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

Listening to art.
Playing with audio.
Sounding out technology.
Composing in code.

tag: software

The Circuit Board Record Album

Tristan Perich on Loud Objects, machine art, and the aesthetics of code

Tristan Perich - Noise Patterns - 7 - Headphones

The Noise Patterns album, plugged into a pair of headphones

Tristan Perich’s Noise Patterns comes in a clear jewel case, but it isn’t a CD. It’s a small, matte-black circuit board. Powered by a watch battery, it produces a series of musical compositions built from the on/off operations on the minuscule chip at the center of the device, the same sort of chip you might find in a microwave oven.

What follows is a lengthy, detailed interview in which Perich talks about the development of Noise Patterns, and various other aspects of his artistic efforts, which range from full-scale museum installations of drawing machines and “microtonal walls,” to live performances in which he builds circuits in front of the audience.

In Perich’s telling, his previous circuit-board album, 1-Bit Symphony, was built from “tone” while Noise Patterns, as its name suggests, is built from “randomness,” from what sounds like white noise twisted and tweaked to Perich’s design.

There will be a more detailed introduction to this interview posted here soon, but in the interest of time — there is a party/concert celebrating the release of Noise Patternstonight at (Le) Poisson Rouge in Manhattan, with guests, Robert Henke, Karl Larson, Ricardo Romaneiro, Leo Leite, and Christian Hannon — the transcript, along with annotated images from the production of Noise Patterns and other aspects of Perich’s work, is being posted today.

01 - Tristan Perich - Microtonal Wall at MoMA

Perich’s Microtonal Wall, installed at MoMA in Manhattan

Tristan Perich - Noise Patterns - 1 - Angle

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Slacking About Remixing

A window on the new Disquiet Junto Slack discussion group

This past week I opened up a discussion group on Slack (slack.com), the popular messaging and collaboration platform. I remain more wedded to forum-style discussion, but I am also aware that preference may simply be me, and that Slack’s success may indeed relate to a more contemporary, fluid, less structured format.

In any case, as I’d hoped, discussion about specific projects while the projects are still happening has been solid. This week’s Junto project involves a remix of three unrelated tracks. I share a brief bit of that conversation below. (And if you’re part of the Junto Slack discussion, you can view the full thread here.)

mtnviewmark [7:36 AM]
I might suggest that we ​don’t​ post our tracks here. I think this channel would be better for discussion than as another rolling list of submissions, which can be found on SoundCloud as is. So… In the past Disquiet submissions I did the assignments in the void: I didn’t even load up the SC list until after I finished my submission. I didn’t want to hear others’ work and be influenced by them. That seems silly in the face of the premise of this week’s assignment: remix! Also, want to see if having a live discussion ​during​ the assignment helps. So… I’m looking at first two tracks – rhythmic / arrythmic – and rather than remix them directly, I’m working on swapping the rhythms between them…. so far, this is slow going. Also, if it helps anyone, the first track is at 128.41bpm by my measure….

marc.weidenbaum [9:21 AM]
It does feel a bit redundant. On occasion may be good for reference during conversation. Look forward to what you make of it.

joemcmahon [9:45 AM]
@mtnviewmark: Yeah, I prefer it that way too; if I let myself hear what others have done, sometimes I just say, “well, that’s better than I could do it” and skip it. :slightly_smiling_face:

audio_obscura [3:57 AM]
Its true what others say in that I often here junto submissions and think I could never better that, in fact I think I have 4 tracks I did and never submitted as they just weren’t any good. But this weeks challenge is a good one as the variety of posts from the same sources is really different. Just my opinion but I like to hear the elements from the source material in the remixes – some people twist the sources so much you can’t really hear any of the original. I think with mine you can still distinctly hear the three referenced works

marc.weidenbaum [5:41 AM]
@audio_obscura: That hearing the originals in the remix gives me great pleasure. Have you ever checked out the Stonesthrow Beat Battles? I love listening in each week and checking out how everyone’s redone the shared sample.

audio_obscura [6:34 AM]
@marc.weidenbaum: I think next’s weeks Junto should be to take 3 of this weeks remixes, download them and take the 1st 30 seconds of the tracks and remix them – basically repeating this weeks challenge but taking it another step down the road!

audiodays [6:55 AM]
Really enjoyed the challenge again this week. some weeks I know straight away what I’m going to do, but this week.s took a bit of thinking time and some experiments. I agree with that has been said about hearing the source material and I think I’ve ‘just’ about go away with it this week. But as I said in my notes on SC, I struggled finding a a way of bringing HNY and Pepper Jelly together without it sounding too much like a car crash. I rarely, if ever, listen to other contributions until I’ve uploaded my own, and settling down to hear how other have interpreted the brief is just as joyous as the Disquiet Junto email dropping on a Thursday evening (UK time).

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Now on Slack.com: Disquiet Junto Discussion

A test run is underway of the popular messaging tool

Screen Shot 2016-06-15 at 8.31.07 PM

There is now a Slack team set up (at disquietjunto.slack.com) for Disquiet Junto discussion.

If you want to participate, send me your email address. I’m at marc@disquiet.com. Apparently Slack is invitation-based, so I need to send you an invite to join in.

The general idea for the Junto Slack is it’s a replacement for the discussion boards that were once quite active on SoundCloud, before the service mothballed them, and it’s a complement (or temporary stand-in) for the disquiet.com/forums, which are running on a somewhat antiquated platform (Vanilla Forums). The disquiet.com/forums will likely be upgraded at some point later this year to a better platform, but for now the Slack team is where Junto conversation will be focused — of course, there will still be plenty of talk on Twitter, which is where many of the initial core group of Junto participants first (virtually) met up, and elsewhere.

As of this moment there are 26 members of the Slack Junto, and there are 8 channels underway, pictured up top. We’ve been (re)introducing ourselves, talking about playlist curation as cultural participation, comparing physical and software modular synthesizers, and sharing videos of Karlheinz Stockhausen, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Taylor Deupree, and others.

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In the Key of G(enerative)

The software patch as live performance

“System has decided to generate in G.” G is the key, and generative is the mode. That line is one of the many captions that illuminate the software patch in action in this video. You don’t have to fully comprehend, or even read, the text to appreciate the correlation between the virtual patch (signal flows, triggers, and such) and the sounds that emerge as the piece proceeds.

The text and patch, both by Siegfried Mueller, depict the inner workings of GenAura, Mueller’s “Generative Ambient System.” The video is almost half a decade old at this point, and the interface of the toolset, Max/MSP, in which the software was coded has come a long way since then, but the music remains nuanced and entrancing, and Mueller’s concise distillation of process is a great example of how watching a generative tool enact its own decision-making is a form of live performance.

The word “indeterminate” is often associated with generative music because chance is a key factor in many generative systems. The thing to keep in mind is that when it comes to GenAura it can be said that the music is determined — it’s just determined by the decision-making of the software itself, which of course extrapolates decisions built into the DNA of its code by Mueller.

It’s the latest piece I’ve added to my ongoing YouTube playlist of fine “Ambient Performances.” Video originally posted five years ago on YouTube by Siegfried Mueller, who developed the software.

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The Pure Data of Svetlana Maraš

One minute to stream, and software to run for free

svetlanamaras

You have to click through to the blog of Svetlana Maraš to hear her recent piece “Nymphae,” but don’t mistake that non-embeddable scenario for the work of someone who’s overly concerned about proprietorship. Maras, who is based in Belgrade, Serbia, has more than one SoundCloud page, and posts audio frequently. For “Nymphae,” not only has she uploaded the entrancing, minute-long sample of fractured glistening to stream, she’s also posted for free download the underlying tools anyone can use to accomplish the same sonic ends. Well, anyone with a copy of Pd (Pure data, a “real-time graphical dataflow programming environment,” itself freely downloadable), and the skills to employ it. The tools come in the form of a patch, which looks like this:

svetlanamaras-pd

She describes the project as follows:

Nymphaea is one in a set of 7 works made under the title Ethereal Information. These works are Pure data patches, and they are generative sound works functioning by the rules of partially fixed algorithms. Each of the patches leaves the space for user’s input that will influence certain aspects of the work. Patches can be used under the Creative Commons Attribution license, as part of other works, in installations, galleries, public spaces or wherever you find them suitable. These works are highly minimalistic. They praise the simplicity of production and effectiveness of realization. They are to be appreciated for their audible but as well visual content that is in this case the structural element of the work that reveals work’s internal characteristics.

More from Maraš at svetlanamaras.com. I wrote about her work previously in February 2015, regarding sound design she’d been working on for a film that never saw completion. That audio is still online. The image up top is from an interview with Maraš by Theresa Beyer, published in 2014 at norient.com. Pure data is available at puredata.info.

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