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

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Playing with audio.
Sounding out technology.
Composing in code.

tag: ios

A Classic Synth, iOS-ified

An initial iSEM Demo by Dean Terry

Demos of apps by musicians are a great way to explore both their unintended consequences and their inherent strictures. In contrast with promotional videos, which generally show the app used by someone with advanced knowledge of its inner workings, initial demos by new adapters have a more hands-on feel, with the general sense of someone coming to grips with adapting something to their own musical style and performance workflow. What follows is one of Dean Terry’s demo runs through the iSEM app, which as its name suggests is an iOS adaptation of the 1974 Oberheim SEM synthesizer. He’s an especially good reference point. Not only is he familiar with the original, he has two of them in his studio.

Here are his notes on the piece, which has a steady, downtempo, stepwise flavor:

Quick test of the iSEM iOS app. This is a first patch with some live parameter noodling, driven by the built in arpeggiator. Single take, one track.

I have two actual SEMs in the studio. I think comparing is missing the point so I made something that took advantage of what this iOS app does best, which is modulation and polyphony. The best part is the 8 voice programmer which allows you to modify the sound for each of of 8 steps, which you can hear clearly in this test recording (except I’m only using 5 steps).

Recording notes: This is not exactly what the app sounds like raw. It was recorded via the ipad analog outs into outboard studio preamps, eqs, and a stereo compressor. It was then sent through a few mix bus eq’s and compressors in Protools. This is how I treat all iPad apps and other digital sources and it helps make them more vibrant and analog-like.

Two promotional videos for the app:

Track originally posted for free download at soundcloud.com/therefore. More from Dean Terry at deanterry.com. More on the iSEM app at itunes.apple.com and arturia.com.

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A Solo on a Trio of iPad Apps (MP3)

By Birmingham's noimspartacus

Described by the musician as “noodling,” what it is is the sound of an iPad in the service of sonic exploration, from ominous footsteps through pulsating synthesis to dispersed beats. It was apparently recorded on a trio of apps: the multitrack tool Auria, the synthesizer Alchemy, and one named Sequence. Here’s to more noodling.

Track originally posted for free download at soundcloud.com/noimspartacus. It is by noimspartacus, who is from Birmingham, Great Britain, more from whom at noimspartacus.wordpress.com.

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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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