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: ios

Cues: Skywalker Sound Hunting, Persistent Memory App

Plus the next Cascella/Voegelin podcast, cypher music, more

Sound Hunting: Nathan Hurst of wired.com accompanies Benny Burtt, an assistant sound effects editor from Skywalker Sound, on a sound-hunting expedition:

“You guys ready?” says Burtt, then waits for the echoes to die. He fires the gun, with a pop and a spark.

The pistol gives off a “full frequency event” — that is, the sound covers the full range of audible frequencies, giving a complete impulse response. Back at Skywalker, the editors will use Altiverb to digitally remove the sound of the shot.

“Then we can run whatever sound we want through that program, and it’ll sound like we’re in here,” says Langfelder.

Each microphone they have, called mid-side mics, houses two units — a front facing element to capture the event, and a figure-eight shaped one that records stereo. Because the sounds reaching the side mic have bounced off the surroundings, they helps give a sense of ambient space, says Burtt. Together, they allow the sound engineers to adjust the width of the sound, making it project a sense of space. The microphones Skywalker brought all cost around $2,000 each, and, paired with $4,500, 24-bit recorders, capture sound at 192 kilohertz, around five to six times the quality of a CD.

The article is peculiar in the absence of a mention of Benny’s father, legendary sound designer Ben Burtt, but it does a great job of walking through the process of sourcing sounds, especially for something as expansive as recording the sonic essence of a particular place. Three sound examples are embedded in the article (wired.com).

Source Material: Judging by a photo used to promote the second, forthcoming episode (July 25) in Daniela Cascella and Salomé Voegelin‘s “voyages into listening and writing” podcast, Ora, it will include writings by HP Lovecraft and Pauline Oliveros, and music from the trio of Taku Sugimoto, Burkhard Stangl, and Christof Kurzmann, among other topics:

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Persistent Memory: The iOS app Heard (apple.com) records continuously into a buffer, allowing you to retroactively determine you want to preserve something (image and information via addictivetips.com).

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Data Floodlights: Footage of Ryoji Ikeda’s masterful “test pattern [nº5],” which was on display from June 8 through July 1 of this year at Carriageworks carriageworks.com.au in Sydney, Australia:

Flickr-tronica: The photo below of Brian Eno introduced me to the Flickr stream of Oz Villanueva, who is a prolific professional photographer of, among other things, live performances. Amid his massive trove are great shots of Markus Popp (aka Oval), Lisa Gerrard, Alva Noto, and Deadbeat

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Code Blog: Diary of a coding intern at bandcamp: bandcampintern.wordpress.com

Bambaataa Arch-live: The “live archiving” of Afrika Bambaataa’s record collection: blouinartinfo.com

Estranged Love: Matmos covers Bow Wow Wow covering the Strangeloves’ “I Want Candy,” rewriting it about NSA leaker Edward Snowden; streaming video at avclub.com.

Music for Cyphers: Computer-music event at Bletchley Park’s National Museum of Computing the last weekend of July: tnmoc.org.

Listening at MoMA: The webpage for the forthcoming Soundings: A Contemporary Score exhibit has gone live: moma.org; it runs from August 10 through November 3, 2013.

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Beat Machine Beat (MP3)

An iMaschine experiment from Ohio

Pissoir, who identifies himself simply as Benjamin from Ohio, has uploaded a slow rage of video game noise, its beat a trenchant, martial, steady rhythm that is, as it proceeds, accented here and there with triple-time filigrees, semi-automatic weapons fire, hi-hats that might be made of cellophane, and countless other resplendent noises. The track is titled “Solip,” and the post notes that it is a teaser. For what? We’ll have to wait to see. Also mentioned is that it was produced in iMaschine, the iOS “beat sketch pad” apple.com. Recommended to listen on repeat.

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

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Cues: 1,100 Tracks, DG Sublabel, Amon/Kronos

Plus: an iOS magazine, sounds of Coke bottles, more

Random Access: Jos Smolders, back in the golden age of the compact disc, 1994, released Music for CD Player, a collection of 99 short tracks intended for the listener to sequence. He’s now released a sequel in the form of an 1,100-track album, titled Music for FLAC Player. Yes, that is 1,100 tracks, the overwhelming majority of which are one second or less in length, and all but 30 or so of which are under 45 seconds:

Writes Smolders of the project:

The [Music for CD Player] disc contained 99 tracks. The original plan, however, was to have many more tracks. However CD Redbook protocol allowed a maximum number of 99 tracks, with a minimum length of 3 seconds. With the Internet as a platform these limitations are gone. The number of tracks for an online album are limitless and the length of the tracks can be near zero.

Recomposing DG: The esteemed classical label Deutsche Grammophon is launching a new label called Panorama (via classical-music.com). The first Panorama album will be from the highly collaborative Schiller (aka Christopher von Deylen). DG had previously released a series of genre-pushing “recomposed” albums including Max Richter’s reworking of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons and Matthew Herbert’s reworking of Mahler‘s 10th Symphony.

Amon v Kronos: “V838 Monocerotis” is the title of a new piece Kronos Quartet has commissioned from Amon Tobin as part of the ensemble’s 40th-anniversary celebration: amontobin.com, kronosquartet.org.

iOS Care: I Care if You Listen is a new iOS multimedia magazine about contemporary (i.e. classical) music. The initial issue features interviews with composers Clint Mansell and Arlene Sierra.

Sonic Footnotes: Ora, the occasional broadcast/podcast by Daniela Cascella and Salomé Voegelin about “listening and writing,” has followed up its debut episode with a reading list, featuring the hosts’ own books and titles by Gert Jonke, W.H Auden, and Clifford Geertz, among others.

Donut Hole: Jordan Ferguson is, like me, writing a book for the 33 1/3 series. Like me, he is focused on something that is fairly unusual for the series, in that both our books are about albums that have little in the way of words, let alone of lyrics. My book-in-progress is on Aphex Twin’s Selected Ambient Works Volume II. Ferguson’s is about J Dilla’s Donuts. And like me, he submitted to an interview for the publisher’s website. But, being a smart guy, he did his as a video:

Also, Evie Nagy (formerly of Rolling Stone, now at Billboard) has been interviewed about her 33 1/3 book, which will focus on Devo’s Freedom of Choice.

Sounds of Brands: Coca-Cola employed Kurt Hugo Schneider to milk sounds of its cans and bottles to make music. From Adweek’s coverage: “The recording obviously has some studio bells and whistles layered on it, but Adweek was assured that Schneider is truly playing the Coke ‘instruments.'” In another sound-related entry in the Coke series, you’re invited to see how long you can listen to someone singing “ah.”

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Panel Discussion: Future of Music

From apps to guitar gear to distribution platforms

The recent San Francisco MusicTech Summit held, on May 28, a panel on “The Future of Music Creation Tools,” featuring Daniel Walton of app developer Retronyms, Sam Valenti of the Ghostly label and new Drip.FM platform, sound designer Dot Bustelo, and musician Dweezil Zappa. The panel was moderated by Billboard magazine writer David Downs. The panelists come at it from various, complementary directions, from iOS apps to guitar gear to distribution platforms, and there’s a heavy emphasis on practical applications, which in this heady field can be usefully grounding.

Track originally posted for free download at soundcloud.com/sfmusictech. More on the panelists at zappa.com, retronyms.com, dotbustelo.com, and ghostly.com.

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The Sound of Vine.co

Listening to an app that revels in the absence of post-production

This current weekend’s Disquiet Junto project, the 75th, takes the Vine app (more at vine.co) as its subject. This isn’t just because the app’s six-second format allows for an interesting simultaneity of composing, performing, and recording. It’s also because audio has proved to be an under-appreciated aspect of Vine videos.

20130708-vine-offThe undervaluing of sound on Vine.co is in part due to what is, admittedly, a necessary UX decision: by default, the sound is off when a Vine is triggered. You need to click a little speaker symbol with a red X, turning it into two little green signifiers of volume. (The traffic metaphor only goes so far — there is no yellow warning phase.) As a result, Vines are experienced silently at first, the audio perhaps kicking in midway through, after the user takes action and clicks the sound icon, and only experienced in full when the second run of the loop begins. (That is, depending on the circumstance. For example, in the Chrome browser on an iPad, the videos don’t autoplay. Instead, you have to hit play, and in this case sound seems to be on by default.)

20130708-vine-onThe majority of Vines appear to be everyday field recordings and low-key stop-motion sequences. Some ignore sound, resulting in chance noise, while others embrace it. The decision-making, or lack thereof, is especially interesting to observe in the case of those videos that break the six seconds of allotted time into shorter stop-and-start segments. Most non-Vine filmmakers would use a single score to lend continuity to the fragments, but that isn’t an option in Vine, which allows for no post-production.

In turn, there are many Vines for which sound is, in fact, a conscious subject, if not the main subject. What follows are a handful of recent favorites:

Alexis Madrigal captured an ancient 8mm projector, not just its musty imagery but its noisy sound:

Richard Devine has been posting a lot of shots of his music production equipment, with an emphasis on modular synthesizers, often these intimate closeups in which the blippity sounds align with one or more blinking lights. The result suggests a hint of tech sentience:

Ashley Spradlin has posted a series of pieces that display the chance presence of daylight, such as this sequence of the sun playing against a wall, the background audio seemingly a shower. There’s an even stronger example amid Spradlin’s output — shadows of windswept trees filtering through curtains, punctuated by what seems to be an inopportune car honk — but I can’t seem to figure out how to share it. (It shows up in my feed in Vine on my phone, but beyond that I am at a loss.)

And here Craig Colorusso’s solar-powered ambient-drone “Sun Boxes” are given rhythmic texture thanks to quick edits:

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