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Playing with audio.
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tag: field-recording

Kate Carr Makes Do

A song in spare parts

Kate Carr’s six-minute arrangement of transformed field recordings and pre-existing material has a self-explanatory name. It is titled, in full, “I Made This Song from Wind, Hunting Signs and Music I Secretly Recorded.” The “song-ness” of it relies on a gentle swell, a sedately ominous sway that suggests Angelo Badalamenti on an especially somber day. It merges with white noise foundation and is occasionally embellished with bug noise and distant sounds, clangs and static.

Track originally posted at Carr runs the Flaming Pines record label and travels a lot. More from her at and

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Valentine’s Day Is for the Birds

... and whales and high Arctic male bearded seals

Michelle Fournet writes regularly about bioacoustics at her blog, where she has, among other things, recounted a trip to Antarctica on a Korean ice breaker to recover an ocean-bottom hydrophone. (I mentioned this a couple months ago in my This Week in Sound email newsletter.) She shares the blog with several other people, who have covered such topics as constructive uses of social media in the sciences and, with good regularity, “Sound Bites” highlights from their field of study. Today Fournet took the opportunity to share field recordings of love songs from red-winged blackbirds and the high Arctic male bearded seal, whose repertoire she correctly describes as “strange” — both in its alien otherness, and in its emotive familiarity

Right now, as of this typing, the Oregon State Research Collective for Applied Acoustics has all of two followers for its SoundCloud account. Let’s try to fix that.

Tracks originally posted at and

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Disquiet Junto Project 0163: Layering Minutes After Midnight

The Assignment: Create a new late-night ambience with sounds from a handful of pre-existing field recordings.


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.

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

This assignment was made in the early evening, California time, on Thursday, February 12, 2015, with a deadline of 11:59pm wherever you are on Monday, February 16, 2015.

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

Disquiet Junto Project 0163: Layering Silence After Midnight
The Assignment: Create a new late-night ambience with sounds from a handful of pre-existing field recordings.

This project is the second in what will be an ongoing occasional series that focus on late-night ambience. Collectively these nocturnal endeavors are being called “One Minute Past Midnight.” No one’s work will be repurposed without their permission, and it’s appreciated if you post your track with a Creative Commons license that allows for non-commercial reuse and sharing.

The steps for this project are as follows:

Step 1: Revisit project #0160 from January 22, 2015, in which field recordings were made of the sound one minute past midnight:

Step 2: Locate segments that are especially quiet and meditative — and confirm that they are available for creative reuse. Many should have a Creative Commons license stating such, and if you’re not sure just check with the responsible Junto participant.

Step 3: Using segments from three different tracks from the January 22 project, create a new work of sound that layers the pre-existing material into something new, something nocturnal. Keep the length of your final piece to one minute

Step 4: Upload the finished track to the Disquiet Junto group on SoundCloud.

Step 5: Be sure to include link/mentions regarding the source tracks.

Step 6: Then listen to and comment on tracks uploaded by your fellow Disquiet Junto participants.

Deadline: This assignment was made in the early evening, California time, on Thursday, February 12, 2015, with a deadline of 11:59pm wherever you are on Monday, February 16, 2015.

Length: The length of your finished work should be one minute.

Upload: Please when posting your track on SoundCloud, only upload one track for this assignment, and 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 “disquiet0163-layeringminutes” 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, please be sure to include this information:

More on this 163rd Disquiet Junto project — “Create a new late-night ambience with sounds from a handful of pre-existing field recordings” — at:

More on the Disquiet Junto at:

Join the Disquiet Junto at:

Disquiet Junto general discussion takes place at:

Image associated with this project by Matthias Ripp, used via Creative Commons license:

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No Birds Were Harmed in This Sonic Manipulation

An acousmatic project by Caitlin Rowley

Caitlin Rowley says her piece “Nightbirds” is best listened to with headphones. The title is also the source audio, birdsong captured and manipulated. There is no caged bird singing. There is some vestige of the wild bird, worked with out of context, the sounds transformed into files, and the files into something else. Rowley labels the piece as “acousmatic,” which is to say it’s tape music, intended to be heard not performed, or that the performance is the act of hitting play.

At first it may very well be just birdsong, though the tight echo suggests either an unfamiliar species or a circumstance with very particular acoustics. The echo is not the result of a room, but of the virtual chamber of Rowley’s digital audio workstation. The found sound is, in short order, transformed beyond anything a fellow bird might recognize. It gets deeper, darker, less content. The nightbird song merges with the night.

Track originally posted at More from Rowley at She is is an Australian composer living in the United Kingdom.

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Playing with Fire (Alarms)

A sound art project in 9 volts by Jeff Kolar


Few of us ever really take or have the time to consider the sonic nuances of a smoke alarm. We’re either too busy exiting the building or, more often, yanking the 9V battery when the boiling pasta has set the thing off. But characteristically curious Jeff Kolar has lowered the everyday gadget’s volume and applied to it his sonic microscope, yielding five tracks of high-pitched tones heard from various perspectives. The tracks are labeled with successive narrative aspects: “Ignition,” “Flame,” “Growth,” “Fully Developed,” and “Decay.”

There may be no sound more capable of getting someone’s attention than a smoke alarm, except perhaps for a crying baby. But in Kolar’s hands they are less piercing than insinuating. The shrill, sharp noises warp and layer and bend, each sequence suggesting itself as nanotech minimalism, from the bright chirp with which “Fully Developed” opens, to the ticking drone of “Flame,” to the tea-kettle anxiety of “Decay”. The effort is a work of audio forensics. In time, you come to understand the functional sonic components of the classic alarm, perhaps to even reflect a bit on this blissfully mundane aspect of life or death situations. It’s almost enough to make you linger the next time a smoke alarm goes off — but please exit the building before making sound art about it.


Tracks originally posted at The piece was part of the glitChicago exhibit that ran during August and September of 2014, and was produced by Kolar during his residency at ACRE. More on the project at Smoke Detector CD, complete with its great “As Seen on TV” cover, via Twitter image via

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