9 beet stretch
April 15, 2004 1:41 PM   Subscribe

9 beet stretch is the act of using digital tools to slow down Beethoven's 9th symphony to the point where the piece takes 24 hours to complete. Next week, a 9 beet stretch will be taking place in San Francisco, at 964 Natoma, from Friday April 23rd to Saturday April 24. Sleepover!
posted by mathowie (29 comments total)
It would be interesting to hear it played that slow live. You could rotate orchestra's every movement or something. That said, i am not sure how interested I would be in attending for more than an hour or so.

Also, couldn't anybody do this the digital way with any of the easily available sound editing tools?
posted by shotsy at 1:52 PM on April 15, 2004

They've done this with Psycho, too.
posted by MrMoonPie at 1:52 PM on April 15, 2004

I remember when this first came out, listening to it with headphones at work, panning the workspace slowly and trying to pretend I was in a Kubrick film. Fun stuff. YMMV.
posted by gwint at 1:56 PM on April 15, 2004

It would be interesting to hear it played that slow live

Did you hear the sound samples on the first link? They sound amazing. I don't know what post-processing they did, but it's very etheral and dreamy, and haunting in other spots. He might be recreating the music, not just slowing it down.
posted by mathowie at 2:04 PM on April 15, 2004

mathowie: I haven't listened to it. I am at work, but plan on listening to it when I get home.

What I think would be interesting about a live performance is the way the orchestra would have to compensate for the time differential. If you crash a cymbal in real time its sound diminishes rather quickly, but at 1/20th speed you would need to find an interesting way to hold that (ideally without a delay pedal or anything) for quite some time.

I realize my earlier comment may seem a bit flippant, having not listened to it yet, and i appologize for that.
posted by shotsy at 2:16 PM on April 15, 2004

It would be interesting to hear it played that slow live.

The Chorale part would be damn hard.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 2:25 PM on April 15, 2004

You can do this with current post tools, but not that well. Stretching a couple of minutes of sound to 24 hours would be way too much.

It's probably a midi file output to a sampler.

Heck you could do any song.
posted by bitdamaged at 2:25 PM on April 15, 2004

"This information is not for print distribution or advertising. This is a private event for friends, family, and our community."

Thanks Matt!
posted by vacapinta at 2:40 PM on April 15, 2004

I'm surprised nobody's mentioned As Slow As Possible, a performance of a John Cage piece that lasts (will last, is lasting) over 600 years. It began with 17 months of silence, and the organ kicked in in February 2003.

(Hit the second link first, unless you speak German.)
posted by gleuschk at 2:48 PM on April 15, 2004

gleushck That was the first thing I thought of but I had just heard of it on NPR and could't remember enough about it to find it on google
posted by bitdamaged at 2:54 PM on April 15, 2004

gleuschik: That's awesome. And just a small amount of time for the 10,000 Year Clock.
posted by gwint at 2:59 PM on April 15, 2004

I am totally fascinated by this, but a sleep over? I have a difficult enough time not throttling people who eat candy and whisper.
I hope somebody from Mefi attends: I'd love to hear about it.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 3:12 PM on April 15, 2004

I remember hearing about this on NPR a long time ago, complete w/ the sound itself backing the interview. It comes off as really beautiful ambient music and sounds so distinct from the original that, like matthowie said, it's almost as though it's recreated anew.
posted by xmutex at 3:30 PM on April 15, 2004

It's a crying shame that DJ Screw died, he'd have been perfect to remix that...
posted by soundofsuburbia at 3:37 PM on April 15, 2004

this kind of thing is happening quite a bit at the moment.

has anyone heard v/vm's missing symphony? all fifteen of shostakovich's symphonies are stretched/compressed so that they all have the same duration and then played back simultaneously. it's an absolute mess, but conceptually quite interesting.

also, i can't find it online, but here's a review i found in reviewed: the obscure, a local music zine:

# - from one extreme to the other [deathfrog records]

taking his cue from douglas gordon's 24 hour psycho, albanian plunderphonicist # (real name unknown, and in all probability very difficult to pronounce) takes very very short songs and stretches them out to ridiculous lengths. just as we (who were sufficiently daft/committed to watch the whole damn thing) were forced to concentrate on every detail of every queasily projected frame of psycho, here every single grain of sound from the original recording is laid bare for us to examine, with seemingly enough space between sonic events for us to walk around inside the track - aural bullet time, if you like. so first track up is an 'extended version' of 'scum' by grindcore legends napalm death. the originally 2 second spasmic outburst is stretched by a factor of 100 into a dimly lit and drowsily hellish drone mantra. the other tracks are similarly dark low frequency work-outs, the best one for me based on can's 26 second kraut-skronk funk jazz nugget 'pnoom'. this is truly remarkable stuff, although the disc has a somewhat incongruous ending - not content with stretching alone, # decides to take brian eno's 60 minute epic 'thursday afternoon', the first work composed specifically for cd format, and compress it into a 10 second long high-frequency chipmunk shriek. great idea, sure, but for my ears totally unecessary.
posted by nylon at 4:00 PM on April 15, 2004

nylon: Yeah! "Missing Symphony"! Great album, although I must confess that I don't listen to it that often...
posted by soundofsuburbia at 4:19 PM on April 15, 2004

Kyle Gann wrote informatively about this on his blog (which is generally pretty interesting) and for the Village Voice. Sounds like people who know the symphony well will be able to get a lot out of the slowed-down version.
posted by kenko at 5:49 PM on April 15, 2004

I downloaded the first segment and thought there was a problem when the first five minutes was silence. Then the music kicked in and yeah, it's pretty fantastic in a way that I can't quite put my finger on. It reminds me of Eno, sort of. It also reminds me of a friend who was really into all the various forms of electronica and who commented one day on the fact that classical is the best and most ultimate form of ambient music there is - he's right.
posted by ashbury at 5:58 PM on April 15, 2004

I can imagine this being performed live by an orchestra - after all, a 20-fold increase in timescale is only one order of magnitude. The main difficulty would be the non-sustaining instruments (i.e. percussion). Strings can obviously sustain as long as necessary with multiple bow changes; the wind parts can be covered by doubling the number of players in order to fill in the gaps between breaths. I can't see any way of doing the percussion parts except by turning everything into a roll, or by using digital technology.

It would certainly be a fun challenge to conduct it: there would be 20 seconds between each beat in the slow movement, for example. A job for qrio perhaps?
posted by cbrody at 6:37 PM on April 15, 2004

i forgot to mention just how incredible the 9 beet stretch actually is, and i normally have very little interest in classical music. i'm on section 1.3 now, and i'm floating. wow.

i wonder whether morton feldman and lamonte young knew that this music was here, waiting to be discovered? i guess they did.
posted by nylon at 6:46 PM on April 15, 2004

Well.. Offtopic a little, but a couple of years ago a group in our university played a well known choral (at least well known around here) about ten times slower, and nobody recognised it.

They used only instruments that can sustain notes (harnominum, violin etc...).
posted by hoskala at 6:49 PM on April 15, 2004

Wow. I decided to try out section 5.5, and this is powerful stuff. Now I just need to burn myself some CDs...
posted by Vidiot at 8:19 PM on April 15, 2004

Ok, I have to say, I clicked on the link expecting to just hate this. I mean, it sounds completely absurd and, well, stupid, and totally not something I'd like. But y'know? It's actually kinda cool. I wouldn't want to listen to 24 hours of it in a row, but it does sound like it would make interesting background sound for something.
posted by dnash at 8:47 PM on April 15, 2004

By the way, section 5.2 is the familiar "Ode to Joy" part.

And listening to it made me think of this:
Oh bliss! Bliss and heaven! Oh, it was gorgeousness and gorgeousity made flesh. It was like a bird of rarest-spun heaven metal or like silvery wine flowing in a spaceship, gravity all nonsense now. As I slooshied, I knew such lovely pictures!
posted by Vidiot at 9:24 PM on April 15, 2004

oh, and I hope this won't damn me to MeFi hell, but this is a double post, Matt. (but one I'd never seen before, and a damn cool idea.)
posted by Vidiot at 9:56 PM on April 15, 2004

It reminds me of Eno, sort of.

I was going to helpfully pin that down to Eno's great variations on Pachelbel's canon from Discreet Music, but now I see that the indefatiguable y2karl already pointed that out on the earlier thread (which I also missed, somehow). It also harks back somewhat to Fripp & Eno's No Pussyfooting, which if you like this you might possibly enjoy.

And we gotta give a shout-out to Eno's great influence, Eric Satie, as on Reinbert de Leeuw's extra-slow version of his early piano works, and Satie's 12- to 24-hour piano piece "Vexations," which contains 840 repetitions, and which can have effects like "one case in which the performer (who was attempting a solo performance, rather than using a number of pianists in rotation) stopped playing at repetition 595 because he 'could feel his mind wearing away' and saw 'animals and things ... peering out at him from the score.'"

Also, it bears noting that Steve Reich, back in the mid-sixties, explicitly foresaw, and indeed requested, the technology to slow down the duration of notes without altering their pitch - but I can't find a citation for that one.
posted by soyjoy at 8:01 AM on April 16, 2004

I went to a friend's wedding, and his cousin was playing Simon & Garfunkel's "The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy)", but REALLY REALLY slow, and on classical guitar. It was absolutely beautiful. It made perfect prewedding music for people to come in and sit down to.
posted by geekhorde at 8:23 AM on April 16, 2004

Am I the only one who thinks section 5.2 (at least the 15 minutes I've heard so far) is going to turn into "Where the Streets Have No Name" by U2?

Ooh, the choir just sang a note at 15:10. Spooky.

This is way, way better than it ought to be.
posted by mmoncur at 1:47 AM on April 17, 2004

yeah, mmoncur...for the first twenty minutes I listened to 5.2, I kept waiting for The Edge's chime-y guitar to kick in!
posted by Vidiot at 11:41 AM on April 18, 2004

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