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: sounds-of-brands

A Course in Sound

15 weeks (plus spring break)

Tomorrow, January 28, marks the start of a new semester of the course I teach on the role of sound in the media landscape. The course unfolds over 16 weeks — 15 weeks of class plus one week off for spring break — and I think I’ll be summarizing it here each week, not just the lecture topics but the resulting class discussion and, when we have them, the special guests and occasional field trips.

Last semester we had someone from BitTorrent and someone from SoundCloud address the class, and we took a field trip to an anechoic chamber at the local research lab of an audio company. The guest speakers aren’t generally lecturers; I usually interview them in front of the students, who also ask questions. The semester prior both the sound artist Robin Rimbaud (Scanner) and the voice actor Phil LaMarr (Samurai Jack, Static Shock) visited via Skype.

I teach the course to a mix of MFA and BA students at the Academy of Art here in San Francisco. This is the sixth semester in a row that I’ve taught the course. I’m taking off next semester, with the intention of teaching it once a year rather than twice a year from now on, to leave room for lots of other projects.

This first appeared in the January 27, 2015, edition of the free Disquiet email newsletter:

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What Does This Poster Sound Like?

Posters for my course, courtesy of Boon Design

This marks the fifth semester that I’ve taught my course on the role of sound in the media landscape at the Academy of Art in San Francisco. I love teaching this course. It’s an immersive, 15-week series of classes. We meet once per week for three hours, and then there’s nine hours of homework assigned each week. One thing I’ve wanted to do is to cross-pollinate with students from other departments, so it was suggested by the school that I develop some posters they could post while the registration is underway for the Spring 2015 semester. I came up with a series of questions that are at the heart of the course, and Brian Scott of Boon Design laid these out:

aoa poster 1

aoa poster 2

aoa poster 3

aoa poster 4

The course is touched on here on occasion with the “sounds-of-brands” tag. More from Boon Design at

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The Hamlet of CMS Cross-pollination

I've turned off the -> 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 site and then post the material here at The reason is simple: there’s a lot published at on a daily basis, because it’s a linkblog, and it can overwhelm I came to this realization this month: my sensitivity to not overwhelming the editorial balance was actually keeping me from posting more frequently to site. And the point of the 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 of highlights from, and if a given 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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How Silent Is the Silent Meal?

A quiet zone in Brooklyn

It seems fair to say that a meal without good conversation is never going to be a great meal. It’s arguable that good food is, in fact, just part of a good meal. But there’s another point of view on the topic. A New York City restaurant, named Eat, via, is emphasizing food in exclusion from conversation, with an emphasis on a kind of monastic experience (well, monastic aside from the cost of entry). Eat, based in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, holds a “silent meal” one Sunday each month, organized by the restaurant’s Nicholas Nauman.

As Richard Morgan points out in The Wall Street Journal, the individuals doing the dining aren’t the only source of noise, and Eat is onto this:

In a New York magazine essay in July on the “Great Noise Boom” at city restaurants, food critic Adam Platt pointed out the on-purpose loudness of top-dollar spots including Babbo and Le Bernadin, noting that Midtown’s Lavo restaurant “was measured at 96 decibels, louder than the whine of a suburban lawn mower.”

Perhaps, though, the patrons themselves are as much to blame as the establishments, with their awful offal blather and endless prattle about every nuance and sub-nuance of the food. And that’s not to mention the all-too-familiar smartphone zombie meal, where diners are glued to their iPhones and Androids.

Mr. Nauman’s goal was to call out dining’s sound and fury on both sides of the kitchen.

There’s also some great listening notes in Morgan’s piece: “At 8:12, the first muffled sneeze. At 8:20, the first throat cleared.”

And Julia Kramer in Bon Appétit notes that silence can lead to other forms of civility:

While guests at the Brooklyn dinner were reportedly texting, making paper airplanes, and sustaining conversation through hand gestures, there was absolutely none of that at the silent dinner I attended.

Hermione Hoby at mentions Honi Ryan’s traveling feast as a point of comparison, and touches on what could be perceived as a resulting alienation from the world:

for the next 90 minutes, the only human voice I hear comes from a woman talking loudly into her phone as she walks past on the street. If she had happened to have looked to her left, she would have seen an illuminated restaurant and 21 silent heads turned to look at her.

Perhaps the diners were merely turning their heads at the intrusion, though it seems like a kind of received righteous indignation — external quiet apparently doesn’t always lead to internal quiet.

Details at

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SOUND RESEARCH LOG: Armadas of Hydrophones

On the sonic aspects of naval intelligence:

“Basically, any instrument that can digitally eavesdrop on the military’s stuff is of concern, including seismometers, which measure vibrations so low most wouldn’t typically consider them sound.”

From an article by Matthew Braga at, via the great 5 Intriguing Things email list by Alexis Madrigal, an editor at The Atlantic.

This entry cross-posted from the Disquiet linkblog project

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