11 Sep

Sound and That

11. September 2012 by Max Novakovic

Recently, I stumbled upon a video that played the dial-up modem sound 700% slower. The video is to the side, the result is an incredibly eerie soundscape far removed from the original. Using the same program that was used to create the dial-up sound I decided to try it out with some interesting results.

The program works by stretching the time but keeping the pitch the same so you are hearing the sound actually stretched out rather than slowed down.

As a starting point for sounds I headed over to the Museum of Endangered sounds for some inspiration. On the site they have a selection of old sounds that we probably won’t hear very often such as the dial-up tone, a floppy disk being ejected and a fax machine. One that ‘caught my ear’ was the old Nokia ringtone. I slowed the ringtone down to what I think is only 6 times slower and you can listen to the audio file. The program works by stretching the time but keeping the pitch the same so you are hearing the sound actually stretched out rather than slowed down. I think the source audio of the ringtone was a bit over-compressed and the resulting slowed down audio has a lot of artifacts from that. I think this does add to the sound a bit because it makes it a bit more atmospheric rather than clean cut digital sounds.

aphex spectrogramNext I moved on to what I think is my favourite result, the Tetris teme tune aka the Russian folk song Korobeiniki. It transforms the bouncy original into a quite emotional sounding piece and I think it definitely brings out the Russian folk sound. You can have a listen to it here.

Dust Clouds In Orion Finally, nice Jason suggested that I try to play an image as sound and slow that down. This might sound a bit crazy but it is actually possible to do using a program called MetaSynth. This is the program that Aphex Twin used to embed his face into the sepctrogram of his song Equation - there is a really interesting blog post about this. It allows you to bascially ‘play’ an image as sound which I did to create this audio. It sounds like an organ playing lots of clashing keys, not the nicest sound in the world. I’m unsure wether it sounds like an organ because MetaSynth had an ‘organ’ preset or wether it’s just how the image sounds. I slowed it down but oddly, the slowed down file and the full speed file sound almost exactly the same - I’m not sure on the technicalities of this but it’s quite interesting. The source image I used was the Astronomy Picture of the Day from March the 2nd 2010 which shows ‘M78 and Reflecting Dust Clouds in Orion’. The image is on the side, credit and copyright goes to Ignacio de la Cueva Torregrosa.

All in all I have discovered that there is a lot of experimentation to do around slowing audio down ridiculous amounts and also the usage of images within sound and the other way round. I find it amazing that Aphex Twin was doing this kind of stuff 13 years ago.

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