Altered RPMs

This conversation started on Facebook, and the results were entertaining enough that I thought I would summarize it here. If you’ve already read it and commented there, then just skip this post.

It all started when a friend directed me to a site that had a slowed down version of Dolly Parton’s hit “Jolene.” It was as if someone had taken the 45 single and played it at 33 1/3 RPMs on a turntable. The result was a slow, haunting version that sounds amazing.

I reposted this on my Facebook timeline and got lots of comments. One commenter doubted the veracity of the record, and thought that it had been faked. I suggested taking the original audio file and importing it into Audacity, then slowing it down by 27% digitally. Rather than wait, I decided to do it myself.

Here’s the original version. The song is great, but something about the way Dolly sings it sets my teeth on edge.

Here’s the slow version as found on YouTube…

I got an MP3 of the original and popped it into Audacity. A few seconds into the song I slowed it down by 27%. This showed conclusively that it wasn’t faked. Here’s the results as posted to Chirbit…

Check this out on Chirbit

There seem to be several version of this on YouTube, including some showing someone actually playing the song on a turntable.

I like the slower version. It’s more haunting and somehow sadder. Singer Ruby Rose Fox recorded a lower, slower version with excellent results…

…and while we’re on the subject of altered RPMs, Scott Keeler pointed me to a case of the reverse process. Bruce Springsteen’s “I’m on Fire” was played as if it were a 33 1/3 RPM recording played at 45 RPMs. It sounds almost exactly like Dolly Parton singing it. Uncanny.

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