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: live-performance

Disquiet Junto Project 0269: Duet Portion

Record half of a live duet.

Each Thursday in the Disquiet Junto group, 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. A SoundCloud account is helpful but not required. There’s no pressure to do every project. It’s weekly so that you know it’s there, every Thursday through Monday, when you have the time.

This project’s deadline is 11:59pm wherever you are on Monday, February 27, 2017. This project was posted in the late morning, California time, on Thursday, February 23, 2017.

These are the instructions that went out to the group’s email list (at tinyletter.com/disquiet-junto):

Disquiet Junto Project 0269: Duet Portion
Record half of a live duet.

Step 1: This week’s Junto will be the first in an occasional series allowing for asynchronous collaboration. You will be recording something with the understanding that it will be unfinished.

Step 2: The plan is for you to record a short and original piece of music, on any instrumentation of your choice, live, with no post-production edits or overdubbing. You can do as many takes as you’d like, but the final recording should be a document of a wholly live performance. Conceive it as something that leaves room for something else — another instrument, performed by another person — to join in.

Step 3: Record a short piece of music, roughly two to three minutes in length, as described in Step 2. If possible, it would be great if you could make a video of your live performance as well.

Step 4: Also be sure, when complete, to make the track downloadable, because it will be used by someone else in a future Junto project.

Five More Important Steps When Your Track Is Done:

Step 1: If you hosting platform allows for tags, be sure to include the project tag “disquiet0269″ (no spaces) in the name of your track. If you’re posting on SoundCloud in particular, this is essential to my locating the tracks and creating a playlist of them.

Step 2: Upload your track. It is helpful but not essential that you use SoundCloud to host your track.

Step 3: In the following discussion thread at llllllll.co please consider posting your track:

http://llllllll.co/t/record-half-a-duet-disquiet-junto-project-0269/6652

Step 4: Annotate your track with a brief explanation of your approach and process.

Step 5: Then listen to and comment on tracks uploaded by your fellow Disquiet Junto participants.

Deadline: This project’s deadline is 11:59pm wherever you are on Monday, February 27, 2017. This project was posted in the late morning, California time, on Thursday, February 23, 2017.

Length: The length is up to you, though about two to three minutes feel about right.

Title/Tag: When posting your track, please include “disquiet0269″ in the title of the track, and where applicable (on SoundCloud, for example) as a tag.

Upload: When participating in this project, post one finished track with the project tag, and be sure to 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.

Download: Please set your track for download and with a license that allows for attributed reworking (i.e., a Creative Commons license permitting non-commercial sharing with attribution).

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

More on this 269th weekly Disquiet Junto project, “Duet Portion: Record half of a live duet” at:

http://disquiet.com/0269/

More on the Disquiet Junto at:

http://disquiet.com/junto/

Subscribe to project announcements here:

http://tinyletter.com/disquiet-junto/

Project discussion takes place on llllllll.co:

llllllll.co/t/in-tribute-to-jiro-taniguchi-disquiet-junto-project-0268/6533

There’s also on a Junto Slack. Send your email address to twitter.com/disquiet for Slack inclusion.

Image associated with this project is by Tony Tsang. It’s used thanks to a Creative Commons license:

flic.kr/p/6565DF

creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/

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The Elbow at the Machine

The human intervention in generative music

Björn Bommersheim posted this seven-minute synthesizer performance, which he describes as a “self generative eurorack modular patch,” which is to say it’s an instrument that plays itself. This isn’t to say the synth is entirely self-sufficient. Putting aside the necessity of someone (Bommersheim, that is) to conceive of and implement the patch — “patch” meaning the various connections between various modules, and the various settings of those modules — there are numerous instances throughout “Chtou | Eurorack Ambient Soundscape” when the author is physically present. Bommersheim is seen adjusting knobs early on to set the piece in motion, and moving up and down between the levels of modules to nudge the piece in a desired direction at various instances. For the duration of the sedate, welcomingly distracting performance, rich swells of cloudy waveforms come and go, and whispy, playful, slurpy smaller tones make themselves heard.

This is the latest video I’ve added to my YouTube playlist of recommended live performances of ambient music. Video originally posted at Bommersheim’s YouTube channel. More from Bommershein, who is based in Bochum, Germany, at soundcloud.com/bjornbommersheim.

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Sarah Davachi Live Video

A painstaking drone gives way to violin-like textures

It’s saying something when the wafts of stage smoke evidence more motion than does the performer. Such is, on this occasion, the painstaking, thoughtful, and introspective work of Sarah Davachi. This solemnly paced video went live late last year, coincident with the November 25, 2016, release of Davachi’s excellent Vergers album on the Important Records label, and yet it’s had oddly few viewings, at least according to YouTube’s accounting. It’s a gorgeous performance. The first half is an encompassing drone, settling into a heavy mid-range and dense with a slow boil of quarter-step commotion. Then enters what sounds like a patiently bowed violin, given to layering, its steadiness allowing for exploration of its gracefully bleak textures.

In related news, Davachi has been filling out her back catalog. Two EPs that predate Vergers appeared on her Bandcamp today: Qualities of Bodies Permanent and neustadt / altstadt EP, both dating from March 2015.

Update (February 16, 2017): I got a note from Rick of Shasta Cults that the Important Records video had previously been posted on the Shasta YouTube channel, and that it was shot “at Kunstencentrum Vooruit, Eastern Dayz festival in Ghent.”

Video originally posted on the Important Records YouTube channel. More from Davachi at sarahdavachi.com and soundcloud.com/sarahdavachi.

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The (Other) Helicopter Quartet

Aka Chrissie Caulfield, Michael Capstick, and a floor full of guitar pedals

This Helicopter Quartet isn’t four Stockhausen-annointed violinists in their own individual whirlybirds. This Helicopter Quartet is two musicians — Chrissie Caulfield on violin and Michael Capstick on guitar, and he appears to play a theremin app on a smartphone toward the end of this video — along with a floor full of guitar pedals. The pedals more than fill out the billing, though the duo together strive to eke out as subtle a space as possible. This piece is called “Quiet,” appropriate for a work that for all its myriad constituent parts sounds like one person working alone with a limited toolset, if not a limited palette. It’s all slow, arching tones, looped and layered, the seesaw of a slow lapping of water against a pier, the mood as calm as the deepest recesses of the night.

“Quiet” is a trial run toward a track from the Helicopter Quartet’s forthcoming album. Video originally posted at Chrissie Caulfield’s YouTube channel. It’s the latest piece I’ve added to my ongoing YouTube playlist of fine “Ambient Performances.” More from Caulfield at chrissieviolin.info. More from the Helicopter Quartet at helicopterquartet.bandcamp.com.

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Hear the Refurbished 1970s Bell Labs Alles Machine Synthesizer

In a 2016 performance by Oberlin TIMARA undergraduate Judy Jackson

Oberlin’s TIMARA school has exactly one video on its YouTube page, and it was uploaded this past week. What it shows is the early synthesizer the Alles Machine, named for Hal Alles, who built the instrument while at Bell Labs in the 1970s. Computer music pioneer Max Matthews also contributed to the Alles Machine’s development. The video is a performance from 2016 by TIMARA undergraduate Judy Jackson.

The Alles Machine has been in TIMARA’s collection since the early 1980s. This is from a TIMARA blog post on January 30, 2017: “[T]he instrument was donated to the TIMARA Department, although it was barely functioning and lay dormant till recently. TIMARA engineer, John Talbert, has repurposed the machine for future generations of TIMARA composers.” Talbert is one of the half dozen faculty at TIMARA, which stands for Technology in Music and Related Arts, and counts among its alumni the classical critic and composer Kyle Gann, electronic musician Bob Ostertag, and playful digital-media artist Cory Arcangel.

The original deployment of the Alles Machine involved a Digital Equipment Corporation’s LSI-11, a sibling of the PDP-11. An article from a 1983 publication of the International Computer Music Association by Talbert and his TIMARA colleague Gary Nelson describes (see: umich.edu) how Max Matthews visited Oberlin during the 1979-1980 school year, and that led to the TIMARA acquisition of the Alles Machine. Nelson and Talbert traveled to Bell Labs in June 1980: “After several weeks of asking questions and taking notes,” they write, “we gathered up technical documentation, circuit diagrams, and the machine itself and headed back to Ohio to begin a challenging but rewarding period of what the seal of Oberlin College calls ‘learning and labor.'” (And if you want to go wayback, here’s a PDF of the 1979 PDP-11 Processor Handbook.)

It’s unclear when and for how long the Alles was mothballed, presumably decades, but a 2016 document from Talbert, linked to from the TIMARA site, details how the Alles Machine was recently disconnected from the antiquated LSI-11 and now functions thanks to a Mac Mini (“loaded with programs such such as the MPIDE Programming Environment, Max/MSP and Steim’s junXion”). Here’s a shot of the Max/MSP interface:

Jackson is a senior at Oberlin, where she is pursuing dual majors, one of them in computer science, the other at TIMARA. Her performance with the refurbished Alles Machine opens with brittle static, the white noise of a failing radio signal from which slowly emerges random, more softly tonal elements, which in turn give way to a warping sing wave. Jackson proceeds to work with these elements, eventually ushering in ever more raucous waveforms. It may be my imagination, but she appears to have opted for an outfit that resembles the one worn by Laurie Spiegel in this widely viewed video of a 1977 Alles Machine performance:

The Judy Jackson performance on the Alles Machine also appears on TIMARA’s Vimeo channel. More on TIMARA at timara.oberlin.edu. More from Jackson at soundcloud.com/judy-jackson118.

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