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.


Daily recommended free MP3s + streams

Bright Static and Touchtone Glitch

Communication breakdown, courtesy of Yusuke Nakamura

Texture isn’t secondary in Yusuke Nakamura’s “Tone.” On first impression, it sounds like a landline phone call that has fallen just short of a full connection, and we’re listening in as the systems on either end try to reconcile their differences. It’s all bright static and touchtone glitch. In time the basic, underlying 4/4 grid of the music becomes clear, but even as the song-ness of it takes hold, that frazzled-communication vibe retains its fresh, vigorous hold on your ear.

Track originally posted at More from Nakamura, who is based in Tokyo, Japan, at and

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Ringtones, the Scanner Collection

Free downloads of sonic micro-fictions by Robin Rimbaud

Just like Rufus Wainwright, I generally leave my cellphone on vibrate. But there are reasons to veer from that habit. There are certain situations, such as driving or setting a wake-up alarm, that suggest a sonic signal is the best option. And then there is simply the attraction of the sounds themselves, like when a musician of Scanner’s stature makes new ringtones available for free download. Late last week he posted 17 tracks from an aborted commission. They range in length from 3 seconds to 16 seconds, and in style from variations on a traditional doorbell (“Twing”), to minute techno (“Elelo”), to bell tones (“Cobel”), to violin (“Gentlemen”).

Brief as they are, the 17 individual tracks are each rich with detail, with a sonic depth that would have been unimaginable when cellphones were first introduced. It is, also, hard not to imagine each tone as the starting point of a fuller composition. Many of them work quite well, in that regard, on repeat — they are starter cells for long stretches of minimalism. A ringtone can, in the correct circumstances, set the tone for a given situation. In that sense, Scanner’s cellphone tones are cues to fictions that their users willingly submit themselves to.

Scanner explains the scenario that led up to the tracks’ release in a brief accompanying note:

Ringtones that were originally commissioned for a new telephone out on the market soon, but after some months of back ‘n forth all my sound work was rejected for being ‘too Scanner.’ Rather than let these rot on a hard drive, here they are all in mono, low resolution for your own delight. Playful, fun little tunes to brighten up your smart phone.

Download the ringtones for free at More from Scanner at

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Glia’s Beat

A track with three parts, one invisible

The arrhythmia of the beat against the tonal sweetness of the melodic material makes the track “__..____._” by Glia sound like someone having an acute panic attack on an otherwise serene day. The gap between those sensations, the significant expanse between the anxious churning percussion of the beat and the soft see-saw of the suspended waveforms, makes for a third presence. The track’s title, with its suggestion of a coded message, adds yet another layer of context. I wondered if the apparent Morse code might be supplying the beat, so I popped it into a translator, but it returned a null.

Track originally posted at More from Glia at

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Disquiet Junto Project 0169: HTML505

Make a track using only an HTML5 drum machine.


Each Thursday in the Disquiet Junto group on and at, 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 will be added to this playlist for the duration of the project:

This assignment was made in the evening, California time, on Thursday, March 26, 2015, with a deadline of 11:59pm wherever you are on Monday, March 30, 2015.

These are the instructions that went out to the group’s email list (at

Disquiet Junto Project 0169: HTML505
Make a track using only an HTML5 drum machine.

Every Junto project is about, to some degree or another, exploring the freedom to be found within constraints. This week’s project takes a piece of software as its constraint.

Step 1: Go to the following webpage in a browser that supports HTML5:

Step 2: Create an original track using only this tool.

Step 3: Upload your track to the Disquiet Junto group on SoundCloud.

Step 4: Then listen to and comment on tracks uploaded by your fellow Disquiet Junto participants.

Deadline: This assignment was made in the evening, California time, on Thursday, March 26, 2015, with a deadline of 11:59pm wherever you are on Monday, March 30, 2015.

Length: The length of your finished work should be roughly between one and four minutes.

Upload: Please when posting your track on SoundCloud, only upload one track for this assignment, and 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.

Title/Tag: When adding your track to the Disquiet Junto group on, please include the term “disquiet0169-html505” 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 169th Disquiet Junto project — “Make a track using only an HTML5 drum machine” — at:

More on the drum machine at:

More on the Disquiet Junto at:

Join the Disquiet Junto at:

Disquiet Junto general discussion takes place at:

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Sabrina Schroeder’s Industrial Theater

A live performance from late 2014

The sheer scale of Sabrina Schroeder’s “Stircrazer: Hammer + Flutter” brings to mind theater as much as it does music. Despite its extended quiet passages, it is dense with activity. It has the implicit energy and presence of a massive construction site sealed off by a privacy wall. Whirring and rattles, dragged equipment and electric drones, all amid fierce rumbles, collectively bring to mind an industrial set piece out of Heiner Goebbels. The work credits four performers in addition, presumably, to Schroeder herself — Pablo Coello, saxophone; Angélica Vázquez, harp; David Durán, piano; and Ramón Souto, percussion — but it sounds like legion. And as it progresses, it comes into focus, like the massive machinery has been laid bare, and yet its purposes remain mysterious.

In an accompanying note, Schroeder, who posted the track at the start of this month, gives some context: “Work-in-progress workshopped and premiered this past November (2014) by Vertixe Sonora Ensemble in the Correspondencias Sonoras Festival at Galician Center for Contemporary Art, Santiago de Compostela, Spain.”

The piece was posted at More from Schroeder at She is based in Somerville, Massachusetts, where she is pursuing her PhD at Harvard in composition, and is director of the Harvard Group for New Music (

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