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Sometimes when playing along to music, you notice that the recording is transposed not by a semitone or a whole tone (whereby you could just play along on any normally tuned instrument), but by an interval that requires tuning down/up by a quarter tone. I have noticed that it is commonly found in movies.

My question is, quite simply: why?

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3 Answers 3

up vote 40 down vote accepted

log (25 / 24) / log (2) * 1200 = 70.67, so the conversion of a standard movie (24 frames per second), to be broadcast on European TV (25 frames per second) will shift all pitches up 70 cents; that's one common situation that you may be referring to.

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It's probably not transposed, but speeded up or slowed down by a little bit. Sometimes to fit exactly into a sequence, sometimes changed to fit better with the mood of the film at that point. With digital sound, nowadays, this is not a necessary operation to do, as the tempo can be altered without affecting the pitch. Previously, to slow a piece down (to make if fit a longer scene), would have dropped its pitch, maybe by as little as you've found.

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A simple way to quickly counter this argument is that it remains constant throughout the movie. I did consider this though. –  mschlafli Aug 2 at 20:58

What user12864 said, it's the PAL speedup.

Luckily, these days it's easy to reverse by telling your movie player to play at 96% (24/25) speed.

THX films correct the pitch, by the way.

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6  
Just one more suggestion, if that's too much trouble. you can also slow down your own perception of time a bit too –  Grey Aug 2 at 0:53
1  
Or perhaps get rid of it altogether. :) –  BobRodes Aug 2 at 18:27
    
Thanks very much for the source. Exactly what I was looking for. –  mschlafli Aug 2 at 20:49

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