Bieber or Beethoven?

We love to find undiscovered details in music and we really love new music technology. A while ago, a young producer from Florida slowed down a song by Justin Bieber by 800% using a piece of open-source software called ‘PaulStretch’.  Our team was hooked instantly. 

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 trend on YouTube. 

Challenge

So we thought, what happens if you apply the same software to the music of Beethoven instead of Bieber? Can the PaulStretch software enhance an entire movement of music in the same way it does with a three-minute pop song?

To really challenge ourselves we wanted to enhance the experience with a scrolling score to enable the viewer to understand what part of the piece they are hearing.

Solution

Firstly, we created a 6-hour epic experience by slowing down the first movement of Beethoven’s Eroica symphony by thirty times. This was easier said than done. Creating the slow-motion piece of music was painless, but exporting the scrolling score was another story. It took us four attempts, precise tweaking of settings, switching between multiple video softwares and machines to finally run a 14h over-night export that resulted in a 40GB, 6-hour-long video. (Luckily, you can now upload files up to 128GB and unlimited length to YouTube. ) You can hear the result of our work below: 

Impact

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.

Like our music expert Greg beautifully put it: 

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.

The concept with Beethoven was so successful that we decided to make the format into a series, to showcase the different styles of composers. Your can listen to all of our ‘slow-mo remixes’ including Mozart, Berlioz and Chopin below: