All four tracks, layered on top of each other, make for a weird and beautiful listening experience
Text and Recordings by Alexander Abnos
Over the course of the United States’ four games in Brazil, I managed to record the opening procession and national anthems at each. I didn’t know what I would do with the recordings at first, but eventually the idea popped into my head to layer these recordings over each other, syncing up the stadium backing track as much as possible.
Stadium PA backing tracks rarely work for national anthems, precisely because half the crowd will be singing along with them. In large stadiums with thousands of people belting out the song, it becomes nearly impossible to follow the backing track, and fans inevitably carry off on their own tempo, creating a weird, sloppy delay. That’s not necessarily the fault of the fans — it’s the fault of sound waves, the doppler effect, and other weird physics things that can happen when you play loud music in a large concrete bowl. Not to mention the fact that most fans couldn’t give a crap about staying in line with the backing track in the first place.
I honestly expected the final product to be kind of a mess.
I was wrong. Though you can’t really make out the enunciation of specific words, the final product sounds exactly like I hoped it would: four games’ worth of U.S. fans singing the national anthem at once. Kind of strange. Kind of uplifting. Happy Fourth of July, everybody.
Image via Cornell University Library