NPR logo

Super-Stretched Songs Produce Cosmic Results

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/133123382/133162597" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Super-Stretched Songs Produce Cosmic Results

Music

Super-Stretched Songs Produce Cosmic Results

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/133123382/133162597" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

(Soundbite of music)

GUY RAZ, host:

This is a new piece of music. Some people call it ethereal, multilayered, a soundscape that reminds them of Philip Glass or Stephen Reich. And if you like them, this should appeal to you as well.

(Soundbite of music)

RAZ: The thing about this piece is that it's the work of an artist somewhat less obscure than the ones I just mentioned. The song is actually called "U Smile," and the artist, it's tween heartthrob Justin Bieber.

(Soundbite of song, "U Smile")

Mr. JUSTIN BIEBER: (Singing) I wait on you forever.

RAZ: Justin Bieber is not responsible for that earlier piece, but they are the same exact song. This song is this song.

(Soundbite of music)

RAZ: This version is the song slowed down 800 times. And last summer, a producer posted it online, and it became an Internet phenomenon. Thousands, actually millions of people went to hear it. [POST-BROADCAST CORRECTION: This version is the song slowed down eight times, or 800%.]

And it turns out that a lot of producers are starting to do the same thing with other music, including one of our own producers, Brent Baughman, who is in the studio with me to explain why.

Why are they doing this?

BRENT BAUGHMAN: They're doing it because there's this really simple software. It's free. It's easy to use. It's called Paul's Extreme Soundstretch. And it allows anyone to plug in a song and slow it down hundreds, even thousands of times. And online, people go crazy for this stuff.

RAZ: (Unintelligible) discussions.

BAUGHMAN: Yeah. They go crazy for it. And they call it cosmic and ethereal, and they compare it to Brian Eno's early work.

RAZ: His early work, not his later work.

BAUGHMAN: His early work, right. And most recent example of this was this past week, someone took the music from the film "Jurassic Park"....

RAZ: Ah, yes.

(Soundbite of music)

BAUGHMAN: this music right here. And then they took it, and they slowed it down 1,000 times.

(Soundbite of music)

RAZ: A thousand times. That's amazing. Aaron Copland, right, I'm thinking, like, majestic...

BAUGHMAN: Early Aaron Copland.

RAZ: Of course, early Aaron. So, amazing stuff.

BAUGHMAN: Yeah. And that's what most people online say too.

RAZ: But does this work with any song? Can you plug any song into this program and make it...

BAUGHMAN: That's the thing - yeah, I think it might. Let me give you a few examples. Take a listen to this first one.

RAZ: Okay.

(Soundbite of music)

RAZ: Oh, that's gorgeous, shimmering, that kind of buildup.

BAUGHMAN: Mm-hmm. Any guesses?

RAZ: No idea. Beautiful.

(Soundbite of song, "Just Dance")

LADY GAGA (Singer): (Singing) Just dance. Gonna be okay...

RAZ: Wow. I did not know Lady Gaga had this in her.

BAUGHMAN: She's a talented lady.

RAZ: She is indeed.

(Soundbite of laughter)

BAUGHMAN: People go gaga. Okay. Let's hear another one. This is my favorite stretched song.

(Soundbite of music)

RAZ: Wow. I believe that this is the King's College Cambridge Men's Choir.

BAUGHMAN: You're hearing some church acoustics there?

RAZ: Yeah. Am I right?

BAUGHMAN: No.

(Soundbite of song, "Hey, Soul Sister")

TRAIN (Music Group): (Singing) Hey...

RAZ: Wow.

BAUGHMAN: You're hearing a ukulele, is actually what you're hearing.

RAZ: That is the same song.

BAUGHMAN: Yeah, Train's "Hey, Soul Sister."

RAZ: Train's "Hey, Soul Sister."

BAUGHMAN: Maybe the worst song of the year.

RAZ: In your opinion.

BAUGHMAN: Yeah. Okay, let me play you one more that I've stretched out. Kind of sinister.

RAZ: Yeah. You could imagine this being used in a movie.

BAUGHMAN: Just before the killer strikes.

RAZ: Just before.

BAUGHMAN: And this song was one of the biggest hits in the year 2000.

(Soundbite of song, "Blue")

EIFFEL 65 (Music Group): (Singing) I'm blue da ba dee da ba di...

BAUGHMAN: (Singing) ...da ba di. Da ba dee da ba di.

RAZ: (Singing) I'm blue. Yeah, this song is an awesome song.

BAUGHMAN: It's a really awful song.

RAZ: I - well, okay. We'll disagree on that one. But that's the same song.

BAUGHMAN: That's the same song, a bad song, I'm going to emphasize again.

RAZ: Okay.

BAUGHMAN: But if you start with a really complex song, you hear that there are even more possibilities for this kind of technology. Let's take Beethoven's Ninth, yeah?

RAZ: Okay. Yeah.

BAUGHMAN: Originally, it's a little more than an hour.

RAZ: Right.

BAUGHMAN: But back in 2002, a Norwegian producer created a version of the Ninth Symphony slowed down to last 24 hours.

RAZ: Twenty-four hours.

BAUGHMAN: It's called "9 Beet Stretch."

(Soundbite of song, "9 Beet Stretch")

BAUGHMAN: So this is "9 Beet Stretch." There's an artist in San Francisco named Aaron Ximm. Last year, he hosted a listening event at a warehouse there, and he invited people to come and spend 24 hours listening to this music.

Mr. AARON XIMM (Sound Artist): It's that quality of suspension in the pace of our lives and that rapidity with which we shift from one multitask task to another. To actually stay with something for as long as this technique allows you to do is kind of a novel experience.

RAZ: Twenty-four hours. I hope he served food there.

BAUGHMAN: I didn't ask him that. They did have beanbags, though.

Mr. XIMM: Hearing sound like this gives your brain the opportunity to move into synchrony with it and itself slow down. You realize that you don't have to be in a hurry. You can sort of stay here for a while and take a look around with your ears.

RAZ: I don't know if I'd want to hear it for 24 hours, but it is - I mean, it really is amazing.

BAUGHMAN: What if you had a beanbag?

RAZ: Then maybe.

BAUGHMAN: Okay. Let me play you one more.

RAZ: Okay.

BAUGHMAN: This is from an artist you had on the show last week...

RAZ: Right.

BAUGHMAN: ...one of my favorites, a track from the new Decemberists album...

RAZ: Ah, yes.

BAUGHMAN: ...yeah, that I think sounds great at any speed.

RAZ: Right.

BAUGHMAN: But listen to it slowed down about 50 times.

(Soundbite of music)

BAUGHMAN: Recognize that?

RAZ: No. What song is this?

BAUGHMAN: I'm not telling you. But we'll put the answer in our podcast this week...

RAZ: All right.

BAUGHMAN: ...along with a few more slowed-down songs.

RAZ: All right, Brent. Thanks so much.

BAUGHMAN: Sure.

RAZ: And by the way, you can find our podcast at npr.org/weekendatc. We post a new episode on Sunday nights.

(Soundbite of music)

Copyright © 2011 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.