‘Vertical Music’ Explores Slow Motion Sound

Back in 1967, composer Steve Reich scored a conceptual music piece, Slow Motion Sound. The score reads:

Very gradually slow down a recorded piece to many times its
original length without changing its pitch or timbre at all.

Reich explained Slow Motion Sound like this:

Slow Motion Sound (1967) has remained a concept on paper because it was technologically impossible to realize.

The basic idea was to take a tape loop, probably of speech, and ever so gradually slow it down to enormous length without lowering its pitch. In effect it would have been like the true synchronous sound track to a film loop gradually presented in slower and slower motion.

The roots of this idea date from 1963 when I first became interested in experimental films, and began looking at film as an analog to tape. Extreme slow motion seemed particularly interesting since it allowed one to see minute details that were normally impossible to observe. The real moving image was left intact with only its tempo slowed down.

45 years later, computer technology has made Reich’s concept possible, and R. Luke DuBois the possibilities with Vertical Music, embedded above.

Vertical Music is a chamber piece written for 12 players, lasting 4 1/2 minutes. Each musician was filmed individually in several takes using a high-speed (300fps) camera and a high definition analog-to-digital audio recording setup. When played back at 30fps, total time is ~45 minutes.

Technical Details:

  • Videos taken on a Casio EX-F1.
  • Rendered in Max/MSP/Jitter.
  • Audio time-stretching done with Michael Klingbeil’s SPEAR

Check out Vertical Music and let us know what you think.

And, if you’ve experimented with the audiovisual possibilities of time distortion, leave a comment and let us know about it.

via willkuhn

5 thoughts on “‘Vertical Music’ Explores Slow Motion Sound

  1. Pretty cool – I wonder what Stever Reich thinks about it. I don’t know if I could sit and listen to the entire thing though – after the first 5 min I think my brainwaves started to slow down and I was afraid I would go into some kind of coma-trance.

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