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

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Retro-Futuristic Exotica

From Japan-based Corruption

Another piece from Corruption, the prolific Japanese musician whose SoundCloud account generally veers between broken beats and industrial field recordings, and occasionally makes pauses for equally remarkable swaths of lounge-ready background tones, in this case pulsing, seductive, beading fragments of retro-futuristic exotica.

Track originally posted for free download at soundcloud.com/corrption. More related to Corruption at the Damade label’s SoundCloud account and web page, damade-web.com, and at Corruption’s scrapbook of a Tumblr account.

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David Torn, Live (Video)

An early listen to what became Only Sky

The latest David Torn album, Only Sky (ECM), feels like the album he’s been striving for his whole recording career. It manages to find a place at home with his interest in deep, expansive atmospherics, and yet that place is one in which Torn’s pyrotechnic fluency with stringed instruments isn’t entirely put aside. In fact, the intensity of his actions feeds the equal intensity of the ambient foundation, often in the form tiny fragments set on repeat until they merge into a mist. The video follows his manipulation of the sounds, how the automation lets him trade instruments — between electric guitar and oud — without missing a beat. And better yet, at the end he speaks to the audience, apparently back in March 2013, two full years before the album’s release, at a TEDxCaltech event. What he’s playing is what became the album’s title cut.

Video at youtube.com. Found via Michael Ross’ great guitarmoderne.com website. More from Torn at davidtorn.net.

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Disquiet Junto Project 0182: Diverge Converge

Do a rendition of Ethan Hein's laptop orchestra score by yourself.

divergence-convergence

Each Thursday in the Disquiet Junto group on SoundCloud.com and at disquiet.com/junto, 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 early afternoon, California time, on Thursday, June 25, 2015, with a deadline of 11:59pm wherever you are on Monday, June 29, 2015.

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

Disquiet Junto Project 0182: Diverge Converge
Do a rendition of Ethan Hein’s laptop orchestra score by yourself.

Step 1: The following is Ethan Hein’s score for laptop orchestra. You will record a version that you will do by yourself — an orchestra of one:

  • Each performer loads a short, shared sample. It should have a distinct attack and decay, for example a bell or gong. It can be pitched or unpitched, musical or unmusical.

  • Each performer triggers the sample repeatedly, either as a steady loop or at any arbitrary time interval.

  • After a few repetitions, each performer manipulates the sample as they see fit, via pitch shifting, time stretching, filtering, or other effects. Transformations should be gradual and clearly perceptible.

  • Once the entire ensemble is playing altered versions of the sample, the performers begin to undo their manipulations, preferably in the reverse order that they were originally applied.

  • When all performers have resumed playing back the original sample, the piece ends.

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

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

Deadline: This assignment was made in the early afternoon, California time, on Thursday, June 25, 2015, with a deadline of 11:59pm wherever you are on Monday, June 29, 2015.

Length: The length of your finished work is up to you, but between one minute and four minutes is probably best in this context.

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 Soundcloud.com, please include the term “disquiet0182-divergeconverge” 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 182nd Disquiet Junto project (“Do a rendition of Ethan Hein’s laptop orchestra score by yourself”) at:

http://disquiet.com/2015/06/25/disquiet0182-divergeconverge/

The piece is based on Ethan Hein’s score, more on which here:

http://www.newmusicbox.org/articles/brahmss-third-racket/

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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The Laptop Orchestra as Remix Engine

A piece by Ethan Hein

divergence-convergence

Friends who have attended creative-writing MFA programs have said the best thing about them is simply the unadulterated time during which to write. Friends who have done advanced programs in musical composition have stated even more practical concerns: That thesis or dissertation project may be the last time they’d ever hear their music performed by an actual orchestra (or chamber group, or chorus — insert your dream ensemble here).

Ethan Hein, a prolific writer on the intersection of music theory and sampling, among other subjects, expressed that sort of pleasure when he posted his “Divergence/Convergence Remix,” a rapturously chaotic mix of chance sonic encounters and hip-hop–derived syncopation. Hein writes of it:

My first legitimate composition to be performed by someone other than me. I was asked by Daphna Naphtali to write it for the NYU Laptop Orchestra. You can read about the process of writing the piece and see the score here: www.newmusicbox.org/articles/brahmss-third-racket/

The recording is the debut performance of Divergence/Convergence at NYU. While I was asked not to include dance beats in the piece, there was nothing stopping me from adding them to the version I posted here. I feel like they really tie the whole thing together.

There’s a more in-depth piece at newmusicbox.org in which he tracks his interest in the laptop orchestra, debates the aesthetics of classical music from John Cage to John Cleese, considers the role of pleasure in art, and then shares the rule set at the heart of “Divergence/Convergence”:

Each performer loads a short, shared sample. It should have a distinct attack and decay, for example a bell or gong. It can be pitched or unpitched, musical or unmusical.

Each performer triggers the sample repeatedly, either as a steady loop or at any arbitrary time interval.

After a few repetitions, each performer manipulates the sample as they see fit, via pitch shifting, time stretching, filtering, or other effects. Transformations should be gradual and clearly perceptible.

Once the entire ensemble is playing altered versions of the sample, the performers begin to undo their manipulations, preferably in the reverse order that they were originally applied.

When all performers have resumed playing back the original sample, the piece ends.

Track originally posted for free download at soundcloud.com/ethanhein. More from Hein at ethanhein.com. (Full disclosure: while writing about his piece, Hein refers to the Disquiet Junto as “the internet’s most happening electronic music collective,” which means a lot to me.)

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Hardware from a Musician Named for Hardware

Robin Rimbaud in cahoots on his own synthesizer module

That small grid screen you see in the screenshot above is from a prototype of a synthesizer module developed by the prolific British musician Scanner, aka Robin Rimbaud, who is working on the equipment in cahoots with James Carruthers and Adrien Harris. Scanner has been deep in modular synthesis of late, and it’s a natural development that he would go on to develop his own hardware. After all, Rimbaud takes his Scanner moniker from the police-band device that was central to his early recordings. This track is a test of the device, an 8-step sequencer now in prototype stage (hence its awkward physical dimensions). A sequencer is of limited use on its own, so here it is hear activating other modules, among them one that produces old-school percussion sounds, and the Music Thing, a module that allows access to banks of prerecorded samples. The result is a mash of blissfully chaotic layers of snippets. If the pulse and dynamics of a day on a busy urban street could be transformed into a musical score, it might sound like this.

For more on the device, there’s an interview with Carruthers, who runs through the device’s toolset on YouTube.

Track originally posted for free download at soundcloud.com/scanner. More from Carruthers at twitter.com/jamescarruthers and jamescarruthers.com.

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