My 33 1/3 book, on Aphex Twin's Selected Ambient Works Volume II, was the 5th bestselling book in the series in 2014. It's available at Amazon (including Kindle) and via your local bookstore. • F.A.Q.Key Tags: #saw2for33third, #sound-art, #classical, #juntoElsewhere: Twitter, SoundCloud, Instagram

Listening to art.
Playing with audio.
Sounding out technology.
Composing in code.

Stellar Catalogue Sonification

From the ancient Greek astronomer Hipparchus to the ESA's Hipparcos satellite

Musician and computer science PhD candidate Jamie Ferguson teamed with the European Space Agency to develop a unique sonification of early and contemporary maps of our sky. As described at the ESA’s website, “The improvement in the quantity and precision of data, as well as the increased information content and dimensions contained in each catalogue, are palpable as the sound clip evolves from the ancient Hipparchus to the modern Hipparcos.” Hipparchus is the ancient Greek astronomer, while Hipparcos is the name of the ESA satellite. The post goes into great detail about how each of the “stellar catalogues” was translated into sound, noting what parameters were paid attention to, and how they were transposed — pitch to star brightness, for example, and volume to distance.

Audio originally posted at soundcloud.com/esa. More from Ferguson at jfergusoncompsci.co.uk.

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Disquiet Junto Project 0247: Waltz, Maybe

Interpret as a graphic score an illustration drawn upon waking by Lark Pien.

lark-piene-waltz-maybe

Each Thursday in the Disquiet Junto group, a new compositional challenge is set before the group’s members, who then have just over four days to upload a track in response to the assignment. Membership in the Junto is open: just join and participate. A SoundCloud account is helpful but not required. There’s no pressure to do every project. It’s weekly so that you know it’s there, every Thursday through Monday, when you have the time.

Tracks will be added to this playlist for the duration of the project:

This project was posted in the morning, California time, on Thursday, September 22, 2016, with a deadline of 11:59pm wherever you are on Monday, September 26, 2016.

These are the instructions that went out to the group’s email list (at tinyletter.com/disquiet-junto):

Disquiet Junto Project 0247: Waltz, Maybe
Interpret as a graphic score an illustration drawn upon waking by Lark Pien.

Project Steps:

Step 1: Look at this illustration drawn upon waking by Lark Pien. It’s titled “Waltz, Maybe.” When she posted it online, she said, “woke up to music, drew it quickly”:

https://goo.gl/djQ31Y

Step 2: Record a short piece of music interpreting the illustration as a graphic score.

Five More Important Steps When Your Track Is Done:

Step 1: Per the instructions below, be sure to include the project tag “disquiet0247” (no spaces) in the name of your track. If you’re posting on SoundCloud in particular, this is essential to my locating the tracks and creating a playlist of them.

Step 2: Upload your track. It is helpful but not essential that you use SoundCloud to host your track.

Step 3: In the following discussion thread at llllllll.co please consider posting your track. (Assuming you post it on SoundCloud, a search for the tag will help me construct the playlist.)

http://llllllll.co/t/a-cartoon-graphic-score-disquiet-junto-project-0247/4647

Step 4: Annotate your track with a brief explanation of your approach and process.

Step 5: Then listen to and comment on tracks uploaded by your fellow Disquiet Junto participants.

Deadline: This project was posted in the morning, California time, on Thursday, September 22, 2016, with a deadline of 11:59pm wherever you are on Monday, September 26, 2016.

Length: The length is up to you. Three minutes seems like a good length.

Title/Tag: When posting your track, please include “disquiet0247” in the title of the track, and where applicable (on SoundCloud, for example) as a tag.

Upload: When participating in this project, post one finished track with the project tag, and be sure to include a description of your process in planning, composing, and recording it. This description is an essential element of the communicative process inherent in the Disquiet Junto. Photos, video, and lists of equipment are always appreciated.

Download: It is preferable that your track is set as downloadable, and that it allows for attributed remixing (i.e., a Creative Commons license permitting non-commercial sharing with attribution).

Linking: When posting the track online, please be sure to include this information:

More on this 247th weekly Disquiet Junto project — “Interpret as a graphic score an illustration drawn upon waking by Lark Pien” — at:

http://disquiet.com/0247/

More on the Disquiet Junto at:

http://disquiet.com/junto/

Subscribe to project announcements here:

http://tinyletter.com/disquiet-junto/

Project discussion takes place on llllllll.co:

http://llllllll.co/t/a-cartoon-graphic-score-disquiet-junto-project-0247/4647

There’s also on a Junto Slack. Send your email address to twitter.com/disquiet for Slack inclusion.

Image associated with this project is the (unintended, but used with approval) graphic score by Lark Pien.

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Introducing Tinycastles

Featuring Lyndsie Alguire and Thomas Boucher of Montreal

This 10-minute piece, “Vines,” which grows from a simple mix of field recordings and a madrigal-like electric guitar line to a majestic, orchestral drone, is a first taste of Tinycastles. Tinycastles, based in Montreal, is the duo of Lyndsie Alguire and Thomas Boucher. The track is an expansive sprawl. That early electric guitar has a classical flavor to it, and it is soon joined by ethereal vocals and sparkling synthesizer. It builds and builds, but only in spaciousness, never in momentum, and never in heft. The more complex it gets, the larger it gets — almost as if the duo had challenged themselves to keep its density a near constant.

For a sense of what Alguire is like solo, here’s her lovely and brief ambient piece “When the Roads Meet,” which has the heavenly feel of “Vines,” but filtered to a raspy, lo-fi effect.

Tracks originally posted on SoundCloud (“Vines,” “When the Roads Meet”). (The SoundCloud page for Tinycastles lists Thomas as Thomas Boucher, but Facebook discussions about the group list him as Thomas Swyer.)

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What Sound Looks Like

An ongoing series cross-posted from instagram.com/dsqt


The city’s doorways are littered with antiquated doorbells, with replacement devices glued next to faulty equipment, with buttons rubbed hollow and faceplates cracked from years of abuse, stained by the elements. What you don’t see very often is a button, like this one, busted to its core, splayed like a fetal pig in a science lab, split like a child’s toy after an especially hyperactive birthday party. In a city with more than its share of lackluster doorbells, this one is still an outlier, the button itself missing entirely, the spring-like ribbon of metal twisted beyond use, the inner casing rusted. This device is devoid of any evidence of social interaction, all the more so when taken in the broader context of the entry: the flaked paint, the cracked seams, the rusting gate. And yet there is, still, something admirable about those twin screws, with their broad, flat faces and sizable gaps. They look tight, sturdy, stalwart. The doorbell may be beyond repair, and the doorway may suggest that no one cares enough to even try, but the screws are formidable: What’s left of this doorbell will be hanging around for some time to come.

An ongoing series cross-posted from instagram.com/dsqt.
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The Piano Among the Patch Cables

A formidable live ambient performance by Carl Mikael

This video from Carl Mikael’s Cabinet of Curiosities YouTube channel is an exemplary live ambient music performance. The 14-minute piece shows him at his piano, a modular synth to the side, and a laptop visible just beyond that. He begins at the piano, mic’d closely so the physicality of the instrument’s mechanism is almost as present as the intended notes themselves. Especially when listened to through headphones, the sound is very much caught within the piano, deep in its wooden cavern. Shortly thereafter, the external tools, that array of patched synthesizer modules and the software running on his laptop, is heard echoing, looping, and transforming the piano, gentle chords fading softly as they go. As the loops come to the fore, he then returns to the piano, adding notes, sometimes as accompaniment, sometimes as a source of subsequent looping. Rhythms, albeit gentle ones, are introduced. There’s a mechanized beat early on, and later, near the five-minute mark, he taps on the piano to get a wooden percussion sensation. Later still he knocks a glass bottle against the device. There’s an formidable mastery to Mikael’s performance, how he moves back and forth between the old and new music-making tools, as well as the makeshift ones.

It’s the latest piece I’ve added to my ongoing YouTube playlist of fine “Ambient Performances.” It was originally posted at YouTube. When I started collecting this playlist, I was looking for videos that manage to display the act of making ambient music — something that is rightly associated, in general, with studio production, but that also has a wide range of live practitioners. I’ve collected many such videos so far, and Mikael’s may be the first to show (almost) all the equipment, and the musician’s face as he makes decisions, and the musician’s hands as he makes his way back and forth from one device to another. It’s a great piece.

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