friends Pictured Within". This is a "variation" of the more common phrase, "Circle of Friends", but he probably considered that too strong a hint. (incidentally, that is what led me to look for Pi.)

    3. After the first 11 notes there are two "drops of a seventh." 11 x 2/7 = 22/7, a common approximation of fractional Pi.

    4. Elgar said there was a "dark saying" involved. "Four and twenty blackbirds (certainly dark) baked in a Pie (Pi), could satisfy that requirement.

    5. There are exactly Four and twenty black"birds" (black notes with wings-ties/slurs) baked in Elgar's Pi melody.

    6. Elgar frequently said the solution was "well known." Pi is taught to almost everyone as part of a basic education.

    7. Elgar said the work was "begun in a spirit of humor".

    8. Elgar composed the Enigma Variations in the year following the humorous incident known as the Indiana Pi Bill of 1897, when the legislature passed a bill to propose the method to be used for calculating Pi. This bill was based on the erroneous assumption that Pi was difficult to calculate, but it was already know to more than 100 decimal places. The scheme they proposed, "squaring the circle" had been rigorously disproven by a real mathematician several years earlier. Elgar enjoyed "japes" such as that.

    9. Elgar was known for his interest and skill in puzzles. John Holt Schooling devised a puzzle and declared that no one in all of England could solve it. Elgar did solve it and his six page solution is on display in his birthplace museum.

    10. In Elgar's 1899 hints, he wrote that there was a "dark saying" in the first clue. In the second clue, he wrote that there was a theme that "goes but is not played." Pi is a theme in the "literary" sense in tht it is the idea or concept behind the work. In his third sentence he states that the enigma is "offstage," as Pi certainly is.

    11. The 3 sentences from Elgar in 1929 each contain a hint at 22/7, fractional Pi. The first sentence refters to two quavers and two crotchets- a hint at 22. The second sentence refers to observing the "drop of the seventh in the third and four bars" which led me to find the 11 x 2/7 = 22/7. In third sentence he refers to a repeating pattern in bar 7, a hint at /7 of 22/7.

    I cannot believe that all of this is just a coincidence, can you?

  2. #2
    Captain of Water Music Montefalco's Avatar
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    Hi nimrod
    It does seem like nore than a coincidence, and you seem to have done a lot of research into this, for which I applaud you.
    If this is true, it means Elgar was a very forward-looking composer, for as far as I know, this sort of 'mathematical' music didn't happen on a regular basis until serialism, and definitely not in as beautiful a way as Elgar has done it with the Enigma Vaiations.

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    Vice Admiral Virtuoso wljmrbill's Avatar
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    Thumbs up

    Well Done. Very informative observations. Thanks.
    ....To play only what is written is the domain of science. To realize what is not written is the domain of art."
    - Jean Langlais

    I wish you the Best for each day, now and always.

    Bill

  4. #4
    Admiral Honkenwheezenpooferspieler Corno Dolce's Avatar
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    Excellent work. dear nimrod - I salute you

    Cheers,

    CD
    *If a man wants God to hear his prayer quickly, then before he prays for anything else, even his own soul, when he stands and stretches out his hands towards God, he must pray with all his heart for his enemies. Through this action God will hear everything that he asks* -Abba Zeno-

    *Protagoras: "Truth is subjective. What is true for you, and what is true for me, is true for me. Your opinion is true by virtue of its being your opinion."

    *Socrates: "My opinion is: Truth is absolute, not opinion, and that you are in absolute error. Since this is my opinion, then according to your philosophy you must grant that it is true."

    "Improvisational Art": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qSxVO3EoCRM

  5. #5
    Admiral Maestoso marval's Avatar
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    That is very interesting and well put, thank you for sharing with us nimrod.


    Margaret

  6. #6
    Duckmeister teddy's Avatar
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    Nimrod

    I assume you choose that name for obvious reasons. One of my favourite pieces by Elgar.

    teddy

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    Seaman, Mezzoforte
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    Quote Originally Posted by teddy View Post
    Nimrod

    I assume you choose that name for obvious reasons. One of my favourite pieces by Elgar.

    teddy
    Yea, the "mighty hunter" hunted down the enigma and after 111 years we know the answer.

  8. #8
    Admiral of Fugues Contratrombone64's Avatar
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    So, tell me this: how do you proove that this is your original research and not something you just copied and pasted here? It's an interesting theory, that's for sure.
    I'm not an atheist and I don't think I can call myself a pantheist. We are in the position of a little child entering a huge library filled with books in many different languages. The child knows someone must have written those books. It does not know how. The child dimly suspects a mysterious order in the arrangement of the books but doesn't know what it is. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of even the most intelligent human being toward God.
    —Albert Einstein.

  9. #9
    Seaman, Mezzoforte
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    Cool

    Quote Originally Posted by Contratrombone64 View Post
    So, tell me this: how do you proove that this is your original research and not something you just copied and pasted here? It's an interesting theory, that's for sure.
    Trust me. (Ha Ha) The facts are true, and my purpose it to show it to as many intelligent people as possible. I just want the world to realize that Elgar did have an enigma. Some have proposed that there was no solution- it was a fraud. Dorabella believed that Elgar lied when he told her that "Auld Lang Syne" was not the solution. Elgar broke off their friendship. After Elgar died, she wrote a book about their time together and she still claimed that Auld Lang Syne was the solution, effectively implying that Elgar was a liar.

    Actually it is well documented that I discovered the 3-1-4-2 scale degree in the first four notes. During June of 2007 it was reviewed on National Public Radio, "Performance Today." Check out this website:
    http://minnesota.publicradio.org/col...solution.shtml

    All of the encylopedias and websites are wrong when they report that the solution has never been found. I would like for the true story to be told. I think it is interesting, and funny that Elgar fooled the world for over 111 years now.

  10. #10
    Chief assistant to the assistant chief JHC's Avatar
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    I join the others in appreciation, I thought Pi was going to turn out to be 3.1417, never ending

  11. #11
    Admiral of Fugues Contratrombone64's Avatar
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    It's a fascinating idea, regardless of the solution, which is sound but not proovable, unless someone chats with Elgar via a medium.
    I'm not an atheist and I don't think I can call myself a pantheist. We are in the position of a little child entering a huge library filled with books in many different languages. The child knows someone must have written those books. It does not know how. The child dimly suspects a mysterious order in the arrangement of the books but doesn't know what it is. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of even the most intelligent human being toward God.
    —Albert Einstein.

  12. #12
    Seaman, Mezzoforte
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    Although the enigma solution is not "provable" I find it compelling that Elgar at age 72 wrote three sentences about the EV which on the surface appear innocuous. However, knowing that Pi could be the enigma, it is confirming to see that each of the three sentences contains something related to fractional Pi (22/7). That is too much for me to believe it is just a coincidence. I believe Elgar wanted to leave some confirmation so that when his riddle was solved, people would know that the correct solution had been found. That is just my opinion.

  13. #13
    Admiral of Fugues Contratrombone64's Avatar
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    nimrod - it is a fascinating idea, for sure.
    I'm not an atheist and I don't think I can call myself a pantheist. We are in the position of a little child entering a huge library filled with books in many different languages. The child knows someone must have written those books. It does not know how. The child dimly suspects a mysterious order in the arrangement of the books but doesn't know what it is. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of even the most intelligent human being toward God.
    —Albert Einstein.

  14. #14
    Admiral Honkenwheezenpooferspieler Corno Dolce's Avatar
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    What is the current decimal place value of Pi? something like 50 billion digits? Pi as an enigma? What about the mathematical constant (e) ? Could this be an enigma also?

    www.numberworld.org/misc_runs/e-500b.html
    *If a man wants God to hear his prayer quickly, then before he prays for anything else, even his own soul, when he stands and stretches out his hands towards God, he must pray with all his heart for his enemies. Through this action God will hear everything that he asks* -Abba Zeno-

    *Protagoras: "Truth is subjective. What is true for you, and what is true for me, is true for me. Your opinion is true by virtue of its being your opinion."

    *Socrates: "My opinion is: Truth is absolute, not opinion, and that you are in absolute error. Since this is my opinion, then according to your philosophy you must grant that it is true."

    "Improvisational Art": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qSxVO3EoCRM

  15. #15
    Seaman, Mezzoforte
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    Yeah...this is one of the most mystic works ever...and one of my favorite. Every time I listen to it I'm trying to recognize these informations

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