Music Slowed Down


Ever wondered what it would sound like if you slowed down a song massively? Those of you who grew up with record players will already know the answer, as on the good ol’ turntables you could play around with the speed the record played back at. Some record players only let you play at 33 or 45 rpm, for long playing records and singles respectively, bu my dad had a Lenco which had a temposlider that you could set to pretty much any speed. So it was really good fun to make Bing Crosby sound like Mickey Mouse, by playing White Christmas much faster than it should be. Or indeed to slow the Glenn Miller Orchestra down to sound like they were playing too low, from a long way down in a cave (when slowed down).

And therein lies the problem – of you slow down a recording the pitch drops. If you speed it up, the pitch goes up and singers, even the very best, just sound like Mickey Mouse.

Three years ago someone called Paul posted a video of Justin Bieber’s U Smile slowed down by 800%. The effect is a rather mesmerising and ethereal. Like angels singing (and I am not Bieber fan).

What was different here is that the pitch stayed the same, but without any strange graininess coming into the audio file – the usual problem when you slow down audio in a daw (digital audio workstation, like Cubase or Logic).

The software is actually freely available:

There is also a similar product available, which lets you freeze, at the pouch of a button, any audio that is playing back. It is rather aptly called Time Freezer.

Here is a video of it in action:

Good fun!




Famous Themes From Ads/TV



There are many musical themes that we are familiar with these days outside of their original context, as they have been used in tv commercials or films, in a striking and memorable way. For example, a famous melody from a classical piece of music is known to most people in Great Britain as The Hovis Theme. Of course Mr Hovis didn’t write it, and in fact it was written well before the actual composer would have had the chance to enjoy a slice of the aforementioned bread whilst composing his piece. And as the composer was Czech, and wrote the piece in America, the connection to England is getting really tenuous. Never mind the fact that no-one else in the world would know what you were on about if you referred to “The Hovis Theme” to, say,  a Canadian, or even tried to engage a Parisian in conversation by referring to “le thème de hovis”.

Other themes however have a more global recognition, for example the piece that is used at the start of Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey”. In fact that piece is the opening section of the rather cumbersomely titled: “Also Sprach Zarathustra”, German for “And so spoke Zarathustra”, Zarathustra being the Persian prophet and founder of Zoroastrianism. No wonder people remember it as “the piece from 2001”. It was written by Richard Strauss, not to be confused with Johann Strauss II, who wrote “The Blue Danube”, which is also featured in “2001” but much later in the film, in the bit where the spacecraft docks with the space station dock, and the twoseem to be performing some beautiful celestial waltz with each other (The Blue Danube is, rather fittingly, a waltz).

The problem of course is, if you want to buy these tracks or play the sheet music for them, it’s a bit tricky to find them if you only know them by their popular reference. So here is a little roundup of some of the most famous ones and what they are actually called and whom they are written by:


The Stella Artois Theme – was actually written for the movie Jean De Florette by Jean-Claude Petit.


The piece of music they blast ouf of the helicopters in Apocalypse Now – is actually “The Ride Of The Valkyries” from Richard Wagner’s famous Ring Cycle.


The British Airways Theme is actually a piece entitled The Flower Duet from the opera Lakmé by Léo Delibes.


The aforementioned piece that accompanies a spaceship docking with a sapcesation in the film 2001 is The Blue Danube Waltz by Johann Strauss II.



The Opening theme From 2001  is actually the opening theme from Also Sprach Zarathustra by Richard Strauss (no relation to Johann).


The Theme at the end of Ocean’s 11 is actually Clair de Lune by Claude Debussy.


And finally The Hovis Theme is acually the Largo movement from The New World Symphony (Symphony No. 9 in E minor) by Antonín Dvořák.


We hope you enjoyed that!


Web Site Story


Over at comedy site College Humour they have created a really funny and clever parody of Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story. Rather than talking about the rivalry of two gangs in New York City (as the original West Side Story does), the parody uses excerpts from the same songs as West Side Story, but instead weaves the action around how our everyday lives evolve around the internet.

The song “I Feel Pretty” turns into

“I’m on Twitter, I’m on Twitter,

And I’m tweating and singing a song about tweeting

But it’s seven characters too long.

I’m on Facebook, I’m on Facebook,

And my Facebook updates with my tweets,

So I twitter,

And then everybody knows my deeds.”


Compare this to the original lyrics:

“I feel pretty, Oh so pretty

I feel pretty and witty and gay*

And I pity, any girl who isn’t me today.

I feel charming, Oh so charming

It’s alarming how charming I feel

And so pretty, that I hardly can believe I’m real”

(* gay in those days simply went by its original meaning of “happy”)

So, Maria, rather than being a love song about a girl from the other side of the divide, turns into “Pandora, I’ve just found a site called Pandora”. “I Like To Be In America” turns into “I Like To Be On EHarmony”

To compare, here is a clip from the “Original” 1962 film version:


Walking Piano Experiment


So this is fun. As part of an advertising campaign a well-known German car manufacturer decided to see if people in a Stockholm tube station were more likely to use the stairs than the escalator, if they made it more fun to use the stairs.

So how do you make it more fun to use the stairs? You make them into a piano (a walking piano). Remember the scene from Big where Tom Hanks plays on a walking piano in the children’s toy store? That’s a walking piano.

The result is rather good fun to watch, and 66% of people preferred to use the stairs rather than the escalator.

Great fun – one thing did strike me, though, which is that this did not look like a particularly busy tube station. I wonder what would have happened had they installed this in a New York or London subway/tube station. Maybe in such busy cities, where people have less time for each other and are always in a rush there may have been the odd dissaproving look?


Anyway, let’s enjoy this cool video:



Gangnam Style Takes The World By Storm


Well how did that happen? Korean raper PSY (real name Park Jae-sang) releases his single Gangnam Style on the 15th of July, and a few months later it is a world-wide hit, taking everyone, including PSY, by surprise. I think it’s all to do with the dance. Remember The Ketchup Song, which had a similarrly catchy dance attached to the song? Or YMCA?

It’s great when you have these global events, when one song or movie or event takes the whole world by storm, and even has tufty world-leaders joining in (see heads of state trying to perform “Gangnam Style”). The tune is in the style of K-pop (Korean Pop Music), and of course we have the sheet music for it  here.

But where does “Gangnam” come from. Well it apparently refers to the Gangnam district in Seoul, which is one of the most well-off parts of the Korean capital, hence the references to Gangnam style, i.e. living it up.

Here is the official video:

This video is also quite funny, where PSY is helping teach the commentary team from BBC One’s Formula One coverage the Gangnam dance during the Korean Grand Prix (Former F1 driver David Coulthard, former F1 team owner Eddie Jordan and presenter Jake Humphrey are trying out their dance moves here)


Mumford & Sons Equal The Chart Record Set By The Beatles

English folk rock band Mumford & Sons have equalled the Beatles’ record of havgin 6 tunes in the American Billboard Top 100.

The Beatles set this record as long ago as 1964 – to put this into historical context this was the year that the death penalty was abolished in Great Britain, Nelson Mandela was sentenced to life imprisonment, interest rates in England were at 7% and a loaf of bread cost 21 cents in the US. Seems like a long time ago?

All 6 tracks in the current top 100 are from the new Mumford & Sons album Babel, which became the band’s first UK Number One Album.

Here is the video for Little Lion Man


Coldplay announce 2012 Mylo Xylotl Live Album and Concert DVD

Hi There

Coldplay have just announced that they will be realising a live album and live concert dvd to go alongside the hugely successful album Mylo Xylotl, which was released last year (2011). The band commented:

“We don’t tell anyone all the darker side of things, We’ve been through all the break-ups and addictions and all that. But we have a chemistry that no one else in the world has so we don’t mess with it.”?

Mylo Xylotl included the singles Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall Paradise, Charlie Brown, Princess Of China and Hurts Like Heaven, and reached the Number One album slot in no less than 34 countries.


Great Muppets’ Musical Moments No 3: Harry Belafonte

Hi There

Welcome to the third part of our Great Muppets’ Musical Moments series. Today we’ll take a look at Harry Belafonte’s turn as the star guest of The Muppet Show. As well as sharing a drum solo with The Muppets’ Drummer, Animal, he sings one of his biggest hits, The Banana Boat Song with a Muppet ensemble.

For those of you who are not familiar with Harry Belafonte’s music: he was born in New York, but spent part of his childhood at his grandmother’s in Jamaica. As a struggling young singer in New York he became friends with the then also not yet discovered actor Sidney Poitier, and the two were so poor they used to share theatre tickets, switching places during the interval when one would let the other know the state of the play.

Belafonte’s big break cam in 1956 with The Banana Boat Song (Day-O), which introduced the wider world to Calypso music. On the same album as Banana Boat Song was the also highly successful Jamaica Farewell.

Enjoy Belafonte’s lovely voice with the comedy of The Muppets.


Great Muppets' Musical Moments No 2: Feelings (Mi-Mi)

Hi Everyone

Welcome to the second instalment in our Great Muppets’ Musical Moments series.

Today we’ll take a look at Beaker’s great musical moment. For those of you who are not too familiar with all the Muppets characters, Beaker is the assistant to Muppets’ resident scientist, Dr. Bunsen Honeydew. Unfortunately for Beaker, Dr Honeydew is not a terribly good scientist, and all his experiments go wrong, which leads poor Beaker to be regularly blown up, or harmed in some other way.

One of the key characteristics of Beaker is that all he can say is “Mi-Mi”, which he usually does at heightened pitch at being the guinea pig for yet another of Dr Honeydew’s experiments.

Yet Beaker gets his one chance of fame, by singing with the Muppets’ house band, and he chooses the song Feelings, a song written by Loulou Gasté and popularised by Morris Albert in 1974/75. Now Beaker can of course only sing “mi”, so the resulting song is absolutely hilarious. You can check out our sheet music for Feelings here.



Great Muppets' Musical Moments No1: Fever


With the Muppets currently enjoying a bit of a revival, I thought I’d share some of the great musical moments that I enjoyed growing up when The Muppets were still on tv.

For anyone who never got to watch the original Muppets’ Show, there was always a special guest for each show, and if this guest was a musical star, they would perform with The Muppets. The Muppets did of course have their own in-house band, the most famous member of which was probably Animal, the drummer, who often featured in these great musical moments.

It is generally quite fascinating watching some of these older clips, as some of the so called stars are still going strong today, others I quite frankly struggle to remember, as time has not been quite so kind to their careers.

This first clip features Animal and the Puerto Rican singer Rita Moreno, who shot to fame when she starred in the 1961 film adaptation of Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story.

The tune, Fever, is commonly associated with singer Peggy Lee.

Anyway, enjoy this great Muppet Musical Moment: