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: field-recording

A Different Piano, a Different Noise

A musical soundscape by Victoria Fenner

Like yesterday’s Downstream entry, today’s is of piano subsumed in noise. Yesterday’s noise has an industrial static to it. It is a thick forest of noise through which the piano occasionally becomes apparent. What makes yesterday’s piece, “Week Twenty Nine Project” by Madeleine Cocolas, work as a composition is how the melody’s slow development is at creative odds with that noise — the notes don’t just follow each other, but they in addition have to make sense of the drone through which the emanate.

Today’s piece, “Early Morning With Piano Cityscape” by Victoria Fenner, is a retroactive composition — which is to say, it is field recording that, through selection and framing, can be heard as a composition. What it contains is the everyday sounds of the city, two and half minutes of them, a single swath of a day recorded, extracted, and saved for posterity. There is variety to the sounds in Fenner’s recording: birdsong, traffic, a general municipal whir, aircraft, household activity, and a piano. The piano is just one sound among the many, but because its musicality is explicit it stands out, no matter how loud the other noises, such as the encroaching bus — or so it appears — that arrives toward the end, might get.

Track originally posted for free download at soundcloud.com/victoriafenner. More from Fenner, who is based in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, at magneticspirits.com and twitter.com/VictoriaFenner.

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Gestural Sound, Gestural Drawing

The work of Warren Craghead

Warren Craghead is a master of the casual artistic action. There are the field recordings (as housed at his soundcloud.com/craghead account), such as those of a playdate, an ice storm, a shirt being ironed, and an office. And there are the gestural drawings that comprise his primary activity. He lives a life of seeming constant production, often in the form of slips of paper and Post-it notes he leaves in the homes of friends and the packed school lunches of his children. He’s part of a group show at the Winkleman Gallery in Manhattan, “The Fire to Say: Comics as Poetry,” that begins tonight, January 17, and closes on February 14. Here’s a shot he posted to Instagram, and noted on his blog, of some of his work on display:


And here’s one of a characteristic action (he left a piece in a hotel stairwell):


As part of this diary-like accumulation of work he has posted the audio he describes as “Sound of walking to the gallery in NYC (The Fire To Say).” It is very much that, the sound of someone walking: the sound of feet, and the sound of the world those feet are navigating. Certainly there are distinctions to be noted between gestural drawing and gestural sound, but there are parallels as well. For example, at times in the audio a whistler can be heard, and the whistle is akin to the personalized Post-it imposed on an otherwise external environment:

Track originally posted for free download to soundcloud.com/craghead. Craghead lives in Charlottesville, Virginia, and makes his home on the web at craghead.com.

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Disquiet Junto Project 0107: Aeolian Metrics

Use a wind chime as the rhythmic foundation for a track.

Note: The SoundCloud.com site is experiencing some connectivity issues as of this project’s starting. If you have difficulty accessing the Disquiet Junto page, try another browser. If that doesn’t work, then when posting your track add it to this page as a comment, and I’ll add it manually to the project set. Sorry for the hassle.


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, January 16, with 11:59pm on the following Monday, January 20, 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 0107: Aeolian Metrics

For this week’s project, use the sound of a wind chime as the rhythmic foundation for a track. (You can record the wind chime yourself, or use a pre-existing one, such as the recordings at freesound.org.)

Deadline: Monday, January 20, 2014, at 11:59pm wherever you are.

Length: Your finished work should be between 2 and 4 minutes in length.

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 “disquiet0107-aeolianmetrics” 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).

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

More on this 107th Disquiet Junto project (“Use a wind chime as the rhythmic foundation for a track.”) at:


More on the Disquiet Junto at:


Join the Disquiet Junto at:


Photo associated with this project by Nik Stage, used via Creative Commons license from:


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Roppongi Street Noise

From the prolific Corruption

Corruption is out of control. Not the phenomenon of fraudulent conduct among the powerful, but Corruption the prolific and acquisitive sound recorder based in Funabashi, Japan. With no additional contact or web-presence information made available, Corruption’s SoundCloud account (avatar: the compacted “corrption“) is a steady stream of daily noises and lo-fi electronic music, 324 tracks as of this writing. Among the latest in the “sound diary” series is a minute and a half of Roppongi neighborhood street audio:

There are myriad Corruption tracks available. Highly recommended is the 16-piece set The Collector_Insect Beats:

Track originally posted for free download at soundcloud.com/corrption.

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The Sound of One Tree Creaking

Our man in Nova Scotia


“Me recording the tree.” That’s how the photo caption reads. The photo accompanies a track by the “me” in question: Justin Buckley. He is visiting family in Nova Scotia during the current North American storm that has made “polar vortex” a household term. The tree is heard for 32 seconds, creaking in the intense winter wind. It sounds as much like a deck of brittle cards being shuffled or a typewriter making hesitant progress toward a thesis. It’s an audio document of a uniquely fierce and persistent storm, the sort of resolute cold more often documented in photographs, such as this one associated with Buckley’s track, and verbal complaints. Buckley reports that recording the sound was not a simple thing: “Most [attempts] were rendered useless from wind noise, but here’s a short snippet of a tree creaking in the wind, with the sound of a foghorn in the distance. Thought I’d share it with you to mark the occasion.”

Track originally posted for free download at soundcloud.com/justin-buckley. More from Buckley, who’s based in Berlin, Germany, at crumblereshape.com and twitter.com/crumblereshape.

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