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.

Monthly Archives: February 2013

Disquiet Junto Project 0061: Textinstagr/am/bient

The Assignment: Record a single for which the cover would be the image suggested by a @textinstagram tweet.

20130228-textinstagram

Each Thursday at the Disquiet Junto group on Soundcloud.com 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.

This assignment was made in the mid-afternoon, California time, on Thursday, February 28, with 11:59pm on the following Monday, March 4, 2013, as the deadline.

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

Disquiet Junto Project 0061: Textinstagr/am/bient

This project requires a single die, or the digital equivalent.

Here are the steps in the project:

Step 1: Roll a die six times (or six dice once), add up the combined results, and then subtract five from it. Make note of the resulting number. If you don’t have access to a die, you can use various digital equivalents. This link, for example, will roll six dice simultaneously:

http://www.random.org/dice/?num=6

Step 2: Visit this Twitter account:

https://twitter.com/textinstagram

Step 3: Count the tweets of that account backwards from the most recent tweet at the time of your visit until you reach the tweet that coincides with the resulting number from step 1 above. Make note of this tweet, unless it begins with an @ sign. If the tweet begins with an @ sign, then use the next tweet (continuing down in reverse chronological order). If the next tweet also begins with an @ sign, then continue until coming to a tweet that doesn’t begin with an @ sign. This final tweet will serve as the title of the track you will soon begin composing and recording.

Step 4: Now, roll a die twice (or two dice once), add up the combined results, and then subtract one from it. Make note of the resulting number. This link will roll two dice simultaneously:

http://www.random.org/dice/?num=2

Step 5: Visit this web page and locate the list of Instagram filters:

http://goo.gl/MWPb0

Step 6: Count down the list of filters on that page until you come to the filter that coincides with the resulting number from step 4 above.

Step 7: Close your eyes and imagine a simple photograph that would be described with the tweet that is the title of your track, and that would have been treated with the filter that resulted from the step 6.

Step 8: Now imagine that the image from step 7 is the cover of your next single. Record a track of original ambient music that would be this single. It should be between one and two minutes in length, true to the postcard-like quality of Instagram — and, by extension, Textinstagram.

. . .

Background: This project is a low-key followup to the Instagr/am/bient compilation that I developed at the end of 2011, and that was in many ways the direct precursor of the Disquiet Junto. Various contributors to Insta/gr/ambient were among the initial participants in the Junto.

Deadline: Monday, March 4, 2013, at 11:59pm wherever you are.

Length: Your finished work should be between one and two minutes in length.

Information: Please when posting your track on SoundCloud, 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.

Title/Tag: When adding your track to the Disquiet Junto group on Soundcloud.com, please include the term “disquiet0061-textinstagrambient” in the title of your track, and as a tag for your track.

Download: Consider setting your track in a manner that allows for attributed, commerce-free remixing (i.e., a Creative Commons license permitting non-commercial sharing with attribution).

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

More on this 61st Disquiet Junto project at:

Disquiet Junto Project 0061: Textinstagr/am/bient

More details on the Disquiet Junto at:

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The Bounty of the Cricket (MP3)

A field recording by Floridian Phillip Wilkerson

The moon is gibbous. We know this because Phillip Wilkerson tells us so. He tells us in the process of titling an elegant, two-and-a-half-minute recording he made of droning crickets. The track is “Crickets Beneath a Waxing Gibbous Moon,” and it is one of Wilkerson’s ongoing and regular documents of his physical world, or more to the point the sonic components of that physical space. As with any sonic document, it is a part of a whole: the mechanical ear of the recording device focused on an aspect of a moment, that framing moment defined by the ear of the recording artist. Here the crickets are a chorus in the form of a cycle, these bright, microsonic chirps heard both as near-distance percussion and, in dense combination, a deep, far away, underlying drone. The illusion is to perceive this as either/or, when in fact there is, of course, a gradation in between, one that is difficult to locate, but well worth focusing on.

Track originally posted for free download at soundcloud.com/phillipwilkerson. More from Wilkerson, who is based in Florida, at phillipwilkerson.com and phillipwilkerson.tumblr.com. Image of moon phases courtesy of wikipedia.org.

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Ecstatic Glaswegian Industrial Drone (MP3)

40 minutes of absolutely intense white noise

The sheer interminable white noise drone that is “A Soul with No Footprint” sounds like a massive factory at work, a factory in which the work is that of several hundred machines, each machine shaving some hard metal down to a fine point, sparks flying in controlled abandon, a grid of these spark clusters separated in rows and columns along the shop floor, all of it heard from above by a maintenance engineer caught up in the beauty of the chaos while navigating a catwalk to change out a rouge bulb. The track is one of two off a recent EP of the same name by Elizabeth Veldon, who’s based in Glasgow, Scotland. The full EP is available at “name your price” over at elizabethveldon.bandcamp.com, the second piece, “Folk Music as a Parasitic Infection,” exploring similarly ecstatic territory.

Track originally posted for free download at soundcloud.com/elizabethveldon. More from Veldon at twitter.com/elizabethveldon.

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The Urban Stream (MP3)

When quiet sounds cause jarring disruptions

20130223-urbandrain

Sometimes quiet sounds are the most jarring, such as hearing what could be a stream while walking down a particularly cement-lined and almost entirely tree-less street in a large city. It’s a sunny winter Friday in San Francisco, not far from the ocean. There’s a strong wind, and passing planes and cars, and yet the sound is there, for certain, the sound of a small stream. Of course, it isn’t a stream, not in the general sense. It’s a drain, whose holes let the passing water echo above. A struggling bit of microfoliage, tiny weeds making their way to the sunlight, confirm the liquid below.

Track originally posted for free download at soundcloud.com/disquiet. Track recorded on my Nexus 4 cell phone using Easy Voice Recorder Pro on Friday, February 22.

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Stems: Listening to Carruth, Mansell, and The New Republic

Plus: Matmos' toolset, sound design tips, the culture of rhythm, Sherlock's scanner ...

Primer Directive: The complete score of Shane Carruth’s film Upstream Color is streaming for free, 15 tracks in total. Extended stretches of the film are devoid of dialog, and the natural sound and music, along with the visuals, are left to do the storytelling. As Jascha Hoffman tweeted shortly after seeing the film at its Sundance debut, “Shane Carruth’s Upstream Color : plot // William Basinski’s tape loops : song form.”

Stoked About Stoker: “At the beginning of Stoker, India Stoker (Mia Wasikowska) tells us she can hear things more clearly than most people, a talent that is quickly apparent seeing as every noise and sound in India’s life is amplified.” That’s from the opening of Allison Loring’s appreciation of the sound design and score of the new Park Chan-Wook film, with music by Clint Mansell as well as a song from Emily Wells and a new piano piece by Philip Glass — at filmschoolrejects.com.

URL Earmarks: This is pretty intriguing. The recent redesign of the website of The New Republic (newrepublic.com) includes a button that will read out loud the text on the page. Like buttons for Twitter and Facebook, for email and “save to PDF,” this is almost certainly going to be a UI/UX norm. So far, however, per this screenshot, it seems largely to be “coming soon”:

201302-newrepub

In Brief: “Lost within the act of listening, I give attention to that which is often ignored: the high-pitched silence of a winter day; the whir of a movie projector displaying a silent film; the cavernous echo inside a museum. ” That’s from the latest post at the blog Phonomnesis, by John Kannenberg, sound artist and founder of the Stasisfield netlabel. ¶ Ethan Hein has posted a six-slide presentation about the extent to which rhythm is a cultural construct. That he is a new father is clearly an impetus for his exploration: slideshare.net. ¶ “Too loud? Sorry. I went downstairs to get some cereal. Didn’t want to miss anything. The city has excellent scanner apps but, um, there’s nothing like the tactility of the original devices, all those dials and buttons.” That’s Sherlock Holmes, as played by Jonny Lee Miller, in episode six (“Flight Risk”) of the first season of Elementary. The scene is on youtube.com:

20130224-sholmeselementary

¶ Many thanks to Peggy Nelson of hilobrow.com for having highlighted the Disquiet Junto’s end-of-2012 audio journal project. ¶ A tour of Matmos’ studio at xlr8r.com. ¶ List (at indiewire.com) of tips from top-rank sound designers has broad applications. Among the tips: “Decide if sound or music should do the heavy lifting in every scene” and “Too many sonic elements can be confusing.”

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