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.

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I’ll Be Talking About Doorbells in Oakland (Dec. 1)

At the offices of the design studio Futuredraft

I’ll likely mention this again, since today is sort of a busy day for many people, but the meetup.com invitation has gone live for the talk I’m giving on doorbells on December 1 in Oakland. Here’s the description:

You’re visiting someone — a friend, a colleague — and you arrive at their building. You put the tip of one of your fingers up against a tiny button that sits beside the entrance, and you push. Somewhere inside the building a bell resounds. Tied up in that tidy interaction are a host of telling cultural, historical, and technological details about the way machines mediate human interaction.

How long do you wait before ringing again? What does the echo of the bell tell you about the interior space? Is the doorbell paired with a camera? Does the camera make you feel suspect, or at least wish that you’d fixed your hair? Will a disembodied voice inquire about your identity? How long have you been standing there? Did the bell ever actually ring? Had you accidentally let your finger slip? Did you perhaps never really register your presence?

Marc Weidenbaum, a longtime critic of and community organizer in electronic music, will talk about the cultural history of that everyday pushbutton gadget, the doorbell. He will discuss the intercom’s development in Japan, the rise of the domestic surveillance apparatus, the consumer-product soundscape of everyday life — and, ultimately, what lessons the humble, ubiquitous doorbell provides in regard to the Internet of Things, the smart home, and the role of sound in user interfaces.

Marc is the author of the 33 1/3 book on Aphex Twin’s classic album Selected Ambient Works Volume II. His sonic consultancy has included work on GPS mobile apps and coffee-shop sound design, and he has done music supervision for two films, the documentary The Children Next Door and the science fiction movie Youth. He’s exhibited sound art in galleries in Los Angeles, Manhattan, and Dubai, as well as at the San Jose Museum of Art. December 2016 marks the 20th anniversary of his blog, Disquiet.com, which focuses on the intersection of sound, art, and technology.

The talk will be held at the offices of Futuredraft (futuredraft.com) in Oakland at 304 12th Street Suite 4E. The talk is free, but RSVPing (via that MeetUp URL) would be nice.

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What Sound Looks Like

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


I enjoy writing liner notes, all the more so when the record comes out on vinyl. I’m pretty sure this — a three-LP set of early (1970s + 1980s) electronic music by Carl Stone — is the first time I’ve seen my name on one of those little stickers that goes on the vinyl cellophane wrapper. I used to decorate my bedroom door in high school with such stickers. Very proud to have worked on this, and to have my writing appear alongside that of two writers whom I admire: Richard Gehr and Jonathan Gold.

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


Bureaucracy.

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 chandeliers at this hotel I stayed at sure looked like Victrola horns.

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


I flew a kite for the first time in decades if not ages, for the first time perhaps since before my own age hit double digits. The kite was a gift my child, still early on in single digits, had received, and we took it down to the ocean — a straight shot by bus from our home — to see how well it took to the wind. There is a dragon on the kite, a not particularly friendly looking dragon. The higher the kite flew, the more the dragon’s eyes seemed to shine with the sun. If you can hear your kite, that’s not a particularly good sign. When the kite lingers a couple dozen feet above the beach, the tails flutter perceptibly, much like a flag fighting to stay erect in a storm. If you hear your kite, it is proximate to ground, perhaps heading rapidly in that direction. The goal is to not hear your kite. The higher the kite goes, the quieter the flutter, until at some point the kite makes no sound at all. It ascends into silence. I had it in the air for almost 45 minutes straight, learning to tug this way and that to keep it afloat when the elements challenged its flight plan. At some point I recognized that I could pluck the string and watch the waveform travel up to the heavens, up to the kite, which would jiggle a bit in response. The slender tether made me think of Ellen Fullman’s Long String Instrument, which places the performer, generally Fullman herself, in a field of resonant strings, like a Lilliputian caught in a luthier’s workshop. I wondered how my long string might come to make sound, rather than recede from sound. As it hung in the air, I took mental notes about attaching something, maybe a bell, maybe a wind chime. Those experiments are for the next trip to the beach.

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