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.
Playing with audio.
Sounding out technology.
Composing in code.

tag: copyleft

Disquiet Junto Project 0111: Acts of Commons

Rework work from Impulsive Habitat, Xylem, Zeromoon (via actsofsilence.com).

20140213-actsofcommons

Each Thursday at the Disquiet Junto group on SoundCloud.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.

Tracks by participants will be added to this playlist as the project proceeds:

This project was published in the evening, California time, on Thursday, February 13, with 11:59pm on the following Monday, February 17, 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 0111: Acts of Commons

Create a new piece of music by using nothing but the following elements from these three pieces of music:

The last 30 seconds of Juan Manuel Castrillo’s “Horizontales,” from the album by that name on the netlabel Impulsive Habitat:

http://impulsivehabitat.com/releases/ihab084.htm

The first 10 seconds of J. Surak’s “Improvisation for Prepared Autoharp,” from the album If You Smell Gas on the netlabel Zeromoon:

http://museumofmicrocassetteart.bandcamp.com/album/moma086-if-you-smell-gas

The first 20 seconds of Maddame Cell’s “Auto Tempo 1,” from the album Autotempo on the netlabel Xylem:

http://xylemrecords.bandcamp.com/album/autotempo

Background: all of this music is available for free, non-commercial download and creative reuse thanks to a Creative Commons license. This project is part of a series of “netlabel remixes” intended to promote that sort of thoughtful, collaborative sharing. The audio was sourced from reviews posted originally at the excellent website actsofsilence.com, which is run by David Nemeth.

Deadline: Monday, February 17, 2014, at 11:59pm wherever you are.

Length: Your finished work should be between 2 minute and 5 minutes.

Information: Please when posting your track on SoundCloud, 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 “disquiet0111-actsofcommons” in the title of your track, and as a tag for your track.

Download: Due to the nature of the source material, your track should be set as downloadable, and with a license that allows for attributed remixing (i.e., a Creative Commons license permitting non-commercial sharing with attribution).

Linking: When posting the track, be sure to include this information:

Thanks to a Creative Commons license, this track contains elements of music by Juan Manuel Castrillo (“Horizontales,” from the album by that name on the netlabel Impulsive Habitat), J. Surak (“Improvisation for Prepared Autoharp,” from the album If You Smell Gas on the netlabel Zeromoon), and Maddame Cell (“Auto Tempo 1,” from the album Autotempo on the netlabel Xylem).

More on this 111th Disquiet Junto project (“Rework work from Impulsive Habitat, Xylem, Zeromoon (via actsofsilence.com)”) at:

http://disquiet.com/2014/02/13/disquiet0111-actsofcommons/

More on the Disquiet Junto at:

http://disquiet.com/?p=16588

Join the Disquiet Junto at:

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

The source audio for this track is available for free download from these netlabel websites:

http://impulsivehabitat.com/releases/ihab084.htm

http://museumofmicrocassetteart.bandcamp.com/album/moma086-if-you-smell-gas

http://xylemrecords.bandcamp.com/album/autotempo

The audio was sourced from reviews posted originally at the excellent website actsofsilence.com, which is run by David Nemeth.

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Disquiet Junto Project 0103: Tinsel Song

The project: Make a song based on last week's "sonic tinsel" project.

20131219-tinselsong

Each Thursday at the Disquiet Junto group on SoundCloud.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.

Tracks by participants will be added to this playlist as the project proceeds:

This project was published in the evening, California time, on Thursday, December 19, with 11:59pm on the following Monday, December 23, 2013, as the deadline.

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

Disquiet Junto Project 0103: Tinsel Song

This week’s project, the 103rd, is based on last week’s, the 102nd. The instructions are as follows:

Step 1: Select three different works from last week’s project, as collected at this URL:

https://soundcloud.com/disquiet/sets/disquiet0102-sonictinsel

Step 2: Label them Source A, B, and C.

Step 3: Create an underlying foundation for a song by creating a loop-able segment structured as follows: four beats of Source A, four beats of Source B, four beats of Source A, four beats of Source C.

Step 4: Let that loop repeat twice before introducing any additional elements.

Step 5: Continue to loop the segment and augment/distort/filter it as you so desire, and introduce any additional material, toward the goal of creating an original piece of music.

Bonus Round: If you are inclined, create a chorus for the song by holding Source B for an extended period of time, and create a bridge by holding Source C for an extended period of time. Again, feel free to augment/distort/filter them.

Deadline: Monday, December 23, 2013, at 11:59pm wherever you are.

Length: Your track’s length should be between 1 and four minutes.

Information: Please when posting your track on SoundCloud, 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: Include the term “disquiet0103-tinselsong” in the title of your track, and as a tag for your track.

Download: Please consider employing a license that allows for attributed, commerce-free remixing (i.e., a Creative Commons license permitting non-commercial sharing with attribution).

Linking: When posting the track, be sure to include this information:

More on this 103rd weekly Disquiet Junto project (Make a song based on last week’s “sonic tinsel” project) at:

http://disquiet.com/2013/12/19/disquiet0103-tinselsong/

Source audio from these three tracks:

[insert links to SoundCloud page for the three source tracks]

More details on the Disquiet Junto at:

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

Image associated with the project adopted from one found via Creative Commons at:

http://goo.gl/FUIcVq

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disquiet.gizmodo.com

On Disquiet.com now participating in the Gizmodo ecosystem

These are two things that I think Geoff Manaugh, editor-in-chief of the technology and design blog Gizmodo.com, didn’t know about me when he asked if I’d consider bringing Disquiet.com beneath his website’s expanding umbrella.

1: My “to re-blog” bookmark file has been packed in recent months with scores of items from pretty much all of the Gizmodo-affiliated sites — not just Gizmodo, but io9.com, Lifehacker, Jalopnik, Gawker, and Kotaku. Probably Jezebel and Deadspin, too, but the file is too thick for me to tell.

2: Pretty much the first thing that I read every morning with my coffee — well, every weekday morning — is the “Morning Spoilers” at io9.com, the great science fiction website that is part of the Gawker network that also contains Gizmodo.

I knew Manaugh’s work from BLDGBLOG and, before that, Dwell Magazine. He’d previously invited me to involve the weekly experimental music/sound project series that I run, the Disquiet Junto, in the course on the architecture of the San Andreas Fault that he taught in spring 2013 at Columbia University’s graduate school of architecture. And I am excited to work with him again.

And so, there is now a cozy disquiet.gizmodo.com subdomain URL where I’ll be syndicating — simulposting — material from Disquiet.com, as well as doing original straight-to-Gizmodo writing. I’m hopeful that members of the Gizmodo readership might further expand the already sizable ranks of the Disquiet Junto music projects (we just completed one based on a post from Kotaku), and I’ll be posting notes from the course I teach on “sound in the media landscape” at the Academy of Art here in San Francisco.

For new readers of Disquiet, the site’s purview is as follows:

* Listening to Art.

* Playing with Audio.

* Sounding Out Technology.

* Composing in Code.

I’ll take a moment to break that down:

Listening to Art: Attention to sound art has expanded significantly this year, thanks in no small part to the exhibit Soundings: A Contemporary Score at the Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan. That exhibit, which ran from August 10 through November 3, featured work by such key figures as Susan Philipsz (whose winning of the Turner Prize inspired an early music compilation I put together), Carsten Nicolai (whom I profiled in the new Red Bull Music Academy book For the Record), and Stephen Vitiello (whom I’ve interviewed about 911 and architectural acoustics, and who has participated in the Disquiet Junto). But if “sound art” is art for which music is both raw material and subject matter, my attention is just as much focused on what might better be described as the role of “sound in art,” of the depictions of audio in various media (the sound effects in manga, for example) and the unintended sonic components of art beyond sound art, like the click and hum of a slide carousel or the overall sonic environment of a museum. Here’s video of Tristan Perich’s “Microtonal Wall” from the MoMA exhibit:

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Playing with Audio: If everything is, indeed, a remix, that is a case most clearly made in music and experimental sound. From the field recordings that infuse much ambient music to the sampling of hip-hop to the rapturous creative reuse that proliferates on YouTube and elsewhere, music as raw material is one of the most exciting developments of our time. Terms like “remix” and “mashup” and “mixtape” can been seen to have originated or otherwise gained cachet in music, and as they expand into other media, we learn more about them, about the role such activities play in culture. And through the rise of audio-game apps, especially in iOS, such “playing with sound” has become all the more common — not just the work of musicians but of audiences, creating a kind of “active listening.” This notion of reuse, of learning about music and sound by how it is employed after the fact, plays a big role in my forthcoming book for the 33 1/3 series. My book is about Aphex Twin’s album Selected Ambient Works Volume II, and it will be published on February 13, 2014, just weeks ahead of the record’s 20th anniversary. As part of my research for the book, I spoke with many individuals who had come to appreciate the Aphex Twin album by engaging with it in their own work, from composers who had transcribed it for more “traditional” instruments (such as chamber ensembles and solo guitar), to choreographers and sound designers, to film directors.

Sounding Out Technology: A briefer version of the Disquiet.com approach is to look at “the intersection of sound, art, and technology.” The term “technology” is essential to that trio, because it was only when I learned to step back from my fascination with electronically produced music and to appreciate “electronic” as a subset of the vastly longer continuum of “technology” that connections became more clear to me — say, between the sonics of raves and the nascent polyphony of early church music, or between creative audio apps like Brian Eno and Peter Chilvers’ Bloom and what is arguably the generative ur-instrument: the aeolian harp. With both Bloom and the aeolian harp, along with its close relative the wind chime, music is less a fixed composition than a system that is enacted. As technology mediates our lives more and more, the role that sound plays in daily life becomes a richer and richer subject — from voice-enabled devices, to the sounds of consumer product design, to the scores created for electric cars:

Composing in Code: Of all the technologies to come to the fore in the past two decades, perhaps none has had an impact greater than computer code. This is no less true in music and sound than it is in publishing, film, politics, health, or myriad other fields. While the connections between mathematics and music have been celebrated for millennia, there is something special to how, now, those fields are combining, notably in graphic systems such as Max/MSP (and Max for Live, in Ableton) and Puredata (aka Pd), just to name two circumstances. Here, for reference, is a live video of the Dutch musician and sound artist Edo Paulus’ computer screen as he constructs and then performs a patch in Max/MSP. Where the construction ends and the performance begins provides a delightful koan:

All of which said, I’m not 100-percent clear what form my disquiet.gizmodo.com activity will take. I’m looking forward to experimenting in the space. I’ll certainly be co-posting material from Disquiet.com, but I’m also planning on engaging with Gizmodo itself, and with its broader network of sites. I’ve already, in advance of this post, begun re-blogging material from Gizmodo and from Gizmodo-affiliated sites: not just “sharing” (in the UI terminology of the Kinja CMS that powers the network) but adding some contextual information, thoughts, tangents, details. I’m enthusiastic about Kinja, in particular how it blurs the lines between author and reader. I like that a reply I make to a post about a newly recreated instrument by Leonardo Da Vinci can then appear in my own feed, leading readers back to the original site, where they themselves might join in the conversation. Kinja seems uniquely focused on multimedia as a form of commentary — like many CMS systems, it allows animated GIFs and short videos to serve as blog comments unto themselves, but it goes the step further of allowing users to delineate rectangular sub-sections of previously posted images and comment on those. I’m intrigued to see how sound can fit into that approach. (It’s no surprise to me that Kinja is innovative in this regard — it’s on Lifehacker that I first learned about the syntax known as “markdown.”) I think that all, cumulatively, makes for a fascinating media apparatus, and I want to explore it.

While I typed this post, it was Tuesday in San Francisco. I live in the Outer Richmond District, just north of Golden Gate Park and a little over a mile from the Pacific Ocean. The season’s first torrential rain has passed, and so the city sounds considerably more quiet than it did just a few days ago. No longer is the noise of passing automobiles amplified and augmented by the rush of water, and the roof above my desk is no longer being pummeled. But where there is the seeming peace of this relative quiet, there is also an increased diversity of listening material. The ear can hear further, as it were — not just to conversations in the street and to passing cars, but to construction blocks away, to leaf blowers, to a seaplane overhead, to the sound of a truck backing up at some considerable distance, and to the many birds that (unlike what I was accustomed to, growing up on the north shore of New York’s Long Island) do not all vacate the area come winter. It is shortly past noon as I hit the button to make this post go live. Church bells have sung a duet with the gurgling in my belly to remind me it is time for lunch. And because it is Tuesday, the city’s civic warning system has rung out. 

Dim sum, anyone?

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A Creative Commons Discussion (MP3)

David Nemeth (Acts of Silence) interviewed by Robert Nunnally

Robert Nunnally, in the fourth episode of his podcast, has interviewed David Nemeth, a prolific annotator/commenter in the more exploratory realms of Creative Commons music. Nemeth’s actsofsilence.com is a must-read for reviews of new releases, and the site is a key resource thanks to its massive directory of netlabels, over 500 as of its most recent update. Nemeth also runs theeasypace.com, which is, despite its title, a more rapidly paced survey of recent releases.

Following a brief introduction, during which Nunnally talks about the increasing role of Creative Commons licenses in film, Nemeth speaks at length about his own self-education about electronic music, the benefits and challenges of the approach, and a variety of other related topics. The interview was accomplished in an unusual manner. It isn’t a conversation recorded live. It is Nemeth recording himself responding to written questions he received from Nunnally. The absence of Nunnally’s questions suggests the structure of an Errol Morris documentary. And there is an interesting transition each time a new segment of the Q&A begins, because the background sound can be heard to shift. The result brings to mind short black-screen title cards in a feature-length film:

Graham Wafercast Episode 4, David Nemeth Interview, host: Robert Nunnally (Gurdonark) by Gurdonark on Mixcloud

It’s downloadable from Nunnally’s box.com account. Track originally posted for free streaming at mixcloud.com/gurdonark. More from Gurdonark/Nunnally at gurdonark.blogspot.com.

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Disquiet Junto Project 0079: Junto of Fate

The Project: Remix music from the movie Manos: The Hands of Fate (1966) to make a downtempo instrumental.

20130704-handoffate

Each Thursday at the Disquiet Junto group on Soundcloud.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, July 4, with 11:59pm on the following Monday, July 8, 2013, as the deadline.

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

Disquiet Junto Project 0079: Junto of Fate

This week’s project involves shared source material, and it is an exploration of genre, specifically “downtempo instrumental.” The score to the film Manos: The Hands of Fate (1966) has been made available for free download as part of a remix contest being held by the netlabel Happy Puppy Records, the company releasing a restored copy of the film, and the great website freemusicarchive.org. You will be reworking the material with the goal of constructing a track that would be considered “downtempo instrumental.” One standard, six-sided die is required. The steps are as follows:

Step 1: Role a die six times and add the results.

Step 2: Role the die once and subtract this from the amount resulting from Step 1. If the result is zero, then start again at Step 1.

Step 3: The number that results from Step 2 is the track number from the album that will serve as the source material for your remix. You can locate and download your designated track from this page:

http://goo.gl/kTWGA

Step 4: Cut up and reuse material from the track resulting from Step 3 in the service of producing an original piece of music that would be considered “downtempo instrumental.” Also follow this language from the official contest: “no explicit adult material please. By submitting, you agree to license your track under the same BY-NC-SA license. If you include outside samples in your remix, please ensure they are of a similar sharable license.”

Length: Your piece should be between two and five minutes in length.

Deadline: Monday, July 8, 2013, at 11:59pm wherever you are. (The contest’s deadline is October 1, 2013, but our deadline is shorter, per the strictures of the weekly Disquiet Junto.)

Information: Please when posting your track on SoundCloud, 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: Include the term “disquiet0079-juntofate” in the title of your track, and as a tag for your track.

Download: Per the license of the source material and the rules the contest, you should employ the BY-NC-SA Creative Commons license (i.e., a Creative Commons license permitting non-commercial sharing and remixing with attribution).

Linking: When posting the track, be sure to include this information:

More on this 79th Disquiet Junto project, in which the score to the movie Manos: The Hands of Fate (1966) is remixed to make a downtempo instrumental, at:

http://disquiet.com/2013/07/04/disquiet0079-juntofate/

More on the contest at:

http://goo.gl/GXAXf

More on the original film at:

http://www.manosinhd.com/

More details on the Disquiet Junto at:

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

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