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: May 2014

disquiet.com/forums

A new place to talk about sound/art/technology, now in public beta

This is a notification that there’s a new spot on Disquiet.com for discussing music.

It’s an open forum, hosted at disquiet.com/forums. The forum went live yesterday, May 29, and is in public beta. That means: please feel free to join in, but don’t be surprised if not everything functions. The design has not yet been matched to the overarching Disquiet site, and we’re still sorting out how best to bridge the gap between a forum and the comments associated with Disquiet posts.

Right now, to keep things simple, there are just three discussion topics. Two are focused on the Disquiet Junto: There’s a spot to introduce yourself, and a spot for open discussion. One thing I’d like to do soon is to have a book discussion. If you have ideas for a book for us to read and discuss as a group, there’s also a thread for vetting possible subjects.

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Tangents: Data Immersion, the Tuning of the Internet, Superloops, …

Plus: the emotional key of books, physical computer drums, quantum computer sounds, steampunk modular, and more

Tangents is an occasional collection of short, lightly annotated mentions of sound-related activities.

Data Immersion: Characteristically breathtaking video of a new work by Ryoji Ikeda, perhaps the leading installation poet of data immersion. This is of his piece “supersymmetry,” which relates to his residency at CERN, the supercollider. More at supersymmetry.ycam.jp:

In an interview he talks about the dark-matter research that informed his effort:

“Supersymmetry is being considered as a possible solution of the mystery of this dark matter. During the period I’m staying at CERN, there are experiments being carried out with the aim to prove the existence of as-yet undiscovered ‘supersymmetry particles’ that form pairs with the particles that make up the so-called ‘Standard Model’ catalogue of physical substances. Data and technologies of these experiments are not directly incorporated in the work, but I’m going to discuss a variety of things with the physicists at CERN, and the results of these discussions will certainly be reflected.”

Tones of the Internet: The tonal repository of the Internet is very different from the room tone of the Internet, which we explored in a recent Disquiet Junto project. Over at wired.com, Joseph Flaherty profiles Zach Lieberman, with an emphasis on his Play the World project, which scours the Internet for sounds — the music heard on radio stations — and then allows them to be played back. “Using the set-up,” Flagerty writes, “a person can literally turn the internet into a musical instrument.” What makes that sentence more than hyperbole is that the source audio is played at the note triggered by the user, though it’s by no means “the Internet” being played, and instead a fairly well-circumscribed and specific subset of the Internet. (The effort brings to mind the title of R. Murray Schafer’s classic book of sound studies, The Tuning of the World.) It’s part of DevArt, a Google digital art endeavor that has nothing to do with Deviant Art, the longstanding web forum for (largely) visual artists, or with Devart, the database software company. “Play the World, and several other DevArt projects,” reports Flaherty, ” will make their debut at the Barbican Gallery of Art in London in July, but the code is available on Github today.” There’s something intriguing about an art premiere that is preceded by the materials’ worldwide open-source availability. Here’s audio of the note A being played for 20 minutes based on a wide array of these sound sources. It appears to be from Zieberman’s own SoundCloud account, which oddly has only 15 followers as of this writing. Well, 16, because I just joined up:

The Singing Book: At hyperallergic.com, Allison Meier writes about an effort to extract the emotional content from writing and turn it into music. It’s a project by Hannah Davis and Saif Mohammad. Below is an example based on the novel Lord of the Flies. More at Davis and Mohammad’s musicfromtext.com. A few weeks back, the Junto explored a parallel effort to listen to the rhythm inherent in particular examples of writing, and to make music based on that rhythm:

Everyday Drum: The divisions between words like “analog” and “digital,” and “electric” and “acoustic,” are far more blurred than they get credit for, as evidenced by this fine implementation of an iPad triggering not just physical beats, but whimsically innovative ones made from bottle caps, buttons, grains tacks, and other everyday objects (found via twitter.com/Chris_Randall). The project is by Italy-based Lorenzo Bravi, more from whom at lorenzobravi.com:

LED Modular: Vice Motherboard’s DJ Pangburn interviews Charles Lindsay (the SETI artist-in-residence, who invited me to give that talk last month) on his massive LED installation, which involves the chance nature of modular synthesis applied to recordings of the Costa Rica rainforest. Says Lindsay:

“I love modular synthesis, the unpredictable surprises, the textures and wackiness,” he said of his heavily-cabled Eurorack modular synthesizer. “My rig is populated by a lot of SNAZZY FX’s modules. I’m part of the company, which is essentially Dan Snazelle, a wonderful genius, inventor and musician. We share an approach that says ‘let’s build these things and see what happens.'”

Also part of the LED exhibit, titled Carbon IV, is audio sourced from the quantum artificial intelligence laboratory at NASA Ames. Here’s audio from Linday’s SoundCloud account:

Superloops: Rob Walker shifts attention from the “supercut” of related material — like the “yeahs” of Metallica’s James Hetfield — to the superloop of standalone elements. “The opposite of a supercut,” writes Walker at Yahoo! Tech, “the superloop condenses nothing. To the contrary, it takes one brief moment of sound or video and repeats it.” It was an honor to be queried, along with Ethan Hein, in Walker’s research. I pointed him to the great sounds of the Star Trek enterprise on idle. … And in somewhat related news, in Walker’s “The Workologist” column in The New York Times, in which he responds to “workplace conundrums” from readers, he has some advice for someone bothered by an office mate’s gum chewing (“Other than the clicking of keys and occasional phone calls, it’s the only sound in an otherwise quiet office”); he writes, in part:

Because you’ve ruled out music, maybe a comfortable set of noise-canceling headphones — tuned to nothing — would be enough to blunt the irritating sounds. Or you could consider any number of “white noise” generators that are available free online. Noisli.com, for example, generates forest sounds, coffee-shop noise and the like. You also could do a little research on “ambient” music and use a service like Pandora to construct a nondistracting sound stream. Such approaches may be inoffensive enough that you can simply play the sound at low volume from your computer — no earbuds required.

Steampunk Modular: By and large, I tend to keep the threshold of coverage above the level of “things that look neat,” but sometimes that neat is neat enough that I can’t resist, especially when it’s tied to a fine achievement by a talented sound practitioner. Richard Devine has posted on Instagram this shot of steampunk-style effects module, encased in an old book, that he got from the makers of the Xbox One video game Wolfenstein: The New Order:

Synesthesia Robots: And here’s one from Kid Koala of his lofi visual interface for his sampler. Koala is a talented cartoonist as well as an ace downtempo DJ. Those efforts have collided in a score he’s made for a graphic novel, and in various staged performances he’s put together, and this achieves a functional correlation in a very simple manner:

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Disquiet Junto Project 0126: NOLA Re-metered

Change the meter of a 1918 jazz recording by the Louisiana Five.

20140529-lh5

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.

Tracks by participants will be added to this playlist as the project proceeds:

This project was published in the evening, California time, on Thursday, May 29, with 11:59pm on the following Monday, June 2, 2014, as the deadline.

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

Disquiet Junto Project 0126: NOLA Re-metered

This week’s project combines two familiar Disquiet Junto elements: shared source audio and a pair of dice. The goal is to rework an existing archival jazz track by adjusting it to a new meter. The steps are as follows:

Step 1: Download the song “Slow and Easy” by the Louisiana Five Jazz Orchestra from this URL:

https://archive.org/details/LouisianaFive-SlowAndEasy

Step 2: Roll two dice. Add 1 to the result of each rolled die. Thus, if you rolled a 4 and a 6, you would have a 5 and a 7. (Note: if both dice resulted in the same number, roll one of them again until you have two different numbers. And if you find your result just plain confusing, certainly feel free to roll until you find one you’re comfortable with.)

Step 3: The new meter of your project is the first die over the second. Thus, the result from step 2 would mean your new meter is 5/7.

Step 4: Rework a segment of the source track and in the process change the meter from the original to the meter that was determined in step 3. You may add additional audio, but some prominent aspect of the original source track should be evident in your final work.

Deadline: Monday, June 2, 2014, at 11:59pm wherever you are.

Length: Your finished work should likely be between a two minutes and four minutes, but there’s no formal length requirement.

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 “disquiet0126-nolaremetered″ in the title of your track, and as a tag for your track.

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, please be sure to include this information:

More on this 126th Disquiet Junto project — “Change the meter of a 1918 jazz recording by the Louisiana Five” — at:

http://disquiet.com/2014/05/29/disquiet0126-nolaremetered/

More on the Disquiet Junto at:

http://disquiet.com/?p=16588

Join the Disquiet Junto at:

Track sourced from:

https://archive.org/details/LouisianaFive-SlowAndEasy

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Mysterious Miniatures from Funabashi

The latest from the prolific Corruption

The SoundCloud account known simply as Corruption and self-identified as originating in Funabashi, Japan, continues to post intriguing amalgamations. The tracks mix noise and melody, splatters of disaffection and elements of nostalgia and sentimentality. Whether they’re sketches of works in progress, or parts of an overarching single work, remains unclear. The accompanying text, when there is any, is often is simple Japanese, simple enough for Google translate to manage it. One recent highlight is “Lukewarm,” a bit of Pick Up Stix percussive prickles beneath a hovering drone that gives way to a melodious bit of electric piano. At 1:20 in length, it’s exactly the sort of mysterious miniature that makes listening to the web such a pleasure.

Track originally posted for free download at soundcloud.com/corrption.

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An Arcade of Reflection

Music for a secular service, played communally on PlayStation controllers

The composer Bryant O’Hara participates in the Sunday Assembly — a kind of non-religious church, as it were — in Atlanta, Georgia, where some aspects of the secular service involve music. He wanted to think of another means to introduce music into the communal activity, and came upon the idea of a collaborative video game system that uses game controllers to collectively build a composition in real time. As he describes it in some extensive documentation of his process, which also goes into his choice of programming languages, among other details:

I started thinking about this project after attending the first two meetings of Sunday Assembly Atlanta. There were several parts of the meeting where we did karaoke, and I was wondering whether there was another form of musical interaction – perhaps even unique to the organization – that we could do as a body. That got me thinking about new ways of looking at how music could be made and how it could be experienced.

This “shared” instrument, as he calls it, involves PlayStation controllers, and he has posted the above audio recording of a nearly half-hour performance, which dates from the end of last month. The result is a kind of meditative game parlor, an arcade of reflection, the steady beat layered with an ever-changing amalgamation of colorful beeps and bloops, whirry static, and other largely percussive sonic elements.

Here’s some silent video of the interface in action:

Track originally posted for free download at soundcloud.com/bryant-ohara. More on O’Hara’s project at intimateandintricate.wordpress.com.

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