Here are ten hours of infinite fractals and falling Shepard’s Tones
Yesterday was one of the stranger 24 hours in the 15+ year history of producing this site, as you may have heard. So here is a palette cleanser, then, in case you have a … wine hangover.
Please be careful if you’re prone to epilepsy.
Oh, and welcome, new CDM readers! If you’re confused and wonder if it’s always like this here, I am confused, too, and … yes. It pretty much is. There’s a mailing list, if you want this to continue.
If ten hours isn’t enough of this sound for some reason, there’s also an online generator with binaural output so you can really trip out (wear headphones).
There are some terrific background notes already on the video, which can lead you into a nice research audiovisual linkhole to match your synesthesia trip:
The video is a fractal version of M.C. Escher’s “Circle Limit III” (http://bit.ly/bbJ9P) created by Bulatov.
Audio: Shepard’s Tone (Shepard’s Scale) consisting of rising tones set octaves apart, similar to how to barber’s pole always seems to be rising: http://bit.ly/tlSj Interestingly, the Batman’s BatPod in “The Dark Knight” uses a Shepard Tone effect to make the motorcycle to seem to have an infinitely rising tone: http://bit.ly/Wfa8WS In classical music, the Shepard’s Scale is used in pieces like Bach’s “Canon Per Tonos” (endlessly rising canon), to have the piece seem to end an octave higher than it began while ending on the same note: http://bit.ly/YTWtzC Many have said that they experience a falling sensation or a feeling of imbalance when they watch this combination for a long time. It was reported by Reddit user “Berkel” that by playing The Shepard tone near a sleeping friend, the friend had a visceral falling dream and woke up very scared. http://bit.ly/XVwfi8 .
We would not recommend trying this! We take no responsibility for visceral dreams, dizziness, fatigue, sweaty palms, seizures, lack of friends, or any other side effects from watching this video.
And yeah, that’s a Shepard Tone, not to be confused with a Shepherd’s Tone, which is presumably what happens when you attempt to tend to your sheep while also catching up on your anthology of French experimental electronic music.
Here’s some more reading on that:
If you want to really be a snob CDM style, despite what you may have heard from our ‘haters’, clearly you need to nitpick the difference between a Shepard Tone and a Shepard-Risset glissando. (Hey, where’d everyone go?! Fine. More wine for me.)
But these kinds of risers and sounds are actually easy to produce – even for free – and can be used in a wide variety of contexts to produce extra suspense and a feeling of constant falling or rising.
Here you go!
It works really well in the free software SuperCollider, which you can run on almost any computer and any OS – no massive CEO-style budget required:
And there are lots of other ways to go about this, too – including some tutorials new to me (and you can even sample sound sources):
And yeah, it’s in sound design, too:
Risset rhythms are even crazier. I’m still waiting for someone to invent a new music genre based on this. (Chicago, I’d ask you, though by now you really have given us enough.)
If you do create a new Risset rhythm-based musical style, let us know about it. My shoes are laced up and ready to dance to it.
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