Manipulation of original music tracks creates new, bizarre sub-genres of music

March 27, 2019 — by Annissa Mu

In response to the common complaint of mainstream music’s lack of variety comes the arise of a plethora of edited song tracks, made to transform popular tunes into something new and exciting. Through these edited audio tracks come new subcultures and music genres that people love and share.

Browsing through these kinds of audio is a great way to find calming study tunes. For example, I find that piano, music box and even 8-bit covers are effective background music for studying, thanks to its combination of a familiar melody and simpler median.

Edited audio also doesn’t always have to be background music. It can serve its musical entertainment at the forefront of our attention, just like the songs we listen to while simply driving or taking a walk. The most prominent example of this is probably nightcore, which is made by jacking up the speed and pitch of any given song track. It seems like a small change but the given effect has made nightcore incredibly popular. In fact, some of its videos have amassed over 100 million views on YouTube.

I was personally obsessed with nightcore in middle school because I somehow found that it sounded better and more exciting than the original song. It also introduced me to a great number of artists that I love today, like Panic! At the Disco and Fall Out Boy.

Eventually, I grew out of nightcore, though, and it now sounds pretty annoying. However, the intense and squeaky sound of it will always hold fond memories for me. I sometimes still visit old nightcore YouTubers just to experience the nostalgia of my middle school days again.

Another strange music edit is 8D audio, in which the music is manipulated to make it sound like the source of the sound is panning around you. By adjusting the volume of specific areas in your device’s speakers, it makes one part louder than another and in turn creates a locomotive effect. There’s also usually an added echo to create a ambient atmosphere that often makes it feel like you’re at a concert, sitting alone in a huge stadium. I think 8D audio is really cool, but I would never listen to it extensively because the echoing eventually starts to get annoying.

Another type of edited audio that plays with your sense of location and one that I really enjoy is “playing in another room” edits. To make these, songs are overlaid with various audio and effects to make it seem like the song is playing in a specific setting, such as the bathroom at a party or a car in the rain. I find these kind of tracks quite soothing because it detracts from the intenseness of the original song and slightly muffles it with another pleasant sound such as rain.          

One genre of edited music that I wish there were more of is Vaporwave. Vaporwave is defined as a microgenre of electronic music, featuring and mixture of mood music styles such as jazz, R&B and Funk. There are a few original Vaporwave tracks, but most of them are sourced by manipulating original ‘90s songs.

Generally, to make Vaporwave, the chosen song is slowed down and given additionally funk beats or filters. There is also an increased emphasis on the backtrack rather than the main vocals. This drastically transforms the tone of the song to one that I like to describe as a retro, electronic acid trip.

I thoroughly enjoy the laid-back yet trippy atmosphere Vaporwave creates, and the transformations from the original tracks are fascinating. Unfortunately, Vaporwave is now known more for its visual aesthetic rather than its auditory origins, so the creation of Vaporwave music has stalled quite a bit recently.

From the stylization of Vaporwave to the varied songs of nightcore, edited audio brings forth a massive supply of unique music and sounds. If you ever feel fed up over the same 10 songs that are constantly being repeated, try exploring the library of edited  music fully available on YouTube. You might be surprised how much you like it.