Neat audio illusion explained using that annoying Smashmouth song


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That could mean any Smashmouth song.


Am I missing something? Ok, the thing with the words along with the piano was amazing. But the supposed Smashmouth? All I could hear was random piano bashing, not the least hint of any tune, let alone words.


The cough bit worked on me, and I could hear the academic speech from the piano. But not the Smashmouth or the jumping tower at all.
Not sure if I’m just born that way but as a DJ I taught myself to mix, which involves hours of practice per day listening to two songs of different tempos at the same time and adjusting the speed of the one on cue so it matches the one playing in the room. It is REALLY HARD to tell which one is which while you’re training your brain. It takes like a year, but once you get it, it’s like a switch flips and it becomes instant and ridiculously easy. So I wonder if maybe I’ve ruined my ability to hear the illusions that I might otherwise hear.
The ever-increasing tempo illusion seemed like it might work on me but I don’t feel like it played long enough for me to tell. But it reminded me of the chords in the rhythm of Smashing Pumpkins’ Starla, which seem to continually escalate (there’s a name for it that I forget, they didn’t come up with it themselves)
It kicks in at 6:34, but if you’ve got the time play the whole thing. It’s a slow burn, one of their best.

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The strange thing is I closed my eyes during the part with the text and piano and I could still make out the “words” but it was far easier to understand when viewing the text with the sound.

Still, very freaky and fascinating.

The final example in the video of the Risset phenomenon was covered in greater depth in a great Vox explainer last year:


I started out hearing banging. When he told me I was supposed to be hearing All Star, I could then pick out All Star + banging. When he told me I probably heard the words (I didn’t), I started listening for them and eventually picked up on the picket-fence/underwater audible-range frequencies that corresponded the beginning and endings of the expected syllables.

I guess somebody can pick it up on their own, but without the expectation I wouldn’t have synced up to it, at least not as fast – read: not fast at all – as a I did.

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I tried this with some of my comedy sketches from years ago on my podcast:


The interface between the brain and the sensory organs is wild. Here’s a Twitter thread on visual processing.


Pretty amazing… Our brains truly are constructing reality for us


Which means we’re only a step away from training them to construct an alternative reality for us.


The amazing part is, if you close your eyes and only listen to the bass track, All Star sounds exactly like a good song.

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Funny how much some music is enhanced simply by removing the annoying vocalist from the mix.

It’s like reverse synergy.


Technically called ygrenys.


I see what you did there.


It’s a variant of the Shepard scale. Jean-Claude Risset, who invented the Risset rhythm shown in the video, also invented a continuous variant, called the Shepard-Risset glissando.

The linked Wikipedia articles provide audio examples.


“You may recognize the song being played as All Star by Smashmouth…”

No, I didn’t because you started talking almost as soon as the video began and left about 4 seconds of silence to hear the song in total.

Talks over the jumping animation and ends with “Do you hear it?” then immediately cuts away from the animation.

It’s a cool topic but this is really annoying me with how it’s put together.


ya, for sure-- shut up, brodawg! lemme listen!
Also, did you rush through this whole thing so you could spend 15% of the video pitching your podblog or whatever?


It’s why I hate having to watch a video walkthrough when I’m stuck in a game. 5 minutes of:

(Unskippable ad) Yo yo yo whassup bros it’s your boy Chad, better known as EliteDankGamer3018 here to with Pterodactyl Quest 4 and will show you how to get the Beak Master achievement. This shit is hard, yo - like that’s what she said. LOL. But first, I wanna tell you about these awesome Keto Snax from my Bros over at Food Warez. Before you start pussing out… (fast forward …) Ok so first I gotta go in the Cave of Despair and… ah shit, I died… try that again… (fast forward) … fuck yeah! That’s how you do it! This is your boy… (rewind to find the 5 seconds that are relevant)

Give me some marginally decent text and maybe a picture any day over that nonsense.