February 13, 2014, is the official release date for my 33 1/3 book on Aphex Twin's 1994 album Selected Ambient Works Volume II, 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: remix

Disquiet Junto Project 0114: Five Sines

Combine elements of Dave Seidel's album ~60 Hz (Irritable Hedgehog).

20140306-seidel

Each Thursday at the Disquiet Junto group on SoundCloud.com 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 by participants will be added to this playlist as the project proceeds:

This project was published in the evening, California time, on Thursday, March 6, with 11:59pm on the following Monday, March 10, 2014, as the deadline.

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

Disquiet Junto Project 0114: Five Sines

This week’s project is a celebration of the new album by Dave Seidel, who also goes by Mysterybear. Titled ~60 Hz, it just came out on the great Irritable Hedgehog record label. Seidel has extracted five parts of one track from his album and made them available for reworking by the Disquiet Junto. The album is based on combining sine waves, and in keeping with that approach we will in this project combine parts of his album. These are the 5 steps:

Step 1: Download the following file, a Zip archive that contains 5 different tracks:

http://goo.gl/rrIzU4

Step 2: Extract the five files and listen to them.

Step 3: Combine elements of the files into one track. You cannot add anything, but you can process them as you wish. An emphasis should be put on layering the material.

Step 4: Upload the file to the Disquiet Junto group on SoundCloud and describe your approach and process in the text field associated with the track.

Step 5: Listen to other members’ tracks as they appear in the Disquiet Junto feed on SoundCloud, and comment on them when you have the time.

Deadline: Monday, March 6, 2014, at 11:59pm wherever you are.

Length: Your finished work should be between 2 minutes and 5 minutes.

Information: Please when posting your track on SoundCloud, 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.

Title/Tag: When adding your track to the Disquiet Junto group on Soundcloud.com, please include the term “disquiet0114-60hz” 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 114th Disquiet Junto project — “Combine elements of Dave Seidel’s album ~60 Hz (Irritable Hedgehog)” — at:

http://disquiet.com/2014/03/06/disquiet0114-60hz/

More on the Disquiet Junto at:

http://disquiet.com/?p=16588

Join the Disquiet Junto at:

http://soundcloud.com/groups/disquiet-junto/

The source audio is from Dave Seidel’s ~60 Hz album, released on the Irritable Hedgehog record label. More on the album at:

http://recordings.irritablehedgehog.com/album/dave-seidel-60-hz

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Disquiet Junto Project 0111: Acts of Commons

Rework work from Impulsive Habitat, Xylem, Zeromoon (via actsofsilence.com).

20140213-actsofcommons

Each Thursday at the Disquiet Junto group on SoundCloud.com 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 by participants will be added to this playlist as the project proceeds:

This project was published in the evening, California time, on Thursday, February 13, with 11:59pm on the following Monday, February 17, 2014, as the deadline.

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

Disquiet Junto Project 0111: Acts of Commons

Create a new piece of music by using nothing but the following elements from these three pieces of music:

The last 30 seconds of Juan Manuel Castrillo’s “Horizontales,” from the album by that name on the netlabel Impulsive Habitat:

http://impulsivehabitat.com/releases/ihab084.htm

The first 10 seconds of J. Surak’s “Improvisation for Prepared Autoharp,” from the album If You Smell Gas on the netlabel Zeromoon:

http://museumofmicrocassetteart.bandcamp.com/album/moma086-if-you-smell-gas

The first 20 seconds of Maddame Cell’s “Auto Tempo 1,” from the album Autotempo on the netlabel Xylem:

http://xylemrecords.bandcamp.com/album/autotempo

Background: all of this music is available for free, non-commercial download and creative reuse thanks to a Creative Commons license. This project is part of a series of “netlabel remixes” intended to promote that sort of thoughtful, collaborative sharing. The audio was sourced from reviews posted originally at the excellent website actsofsilence.com, which is run by David Nemeth.

Deadline: Monday, February 17, 2014, at 11:59pm wherever you are.

Length: Your finished work should be between 2 minute and 5 minutes.

Information: Please when posting your track on SoundCloud, 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.

Title/Tag: When adding your track to the Disquiet Junto group on Soundcloud.com, please include the term “disquiet0111-actsofcommons” in the title of your track, and as a tag for your track.

Download: Due to the nature of the source material, your track should be set as downloadable, and with a license that allows for attributed remixing (i.e., a Creative Commons license permitting non-commercial sharing with attribution).

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

Thanks to a Creative Commons license, this track contains elements of music by Juan Manuel Castrillo (“Horizontales,” from the album by that name on the netlabel Impulsive Habitat), J. Surak (“Improvisation for Prepared Autoharp,” from the album If You Smell Gas on the netlabel Zeromoon), and Maddame Cell (“Auto Tempo 1,” from the album Autotempo on the netlabel Xylem).

More on this 111th Disquiet Junto project (“Rework work from Impulsive Habitat, Xylem, Zeromoon (via actsofsilence.com)”) at:

http://disquiet.com/2014/02/13/disquiet0111-actsofcommons/

More on the Disquiet Junto at:

http://disquiet.com/?p=16588

Join the Disquiet Junto at:

http://soundcloud.com/groups/disquiet-junto/

The source audio for this track is available for free download from these netlabel websites:

http://impulsivehabitat.com/releases/ihab084.htm

http://museumofmicrocassetteart.bandcamp.com/album/moma086-if-you-smell-gas

http://xylemrecords.bandcamp.com/album/autotempo

The audio was sourced from reviews posted originally at the excellent website actsofsilence.com, which is run by David Nemeth.

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Berg + Vitiello: Virginia via Japan

A rework by Yui Onodera

Molly Berg contributes varied breathy, glottal vocalizations in her collaborations with Stephen Vitiello. There is the sound she emits from her vocal cords, and the sound that she makes with her clarinet. Both can veer into an etheral, heavenly zone, or can settle in a more tactile, percussive space. The combination with Vitiello’s equally untraditional guitar playing — at times his pizzicato becomes the sonic equivalent of a lense flare — and his rich employment of digital transformations makes for listening that keeps your ears alert even as it provides a sense of relaxation. The first track off their second album together, the recently released Between You and the Shapes You Take (12k), is titled “From Here,” and it gets a second round of digital nudging in a remix by Tokyo-based musician Yui Onodera. It opens with the same averbal intonartion as the original, and moments of that beading guitar remain pure as it proceeds, but by and large this is the original as heard through a semi-opaque scrim of computer-enabled processing, the sharper edges turned into approximative clouds.

Track originally posted for free download at soundcloud.com/stephenvitiello. Berg and Vitiello are based in Richmond, Virginia. More on the record at 12k.com. More from Vitiello at stephenvitiello.com. More from Ondera at soundcloud.com/yui_onodera and critical-path.info. (If you’re aware of a web site or social network account for Berg, please let me know.)

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disquiet.gizmodo.com

On Disquiet.com now participating in the Gizmodo ecosystem

These are two things that I think Geoff Manaugh, editor-in-chief of the technology and design blog Gizmodo.com, didn’t know about me when he asked if I’d consider bringing Disquiet.com beneath his website’s expanding umbrella.

1: My “to re-blog” bookmark file has been packed in recent months with scores of items from pretty much all of the Gizmodo-affiliated sites — not just Gizmodo, but io9.com, Lifehacker, Jalopnik, Gawker, and Kotaku. Probably Jezebel and Deadspin, too, but the file is too thick for me to tell.

2: Pretty much the first thing that I read every morning with my coffee — well, every weekday morning — is the “Morning Spoilers” at io9.com, the great science fiction website that is part of the Gawker network that also contains Gizmodo.

I knew Manaugh’s work from BLDGBLOG and, before that, Dwell Magazine. He’d previously invited me to involve the weekly experimental music/sound project series that I run, the Disquiet Junto, in the course on the architecture of the San Andreas Fault that he taught in spring 2013 at Columbia University’s graduate school of architecture. And I am excited to work with him again.

And so, there is now a cozy disquiet.gizmodo.com subdomain URL where I’ll be syndicating — simulposting — material from Disquiet.com, as well as doing original straight-to-Gizmodo writing. I’m hopeful that members of the Gizmodo readership might further expand the already sizable ranks of the Disquiet Junto music projects (we just completed one based on a post from Kotaku), and I’ll be posting notes from the course I teach on “sound in the media landscape” at the Academy of Art here in San Francisco.

For new readers of Disquiet, the site’s purview is as follows:

* Listening to Art.

* Playing with Audio.

* Sounding Out Technology.

* Composing in Code.

I’ll take a moment to break that down:

Listening to Art: Attention to sound art has expanded significantly this year, thanks in no small part to the exhibit Soundings: A Contemporary Score at the Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan. That exhibit, which ran from August 10 through November 3, featured work by such key figures as Susan Philipsz (whose winning of the Turner Prize inspired an early music compilation I put together), Carsten Nicolai (whom I profiled in the new Red Bull Music Academy book For the Record), and Stephen Vitiello (whom I’ve interviewed about 911 and architectural acoustics, and who has participated in the Disquiet Junto). But if “sound art” is art for which music is both raw material and subject matter, my attention is just as much focused on what might better be described as the role of “sound in art,” of the depictions of audio in various media (the sound effects in manga, for example) and the unintended sonic components of art beyond sound art, like the click and hum of a slide carousel or the overall sonic environment of a museum. Here’s video of Tristan Perich’s “Microtonal Wall” from the MoMA exhibit:

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Playing with Audio: If everything is, indeed, a remix, that is a case most clearly made in music and experimental sound. From the field recordings that infuse much ambient music to the sampling of hip-hop to the rapturous creative reuse that proliferates on YouTube and elsewhere, music as raw material is one of the most exciting developments of our time. Terms like “remix” and “mashup” and “mixtape” can been seen to have originated or otherwise gained cachet in music, and as they expand into other media, we learn more about them, about the role such activities play in culture. And through the rise of audio-game apps, especially in iOS, such “playing with sound” has become all the more common — not just the work of musicians but of audiences, creating a kind of “active listening.” This notion of reuse, of learning about music and sound by how it is employed after the fact, plays a big role in my forthcoming book for the 33 1/3 series. My book is about Aphex Twin’s album Selected Ambient Works Volume II, and it will be published on February 13, 2014, just weeks ahead of the record’s 20th anniversary. As part of my research for the book, I spoke with many individuals who had come to appreciate the Aphex Twin album by engaging with it in their own work, from composers who had transcribed it for more “traditional” instruments (such as chamber ensembles and solo guitar), to choreographers and sound designers, to film directors.

Sounding Out Technology: A briefer version of the Disquiet.com approach is to look at “the intersection of sound, art, and technology.” The term “technology” is essential to that trio, because it was only when I learned to step back from my fascination with electronically produced music and to appreciate “electronic” as a subset of the vastly longer continuum of “technology” that connections became more clear to me — say, between the sonics of raves and the nascent polyphony of early church music, or between creative audio apps like Brian Eno and Peter Chilvers’ Bloom and what is arguably the generative ur-instrument: the aeolian harp. With both Bloom and the aeolian harp, along with its close relative the wind chime, music is less a fixed composition than a system that is enacted. As technology mediates our lives more and more, the role that sound plays in daily life becomes a richer and richer subject — from voice-enabled devices, to the sounds of consumer product design, to the scores created for electric cars:

Composing in Code: Of all the technologies to come to the fore in the past two decades, perhaps none has had an impact greater than computer code. This is no less true in music and sound than it is in publishing, film, politics, health, or myriad other fields. While the connections between mathematics and music have been celebrated for millennia, there is something special to how, now, those fields are combining, notably in graphic systems such as Max/MSP (and Max for Live, in Ableton) and Puredata (aka Pd), just to name two circumstances. Here, for reference, is a live video of the Dutch musician and sound artist Edo Paulus’ computer screen as he constructs and then performs a patch in Max/MSP. Where the construction ends and the performance begins provides a delightful koan:

All of which said, I’m not 100-percent clear what form my disquiet.gizmodo.com activity will take. I’m looking forward to experimenting in the space. I’ll certainly be co-posting material from Disquiet.com, but I’m also planning on engaging with Gizmodo itself, and with its broader network of sites. I’ve already, in advance of this post, begun re-blogging material from Gizmodo and from Gizmodo-affiliated sites: not just “sharing” (in the UI terminology of the Kinja CMS that powers the network) but adding some contextual information, thoughts, tangents, details. I’m enthusiastic about Kinja, in particular how it blurs the lines between author and reader. I like that a reply I make to a post about a newly recreated instrument by Leonardo Da Vinci can then appear in my own feed, leading readers back to the original site, where they themselves might join in the conversation. Kinja seems uniquely focused on multimedia as a form of commentary — like many CMS systems, it allows animated GIFs and short videos to serve as blog comments unto themselves, but it goes the step further of allowing users to delineate rectangular sub-sections of previously posted images and comment on those. I’m intrigued to see how sound can fit into that approach. (It’s no surprise to me that Kinja is innovative in this regard — it’s on Lifehacker that I first learned about the syntax known as “markdown.”) I think that all, cumulatively, makes for a fascinating media apparatus, and I want to explore it.

While I typed this post, it was Tuesday in San Francisco. I live in the Outer Richmond District, just north of Golden Gate Park and a little over a mile from the Pacific Ocean. The season’s first torrential rain has passed, and so the city sounds considerably more quiet than it did just a few days ago. No longer is the noise of passing automobiles amplified and augmented by the rush of water, and the roof above my desk is no longer being pummeled. But where there is the seeming peace of this relative quiet, there is also an increased diversity of listening material. The ear can hear further, as it were — not just to conversations in the street and to passing cars, but to construction blocks away, to leaf blowers, to a seaplane overhead, to the sound of a truck backing up at some considerable distance, and to the many birds that (unlike what I was accustomed to, growing up on the north shore of New York’s Long Island) do not all vacate the area come winter. It is shortly past noon as I hit the button to make this post go live. Church bells have sung a duet with the gurgling in my belly to remind me it is time for lunch. And because it is Tuesday, the city’s civic warning system has rung out. 

Dim sum, anyone?

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Disquiet Junto Project 0082: Minimal Haydn

The Project: Create a minimal techno track using elements of a Haydn string quartet.

20130725-haydn

Each Thursday at the Disquiet Junto group on Soundcloud.com 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.

This assignment was made in the evening, California time, on Thursday, July 25, with 11:59pm on the following Monday, July 29, 2013, as the deadline.

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

Disquiet Junto Project 0082: Minimal Haydn

This week’s project is another in a series of explorations of the concept of genre as a constraint. (The “downtempo” exercise went well several weeks ago, project 79, and this is another in that mode.) The genre this time is “minimal techno.” The source material is from another genre entirely: “classical,” specifically chamber music in the form of a string quartet. The goal of this project is to derive elements from the source material in the service of a track that would fit in the prescribed genre.

These are the steps:

Step 1: Download the MP3 track at the following URL. The track is the third movement of Franz Haydn’s String Quartet in F Major:

http://goo.gl/7MMHRA

Step 2: Listen through the full 1:55 of the track, noting the time codes of source elements that could lend themselves to a minimal techno track. Aim for roughly between three and six.

Step 3: Extract the handful of elements that you located in Step 2.

Step 4: Compose and record an original track that you feel conforms to the genre of minimal techno, using only the elements from Step 3. You can manipulate them in any way you choose, though at some point in the track they should each be somewhat recognizable from the source material. You cannot add any other sounds.

Deadline: Monday, July 25, 2013, at 11:59pm wherever you are.

Length: Your track should have a duration of between two and five minutes.

Information: Please when posting your track on SoundCloud, 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.

Title/Tag: Include the term “disquiet0082-minimalhaydn” in the title of your track, and as a tag for your track.

Download: Please consider employing a license that allows for attributed, commerce-free remixing (i.e., a Creative Commons license permitting non-commercial sharing with attribution).

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

More on this 82nd Disquiet Junto project, in which a minimal techno track was created using elements of a Haydn string quartet, at:

http://disquiet.com/2013/07/25/disquiet0082-minimalhaydn/

The source Haydn audio is from:

http://goo.gl/7MMHRA

More details on the Disquiet Junto at:

http://soundcloud.com/groups/disquiet-junto/

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