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.

field notes

News, essays, reviews, surveillance

What Sound Looks Like

An ongoing series cross-posted from instagram.com/dsqt


The chapel bell at Fort Ross, founded by Russians in 1812 safely between Mexican and British outposts on the coast of California north of Bodega Bay. It has a sweet tone, and you can almost see the thick, slow-moving waveforms as it fades to silence over time. But be on your guard while taking photographs, as some pre-adolescent may lean in and ring it like it’s an Olympic event just when your eardrum is most susceptible to intense pain.

An ongoing series cross-posted from instagram.com/dsqt.
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What Sound Looks Like

An ongoing series cross-posted from instagram.com/dsqt


The spot in this paperback musical dictionary where the word “ambient” might appear.

An ongoing series cross-posted from instagram.com/dsqt.
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What Sound Looks Like

An ongoing series cross-posted from instagram.com/dsqt


Saw this on a car bumper this morning, sticker for a radio station where I used to DJ.

An ongoing series cross-posted from instagram.com/dsqt.
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What Sound Looks Like

An ongoing series cross-posted from instagram.com/dsqt


It’s almost certain that the lower-right button is D, but as for B and C, that’s something of a guessing game. The orientation of buttons on doorbells can be confusing. For example, often in two-level buildings the lower-number address is on the bottom, so the numbers align with the vertical hierarchy of the living quarters. Sometimes the buttons in a four-spot setup like this one will run top/bottom, sometimes left side/right side. I don’t think I’ve ever seen them run clockwise or counterclockwise, but such a scenario is likely out there, given how haphazard many urban-apartment doorbells are. That is all presuming there are actually B, C, and D apartments in the building anymore. Maybe the whole place was taken over and turned into a mini-mansion: living large while hiding in plain, determinedly indistinct sight.

An ongoing series cross-posted from instagram.com/dsqt.
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The Politics of Doorbells

Privacy, technology, politeness, and caution in the age of Instagram

A friend asked: Has anybody caught you taking pics of their door buzzer? And if you do get caught, how would you explain yourself?

I answered: One person has. I was taking the photo one morning of the buzzer at a generic, undistinguished apartment building. Someone was backing their car out of the multi-tenant garage. The person for some reason got out of their car before it was fully backed out, I think maybe to see if anyone was walking on the sidewalk, and then saw me. Instantly I was asked, quite anxiously, “What do you think you’re doing?” The person was upset. I looked back and said, “I’m taking a picture of the doorbell.” The person instantly calmed and said, “Oh, OK. Thanks. Have a good day.” I have some rules about the doorbells I photograph, and among them are anonymity — not only do I never post photos that show clearly evident names, I don’t even take photos of doorbells that have identifiable names clearly on them. The second rule is addresses. If the full address is on it, I don’t take the picture. Those two rules alone keep at bay a lot of the interpersonal weirdness (the perceived invasion of privacy in taking a picture of something that by definition is fully public). I’m also pretty careful that no one is watching when I do it. That morning when the driver got upset with me was a bad call on my part. The garage door was already open. I should have seen that coming.

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