February 13, 2014, is the official release date for my 33 1/3 book on Aphex Twin's 1994 album Selected Ambient Works Volume II, available at Amazon (including Kindle) and via your local bookstore. • F.A.Q.Key Tags: #saw2for33third, #sound-art, #classical, #juntoElsewhere: Twitter, SoundCloud, Instagram

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Disquiet Junto Project 0120: Readymade Rhythm

Write a song based on the heartbeat of Marcel Duchamp.

20140417-duchamp

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 early evening, California time, on Thursday, April 17, with 11:59pm on the following Monday, April 21, 2014, as the deadline.

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

Disquiet Junto Project 0120: Readymade Rhythm

The image at the following link shows the hearbeat of the artist Marcel Duchamp. Study the image closely and from it make the “rhythmic foundation” of a track. Then add two elements, one “tonal” and the other “melodic.” The result is your finished work. You may, of course, loop the hearbeat to achieve the desired length. Given the date of the recording (April 4), you should assume the beat is in 4/4, though deviations are certainly welcome. The image is located in this post:

http://blakegopnik.com/post/81699274569

Background: This image was posted earlier this month by the insightful art critic Blake Gopnik. He explained that the heatbeat of Marcel Duchamp was recorded on April 4, 1966, by the doctor and artist Brian O’Doherty.

Deadline: Monday, April 14, 2014, at 11:59pm wherever you are.

Length: The length of your recording should be between one and three minutes.

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 “disquiet0120-duchampbeat″ 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 120th Disquiet Junto project — “Write a song based on the heartbeat of Marcel Duchamp” — at:

http://disquiet.com/2014/04/17/disquiet0120-duchampbeat/

More on the Disquiet Junto at:

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

Join the Disquiet Junto at:

http://soundcloud.com/groups/disquiet-junto/

Photo associated with this Junto project sourced from the following URL, which notes “Image – margins cropped for clarity – is courtesy the artist, P! and Simone Subal Gallery”:

http://blakegopnik.com/post/81699274569

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Scanning the Background

A reworking of Alan Dunn and Martyn Rainford

20140414-colonize Scanner’s reworking of a track by Alan Dunn and Martyn Rainford is the latest in a series of efforts by the duo to explore the idea of “background.” The source audio for their remix is their A History of Background CD. This remix by Scanner is part of a dubplate made for an exhibit currently going on in Jamestown, New York, under the name Colonize. It’s a rich, constantly shifting piece, snatches of dubby static and gadgety fragments heard over a compelling electronic-tribal beat, bits of vocal tweaked and layered, filtered and muffled, until they’re just beyong ready comprehension — leaving them lingering in, as it were, the background.

Track originally posted for free download at 67projects1.bandcamp.com. More on the originating project at alandunn67.co.uk. The Jamestown exhibit was funded thanks to a kickstarter.com campaign. A previous remix in the series is by Dr Cyclops, and it is also available for free. Scanner promoted this on both his Facebook and Twitter pages, which are highly recommended.

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Disquiet Junto Project 0119: Paperback Beatmaker

Write music to accompany the typing of a work of fiction.

Screen Shot 2014-04-10 at 8.37.18 PM

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, April 10, with 11:59pm on the following Monday, April 14, 2014, as the deadline.

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

Disquiet Junto Project 0119: Paperback Beatmaker

This week’s project listens to the rhythms inherent in text. Please use a manual typewriter if possible.

These are the steps:

Step 1: Locate a section of a piece of written fiction that you admire. The section should be roughly between 125 and 200 words long.

Step 2: Record youself typing those words. Please note: You need not type it perfectly, and you should feel comfortable making some corrections as part of your typing. That said, you should come as close as possible to typing it straight through. And you should, if possible, record this in stereo in a way that distinguishes between the left and right sides of your typewriter. That text should account for roughly between a minute and a half and three minutes.

Step 3: Listen through the recording, making note of rhythmic themes, such as repeated sequences of letters, or natural pauses, or intriguing spacial separations across the keyboard.

Step 4: Record a piece of music to accompany the typing, music that uses the inherent rhythm of the typing as its foundation. Imagine, if you will, that someone could listen to this music while writing, and get into the groove, the zone, the mindset of the original writer.

Step 5: Upload the file to the Disquiet Junto group on SoundCloud and describe your approach and process in the text field associated with the track. Please be sure to name your source-material text.

Step 6: Listen to other members’ tracks as they appear in the Disquiet Junto feed on SoundCloud, and comment on them when you have the time.

Deadline: Monday, April 14, 2014, at 11:59pm wherever you are.

Length: The length of your recording should be two minutes.

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 “disquiet0119-paperbackbeatmaker″ 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 119th Disquiet Junto project — “Write music to accompany the typing of a work of fiction” — at:

http://disquiet.com/2014/04/10/disquiet0119-paperbackbeatmaker/

More on the Disquiet Junto at:

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

Join the Disquiet Junto at:

http://soundcloud.com/groups/disquiet-junto/

Image associated with this Junto project used via a Creative Commons license:

https://flic.kr/p/bRZRL

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Disquiet Junto Project 0118: That Ringing Sound

What is the room tone of the Internet?

Screen Shot 2014-04-03 at 6.17.35 PM

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, April 3, with 11:59pm on the following Monday, April 7, 2014, as the deadline.

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

Disquiet Junto Project 0118: That Ringing Sound

This week’s project is as follows. Please answer the following question by making an original recording: “What is the room tone of the Internet?”

When you’re done, upload the file to the Disquiet Junto group on SoundCloud and describe your approach and process in the text field associated with the track. Listen to other members’ tracks as they appear in the Disquiet Junto feed on SoundCloud, and comment on them when you have the time.

Deadline: Monday, April 7, 2014, at 11:59pm wherever you are.

Length: The length of your recording should be two minutes.

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 “disquiet0118-internetroomtone″ 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 118th Disquiet Junto project — “What is the room tone of the Internet?” — at:

http://disquiet.com/2014/04/03/disquiet0118-internetroomtone/

More on the Disquiet Junto at:

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

Join the Disquiet Junto at:

http://soundcloud.com/groups/disquiet-junto/

Image associated with this Junto project used via a Creative Commons license:

https://flic.kr/p/2af9A

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Sonic Pedagogy Update: Explicit/Implicit

Notes on my course on sound in the media landscape

I’ve been teaching my course on “sound in the media landscape” at the Academy of Art in San Francisco for three years now — four semesters straight since 2012 — and I’m loving it.

It seems like just yesterday that my first day of lecturing was upon me and my many educator-friends were sending me encouragement. This semester has been especially enjoyable — not just because with each passing season there’s iterative improvement of the topics, but because this semester the specific subject that has in the past proved the most elusive is, quite suddenly, not really much of a problem for the students to comprehend. This came down to one tiny little change I made in the curriculum, and yet the impact on the students’ perception of the materials has been remarkable.

Pretty much every week I assign work that builds on that week’s lecture, and I assign work that looks forward to the next week. This latter pre-lecture, pre-discussion work preps them by getting them thinking about the ideas before I explore them more fully in class — ideas like “sound in product design,” or “the history of the jingle,” “the public voice” (largely about public address systems), and so forth.

Anyhow, the course spends a lot of time on the distincion between “explicit” and “implicit” sound — between that which is self-evidently part of a product, a service, an institution, and so forth, and that which is inherently part of the same subject yet isn’t as widely understood to be so. It’s the difference between foregrounded sound, branded sound, and background sound, tacit sound.

For example, the sound of Rice Krispies cereal is explicit (it’s referenced in the characters of Snap, Crackle, and Pop), while the sound of typing on the screen of an iPad is more implicit (the tablet is often described as being silent in contrast with traditional keyboards, even though typing on an iPad does make a sound). Likewise, the quality of audio on an MP3 player or phone is likely an explicit aspect (a selling point), while the sound of the headphone being plugged into the jack is more implicit (an everyday but largely ignored aspect). The spark, the static, of plugging a guitar cord into an amplifier is a more trenchant image than is the plugging in of a headphone into a phone.

I say “more implicit” because these these things are entirely relative — and because over time implicit sounds can become explicit when they become identified with the product, service, institution, and so forth. In some cases it is more general than a specific product; it’s about a category — the Harley Davidson engine sound is unique to that vehicle, while the concept of an electric car is synonymous with an idea of relative silence. These positions are relative. In the course we tend to work on them in the form of a standard grid of quadrants — not distinct buckets so much as relative positions, along these lines:

20140403

In the past, the pre-lecture homework on this explicit/implicit material yielded not so much more questions than answers, than it did as much confusion as curiosity. The whole distinction became so loaded down that explicit/implicit for some students became synonymous with confusion, and up through the last day of a given semester we’d still be discussing how it might be employed effectively. The material was still central to the class, and essential to the subjects at hand, and yet the discussion was muddied by this confusion. I’m not saying that every subject is class is uniformly comphrehended by the students — all of them seem to get “synesthesia” and “soundscape,” while not all have embraced “acoustemology” — but this explicit/implicit material is something this semester that I really wanted to work through more productively, and I gave a lot of thought to how to better present it.

And oddly, it took just a simple change to make progress in that regard. Because this aspect of the course is especially abstract, I simply didn’t assign much in the way of pre-lecture, pre-discussion homework about the distinctions between implicit and explicit sound. I introduced the ideas in class first, built on them in various class meetings, and then dedicated a working-session class — more discussion than lecture — to work through it all. That class meeting occurred yesterday, the ninth weekly meeting of the 15-week semester, and it went quite smoothly.

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