Perfectly pattern-free. Perfectly awful music, yes?

By adapting the work of a US Navy engineer researching the perfect sonar ‘ping’, mathematician Scott Rickard has created a ‘pattern-free’ (ie. ugly) piano sonata.

At a Ted talk in 2011, mathematician Scott Rickard premiered a piece of music he asserts is the most ugly piece ever played. But how did he compose it? And why is it ugly?

“Most musicologists would argue that repetition is a key aspect of beauty,” says Rickard. “The idea that we take a musical idea, we repeat it, we set up the expectation for repetition and then we either realise it or break the repetition.” For example, think of how many times Beethoven repeats his ‘da-da-da-darrr’ motif in his 5th Symphony.

Rickard continues: “If repetition and patterns are key to beauty, then what would the absence of patterns sound like – if we wrote a piece of music with no repetition in it?

“It’s not random – random is easy. But repetition-free is extremely difficult.” read more at