This Toto song just came up on my iTunes shuffle and it made me think about how crazy it is that there’s this handful of engineers who’s work has had this huge, incredibly outsized impact on how popular music sounds: Moog, Scholz, whoever wrote the Antares autotune routine, whoever put together the sample set for the Fairlight CMI (ORCH5), Roger Linn, etc. So I was looking up who designed the original Eventide Harmonizer (fair or not, Toto puts you in the mind of old Eventide hardware) and I found this on the Eventide webpage about the H910, the original Eventide pitch processor that is on old Bowie tracks, etc:
Early customers included New York City’s Channel 5 putting an H910 to work, downward pitch shifting the audio portion of “I Love Lucy” reruns that were sped up to squeeze in more commercials.
Elsewhere on the internet, it says that the idea was that if you sped up the tape, you could edit in a few more commercials, but the audio would end up being all pitched up, so you need to be able to do a pitch-without-time-change to get the dialog and such back to normal human sound. The thing is, how many people saw I Love Lucy when it was originally on? How widespread was this practice? Do we all know Lucy’s madcap pace from these sped-up reruns? Is this the comedy equivalent of a sped-up martial arts sequence? Maybe in the original, Lucy looked like a slacker when she wasn’t able to keep up with the assembly line at the bon-bon factory. How much of its manic energy comes from being replayed sped up?