Can you keep up with the dance music that accelerates forever?

February 28, 2012, Queen Mary, University of London

A scientist from Queen Mary has produced a dance track that sounds like it is accelerating forever.

The track is based on an audio that can make a sound, impossibly, as if it speeds up to hundreds of times faster than its starting tempo. Dr Dan Stowell from Queen Mary’s Centre for Digital (C4DM) has been investigating the illusion - and now he's turned it into dance music.

Originally produced by French composer and scientist Jean-Claude Risset, the Risset Illusion superimposes and loops rhythms of different speeds. Dr Stowell explains: "Your brain has a preference to focus on rhythms of a particular speed, so as the tempo changes your attention is naturally drawn to events in the mid-tempo range, even when you are trying to follow a beat that is always accelerating."

The loudness of the different rhythms is also manipulated to keep the recording from turning into a pile-up of an infinite number of sounds.

Dr Stowell was studying how to use the illusion in combination with conventional music rhythms, and following a conference presentation he was asked by a digital music label to produce a piece of dance music based on the idea.

He explains: "Some researchers have studied what happens when people are asked to tap their finger to these weird rhythms, but it would be even better to see what happens when people try and dance to it."

Dr Stowell researches the analysis and synthesis of sound, and also produces music under the name MCLD. He adds: "In the track, the tempo doubles about every 30 seconds, which is far beyond what happens in most music. It means that, if you say the track starts off at 120 beats per minute, at the end it is nominally going at 15,360 beats per minute."

For comparison, the Greek tune known as Zorba's or Sirtaki famously speeds up as it goes along, but from 100 bpm only goes up to around 170 bpm.

“Despite speeding up so much, the Risset Illusion prevents it from sounding a complete mess, meaning it can carry on accelerating indefinitely” adds Stowell.

The seven minute track is featured on an EP released on Monday 27 February by Chordpunch, titled RissEP - a play on Risset's name. Commenting on the pun, Jean-Claude Risset said: "I do not consider the names you propose as disrespectful."

Explore further: World's first album of Twitter music available now

More information: A one minute teaser of the track is available online at:

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1 / 5 (1) Feb 28, 2012
That's pretty lame. The first half of the track keeps the tempo while increasing the frequency of the fast beats and this changes the pitch, which gets higher. That provides the illusion, but the trained ear can detect no change in tempo if there is no change, therefore the illusion does not impress everyone equally.
1 / 5 (1) Feb 28, 2012
Baud, you have to keep in mind that musical talent in this generation is slowly diminishing. Once upon a time, music had to have harmony, steady beats, and crescendo/decrescendos. Now it just needs to sound trippy while high on acid. Point and case - dubstep. http://www.youtub...2DfPDGeU
if you find it enjoyable, you probably also like listening to robots spin around in a dryer while having an orgy. It's about the same.
not rated yet Feb 29, 2012
As much as I enjoy the posts above, I should point out that this is only an excerpt of the full 7 minute long track, and that spinning robot sex is actually very enjoyable to listen to.
1 / 5 (1) Feb 29, 2012
Actually many such a tunes exist already, for example my favourite track from Deadmau5, which implements some aspects of Shepard's tonality too.
1 / 5 (1) Feb 29, 2012
Apparently the main trick here is in gradual decreasing of volume of base rhythm line with low frequency of notes, while increasing the volume of arpeggio line of higher frequency of notes.
1 / 5 (1) Mar 06, 2012
one shld chew on some real good mushrooms b4 listening to the track..

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