*Headphones are strongly recommended for listening to the mp3s on this page.*

For a given integer sequence (by which I mean an increasing sequence of
positive integers), we can make an audio file by creating an audio event at time *an* if the
number *n* appears in the sequence.

Depending on the value of *a* and the nature of the sound event created,
many results are possible.

Here, I have taken this to an extreme. The sound events are one sample in length,
of maximal amplitude, and *a* is 1/44,100 of a second, corresponding with the
standard CD sound sampling rate.

Thus, the audio file created has samples that are merely "on" or "off". The n-th sample is on only if n appears in the sequence.

The result is "noise", in most cases, with characteristics which depend on the nature of the sequence.

A curious feature of this method is that the resulting sound from a sequence, or from the complement of that sequence, sound identical, since one is the inverted waveform of the other. As a result, harmonic component can appear due to the presence, or non-presence of certain multiples.

I'll certainly be thinking of other sequences from which to make noise. Ideally, the sequence is not too "regular", and doesn't thin out too quickly (as, e.g., the squares sequence below illustrates).

- Primes less than 10
^{6}(23 sec.)

This illustrates the randomness of the primes, and yet it also shows their consistency: it's noise, but it's essentially always the same noise. - Primes from 10
^{20}to 10^{20}+10^{6}(23 sec.)

The primes do thin out, but it takes a long time to get there. You can't actually hear the thinning at the rate these files are made, so we jump ahead to 10^{20}, and we hear the noise is now more of a roar a bit quieter, and more crackly, as the primes are less dense among the integers here. - Semiprime numbers (i.e. numbers which are the product of two distinct primes) less than 10
^{6}(23 sec.)

Semiprimes are more common than primes, so this is louder and smoother than the prime sounds. Strong harmonics include those at 44100/4=11025 and 44100/5 = 8820, since no multiples of 4 are in the sequence, and all prime multiples of 5 are. - Abundant numbers, less than 10
^{6}(23 sec.)

Every multiple of 6 is abundant, so we hear harmonic peaks at 44100/6=7350, 7350/2=3675, 7350/3=2450, etc. This makes the sound less pure noise in a certain sense, and more of a buzz or machine type sound. - Square-free numbers, less than 10
^{6}(23 sec.)

Square-free numbers have a positive asymptotic density of 6/pi^{2}, so they don't thin out. The sound is thick and quite stable. Since multiples of 4, 9, 25, 36, etc., are not among this sequence, there are harmonic peaks at 44100/4,44100/9,44100/25, etc., and multiples of these frequencies. - Numbers whose number of divisors is a power of 2, less than 10
^{6}(23 sec.)

If a number is square-free, then it has a number of divisors that is a power of 2. However, other numbers also have this property (2^{7}, for instance). This sound doesn't have quite as strong peaks as the square-free one; the most prominent below 11,000 is 5512=44100/8. Note that 8 times a square-free odd number is a number in this sequence. - Numbers with exactly 6 divisors, less than 10
^{6}(23 sec.)

Quite similar to the primes sound. - Number with exactly 10 divisors, less than 10
^{6}(23 sec.)

Also quite similar to the primes sound. This one has peaks at multiples of 44100/32=1378.125, since 32=2^{5}. - Numbers which are equal to sigma(n) for some n, less than 10
^{6}(23 sec.)

The function sigma(n) is the sum of divisors of n. For example, sigma(4)=1+2+4=7. So 7 is part of this sequence. The number 5, however, is not: there is no number n such that sigma(n)=5. This sequence is pretty uniformly noisy, but there is a peak at 7350 hz, since 44100/7350=6 and lots of values of sigma(n) are multiples of 6. - Ulam numbers (1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 11, ...), less than 10
^{6}(23 sec.)

This one has a strong harmonic peak at about 2040 hz (44100/2040 = 21.617...). The Ulam numbers have a known wavelike nature, with repeated clumps (see, for instance, the comments here. - Happy numbers, less than 10
^{6}(23 sec.)

This one has a lot going on in it. Definitely one for headphones. - Harshad numbers, less than 10
^{6}(23 sec.)

You can clearly hear the effect of this being a base-dependent sequence, with a distinct cycling every 100,000, and a weaker one every 10,000. A strong harmonic component at 4900=44100/9 hz. - Palindromic numbers, less than 10
^{6}(23 sec.)

This is not very interesting. Palindromes are rather rare, so it's mostly "clicking" rather than noise. - Squares less than 10^6 (23 sec.)

Really just here to illustrate what happens if the sequence has a very regular distribution. Not noisy at all.

home >> mathematics