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: software

SoundCloud Introduces Shuffle Play

Apparently single-track repeat wasn't the only new feature added to SoundCloud.

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Another welcome addition to the SoundCloud interface: shuffle play. Just last week I noted the appearance of the ability to repeat a single track. At least since the Instagr/am/bient compilation album was posted back in late 2011, I have hoped for a shuffle option on SoundCloud sets. The Instagr/am/bient album, by way of example, has 25 tracks by 25 different musicians, and the first track, “Up Above the Hill-Sky” by Marcus Fischer, has as of this writing 9,412 listens, while Christopher Olson’s “Swanoji” hovers well under 1,000, at 633. While Fischer’s track’s popularity is well-deserved, overall it’s clear that the declining rate of listening corresponds almost directly with track placement. The only serious exception is the OO-Ray’s “Silhouettes,” which has 3,714 listens, compared with 1,974 for the track after it and 1,063 for the track preceding it.

In any case, shuffle play, along with the single-track repeat, is a welcome addition. We’re making use of the single-track option in this week’s Disquiet Junto project, which explores the notion of locked grooves, or the practice back in the days of vinyl of having a short single-revolution loop that repeats. The shuffle play will make the resulting set, along with all other SoundCloud sets, all the more enjoyable for listeners to explore.

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Neither of these two tools seems to have yet been introduced to the embedded player, or the mobile app, but it seems likely that’s down the road.

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Disquiet Junto Project 0153: Groove Lock

The Assignment: Record a short sound intended to be set on repeat.

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Each Thursday in the Disquiet Junto group on SoundCloud.com and at Disquiet.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, December 4, with 11:59pm on the following Monday, December 8, 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 0153: Groove Lock
The Assignment: Record a short sound intended to be set on repeat.

SoundCloud recently introduced the ability for a track to be looped on the website. That is, the listener can hit a button (details at disquiet.com/QVvCF) and the track will play over and over. This week’s project will make use of that feature. This week’s project will also, I should note, inform next week’s project. But you can do next week’s without doing this week’s, and vice-versa.

Step 1: Record a short, original piece of music/sound of between roughly 3 and 9 seconds intended to be set on repeat.

Step 2: Upload the finished track to the Disquiet Junto group on SoundCloud.

Step 3: Listen to and comment on tracks uploaded by your fellow Disquiet Junto participants.

Length: Your finished work should be between roughly 3 and 9 seconds long.

Deadline: This assignment was made in the evening, California time, on Thursday, December 4, with 11:59pm on the following Monday, December 8, 2014, as the deadline.

Upload: Please when posting your track on SoundCloud, only upload one track for this assignment, and 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 “disquiet0153-groovelock” 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 153rd Disquiet Junto project — “Record a short sound intended to be set on repeat” — at:

http://disquiet.com/2014/12/04/disquiet0153-groovelock/

More on the Disquiet Junto at:

http://disquiet.com/junto

Join the Disquiet Junto at:

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

Disquiet Junto general discussion takes place at:

http://disquiet.com/forums/

Image associated with this project by Stuart R Brown:

http://flic.kr/p/mFQC3

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This Week in Sound: SoundCloud, Replicants, Comedy, Surveillance

An occasional, lightly annotated clipping service

One-Track Mind: SoundCloud recently added a “repeat single track” function to its web player. This means that if you’re listening to something on SoundCloud you can click a button to have it repeat when it ends, rather than have the service automatically move on to another track. This is a very welcome turn of events. When it comes to audio streaming, we often don’t really hear something the first time we hear it, and often get lost in the continuity. The ability to repeat a single track in some ways having a chance to really pay attention through repetition.
http://disquiet.com/2014/12/01/soundcloud-single-track-repeat/

Replicant Soundscape: Speaking of listening on repeat, this following track has been online since August, but I only just learned of it via an io9.com post about a related subject. The account of “crysknife007″ on YouTube is filled with great “ambient geek sleep aids” such as the sound of the Starship Enterprise’s engines running for 24 hours straight. What follows is the sound of Rick Deckard’s apartment in Blade Runner playing for half a day, so you can imagine you’re a cyberpunk gumshoe when you’re really just sitting at home paying some bills. Though YouTube comments are rightly avoided, a useful follow-up to the track did note that this same sound was later used in Alien for the Nostromo’s medical bay.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O7FhEpif1cA

Ambient Comedy: The BBC has produced a retrospective of Chris Morris (Blue Jam, Four Lions), the British satirist. I had very much hoped to interview Morris for my recent book on the Aphex Twin album Selected Ambient Works Volume II because he used music from the album in his radio and television sketches to especially haunting effect, but sadly he wasn’t available. The BBC retrospective is three hours long and, according to the BBC webpage, will be online for another four weeks:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04sp5pq

New Heights in Eavesdropping: A thorough overview of the U.S. government’s system “Automatic Speech recognition in Reverberant Environments,” aka ASpIRE, an advance speech-recognition tool.
http://www.defenseone.com/technology/2014/12/what-happens-when-spies-can-eavesdrop-any-conversation/100142/

This first appeared in the December 2, 2014, edition of the free Disquiet email newsletter: tinyletter.com/disquiet.

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SoundCloud Single-Track Repeat

A welcome addition to the service's interface

I’m not sure how long this has been part of the SoundCloud interface, and if it’s been a long time then I’m embarrassed to say I’m only just noticing it, but SoundCloud now has single-track repeat available. This track-repeat function is part of the “now-playing bar,” a tool that was introduced awhile back to show what is playing. The tool in general is helpful because after a track plays, the service automatically proceeds to another track, and the bar both shows the name of what’s playing and is clickable through to that track. If you’re playing a set, then after the track you’re playing it moves on to the next one in the set, but if you’re playing just a standalone track, then the tracks are drawn from the general SoundCloud database based on what the previous track was, the latter option providing a nice, low-key “discovery” apparatus. The “now-playing bar” emulates the “mini” view of audio players like VLC and iTunes, among others. The “single-track repeat” function appears courtesy of the fairly ubiquitous treatment of a circular arrow with a “1” in it.

The bar looks like this, if you’re not familiar with it. It resides in the lower-right corner of the page:

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And this is how the implementation appears on the SoundCloud webpage:

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PS: A SoundCloud employee just let me know (today, December 1, 2014) that the single-track repeat has been active for “about two weeks.”

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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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