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.

tag: field-recording

Disquiet Junto Project 0238: Magnifying Contact

The Assignment: Record a piece of music, emphasizing the sounds of production over the music itself.

alfstorm

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. There’s no pressure to do every project. It’s weekly so that you know it’s there, every Thursday through Monday, when you have the time.

Tracks will be added to this playlist for the duration of the project:

This project was posted in the morning, California time, on Thursday, July 21, 2016, with a deadline of 11:59pm wherever you are on Monday, July 25, 2016.

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

Disquiet Junto Project 0238: Magnifying Contact
The Assignment: Record a piece of music, emphasizing the sounds of production over the music itself.

Project Steps:

Step 1: Record a short piece of music. When recording the music, use additional microphones to capture the process itself: your fingers on strings, touching keyboard and screen surfaces, clicking on laptop keys, etc.

Step 2: When the piece is fully recorded, create a mix that makes the “performance” sounds slightly either equal to or slightly more prominent than the performance itself.

Three More Steps When Your Track Is Done :

Step 1: Upload your completed track to the Disquiet Junto group on SoundCloud. It’s here:

Step 2: Annotate your track with a brief explanation of your approach and process.

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

Deadline: This project was posted in the morning, California time, on Thursday, July 21, 2016, with a deadline of 11:59pm wherever you are on Monday, July 25, 2016.

Length: The length is up to you. Between one and three minutes seems about right.

Upload: Please when posting your track on SoundCloud, only upload one track for this project, 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 Soundcloud.com, please in the title to your track include the term “disquiet0238.” Also use “disquiet0238” 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 238th weekly Disquiet Junto project — “Record a piece of music, emphasizing the sounds of production over the music itself” — at:

http://disquiet.com/0238/

More on the Disquiet Junto at:

http://disquiet.com/junto/

Join the Disquiet Junto at:

Subscribe to project announcements here:

http://tinyletter.com/disquiet-junto/

Disquiet Junto general discussion takes place on a Slack (send your email address to twitter.com/disquiet for inclusion) and at this URL:

http://disquiet.com/forums/

Image associated with this project adapted from one by Alf Storm, used thanks to a Creative Commons license:

Day 48. Playing guitar

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The Birds of Winter

Steve Ashby captures a moment by refashioning field recordings

There’s much to recommend Winter Birds, the new album from Steve Ashby. It came out about a month ago, long after winter had faded, but it draws you into that climate with ease. Or more to the point, with unease. Industrial ambience mixes with birdsong and other elemental noises to conjure up a dense, anxious sonic space. The highlight may be the track “Window,” which manages to appear still and yet have an intense, pulse-quickening momentum hidden in its seeming stasis.

Ashby explains the work’s origin in a liner note:

If you’ve ever spent a winter in Virginia, you know the weather can be a bit topsy-turvy. Snow storms one day, 70 degrees and sunny the next. Not only does it play tricks with our human body chemistry, but the wildlife outside our doors as well.

The impetus for this project took place in the winter of 2015, as I heard birds singing in the middle of a snowstorm. Pretty heavy winds, snow, sleet, and the songs of birds. The backbone of this work hinges on field recording made during that winter. Each piece builds upon these field recordings by exploring the resonant frequencies embedded within to present their musical qualities in a minimalist soundscape.

Field recordings can capture the documentarian reality of a moment. However, it can take post-production work to fully capture the emotional experience of that same moment. The field recording may trigger a memory in someone who was there when the recording was made, but that sound at its original time in its original place was filtered through the ears, the memory, the life of the person who first heard it. It can be the composer’s role to then refashion the sounds in a manner that brings experience to bear on the source audio. That’s what Ashby set out to do on Winter Birds, and the roiling, ecstatic drones and found elements that result are a testament both to the season and to his talent. The sound is also, no doubt, a testament to the efforts of Taylor Deupree, who is credited with having mastered the recording in all its widescreen-headphone glory.

Album originally posted at ashbysounds.bandcamp.com. More from Steve Ashby, who is based in Richmond, Virginia, at ashbysounds.org.

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Disquiet Junto Project 0231: Field Complement

The Assignment: Compose a piece to align with, from memory, 60 seconds of everyday sound.

anthonyeaston

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. There’s no pressure to do every project. It’s weekly so that you know it’s there, every Thursday through Monday, when you have the time.

Tracks will be added to this playlist for the duration of project 0213:

This project was posted in the late afternoon, California time, on Thursday, June 2, 2016, with a deadline of 11:59pm wherever you are on Monday, June 6, 2016.

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

Disquiet Junto Project 0231: Field Complement
The Assignment: Compose a piece to align with, from memory, 60 seconds of everyday sound.

This week’s project’s theme involves how composing relates to memory. It is recommended that you read through all the steps in the project before proceeding to attempt to execute it.

These are the steps:

Step 1: Find a place, preferably outdoors, where you can sit for 5 to 15 minutes without being disturbed. This place should have a fair amount of inherent noise to it, and that noise should be variable, not static — i.e., not the long held drone of an overwhelmingly loud HVAC system, but the bustle of a street corner, or of a playground, or, if weather or other circumstances keep you indoors, perhaps of a busy cafe.

Step 2: Bring with you a portable recording device as well as something on which you can quietly take a small number of written (or typed) notes. You may wish to do a test recording to be certain that your note-taking isn’t part of the audio recording.

Step 3: Settle into the space and get a sense of its sounds. Listening closely.

Step 4: Make a field recording of one full minute, or a little longer, of continuous sound in this place. While recording the sound, use time codes to make note of any memorable sonic instances. Keep track not only of when a sonic instance begins, but also of its duration.

Step 5: Trim the field recording to exactly 60 seconds.

Step 6: Without listening back to the field recording, compose and record a 60-second piece intended to complement it. Refer back to your time-code notes to align composed instances with those real-world instances that you recall having distinguished your field recording. You can use whatever instrumentation you like, but it is recommended that you use no more than one or two instruments. You should not employ any field recordings in your composed piece. Sonically, the “composed” material should be distinct from the field audio.

Step 7: When your composed piece is completed, layer the two tracks together into one new 60-second work. They should be played back at equal volume, more or less. You can adjust a little to achieve the impression of balance between the field recording and the composed work. The only editing you can do is to fade in and out, if that is so desired.

Step 8: Upload your completed track to the Disquiet Junto group on SoundCloud.

Step 9: Annotate your track with a brief explanation of your approach and process.

Step 10: Then listen to and comment on tracks uploaded by your fellow Disquiet Junto participants.

Background: Longtime Junto participants/listeners may recognize this as a light revision of a project from back in March 2013.

Deadline: This project was posted in the late afternoon, California time, on Thursday, June 2, 2016, with a deadline of 11:59pm wherever you are on Monday, June 6, 2016.

Length: The length of the finished piece should be about 60 seconds.

Upload: Please when posting your track on SoundCloud, only upload one track for this project, 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 Soundcloud.com, please in the title to your track include the term “disquiet0231.” Also use “disquiet0231” 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 231st weekly Disquiet Junto project — “Compose a piece to align with, from memory, 60 seconds of everyday sound” — at:

http://disquiet.com/0231/

More on the Disquiet Junto at:

http://disquiet.com/junto/

Join the Disquiet Junto at:

Subscribe to project announcements here:

http://tinyletter.com/disquiet-junto/

Disquiet Junto general discussion takes place at:

http://disquiet.com/forums/

Image associated with this project is by Anthony Easton and it is used thanks to a Creative Commons license:

Bench and trees

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This Week in Sound: Mapping Silence

+ RJDJ + MIT sound + Wainwright Syndrome + speech control + pre-acoustic + Spotify protip

A lightly annotated clipping service (fairly brief edition this week):

RJDJ Return: This video is just a tease, but it’s a promising one. The makers of the RJDJ augmented-reality audio app have a new app in the works, named Hear, that processes everyday sounds through filters. There’s been much talk of an “Instagram for sound.” This has a sense of that wish being fulfilled. Video found via Ashley Elsdon’s palmsounds.net. (Post-script: since this note first appeared in the This Week in Sound email newsletter, the app has gone live on iTunes’s App Store. Unfortunately the app is not, for the time being, compatible with my fifth-generation iPod Touch, so I haven’t had a chance to use it yet.)

Sound Studies: Geeta Dayal interviewed Mouse on Mars’ Jan St. Werner, who is teaching a course at MIT called “Introduction to Sound Creations.” Says St. Werner, “I think it’s great that the visual-art world has embraced sound more, but there is the risk of that becoming a novelty. There’s also a great chance for sound, to see it as its own art form. It doesn’t need anything that makes it agreeable. That’s the great opportunity we see at the moment.”

twis-map

Mapping Silence: At the Washington Post, Christopher Ingraham writes about a map commissioned last year by the National Park Service “of what the United States would sound like if you were to remove all traces of human activity from the picture,” pictured above. (Via Steve Ashby)

Wainwright Syndrome: Slightly removed from sound, though as always sound is vibration so buzzing is sound, and phones buzzing are doubly sound since the buzz is a stand-in for a ring(tone): at nymag.com, Cari Romm writes about phantom phone vibrations: “These imagined sounds and sensations are examples of pareidolia, the phenomenon of perceiving a pattern within randomness where no pattern exists (seeing the man on the moon, for example, or hearing satanic messages in a record played backwards). For this particular pareidolia, there are a few things that make some people more susceptible than others.”

Always On: As someone who is rarely a foot from his phone, I still find the voice activation aspect of phones alarming in a privacy sense, but Google keeps upping the ante: “Google Announces Voice Access Beta—Control Your Phone Completely by Voice” (androidpolice.com).

Pre-Acoustic: If you’re near University of Copenhagen, there’s an interesting symposium happening there in two days, on April 21: “The field of sound studies often gets restricted to sound practices, listening experiences and auditory dispositives after the advent of modern acoustics, established as an academic subdiscipline of physics in the 19th century. Yet unsurprisingly, auditory knowledge was present and impactful in cultures of the middle ages, the renaissance, and early enlightenment”: soundstudieslab.org.

Spotify Protip: Since I’ve been on and off tracking my use of Spotify (following the demise of the Rdio service), here’s a Spotify protip. If you’re having issues with the offline sync (which lets you store tracks or albums on a device, as I do on my iPod Touch, which is the primary way I use Spotify), the issue may be that you have too many devices associated with your account. I had four. Once I reduced it to three everything worked fine.

This first appeared, in slightly different form, in the April 19, 2016 (it went out a day late), edition of the free Disquiet “This Week in Sound” email newsletter: tinyletter.com/disquiet.

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“Midnight Frames”

This is me learning about iOS apps by reworking audio recorded at midnight

This is a minute of sound recorded just past midnight and then subsequently reworked digitally:

The audio plays on three separate channels, the source tracks slightly out of sync, each channel being muted at random, with a little live, real-time human interaction on my part to nudge the listenability and sense of overall composition. That is, “human interaction” distinct from the human interaction involved in the process of setting up the whole random-mute system.

It’s an experiment in making something just using the iPad. The mixer is the iOS app AUM and the mute is being triggered in an iPad app called Xynthesizr. There is a bit of effects being implemented on the three channels. One is being lent an echoing depth, thanks to the Dahlia Delay app. One is getting lightly distorted, thanks to the Saffron Saturator app. And one is being lightly tweaked with some filters internal to the AUM app.

I have a lot to learn about all these apps. This began as me trying to get the AUM muting triggered by the Fugue Machine app, but that inter-app functionality evaded me for more than one channel. The Xynthesizr worked fairly smoothly, largely because someone introduced me to the MIDI Wrench app, which let me figure out the note values of what’s being emitted by Xynthesizr, so I could assign them directly to be interpreted as on/off signals by AUM. All of which said, I’m still fumbling about with the tools, finding my way. The image accompanying this track is a screenshot of the AUM app with the three channels in view:

File Apr 20, 9 27 53 AM

This is a reworking of a single minute of audio recorded by Forelight. The original track is titled “Midnight {disquiet0160-oneminutepastmidnight}.” It was part of the 160th weekly Disquiet Junto project. That 160th project was the first in an ongoing series, collectively titled One Minute Past Midnight, that explore nocturnal ambience.

The original source track by Forelight is at soundcloud.com/forelight.

More on the One Minute Past Midnight series here: oneminutepastmidnight.com.

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