I remember the first time I heard about “9 Beet Stretch“. Sound artist Leif Inge took a recording of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony and stretched to last 24 hours, with no change in pitch. That’s a 70 minute symphony stretched out to 1,680 minutes. 9 Beet Stretch was featured on an episode of RadioLab all about our concept of time. (Highly, highly recommended listening, this.)
Slowing a recording down and stretching it beyond recognition is nothing new. The technology is as simple today as it was in the days of reel-to-reel tapes. Still, I find myself endlessly drawn to these works. There’s something comforting about them.
In an increasingly hectic and fast-paced world where we rush to get everywhere, seemingly always just a few minutes late…in a world where we instantly Google the answers to all of our questions…in a world where time is money and we can rarely spare either, I think time-stretched music represents an oasis of slow. A place where it’s okay to stop and ponder. These works beg us to take a moment and explore one space, one concept, one idea and hopefully get lost in the process. When I do, somehow life’s urgency seems to melt away.
Time-stretching isn’t about the work being lengthened. It’s not even about the transformation from the original to the modified version. Time-stretching is about changing the way we listen.
Even Justin Bieber’s music is palatable slowed down 800%.
My favorite music stretch is John Williams’ Theme from Jurassic Park, here slowed down 1000%.
In a couple of days, I’ll post my own time-stretches of some of my favorite classical works. I’d love to know what you’d like to hear time-stretched. Let me know and I’ll give it a shot!