1. Elgar's Enigma Variations (EV) written in 1898 were about his "circle" of friends. Pi is a constant in all circles. Pi is the circumference divided by its diameter.
2. Pi is usually approximated as 3.142 as a decimal, or 22/7 as a fraction.
3. The first four notes of EV are scale degree 3-1-4-2, decimal Pi.
4. There is a drop of a seventh in bars 3 and 4.
5. These two sevenths follow exactly after the first 11 notes. ie: 11 x 2/7 = 22/7, fractional Pi. (The first seven bars may be viewed in "Wikipedia, Enigma Variations.")
6. Elgar wrote EV in the year following the Indiana Pi Bill of 1897 which attempted to legislate the value of Pi. This humorous incident was widely ridiculed and Elgar was fond of such "japes."
7. In a program note for the 1899 first performance, Charles A. Barry rendered Elgar's own 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 a 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.
8. Elgar's "dark saying" could be, "Four and twenty blackbirds (dark) baked in a Pie (Pi). Within the first six bars there are exactly "Four and twenty black notes (with "wings" as ties/slurs) baked in a "Pi".
9. Theme in the "literary" sense is the central concept or idea of a work. Pi fits the second hint as the Theme which "never appears", although the melody based on Pi in is heard throughout. Pi would also fit the third hint, "So the principal Theme never appears, even as in some late dramas ... the chief character is never on the stage." Obviously Pi is never "on the stage."
10. Elgar often said that the enigma was “well known.” Pi is taught to nearly everyone as part of a basic education.
11. In 1929 Elgar was 72 years old, in ill-health and many of his friends had died. He probably wanted to leave some confirmation of the enigma's solution in case it were solved after his death. He wrote theses three sentences for release of his EV pianola rolls:
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 , 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.
12. Each of these three sentences contains a hint at fractional Pi. In the first sentence he wrote of two quavers and two crotchets- at hint at "22" (of 22/7).
13. In the second sentence he refers to the drop of the seventh in 3rd and 4th bar, (which leads us to find 11 notes x 2/7 = 22/7, fractional Pi.
14. In the third sentence he referred to "bar 7" which is a hint at "/7" of 22/7.
15. Elgar wrote that "The EV were begun in a spirit of humour."
16. Elgar was known for his interest in puzzles and his love of japes (jokes).
I think there is no doubt that this is the enigma solution! What do YOU think?
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