Everything Sounds Better Backwards

Those of you with a discerning ear might recognize this phrase of reversed Rhodes electric piano from a recent Keston and Westdal release. Here it has no processing other than being reversed. Sometimes I wonder what attracts me to reversed sounds. They are strange, but somehow familiar. We have become accustomed to hearing things backwards in music and film. The intent is usually to unnerve the listener or sound disturbing or bizarre. I hear reversed sounds as beautiful and symmetrical counterparts to the forward versions.

As far as I know, reversed sound does not happen naturally. Yet it is something that has been technologically possible since the very first sound recordings were made in the late eighteen hundreds. Thomas Edison may have been one of the first people to hear sound in reverse. He noted that when music is played backwards, “the song is still melodious in many cases, and some of the strains are sweet and novel, but altogether different from the song reproduced in the right way”. Everything sounds better backwards.

Backwards Rhodes

One thought on “Everything Sounds Better Backwards

  1. Great blog. I’m in full agreement with your feelings on reversed sounds. We are in good company too – Raymond Scott, a huge influence on me, was also heavily into reversing sounds.

    I love to spend time recording myself experimenting on my modular synth, running it through fx etc and then reversing the recording. More often than not the reversed version is so much more appealing to my ears than the forwards version.

    It sounds like its from another planet.

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