Sometimes it sounds like floating down a river on a wooden raft with the sun warm on your skin and other times like being screamed at in the face by seventy lions whilst being on fire.
Six years ago, a young producer from Florida slowed down a song by Justin Bieber by 800% using a piece of open source software called ‘PaulStretch’. Software engineer Paul Nasca created the program, which takes a small selection of audio, analyses the frequencies and then recreates the section to allow for the sound to be stretched smoothly.
The results are brilliant, and ‘800% slower’ became a popular meme. Just type ‘800% slower’ into Youtube and you’ll find hundreds of beautiful, disturbing and hilarious creations.
Firstly, we created a 6 hour epic by slowing down the first movement of Beethoven’s Eroica symphony by thirty times. The unexpected outcome of this was that it enabled us to hear the composition in far greater detail. Lingering on a harmonic cadence for minutes at a time, eagerly waiting for some kind of resolution can be mesmerising or infuriating depending on your mood. The listener may hear parts of the movement that they may never have noticed before.
We tried the same thing with Mozart’s Sinfonia No. 40 in G minor and the outcome was a hauntingly beautiful piece of music, begging to be used as the soundtrack for some bleak Scandinavian drama.
To enhance the experience we created a scrolling score to enable the viewer to understand what part of the piece they are hearing.
Clever listeners may notice strange moments that the ‘PaulStretch’ algorithm smudged over, or sudden jumps in chords where the software has skipped a few seconds of audio. This leads to a bizarre piece of music that can never be truly relaxing or boring. There could be five minutes of luscious string chords, followed by a sudden jarring leap into the next chord without warning. Just like the originals, these slowed down epics are full of surprises and brilliance.
What are your favourite moments? Let us know; we haven’t actually had time to listen through the whole thing ourselves…