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: site-maintenance

The Hamlet of CMS Cross-pollination

I've turned off the sound.tumblr.com -> Disquiet.com autofeed.

There’s probably no one who cares about this but me, but I wanted to mention that for the time being I’ve turned off the IFTTT “recipe” that automatically would take new posts from my sound.tumblr.com site and then post the material here at Disquiet.com. The reason is simple: there’s a lot published at sound.tumblr.com on a daily basis, because it’s a linkblog, and it can overwhelm Disquiet.com. I came to this realization this month: my sensitivity to not overwhelming the Disquiet.com editorial balance was actually keeping me from posting more frequently to sound.tumblr.com site. And the point of the sound.tumblr.com site is to have as little in the way of a filter as possible — to just use it as a repository for lightly annotated links about the role of sound in the media landscape. On occasion I’ll do roundups here at Disquiet.com of highlights from sound.tumblr.com, and if a given sound.tumblr.com takes on a little heft, I’ll cross-post it here, as I did earlier today with the piece on the sound of dining.

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sound.tumblr.com -> disquiet.com

The role of sound in the media landscape / How commerce + audio harmonize

One more note regarding site maintenance, to follow up yesterday’s announcement about the expansion of the Downstream department: The linkblog I maintain at sound.tumblr.com will now be co-posted here at Disquiet.com, under the Field Notes category. This has already been underway for a few days. The linkblog content relates to the subject of the course I teach at the Academy of Art here in San Francisco. Its subject is the role of sound in the media landscape. As it’s described at sound.tumblr.com:

Sounds of Brands: The role of sound in the media landscape

Brands of Sounds: How commerce + audio harmonize

Recent posts to sound.tumblr.com have included whether water sounds different based on its temperature, an over-the-counter sleep aid that is expanding into the realm of white-noise machines, and the fading glory of Italian dance halls. One ongoing thread of obsession is devices whose microphones are always on, always listening. There’s also emphasis on shifts in what once was called the “record industry,” not so much out of an interest in business practices as an advance sense of how what was largely a business of fixed sonic artifacts is responding to the fluid nature of digital culture.

A little background: Since 2007 I’ve, on and off, mostly off, been maintaining separate activities at sound.tumblr.com. Tumblr launched in February 2007, and a few months later I found myself in Japan. I kept an online sound journal using Tumblr throughout that trip, and shortly thereafter compiled it into a single post here at Disquiet.com (“Tokyo Sound Diary, May 2007″). Since 2012, that site has served — again, on and off, mostly off — as a place to deposit brief observations related to this course I teach. Last July I thought I’d finally wrapped my head around how to handle the Tumblr side project, but that didn’t last too long. Then, again, this past month I felt I’d gotten a sense of how to manage it. At the time, I wrote, “So, I’m now using Tumblr as a kind of linkblog, an ‘active delicio.us’ as it were. It has a specific focus: entirely on my research on ‘the role of sound in the media landscape.'” It’s felt pretty good since then, hence its porting — via an IFTTT script — to Disquiet.com. IFTTT isn’t perfect. It can take more than an hour for an item in Tumblr to show up on Disquiet.com. Triggers from the app on my Android phone don’t work as effectively as the ones from the website. And don’t even get me started with the shortcomings of the Tumblr app.

In any case, I hope people find the linkblog material of interest. I certainly do, which is why I make note of it here. By and large, I’m not a fan of blind links, of links without any additional context; that said, there’s need to collect and collate material, and so I post these links with some framing information, and with tags for me to access the material at a later date.

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Moving Past Free Downloads

The Downstream category expands — starting with Taylor Deupree's ongoing 2014 Studio Diary

The Downstream category on Disquiet.com is getting a slight adjustment. Henceforth, it won’t be restricted to freely downloadable music; it will expand to include freely streamable music, and space will be allocated, as always, for freely downloadable work, especially music and sound intended for reuse via a Creative Commons license.

A little background: Since August 2003, almost 11 full years — some 3,989 days — this site has published 2,268 entries in the Downstream category. A lot has changed in that time. For longtime Downstream readers, and listeners, and subjects, it may be a surprise to learn that initially the section wasn’t restricted to downloads. There were even some videos early on. In any case, the Downstream quickly became focused on freely downloadable music, with a long run emphasizing music released by netlabels, and then on music hosted by SoundCloud.com.

The thing is, listening today is quite different than it was a decade ago. Back then, today’s cloud infrastructure was just getting started (Dropbox wasn’t released until 2008, a full five years after the Downstream started), free downloads were rare, and full streams hadn’t really taken off as a normal part of everyday listening.

Today, many of the best artist-oriented repositories of music, notably SoundCloud and Bandcamp, are built with free streaming as the core of the service. People mourn the decline in music sales but the fact is that even freely downloadable music doesn’t have the appeal it once did. New business and technological models are trying to anticipate and keep pace with the manner in which culture is consumed and created. There are many nifty approaches — a key one is Bandcamp’s mobile app, which automatically makes any purchased music available for unlimited streaming. It’s an interesting concept: you’re “buying” the music, but the real benefit is the hassle-free addition of the music to what someone somewhere with a white board probably would call your “listening workflow.”

The rise in free streaming as a means to promote music while retaining some control over its dissemnination has led to massive amounts of experimental and interrogative music being uploaded and shared. Expanding the Downsteam to include such work is a big part of this decision.

A case in point is Taylor Deupree’s ongoing 2014 Studio Diary, which is housed at SoundCloud.com. It currently contains two and three quarter hours of freely streamable music, consisting of some 71 tracks. They are each lovely, tiny little sonic gestures, ranging from cloud formations to glitchy beats, each a sketch, a notion, and no doubt potential source material for Deupree’s future commercial releases (he runs the label 12k).

And so it is with Deupree’s work that I initiate this shift in — this expansion of — the focus of the Disquiet Downstream. As of today I’m going to retire the “free” tag and replace it with two new tags: “recommended stream” and “free download.”

Follow Deupree’s 2014 Studio Diary at soundcloud.com/12k.

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A lightly annotated linkblog about the role of sound in the media landscape

This is the fourth or fifth time I’ve taken a fresh start at my sound.tumblr.com account. This time I feel — as I suppose I have each time, for varying lengths of time — like I’ve finally sorted out how to manage it, what use to make of it. I’m pretty unsatisfied by simply reposting things without commentary. At the same time, Tumblr is even more like Twitter than it is like Facebook: it doesn’t seem to reward longer considerations of subject matter, and much of the collective participation happens through hashtags and through reposting. So, I’m now using Tumblr as a kind of linkblog, an “active delicio.us” as it were. It has a specific focus: entirely on my research on “the role of sound in the media landscape. That’s the realm of the class I’ve been teaching since 2012 at the Academy of Art in San Francisco (“Sounds of Brands / Brands of Sounds”). Everything that I post to sound.tumblr.com will be annotated, but only lightly, and I’m doubling down on the hashtags, so they’ll be of use to me for collation purposes. For the re-inauguration, I’ve updated the theme, just to tonally note that there’s been a shift.

Recent posts include the “ghost lap” of a race car, aftermarket activists undoing the sounds added to vehicles, Teju Cole’s ode to the vuvuzela (via Alexis Madrigal), and Yuri Suzuki’s new sounds for shoes.

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Disquiet Book Club: Daphne Oram’s An Individual Note

The discussion begins at disquiet.com/forums on June 18

20140607-daphneoramA proper online discussion forum was recently introduced on Disquiet.com. The implementation is still in beta, but it seems to be functioning well. One of the things the forum will support is an occasional book club. After much deliberation, the first book we’ll be collectively reading and talking about is the out-of-print volume An Individual Note of Music, Sound and Electronics by composer, theoretician, philosopher, and studio manager Daphne Oram, perhaps best known for her pioneering efforts in the BBC’s Radiophonic Workshop. Oram passed away in 2003 at the age of 77. The discussion will begin on the 15th of this month, a Sunday. Originally published in 1971, An Individual Note is available as a free PDF download here:


On the morning of June 15, California time, a discussion thread will appear in the forums here:


Thanks for considering joining in. There will be more such discussion groups in the future. A number of excellent suggestions were contributed to the forum in the process of coming up with the Oram title.

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