Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Music Project I

You will need:

plastic ballpoint pen
scotch tape
a piece of music, recorded on cassette, or a blank cassette tape and a musical selection on CD
a stereo or boom box capable of cassette playback
a stereo or boom box capable of recording to cassette (optional; may be the same as the playback device)

1. If you have a pre-recorded cassette, and you are willing to lose the music on the cassette, this cassette will now be referred to as the Primary Cassette: proceed to step 3. If you have music on a cassette which you are not willing to potentially destroy, or music on a CD, proceed to step 2.

2. Use the recording device to record a copy of the music from CD or cassette to the blank cassette. The blank cassette will now be called the Primary Cassette.

3. Rewind the Primary Cassette to the beginning of the tape.

4. Turn the tape upside down, so that the side of the tape which contacts the magnetic head is facing you. The tape which is visible should lack the brown or grayish magnetic coating which records the music: it is often light pink or blue in color, though it may be other colors. If you are in doubt, ask your instructor.

5. Pull a loop of tape about an inch long from the center of the tape, just above where the magnetic head contacts the magnetic tape.

6. Take two small lengths of scotch tape from your scotch tape dispenser, and attach them on a clean nearby surface so that a substantial portion of the tape is hanging free in the air.

7. Place your index finger in the center of the loop of tape. Hold the tape steady on either side with your thumb and middle finger. Slide the scissors under the loop of tape, and cut through the tape.

8. Pick up one of the pieces of scotch tape from step 6. Put it on one of the loose ends of the magnetic tape. The alignment does not have to be precise, but it should be adequate to cover the full width of the end.

9. Rotate the end with the scotch tape on it one half-turn, in either direction, and then attach the unrotated other end to the same piece of scotch tape, making the alignment of the second end as close to parallel as possible.

10. Fold the scotch tape over the cut. Use scissors to trim away any excess scotch tape from the sides of the magnetic tape. Try to make the reconstituted magnetic tape as straight as possible.

11. You should now have a cassette tape into which a single half-turn has been inserted. If you do not, consult your instructor.

12. This is the boring part: carefully advance the tape, manually, to the opposite side. I.e., you are to rewind to the beginning of the other side of the tape. While doing this:

DO NOT allow the turn to become wound around the spindles of the cassette.
DO NOT attempt to advance the tape too rapidly, as this may cause it to kink or fold.

13. When you reach the other end of the cassette, repeat steps 4 to 10 on the other end of the magnetic tape, but instead of adding another half-turn, remove it. If you rotated the cut end of the tape counterclockwise in step 9, you will need to rotate the opposite side clockwise in this step.

14. At this point, you should have a cassette where the central portion of the magnetic tape has been rotated 180 degrees relative to its ends. Wait for your instructor to confirm that you have performed the procedure correctly before proceeding to step 15.

15. Place the cassette into a playback device and press play. You may need to fast-forward, if you did not have music on the entire Primary Cassette when you began.

Answer the following questions:
1. Why is the music now being played backwards?
2. Do you hear any messages, Satanic or otherwise, in the music? (If so: ask one of your classmates to listen to the same section of your tape, without telling them the message you believe you hear. Do your classmates hear the same thing you hear? If not, how is their interpretation different? Do your results reinforce 1970s/80s-era hysteria about so-called "backward masking" in music, or discredit it?)
3. ADVANCED STUDENTS: Is your recording missing most of its high-frequency sounds? If so, research music recording on magnetic tape in the library or on the internet, and explain why this might happen.


cj said...

There is an easier way to do this:

1. Ensure the tape is completly wound in one direction.

2. Get a jewelers screwdriver and unscrew the screws holding the cassette together.
(You may need to push through the sticker on the cassette)

3. Carefully open the cassette and remove the spool (of tape), may want to unthread the tape from its leaders first.

4. Turn the spool over and place back onto the place it was taken from.

5. Now take the empty spool, turn it over and re-thread the tape through the leaders. Put the empty spool back onto it's place.

6. Rotate the spools until the tape is taut and in it's leaders and re-assemble the cassette. Be careful not to pinch the tape.

For best results use Queen, Judas Priest or The Beatles when looking for back masking. Also try Armstrong's 'One small step for man' speech.

If the classroom is more technologically advanced and has a Personal Computer (PC) with a sound card and a Microsoft Windows (TM etc) Operating System installed, there are programs like 'sndrec32' that can be used to reverse sound/music files.

If a microphone is attached, backmasking experiments can be achieved. For best results:

1. Record a line like 'Hello, I am the devil'

2. Play this backward and memorised the sounds.

3. Record your best imitation of the sounds heard in step 2.

4. Reverse the recording in step 3 and creep everyone out.


Jessi Guilford said...

I stand corrected. Class, you may use either method -- we will compare the results on Tuesday.

Extra credit goes to cj for his/r help.