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"It's Like 'AAAOOOooooooooooo.........' But Forever!"*

I was with a bar with a friend and, after a few beers, attempted to describe the Shepard Scale to her.

It was difficult. Eventually I pretty much gave up and resorted to Lovecraft-like allusions. "It's like a color that shouldn't exist," I said. "Or an angle that doesn't add up."

Here is is: The Shepard Scale. Note: ogg file; profoundly unsettling; may induce insanity.

* This was Alan Taylor's attempt at describing it.

Posted on August 14, 2007 to Conversations





Comments

It sounds like the beginning of a Steve Miller Band or Boston song... some classic 70's tune I can't recall the name of.

Posted by: Karen Demerly on August 16, 2007 12:36 PM

Holy crap. That's like staring into infinity, with your ears.

Oh, and if you can't play an .ogg, go the the wikipedia entry linked at the beginning of the post, and find the 'listen in browser' link; it will use a java applet to play the audio.

Posted by: Jason Clark on August 16, 2007 1:14 PM

I'm pretty sure this is what I hear in my head when I eat shrooms...

Posted by: Candice on August 16, 2007 3:13 PM

That's the kind of sound that an FTL drive should make.

Posted by: Pat on August 16, 2007 4:10 PM

That sounds like every David Lynch movie ever.

Posted by: Doug Orleans on August 16, 2007 5:17 PM

Oh shit! I just saw a midget speaking backwards! This is what Mitt Romney sounds like when his circuits aren't correctly calibrated. Call your local Mormon stake or the nearest Radio Shack for assistance. Mitt Romney is an android and Ralph Reed is a gay porn star.

"Coke and Pepsi are the same thing!" -- Homer Simpson

Posted by: Frank Booth, GOP front-runner on August 16, 2007 6:09 PM

That sound seriously disturbed my cat.

I'm old enough that I remember when they tested the air raid sirens once a month. They didn't turn off all at once; they slowly wound down. The Shepard scale brings it all back.

Posted by: Carny asada on August 16, 2007 8:51 PM

That sound seriously disturbed my cat.

I'm old enough that I remember when they tested the air raid sirens once a month. They didn't turn off all at once; they slowly wound down. The Shepard scale brings it all back.

Posted by: Carny asada on August 16, 2007 8:51 PM

@ Karen -

From the Wikipedia article:
"An independently discovered version of the Shepard tone appears at the beginning and end of the 1976 album A Day At The Races by the band Queen"
and
"...a 23-minute song by Pink Floyd, concludes with a rising Shepard tone."

Posted by: zeekster on August 17, 2007 12:10 PM

I had to download that soundclip, just so I can remind myself, as many times as I need, just how creepy that is.

Next time, I'll make sure the cats are in here with me.

Posted by: Ariel on August 17, 2007 2:30 PM

Christ on a stick! I clicked on that link and walked away for a few seconds to blow my nose. When I returned I immediately walked to my dining room window, not connecting the link to the noise, because I thought a plane was falling out of the sky.

Posted by: Rebecca on August 17, 2007 4:49 PM

:)

Posted by: lu on August 17, 2007 5:45 PM

if you listen long enough if it eventually winds down. but it takes like 3 days.

Posted by: jon on August 17, 2007 5:58 PM

It makes my eyes focus and unfocus. That was not a side effect you warned against.

Posted by: sylvia rodemeyer on August 17, 2007 11:01 PM

It makes my eyes focus and unfocus. That was not a side effect you warned against.

Posted by: sylvia on August 17, 2007 11:01 PM

A better analogy: an audible barber's pole. Constantly appearing to be spinning downwards while actually remaining stationary.

I find you notice when the high note becomes loud again, however, so it's not really that creepy.

Posted by: Laurie on August 18, 2007 7:50 PM

Unsettling is right. Good gravy.

Posted by: Tessa on August 18, 2007 10:14 PM

Wow! I actually found the discrete scale almost more disturbing http://asa.aip.org/sound/cd/demo27a.au

Like one of the previous listeners though, I found that if I was listening for the changes I could pick up when the emphasis shifted to the lower notes, which made it less disturbing. But it is sort of the auditory equivalent of staring down the infinite hallway that appears when you get mirrors reflecting each other just right.

Posted by: Mazlynn on August 19, 2007 10:24 AM