Ever since someone realised you could manually spin a vinyl record the wrong way, people have been experimenting with playing sound backwards. The Beatles did it to great effect using reverse tape effects on Sergeant Pepper, and some bands tried mind control by hiding hidden messages via phonetic reversal in their album tracks.
Reverse tape, phonetic reversal, backmasking, they all just mean playing it backwards, but you might like to use one of the other phrases to sound like you know what you are doing. It’s really very easy though, you can experiment just by using a simple option in Adobe Audition.
Open or record your sound in Audition, and preview it in the single track edit window. Save the track so you have the correct version safe before you alter it, now choose either the whole track or the section you want to reverse. Now select Effects from the top menu and then Reverse from the dropdown list. It is Reverse and not Invert, Invert is something else entirely, still very useful but despite how it sounds, it is nothing to do with reversing. Now save you reversed sound, just change the filename so you don’t overwrite the original.
You can now play your selection in reverse, or save it for use in a multi track edit. See? I said it was simple. Of course, once you’ve reversed it, you can use Audition to play around with it even more, speeding it up, slowing it down, adding echo, changing modulation. It’s not just for voices, reversing natural or musical sounds can give all manner of cool effects, like the backwards Cymbal in The Beatles’ 1967 single Strawberry Fields Forever.
As long as you begin with a nice natural sound that changes pitch, then the altered version will also have that nice organic feel to it, so try recording a few sounds around you, dogs barking, machinery, birds, water, anything you can get hold of. You can use the same process to record existing tracks and listen to them backwards, I’d probably avoid any heavy metal albums from the 1970s though.
[Image via e2e]