Not long ago, in an earlier post, I wrote about Borges’ “Library of Babel” and some of the mappings that can be applied or removed to reveal it as pure number. In Borges, the mapping applied is textual so that the numbers take on the appearance of the written word, manifested as books, but thinking of an earlier experiment, the so-called Transcendental (Number) Études, where a sequence of digits was turned into a song, I began considering the idea of the Library manifested as music.
It occurred to me that reversing the Borges mapping, or a longer one supporting whichever alphabet or map one chooses instead of the limited one of twenty-two letters, any arbitrary text could be turned into a number, and that number then turned into a melodic line. As a proof of concept, I mentioned this and put out a request for a sample text on Tumblr, to which Mister Chu replied with this fragment:
A bag is packed. The man being left tries to save himself by allowing his life to tumble across his lips. All of his stories fall out, irrelevancies, laundry lists and places to park on the Southside of Chicago. This is everything he thinks, so little.
He subsequently posted the full text here. From that, I produced a number (using a 29-member mapping, the twenty-six letters of the Roman alphabet, the space, period and comma), and converted that into the following melody. The tempo, pacing, accompaniment and performance are, as before, at will, while the melodic line itself is an exact mapping from the number.