“moDernisT” is a haunting track created by Ryan Maguire, a PhD student in Composition and Computer Technologies at the University of Virginia Center for Computer Music, using the data left over when the Suzanne Vega single “Tom’s Diner” was compressed into an MP3 file. The track is the first entry in Maguire’s The Ghost in the MP3 project, chosen because the Vega song was used in early MP3 coding tests.
What are these lost sounds? Are they sounds which human ears can not hear in their original contexts due to our perceptual limitations, or are they simply encoding detritus? It is commonly accepted that MP3’s create audible artifacts such as pre-echo, but what does the music which this codec deletes sound like? In the work presented here, techniques are considered and developed to recover these lost sounds, the ghosts in the MP3, and reformulate these sounds as art.