anthony ramella

Ghost in the MP3

February 21, 2015 Reading time - 1 minute

Ryan McGuire, a PhD student at the University of Virginia Center for Computer Music, has created this project which demonstrates how much data is lost when compressing music to MP3 format while managing to turn it into it’s own song.

Ryan took the left over data from Tom’s Diner by Suzanne Vega and built the track he titled “moDernisT”, in which you can hear haunting echoes, whipsers and chilling fragments of the original track. Ryan chose “Tom’s Diner” for the project since it was previously used in early MP3 coding tests.

What are these lost sounds? Are they sounds which human ears can not hear in their original contexts due to our perceptual limitations, or are they simply encoding detritus? It is commonly accepted that MP3’s create audible artifacts such as pre-echo, but what does the music which this codec deletes sound like? In the work presented here, techniques are considered and developed to recover these lost sounds, the ghosts in the MP3, and reformulate these sounds as art.

Listen here: