Intelligence, OCD, Music and a Computer

I've recently had the rare opportunity to interview the owner of the website Ulillillia City. Here is the Ulillillia site map. While browsing his site I noticed his rare view on music. Things regarding music the average person would never dream of. Ever played your favorite song on loop for a month straight? How about change its speed or apply detailed algorithms determining how much you "like" it? Like I said, things an average person would never dream of. I hope you enjoy my first attempt at an interview here on All That Racket. For privacy reasons I'll simply refer to him as Uli throughout the interview.

All That Racket: Why does slowing down music sound better to you?

Uli: I don't exactly know why changing the speed of music, whether faster or slower, is better, but I have many theories. Some songs are very "active", like Out Where the Lake Is (level 10 on Bubsy), and they tend to sound better at slower-than-normal speeds. For songs that are very "inactive", like Target Zone (Monkey Target 2 on Super Monkey Ball 2), they tend to sound better at faster-than-normal speeds. Some songs have a very wide range of favorite speeds (like Final Fantasy 6 World (the first verison)) while others have a very narrow range. It started with the Talkboy tape recorder [featured in Home Alone 2] and my curiosity. The history on what got me into listening to music at different speeds is on my site here (section 1.3). The most common speed range that almost any song sounds good at is from 68 to 78% true speed (or about 2/3 to 4/5 true speed for close fractions). The extremes range from just 20% true speed (OWTLI and another song from Final Fantasy 9) to up to 400% true speed.

ATR: You've been able to listen to the same song for months on end, even in your sleep. What pushes you to do that?

Uli: What keeps me at the same song for weeks on end is a combination of extremely high compatibilities and my OCD. FF6 World version 1 has the highest sustained compatibility at 2200. Compatibilities rarely go beyond 50. 2200 means I like it 44 times as much as 50 with up to 1936 times the sustainability (the square of 44). By that, instead of playing for 1 minute, it'd play for 1936 minutes without pausing. Further amplifying it is my OCD, obsessive compulsive disorder. Very few things I know of even break into the four-figure realm, the start of extreme favorites. Computers, even though I use them daily, aren't even beyond 1000. Putting these extreme compatibilities together with OCD allows me to listen to the same song, even the same song and speed, for weeks on end. As of Aug 8, 2007, my records would just baffle the mind. Same song: 53 consecutive days (with two quick returns lasting for at least a week shortly after this). Same song and speed: 17 consecutive days. Same song on a single source: 107 consecutive days on my MP3 player (due to a record 3190 compatibility spike, the highest known for everything I've experienced). For the same song, my second and third place records are almost just as amazing: 46 and 42 days. I'm quite strict when it comes to keeping these records. The streak is broken when the song does not dominate the day and by dominate, I mean by having listened to it for at least half of my waking time. The time spent while sleeping, even though it may be playing, doesn't count, but even then, it can still be playing making it 23 hours a day for weeks on end. [Related link: How I process music from WAV to MP3 for my MP3 player]

ATR: Why do you think the 3190 compatibility spike happened?

Uli: As to the 3190 spike, the value is determined through motivation and a formula, of which I've mentioned the formula several times on my site. Motive squared equals sustainability compared to neutral. In one of my old blog entries, I've explained things in more details such as the exact position of the spike (last 4 measures of the second part of two).

ATR: Have you ever wondered if you were breaking any Guinness World Records, and if you tried to hold the world record yourself, would the song have to have an exact compatibility (based on the current record) for you to even attempt such a feat?

Uli: As the world records, I don't know what 99.9% of them even are. I don't have any idea what it is. The sustained 2200 compatibility yielded about 70 days' worth of nonstop listening at the max (approximate), but 65 is more likely, but that's with changing speeds and adjusting. If the world record was 1020 days, I'd need a sustained compatibility of 8800 before this is obtainable and something that high is dangerous. Having the OCD made even more intense, allowing for more loops, would also boost the likelihood, but this is more unlikely than finding a song with a 3000 sustained compatibility.

ATR: Why songs from video games opposed to songs on the radio?

Uli: All my songs come from video games since that's the easiest and most accessible way of getting songs without lyrics. This page (section 1.3.4) explains the reasoning for the lack of lyrics. The games they come from are all over the place across many console systems from the NES to the Playstation 2 and the Sega Genesis. The Final Fantasy series holds the 3 first place records of the most listened to songs (FF6's world map music (the version early in the game that seems repetitive), FF9's normal battle music, and FF1's world map music). The next highest is the Genesis game, Ristar (Round 5-1, of which I call "Winter Land"), which has just 27 days, half my record but fourth place. OWTLI, my most listened to song (nearly a million total life time plays achieved in just 11 years (that's almost exactly 2 years of total combined nonstop play at the average speed of about 76% true speed)), has the fifth place record at 22 days, a record that held steady for almost a decade.

ATR: Is there music in the mind game you're working on? If so, have games like Bubsy and Final Fantasy inspired it?

Uli: As to my mind game, there is no music. In the games I make, however, there will be, especially starting with my 2D RPG game and in those later on. My current game in the works, a remake of "The Supernatural Olympics", is unlikely to have music, but it will more likely have sound effects. In the later games, my thoughts at the moment are "200 or bust" or "500 or bust". The number represents the minimum allowed compatibility. Details, right now, even some major ones, have yet to be worked out so whether or not Bubsy or Final Fantasy will inspire it will remain unknown until the time comes and this is likely quite a ways away yet (at least a year, likely 2 to 3 years, about the time I'd have gained enough programming skills to work on my 2D RPG game and have gotten to the point where it's playable and music could be added. One of my remakes of an existing song (Winter Zone (Ice Cap Act 1's music on Sonic 3)) has been made significantly better in compatibility than the original and the highest is 2 1/2 times better. Even then, it's still far from any of the higher ranked ones.

As a side note, I had "Ozmone Plain" playing, the music for the same region in Final Fantasy 12. It was mostly played at around 85% true speed. I've got "Mosphoran Highwaste" playing now, also from the same game, but unlikely to last as long. It currently plays at 90% true speed (86% true speed on my MP3 player). The 68 to 78% range is where intersections occur for almost every song. Ozmone Plain has good speeds in this range and outside of it on both sides (less toward the slow end - 60% in the minimum).

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Anonymous said...

Uli, your OCD expresses itself in the most interesting ways. Don't ever let them put you on meds ... or, if you're on meds, don't let them take you off. My point is, whatever you're doing, keep doing it.

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Anonymous said...

His name is NICK SMITH, why the privacy? That's stupid, who cares if he has OCD. You link to his site, you idiot, maybe don't try to be so secretive ;) You can't keep things from us (the internet)