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Listening to art.
Playing with audio.
Sounding out technology.
Composing in code.

tag: ios

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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The App Developer Prepares a Performance

Chris Carlson plays inside the guitar

Chris Carlson has a performance coming up. This is of note because Carlson is the developer of an iOS app called Borderlands Granular. Carlson’s app allows for a gestural, elegant, detailed exploration of the sounds within sounds. He has posted pre-performance test runs of his approach (the track’s title is “Pigment Library”), which in this case involves guitar chords as the source audio. The result is at times more orchestral than it is rock, more the jubilant yet anxious chaos of strings tuning up than the strumming, however fierce, of a six-string. You can hear moments of guitar-like presence, like the touching of fingers to taut metal, the bending of the wires. But more often than not Carlson is deep inside the guitar, the cloud-like structures of his Borderlands app unfolding the source material, laying bare and layering its inherent textures.

Below is an image of what a Borderlands looks like in action:

Screen Shot 2016-04-18 at 10.33.33 PM

Track originally posted at soundcloud.com/cloudveins. More from Carlson at cloudveins.bandcamp.com, modulationindex.com, and borderlands-granular.com.

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This Week in Sound: Microtonal Errata + Party Lines

+ applbums + old music

A lightly annotated clipping service:

Horse Bests Other Horse: News came this week that old music outsold new music for the first time in recorded history — or, in this case, recorded recorded history. Adam Puglsey lays out the situation at chartattack.com. Of course, as he also writes: “Keep in mind that these stats don’t include album streams, but regardless, it’s a significant turning point.” Which is to say, this may be like saying one breed of horse outsold another breed of horse for the first time after the introduction of the automobile.

The History of the Phone Is the Future of the Phone: Speaking of ahistoricism and technology, at medium.com, Peter Rojas talks about a new phone service called Unmute. It’s an app for conducting phone calls, with one added feature: “anyone can listen in on the calls. In fact, having a conversation in public is the whole point of Unmute, which is why we find it so compelling as a product.” This future-tech platform is vaguely reminiscent of what was, before the advent of widespread individual-household phone service, called a party line. Older baby boomers and their parents can recall apartment buildings and rural regions alike having shared lines. Pick up the phone at the wrong — or, depending on your predilections, right — moment and you get not only an earful of local gossip, but you can participate, as well. More on Unmute, which unlike party lines will provide an MP3 at the end of the call, at onunmute.com.

The Tantalizing Promise of the Applbum: Apps have been the new albums — the “applbum,” perhaps — for awhile now, and though the hybrid isn’t exactly a fulfilled promise, it continues to bear fruit. Adrift, the blissful and expertly glacial generative ambient experience by Loscil (aka Scott Morgan), was released for iOS late last year, and in a (sadly) rare instance of platform equity it popped up this week in an Android version. Well, not directly Android. It’s not in the Google Play Android app store, but in Amazon’s app bazaar. I asked Loscil/Morgan why via Twitter, and he explained that the Android max size was 100 megabytes (“i can’t afford the dev cost of adding expansion packs”), while Amazon has no app-size cap. The size is due to the app’s expansive sonic content that yields its generative (i.e., ever-changing) listening experience. … Meanwhile, Massive Attack has released a new album … that is, app, titled Fantom, that is billed as a sensory experience. Presumably “sensory” implies “interactive,” since music is itself sensory and “interactive” is simply a term that may have outlived its utility before that utility had actually been realized. The thefantom.co site explains: “The remixes reflect your movement and balance, the time of day or night, your location and your surroundings as captured by your device’s camera.” At the moment the link to the iTunes store isn’t yielding the app, but Tom Fenwick at motherboard.vice.com has some in-depth coverage, including the fact that one of the developers is Rob Thomas. The article doesn’t mention this, but Thomas is the former Chief Creative Office of Reality Jockey, where he helped develop the app RJDJ, which used a unique “scenes” scenario to alter in real time the sounds your phone or iPod picked up. RJDJ led, in turn, to several other apps, including ones associated with Christopher Nolan films, such as Inception. More from Thomas himself at soundcloud.com/dizzybanjo.

Nanonews about Microtones: In 1958, Alain Danielou published Tableau Comparatif des Intervalles Musicaux, which to an outsider (whether or not they speak French) might look like a codebook out of The X-Files or the Conet Project. What it is is an encyclopedia of microtones — in Gann’s description, “of all even marginally significant intervals within an octave.” A keen-eyed correspondent of Gann’s recently noticed an error: “On the right-hand bottom corner of page 48, the interval listed as 569/512 should actually be 567/512, as 3 to the 4th power times 7 is, of course, 567.” Here is the evidence:

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As mistakes in tonal esoterica go, Gann notes, this one actually has some currency: “this is one of the intervals used in The Well-Tuned Piano” (one of La Monte Young’s great works). Gann, whose long-ago Village Voice music criticism was essential reading for me and many others back in the day, blogs at artsjournal.com/postclassic, where this notice first appeared. His Danielou article includes a link to a complete PDF of the Tableau book.

This first appeared in the January 26, 2016, edition of the free Disquiet “This Week in Sound” email newsletter: tinyletter.com/disquiet.

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The Ever Portable Ukulele Meets Mobile Digital Audio Processing

In three experiments by Ashley Elsdon

There are many types of music apps — that is, apps employed in the making of music. In terms of the intent packed into those apps, through both features and branding, they can been seen, very broadly, to fall into two categories: first, apps that miniaturize for our phone/tablet age tools that existed in the past; second, apps that go new places.

As a longtime follower of digital music-making tools intended for use on the go, PalmSounds.net blogger Ashley Elsdon falls firmly in the latter camp — a subject explored in depth in an interview I did with him late last year (“Immediacy + Accessibility = Joy”). When I did the interview, I was very familiar with Elsdon’s fixation on mobile music making, from its early-ish fledgling flourishing on the defunct Palm platform, on through the golden age of iOS apps.

What I wasn’t familiar with was Elsdon’s own music. I shouldn’t have been surprised, though, to hear these recent experiments of his for digitally processed ukulele. All three employ different apps (as detailed in a short post at palmsounds.net) to both halo and process the ukulele’s unique, casual, often gestural tonalities. They’re quite distinct recordings from each other, but they also hold together as a set. “Ukulele Exploration 1” in particular rewards repeat listening, with its dubby echoes of gentle plucking and strums.

Tracks originally posted at soundcloud.com/palmsounds.

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