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tag: field-recording

A Map Is a Composition / A Composition Is a Map

Listening to a mountain pass with Kate Carr

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Kate Carr, who travels widely and records as she goes, is employing sound as a mapping tool. Or perhaps a better way to put it is that she is employing a map as a compositional tool.

This half-hour track is an experiment of hers. As I understand it, roughly each three minutes marks one of 10 sites along a path of a mountain in Spain. The sound isn’t pure field recording — or it doesn’t appear to be. There seem to be edits and treatments, but perhaps the sound in the Spanish countryside is simply that surreal. There is muted singing, too — perhaps Carr in duet with the world.

She writes of the piece, which is titled “From a wind turbine to vultures (a sonic transect of a small mountain in Velez Rubio, Spain),”

This is an idea I have been working on for a while. It involves the sonic investigation of 10 sites along a sonic transect. These sites were evenly spaced along a straight line up a small mountain in a remote area in Spain. The wind turbine in the title was in the valley of the mountain, the vulture at the peak. This is just a testing out of this idea.

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She also mentions that the individual sites are noted in the track’s comments — signposts along the audio timeline — but they don’t appear to have gone live yet. (Update 2015.10.10: The sites are now visible in the comments at the track’s SoundCloud page: 0:05, 7:59, 11:32, 15:07, 17:14, 20:04, 21:43, 23:25, 25:37, 28:36.) The audio was uploaded earlier today.

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Track originally posted at More from Carr at,, and

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The Xenophonic Origins and Contemporary Pleasures of the Tuesday Noon Siren

A reflection on urban sound by Nick Sowers and Bryan Finoki

Because they are true professionals, the recording that Nick Sowers and Bryan Finoki made of the Tuesday noon civic warning siren in San Francisco has a lot of great detail. To begin with, there is the extended opening, which delays the arrival of the siren so that the listener, even one who’s never been to San Francisco, and even for San Franciscans who’ve never noticed the siren (I live here — this is more common than you might imagine), has a sense of how the sound — the alarm, and then the voice — emerges from everyday sound, from street noise, and wind, and chatter. In addition, Sowers and Finoki opted to record it near church bells. The siren rings out at noon, which means that in much of the city it collides with carillon of various denominations. In an accompanying post at their excellent (in)Fringe series at, they trace the background of the siren to its origins in Pear Harbor anxiety (“despite their current innocuous replay, they remain a reminder of a hysteric xenophobic past”). And they do justice to the siren’s role in daily (well, Tuesday-specific) life here: “All of them are installed atop poles or on roofs of buildings, and listening to them from different locations can signal interesting delays and cross-faded effects that almost mimic a hallucinatory interplay of the city’s acoustic skeletons.”

Track originally posted at More from Sowers at and from Finoki at Together they go by 52-blue, more on which at

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Guitar in the Garden

A Japan-Belgium collaboration

Nobuto Suda is a Kyoto, Japan–based musician. Stijn Hüwels, who goes by Steiner, is a musician based in Leuven, Belgium. Together they made the plainly titled “A Piece in Collaboration with Stijn Hüwels,” which Suda posted this week to his SoundCloud account. The piece is described as a tribute to the Mirei Shigemori Garden Museum in Kyoto. The garden dates from the late 1700s. The track is, like the garden, an exercise is architectural elegance that either is intruded upon or frames birdsong, depending on your perspective. (I vote for the latter.) In the track there is a simple acoustic guitar line that echoes into the distance. Sometimes that echoing matches the metrics of the original guitar, and sometimes the echo plays slightly against the source audio, testing the placidity of the overall track. Throughout, birdsong, perhaps recorded by Suda at the Shigemori, fills the space between the notes, much as a glass house reflects back the nature by which it is surrounded.

Track originally posted to More from Hüwels at More on the Shigemori at

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Disquiet Junto Project 0195: Chinasystem Soundsystem

Make music for a Caochangdi Village National Day party.

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Each Thursday in the Disquiet Junto group on and at, 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, September 24, 2015, with a deadline of 11:59pm wherever you are on Monday, September 28, 2015.

These are the instructions that went out to the group’s email list (at

Disquiet Junto Project 0195: Chinasystem Soundsystem
Make music for a Caochangdi Village National Day party.

Caochangdi is a Chinese village that is home to many artists, including Matt Hope and Naihan Li. In the afternoon and early evening of Thursday, October 1, which is National Day in China, there will be a party in Caochangdi utilizing the unique and sizable Laoban Soundsystem. Laoban is fully Creative Commons hardware, and was developed by Matt Hope. The Laoban Soundsystem crew has asked the Junto to create music for the party, which will run from 2pm to 7pm, that means our goal is 5 hours of music.

Please consider setting your track for downloadable, as streaming at the party may not function smoothly, because the Internet in China is heavily filtered, which means downloading of the track needs to happen before the event to insure proper playback.

Step 1: You are creating music for a long party and a big sound system. Keep this in mind. If possible, make a track that lasts about 10 to 15 minutes long.

Step 2: Create a track that moves through three stages:

The first stage should be brief and invoke sounds related to agriculture.

The second stage, the longest of the three stages, should invoke sounds related to artistic production and communal living. Slowly transition from the first stage to the second stage.

The third stage should begin abruptly and invoke rapid industrialization.

Step 3: Upload your completed track to the Disquiet Junto group on SoundCloud.

Step 4: Then listen to and comment on tracks uploaded by your fellow Disquiet Junto participants.

Deadline: This assignment was made in the early evening, New York City time, on Thursday, September 24, 2015, with a deadline of 11:59pm wherever you are on Monday, September 28, 2015.

Length: The length of your finished work should be, if possible, between 10 and 15 minutes. However, if you want to make it shorter, that is certainly fine. We’ll just play it on repeat.

Upload: Please when posting your track on SoundCloud, only upload one track for this assignment, and be sure to 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, please include the term “disquiet0195-chinasoundsystem” 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).

More on this 194th Disquiet Junto project (“Make music for a Caochangdi Village National Day party”) at:

Many thanks to Fabricatorz for encouraging this 195th Disquiet Junto project:

The event will be at:

More on the Disquiet Junto at:

Join the Disquiet Junto at:

Disquiet Junto general discussion takes place at:

More on Caochangdi

Image associated with this project from the schematics for the Laoban Soundsystem:

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The Podcast Nocturne

Vanessa Lowe ventures into the dark


Vanessa Lowe’s Nocturne podcast focuses on her fascination with the dark of night. The next to most recent episode, number 8, “Into, Under, Through,” which aired back on July 6 of this year, involves Lowe recounting her solo walk through the woods in the north bay, above San Francisco. In it she talks a lot about the sounds of a forest when it is empty of people, and about the fears, both real and imagined, that fill the void. In it we hear her speaking both during the walk and after, and the timbre of her voice is quite a study in contrasts.

One highlight of Lowe’s Nocturne is that its backing music is provided by her husband, the very talented composer and sound designer Kent Sparling. His accompaniment has an especially meta moment in this episode when a sharp distinction is drawn in the narration between a real walk in the woods, and the heavy-handed scoring that often goes along with such action in horror movies.

More on the Nocturne podcast, including subscription information, at More from Sparling at Art by Robin Galante.

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