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

Listening to art.
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Sounding out technology.
Composing in code.

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Disquiet Junto Project 0147: Slight Noise

The Assignment: Record 8 seconds of white noise in your own personal style.

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Each Thursday in the Disquiet Junto group on SoundCloud.com and at Disquiet.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 evening, California time, on Thursday, October 23, with 11:59pm on the following Monday, October 27, 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 0147: Slight Noise
The Assignment: Record 8 seconds of white noise in your own personal style.

This week’s project:

Step 1: Record 8 seconds of white noise in your own personal style.

Step 2: Upload the finished track to the Disquiet Junto group on SoundCloud.

Step 3: Listen to and comment on tracks uploaded by your fellow Disquiet Junto participants.

Length: Your finished work should be 8 seconds long.

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.

Title/Tag: When adding your track to the Disquiet Junto group on Soundcloud.com, please include the term “disquiet0147-slightnoise″ 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 147th Disquiet Junto project — “Record 8 seconds of white noise in your own personal style″ — at:

http://disquiet.com/2014/10/23/disquiet0147-slightnoise/

More on the Disquiet Junto at:

http://disquiet.com/junto

Join the Disquiet Junto at:

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

Disquiet Junto general discussion takes place at:

http://disquiet.com/forums/

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How to Build a Girl

Reading and reconstructing the tea leaves of Taylor Swift's accidental hit

There have been many responses to the eight-second accidental hit of white noise attributed to pop star Taylor Swift. At theatlantic.com, Megan Garber stitched together quotes from Don DeLillo’s novel White Noise to form a review (“It is the time of year, the time of day, for a small insistent sadness to pass into the texture of things. Dusk, silence, iron chill. Something lonely in the bone.”). At vulture.com, Nate Jones drew a comparison to the late Lou Reed’s Metal Machine Music. The white noise snippet was erroneously titled “Track 3,” so at theverge.com, Ross Miller compared it to a silence inherent in the real third track on the record:

Swift’s actual track 3 (actual name TBD) does have actual lyrics, as teased on her Instagram account: I say “I heard that you’ve been out and about with some other girl” — all followed by an extended, anxiety-inducing, 29-dot ellipses.

And over at his soundcloud.com/junkrhythm account the Los Angeles–based Junk Rhythm went so far as to create white noise from scratch and post a how-to on YouTube:

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Like a Robot Tuvan Choir

A live solstice performance by Gretchen Jude

Gretchen Jude’s “Midsummer Dark” track was performed live this year at Oakland, California’s annual Garden of Memory, an annual solstice event that takes place in a columbarium and invites a wide range of musicians. Her sole instruments on this appear to be a synthesizer made from a kit in the famed (at least famed in the maker set) Japanese magazine Gakken and a sampler from Roland, the SP-404. That isn’t intended as gear-hound talk, just as a recognition of the systems in play. The result is glottal, droning mass, the undulating layers like a robot Tuvan choir. For 16-plus minutes straight, she pushes at the drone, eking out impressive states yet never piercing the veil.

Track originally posted at soundcloud.com/gretchenjude. More on the Garden of Memory at gardenofmemory.com. More from Gretchen Jude at gretchenjude.weebly.com.

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Vicky Chow’s Piano Is a Machine

A work by Adam Basanta

Vicky Chow performs the 20-minute “This Machine Breathes to the Rhythms of Its Own Heartbeat,” a recent composition by Adam Basanta. Basanta’s website describes the work a being “for solo piano, electronics, and two surface transducers.” What that description lacks is mention of the voice with which the piece begins — a monologue that serves as the contemporary classical equivalent of the sort of procedural introduction to an episode of a show like Dragnet or, more recently, Southland. It lays out the facts, which have the plainspoken quality of the piece’s title, with limited emotion, a distance that lends the everyday a peculiar level of depth and intensity, of foreboding. The music then does those suggested qualities full justice. “This machine will not communicate. All it knows to do is turn on and off. This machine does not operate according to our timescale,” and so on. From there a mix of droning feedback and rarified piano figures alternate, the former no doubt originating in the latter. The result is an exploration of vibrant mechanical activity, from the white noise of strong feedback to the snare-drum-like rattle of open chords to isolated keys that echo like pin drops.

Track originally posted at soundcloud.com/vicky-chow. More from Basanta at adambasanta.com. More from Chow at vickychow.com.

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What Is Julia Mazawa Reworking?

Glitch chamber music from Oakland, California

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Glitch isn’t inherently entropic. Glitch may sound like things falling apart, but in capable hands it can also sound like things coming together. In more neutral terms, glitch may be considered a means of taking stock of something by considering as its underlying structure not the work itself but the reciprocal connection between the work and the medium on which it was recorded and reproduced. “Mere Anarchy” is the title of Julia Mazawa’s gracefully broken bit of chamber music, a piece heard as embedded in vinyl and then looped in small fragments thanks to digital technology. In Mazawa’s piece, the sounds heard being reworked are not unlike a memory playing over and over in one’s head, slowly reassembling after some extended period of disregard. Tiny flecks of strings are looped, at first a few seconds of alternating moments, then a more extended excerpt, then just after the eight-minute mark a separate violin, pitched higher and more foregrounded. The format of the memory is vinyl, evident in the scratchy surface noise that, with each repetition, takes on the semblance of a percussive element. Mawawa performs a kind of ecstatic exploratory surgery on the original, never quite revealing it, but laying the parts bare and reveling in their inherent qualities. I had it in mind to send Mazawa an email asking her to help identify the source material, but decided to first see if anyone reading this might recognize it.

Track originally posted for streaming at soundcloud.com/juliamazawa. Mazawa, who is based in Oakland, California, opened the final night of the recent San Francisco Electronic Music Festival, and has a piece in the “Sonic Frame” installation that I developed for the 45th-anniversary exhibit Momentum: an experiment in the unexpected, which opened October 2, 2014, and runs at the San Jose Museum of Art through February 22, 2015.

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