Extrapolation and the Windows 95 startup sound

19.35, Wednesday 2 Dec 2020

Like all people of a certain age, the Microsoft Windows 95 startup sound is ingrained in my soul, along with dial-up modem handshaking and the default Nokia ringtone.

It’s a little over 3 seconds long, and was created by ambient music legend Brian Eno. Here’s what he said in 2006:

The thing from the agency said, “We want a piece of music that is inspiring, universal, blah- blah, da-da-da, optimistic, futuristic, sentimental, emotional,” this whole list of adjectives, and then at the bottom it said “and it must be 3 1/4 seconds long.”

I thought this was so funny and an amazing thought to actually try to make a little piece of music. It’s like making a tiny little jewel.

In fact, I made 84 pieces. I got completely into this world of tiny, tiny little pieces of music. I was so sensitive to microseconds at the end of this that it really broke a logjam in my own work. Then when I’d finished that and I went back to working with pieces that were like three minutes long, it seemed like oceans of time.

(Here’s the Windows sound slowed down 23x. It sounds exactly like a Brian Eno ambient track.)

ANYWAY. The question is, what happens after 3.25 seconds?

Listen to this:

Windows 95 startup sound but an AI attempts to continue the song (2 mins).

(Source: #algopop)

The startup sound continues, repeating and looping into itself, eventually turning into washes of sound, then returns but this time gyres up and the beat mixes in with a barely discernable 40s dixieland and singing, but lost between radio stations like a David Lynch movie, then finally the refrain returns, only to drift into distorted dogs barking and backwards talking behind echoes of itself obscured by static, the sound of hell.

So, yeah. Tune.

RELATED: Algorithmically extended art. Previously blogged here when I said: Always wanted to see more of the night sky in Van Gogh’s Starry Night? Well now you can.

Looking beyond the frame. Listening beyond the end of the track.

This idea of extrapolation seems to be in the zeitgeist at the moment. It’s what GPT-3 does with text, taking words and trying to say what’s next. Part of me wonders why society is so obsessed, right now, with this extension beyond limits, but that’s a thought for another day.

So what else can be extrapolated?

Could I select an email thread in my inbox, write a reply, and see an extrapolated response before I choose to send it?

Dead people? Channel 4 is recording holograms of terminally ill people to deliver one last message. For a TV show. And of course: Kanye West has surprised his wife Kim Kardashian with a hologram of her late father for her 40th birthday. What would it take to deliver 2 minutes of extrapolation too?

Could I extrapolate between episodes of a favourite TV show to get extra stories?

I want to apply this to Google Maps and walk around an extrapolated London.

Could I get spiritual advice through an audience with the extrapolated Pope?

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