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: this week in sound

This Week in Sound: Sonic Civil Rights +

+ universal natality + doorbell financing +

A lightly annotated clipping service.

Sonic Defense: There’s a lawsuit underway in New York City bringing to the fore the legality of sound weapons, in particular the Long Range Acoustical Device (see lradx.com) and whether it is a threat to civil rights. John Riley’s Newsday article appears at (policeone.com), reporting on bystander complaints and the city’s argument in favor of the technology.

Natal Communication: Further evidence appears in Nature’s Scientific Reports of universal commonality of non-verbal vocal sounds among human infants. This study is focused on the interpretations of infant sounds by adult parents and non-parents from varied geographic and cultural backgrounds. The research is by Verena Kersken, Klaus Zuberbühler, and Juan-Carlos Gomez.

Doorbell Bubble: Ring — formerly known as Doorbot — has raised over $100 million in new funding to further its next generation doorbell technology. In unrelated news, I’m typing this on a computer connected to the Internet via my cellphone because the ISP that provides Internet access to my home is currently experiencing an on and off DDoS attack. (Via Jared Smith.)

Home Front: Meanwhile, at reuters.com, Stephen Nellis reports on domestic fault lines in the competition between Amazon and Apple in particular for “smart home” technology dominance. The philosophical differences between the companies shouldn’t be much of a surprise: “Amazon is pursuing an open-systems approach that allows quick development of many features, while Apple is taking a slower route, asserting more control over the technology in order to assure security and ease-of-use.” According to Nellis, there are roughly 250 devices “certified to work” with Amazon’s Alexa, and less than half that for Apple.

To Surveil Man: David Beer at medium.com uses The Conversation to push discussion of prevailing forms of everyday surveillance, touching on familiar aspects like social-network snooping and always-listening consumer product devices, and reporting on this: worker badges that, in a story from Chris Weller last year in businessinsider.com, “watch and listen to their every move.” (Via George Kelly.)

What “HNOP” Means: As I’ve mentioned recently, no English-prevalent country seems to have more conspicuous concerns about noise pollution than does India. Someone at Uber took note of this, and is using noise activism to promote the company’s “ridesharing” service, reports dnaindia.com: “Uber India has tied up with the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII)’s youth wing, Yi, to promote anti-honking.” This is part of HNOP, which stands for “Horn Not OK Please.” January 25 was HNOP Day across India.

Tune Beyond: Forgive me if this is the “microdosing” straw post that breaks your newsfeed back, but Amy Maxmen reports on LSD studies at Nature, with an emphasis on how participants respond to music. Perhaps the best sentence: “Free jazz elicited substantial emotions only in those who had taken LSD without ketanserin.”

More Eno(ugh): This may devolve into he said, he said between the producer and his interviewer, but Eno has clarified his comments, mentioned here last week, in a Guardian interview. Less reported were statements Eno made to flaunt.com the week prior. Eno made his Guardian comment on his facebook.com page. … Reggie Ugqu at buzzfeed.com shined a spotlight on the music favored by young fascists — feel free to Google it if you want (found via Robin James). … And Josh King, who was the White House director of production for presidential events from 1993 to 1997, reports in detail at theverge.com on the sizable new microphone that employed by the newly sitting U.S. president: “On Inauguration Day, another transition was complete. The trusty, time-honored two-mic rig of Shure SM57s on the presidential lectern was out. The Long Neck Era had begun.” … Bandcamp is donating 100% of its share of sales on February 3 (“starting at 12:01am Pacific Time”) to the American Civil Liberties Union. It’s also highlighting music from countries at the center of current U.S. presidential action regarding travel and immigration, including Mexico, Somalia, and Yemen (bandcamp.com).

Download Lowdown: Keith Helt is doing research into the culture of netlabels, which are online labels that generally release their music for free download, with the permission and participation of the musicians they release. His Netlabel Interview Project is collecting the perspectives of the proprietors of various netlabels, including the superb Absence of Wax, Dusted Wax Kingdom, Impulsive Habitat, Vuzh Music, and Webbed Hand.

How the Turntable Turns: The vinyl revival means the revival of turntable technology. The most prominent recent addition to home consoles is the new Technics 1200. Now there is Yves Béhar’s “intelligent turntable,” which looks like the sort of thing your grandmother used to use to pull crumbs off the table after dinner, and connects your vinyl collection with your phone — via designboom.com. What this means, among other things, is that the object can deduce how many tracks are on an album and let you move between them. … In related news, a company called Viryl Technologies is introducing a new manner of vinyl pressing, reports Jon Fingas at engadget.com.

Listen to Many: Iain Emsley and David De Roure at jtei.revues.org describe how to apply sonification techniques to literature, using Hamlet as their focus — in particular to highlight variations between texts: “Playing a synchronized audio stream per text in each ear helps the listener’s brain to hear any subtle differences between two versions through use of binaural transmission.”

# Doorbell Tale: Ghost Button

Below is a lightly edited email I received about a home doorbell. I received this via email from an old friend, Daniel Miller, whom I’ve known since junior high school. His home on Long Island, outside New York City, was significantly upgraded over the past year. I posted a photo of his home’s side doorbell 27 weeks ago, according to Instagram, when it was still under construction. At the time, he told me he’d report back when the doorbell work was completed.

Marc,

You asked me to let you know what was happening with my doorbell. I thought I’d wait until this was resolved and give you a complete report. However that still hasn’t happened. I am sorry I have left you hanging for so long. I’ll start from the beginning. The doorbell wasn’t working. A doorbell consists of a button that is wired to a chime. We were told we had to buy a new chime as our old one was destroyed during demolition. We bought a lovely unit that can be hardwired or can work wirelessly. It still didn’t work. The contractor said we had bought a 120v unit and that a low-voltage unit was required. A little (very little) research was done and not only did we have a low-voltage unit, but there is no other kind. Basically what happened was they forgot to keep the doorbell wiring in the wall during construction, and now that everything is sealed up and insulation is in the walls, reinstalling it is out of the question. So by stealing a part from the doorbell button we bought for the side door, they were able to get our front doorbell working wirelessly. However it sometimes chimes for apparently no reason. It happened often enough that we noticed that there was a reason: The neighbor across the street opening the trunk of her car. The saga continues.

Daniel

If you have a doorbell story, or photo, to share with me, please do. I won’t share it further without your permission.

# Fade Out

Recent deaths of note.

RIP, drummer Butch Trucks (b. 1947), founding member of the Allman Brothers Band

RIP, Black Sabbath keyboardist Geoff Nicholls (b. 1948)

RIP, Henry-Louis de La Grange (b. 1924), Mahler scholar

RIP, reggae singer Ronnie Davis (b. 1950), member of the Tennors and the Itals

RIP, Chuck Stewart (1927), prolific photographer for jazz album covers

RIP, Gil Ray (b. 1956), of Game Theory and the Loud Family

RIP, early electronic music composer Richard Allan (or is it Allen?) “Dick” Robinson (93)

RIP, composer Philip Cannon (b. 1929)

RIP, film sound figure Richard Portman (b. 1934), worked on Star Wars, Harold and Maude, Paper Moon

RIP, Kraken leader and Columbian rock musician Elkin Ramírez (54)

RIP, video artist and Miami Beach arts figure Charles Recher (66)

RIP, John Wetton (b. 1949), singer for Asia, King Crimson

RIP, Masaya Nakamura (b. 1925), founder of Namco (Pac Man, Galaxian, Tekken)

RIP, James Laurence (27), half of hip-hop production duo Friendzone

This first appeared, in slightly different form, in the February 1, 2017, edition of the free Disquiet “This Week in Sound” email newsletter: tinyletter.com/disquiet.

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Brackets Frame the Sound

What captions leave out

The brackets frame the sound. The brackets appear in subtitles to online videos. You select the subtitle option because you have no knowledge of Japanese or of Persian or of Polish, or because the actors’ British accents are simply too thick for your American ears, even in contemporary police dramas devoid of period linguistic idiosyncrasies, or because you’re keeping the volume down so as not to antagonize the neighbors.

Bracketed sounds can be diegetic or non-diegetic. That is to say, they can be on-screen sounds, like the squeak of a car’s break, or they can be apart from the scene’s physical activity, like the score’s musical theme associated with the entrance of a threatening anti-hero. Either way, bracketed sounds are not dialogue. Dialogue appears unadorned by brackets. Dialogue appears simply as text on the screen, occasionally preceded by a character’s name and a colon to provide narrative guidance. The only dialogue that gets bracketed is dialogue that serves a purely non-verbal purpose, dialogue that cannot be comprehended, dialogue that isn’t dialogue but is, instead, emotive sound: [mumbling], [whispers], [unintelligible sobbing].

Brackets tell you what the director is saying, not what the characters are saying. Brackets, however, are not decoder rings. They only go so far as to what they divulge. The brackets don’t explain the British class system to you. There’s no reference for an American viewer when the cut-glass enunciation is meant to signify a specific upbringing, or when regional utterances, from Cornwall to Glasgow, easily set the British viewer’s imagination while leaving unknown voids for those of us who haven’t lived in the culturally prolific island kingdom, or in one of its more longstanding colonies.

So much happens in a given moment of video, even a “silent” one, which is to say: a moment free of human speech but still intruded upon by sound. Only so much can be detailed between brackets. What’s left out is worth taking note of.

These two screenshots, by way of example, are from different episodes from the TV show Travelers, a solid time-travel series newly streaming on Netflix and created by Brad Wright. (If you are a fan of time travel stories, as I am, Travelers is at least as recommended as Continuum, with which it shares actors if not a timeline, and 12 Monkeys.) In both shots birds are, we’re told, chirping. It may or may not be meaningful that both shots focus on the same character, named Trevor, who, at the risk of giving too much plot away, is something of an old soul. Both shots are at the start of a new scene. In the first, Trevor is riding his bicycle home. In the second he is teaching meditation to its mostly unlikely novitiate, his mean-girl girlfriend. In the first, what’s missing from the bracket is the score’s drone, the sense of dread infused into the scene with just a few threatening sine waves. Perhaps the meditation scene, which appears later in the series, intends to reference the earlier one by presenting the birds free of their droning encumbrance. The hearing-impaired viewer will never know the difference, and the everyday viewer is left to wonder.

There is, true, only so much room on the bottom of the screen. More than a line of text is inelegant, and reading time might surpass a given sound’s appearance if the text’s overseer is inattentive to the chores at hand. Still, editorial decision-making only goes so far as an excuse for contextual excision.

What both sets of chirping birds have in common is that they are almost certainly sonic elements added from a library of recordings to flesh out the given scene during post-production. In other words, one might surmise, the bracketed sounds in a film or TV show aren’t what are “in” the scene so much as what was added to the scene.

This first appeared, in slightly different form, in the January 31, 2017, edition of the free Disquiet “This Week in Sound” email newsletter: tinyletter.com/disquiet.

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IDM and Its Discontents

Participating in Pitchfork's "top 50 IDM" poll

Pitchfork has published a list of “The 50 Best IDM Albums of All Time.” I participated in the voting, and wrote up three of the albums: Mira Calix’s One on One, which came it at 47; Plaid’s Not for Threes, 36; and Aphex Twin’s … I Care Because You Do, 13. Aphex Twin also topped the list, with Selected Ambient Works 85-92 coming in at number 1. These are my first Pitchfork bylines, though I’ve been written about on the site twice: Mark Richardson generously interviewed me about my Aphex Twin Selected Ambient Works Volume II book, and my book was included in the site’s list of the 33 best books in the 33 1/3 series, as compiled by Stephen M. Deusner. I can’t link directly to the individual “IDM 50” reviews, but the Calix is on the first page, the Plaid on the second page, and the Aphex Twin on the penultimate page.

IDM is shorthand for “intelligent dance music,” and it played an influential role in my life. It’s on the IDM discussion boards that I made friends and participated during the early, proto-Internet 1990s in discussion of music that the music press often was unaware of, and I say that as someone who was at the time a full-time employee of the music press, working as an editor at Pulse! magazine, published by Tower Records. (It’s on an IDM discussion board that Aphex Twin’s Selected Ambient Works Volume II’s tracks got their titles, as I recount in my book.)

I was delighted to be asked by Pitchfork to participate, and I should also note that I was conflicted. For one thing, I don’t give much credence to genre. Genre was a somewhat useful tool in the age of brick and mortar record stores, back when someone had to decide where to put Nina Simone (pop, jazz, jazz vocals, oldies). In our hypertextual present, genre is at best a flavor, one among many. A recording today can and should be tagged: situated at the nexus of an associative Venn diagram, not stuck in a genre box. Boxhead Ensemble’s Dutch Harbor: Where the Sea Breaks Its Back is country and it is ambient; Mason Bates’ The B-Sides is classical and it is electronic. I can count on one hand the number of musicians outside of hip-hop I’ve interviewed who expressed firm alignment with any specific genre. We should follow the musicians’ lead. I’m also not a big list-maker. I know people who make lists of everything, favorite films and favorite books and so forth, but that’s just not how my brain works. All of which said, it’s not a coincidence that after several years of not feeling inclined to produce top 10 lists at the end of the year I suddenly this past December made several such lists. It was, indeed, my participation in the email discussion for the Pitchfork IDM list that convinced me that, in essence, if you don’t make lists, someone else will.

The way the Pitchfork process worked was that a bunch of invited critics were asked to help flesh out a sizable collection IDM albums for consideration. We discussed these via email. Then we filled out our own ballots, selecting a subset of the complete set (we were allowed to list up to 50 albums, and mine felt complete at 33). Math and the Pitchfork editors’ inclinations produced the final 50.

I think my ballot was probably among the more conservative submitted. One wise participant described IDM as more of a period than a genre. After I flirted with a far wider aesthetic net, certain constraints got me to 33 entries. I stuck in the end to a working definition I posted to the discussion list: IDM: A genre of electronic music that foregrounds beats in the exploration of the arrhythmic, abstract potential of hardware and software, often but not exclusively tools originally designed with dance music in mind. Touchstones include chaos, entropy, digital decay, and technological intentionality.

As I thought through the material, I kept coming back around to the distinction between “bebop” and “hard bop,” between music that was explicitly challenging to its audience, and music that built on the codified understanding of bebop and then layered in something more soulful, more r&b, more, for lack of a better word, “pop.” A “best bebop” list isn’t going to include hard bop, even hard bop by people who earlier on recorded bebop, and my “best IDM” list didn’t include whatever the equivalent of “IDM hard bop” is, or “IDM pop” for that matter. That explains in part the absence of more contemporary acts.

In addition, there were a lot of albums tossed around that sound like techno or dub (or dub techno, or minimal techno) or microsound to me. If it sounded prominently and consistently like those, all I could think was, “Well if there’s going to be a best techno or best dub or best microsound list someday, why include this here?” Same for trip-hop, and for (instrumental) hip-hop. I’d love to have included early Kit Clayton, but in the end it sounds like great dub techno to me, as does so much Monolake, and even a lot of Sun Electric for that matter. I love Prefuse 73, but he’s somewhere in the post-trip-hop/proto-EDM realm, like Flying Lotus, with a lot of instrumental hip-hop in there. Even Prefuse’s One Word Extinguisher doesn’t strike me as IDM. (Note that I was considerably outvoted: Both One Word Extinguisher and Flying Lotus’ Los Angeles made the final top 50.)

As the discussion proceeded, we all added records to the pool. Among others I added Mouse on Mars’ Iaora Tahiti, Bedouin Ascent’s Science, Art, and Ritual, Matmos’ Matmos, Blectum from Blechdom’s’ De Snaunted Haus, Bogdan Raczynski’s Boku Mo Wakaran, and Greg Davis’ Arbor. I’m disappointed in particular that Arbor didn’t make the final top 50.

There was a lot of music on the collective list — some of which made the final list — that I love, including records that effectively shaped the course of my life, in particular Wagon Christ’s Throbbing Pouch (truly a landmark recording), but that I didn’t include in my ballot because they lack the chaos and entropy that I see as inherent in IDM (the slurry quality of Throbbing Pouch has the entropy, but there’s zero chaos). I mean, if I included Throbbing Pouch, then why not Kid Koala, and Funki Porcini, and DJ Krush, and Pierre Bastien? They’re all of a piece, along with Prefuse 73 and Flying Lotus: politely swaggery, introspectively soulful, hip-hop-informed, cautiously dramatic. They’re funky wallflower music. But they’re not, to my narrow mind, IDM.

Instrumental hip-hop was a subject of discussion. Why not include the more experimental realms of that beatcraft, the logic went. I was thinking about the production of some earlier Destiny’s Child singles, the scattershot (in a good way) beats in particular of “Say My Name” and, syncopation heaven, “Bills Bills Bills.” I wasn’t sure how to fold into the IDM list-making the producers largely associated with hip-hop and r&b whom I’ve followed (er, collected) for their rhythmic invention (the 45 King, Just Blaze, Alchemist, Kev Brown, and of course Timbaland, Missy Elliott, Neptunes, DJ Muggs, and so forth). Various realms of more dance-oriented electronic music also popped up, and when someone mentioned Larry Heard’s Alien I responded that it feels more Tangerine Dreamy when it ventures out. I was also not enticed to include Björk’s Vespertine because of the remarkable scope of the album. There’s a lot of non-IDM on Vespertine, like “Undo” and “Sun in My Mouth,” among others. (And I declined as a guy who had an e.e. cummings quote in the high school yearbook.) I was disinclined to include Photek in the mix, as to me it’s simply great drum’n’bass — and in fact to think of it as IDM is to, in essence, accept drum’n’bass as being not particularly explorative. Likewise, I was utterly flummoxed on how to characterize Amon Tobin, very much to his credit, though tellingly he didn’t make the final 50.

While doing research for the project, I looked back on my recent employment of the term and recognized that I often say “IDM-ish,” seeing it as a flavor, not a constraint, or use it to characterize an earlier period in music production. In any case, the discussion ended, the ballots have been cast, and the full list is at pitchfork.com. The process was highly enjoyable, and I hope people enjoy the result.

This first appeared, in slightly different form (e.g., no streaming videos), in the January 24, 2017, edition of the free Disquiet “This Week in Sound” email newsletter: tinyletter.com/disquiet.

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This Week in Sound: Sonic Illusion + Stonehenge Simulation +

+ audio birding + theater geeks + jack politics + more

A lightly annotated clipping service:

Sonic Illusion: “[W]hat we imagine hearing can change what we see” is the layperson’s summary of an investigation by Christopher C. Berger & H. Henrik Ehrsson (“The Content of Imagined Sounds Changes Visual Motion Perception in the Cross-Bounce Illusion”) noted in Nature. The article lays out various experiments involving response bias and auditory imagery. (I’m immediately drawn to wonder just how much, in turn, we can attribute to the role sound informs our experience of narratives and places.)

Stonehenge Simulation: Rupert Till of the University of Huddersfield has created a virtual experience of what Stonehenge might have been like “with all the stones in place,” writes David Sillito for the BBC. “He has now developed an app which will help people blot out the sounds – including those made by tourists, and cars on the nearby A303 – and go back to the soundscape of 3,000 years ago.” (The project brings to mind Bassel Khartabil’s work on revisiting the ancient city of Palmyra.)

Avian Few: Birds thought long ago to have gone extinct, having disappeared from their native England, live on in New Zealand. “By comparing recordings of yellowhammer accents in both countries scientists were able to hear how the birds’ song might have sounded in the UK 150 years ago,” reports Georgia Brown in the Guardian. (Via Tim Prebble)

Good Lick: According to the postal service of Greenland, only 10 to 15 albums of music are released each year by citizens of the island nation: “The bestselling of these are issued in a number of 5,000. copies. Rather impressing in at country of only 56,000 inhabitants.” So it is that the post office has released music-themed stamps, ranging from “drum song” to accordion music. (Via Michael Rhode)

Jacked Up: The headline to Rita El Khoury’s article at AndroidPolice.com says it all: “[Because that doesn’t sound ridiculous] HTC has an app to update the firmware of its USB-C to 3.5mm adapter.” It’s worth noting that as of this typing, the article has 137 comments.

Audio UI: That cool hockey puck that comes with Microsoft’s Surface Studio may have gotten old quickly: As Juli Clover reports at MacRumors.com, Adobe is working on voice-enabled search and editing of images.

Dust Up: Artist Nina Katchadourian has produced a sound tour of the MoMA in Manhattan in which she details the battle against dust at the venerable museum. As Aruna D’Souza writes at 4columns.org, two years of research yielded a 30-minute recording with numerous stops, among them “the main lobby, a closet holding air purifiers, the soaring atrium, the helicopter that hangs on the second floor, a window ledge.”

Theater Geeks: Putting aside the Wired article’s clickbait title suggestion of autonomously created large-scale buildings, Liz Stinson writes up the marvel that is the Elbphilharmonie. That’s a new theater in Hamburg, Germany, and its acoustic panelling was produced with hyper-detail computer aid: “No two panels absorb or scatter sound waves alike, but together they create a balanced reverberation across the entire auditorium.” The architecture firm of Herzog and De Meuron collaborated with acoustics expert Yasuhisa Toyota on the project.

Primate Directive: Researchers have found that human and baboon voices have far more in common than was previously believed to be the case, writes Colin Barras for the New Scientist. Joël Fagot (Aix-Marseille University) and Louis-Jen Boë (Grenoble Alps University) have identified previously unrecognized vowels among 1,300 baboon subjects.

# FADE OUT

Recent deaths of note.

RIP, musician Tommy Allsup (b. 1931), who lost the coin toss that would have put him in Holly/Valens/Bopper’s plane

RIP, Bronski Beat keyboardist Larry Steinbachek (56)

RIP, pianist and singer Buddy Greco (b. 1926)

RIP, songwriter Greg Trooper (b. 1956). He wrote, among others, “Everywhere,” a war heartbreaker I know from Billy Bragg’s great cover.

RIP, conductor, composer, and scholar of Australian music Richard Divall (b. 1945)

RIP, Hans Berliner (b. 1929), chess champion and early computer-games figure

RIP, Keyboard Magazine (42)

RIP, Dick Gautier (b. 1931), played rock star in Bye Bye Birdie

This first appeared, in slightly different form, in the January 17, 2017, edition of the free Disquiet “This Week in Sound” email newsletter: tinyletter.com/disquiet.

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This Week in Sound: Dementia + FM’s Dead End +

+ interstellar radio + video games music + the history of the wah wah pedal + more

A lightly annotated clipping service

Concrete Asylum: News that researchers had connected urban noise pollution to dementia spread widely this week. “Those living within 50 metres of a busy road had a 7% higher risk in developing dementia,” reports Hannah Devlin in the Guardian of the findings, also quoting skeptical voices: “The analyses are exceedingly complex … and this always leads to concerns that the analytic complexity is hiding confounding factors in the analytic pipeline” (theguardian.com, citylab.com).

FRB ≠ BFF: Weird interstellar radio bursts, known as fast radio bursts, or FRBs, have reached a milestone: the first repeating, unidentified signal. Writes Maddie Stone at Gizmodo, the source is three billion light years away.

Little Brother: The big news on the “always listening” front out of CES was the ubiquity of Amazon’s Alexa. But ubiquity isn’t the same as a monopoly. Mattel has employed Microsoft’s Bing/Cortana for its kid-oriented AI device. Writes Laurie Sullivan at MediaPost, regarding privacy issues, “It uses the same guidelines as hospitals.”

End of the Dial: Just last week I mentioned how electric cars don’t play well with AM radio frequencies. FM, apparently, isn’t immune to technological obsolescence. Reporting from Oslo, Reuters (via the Guardian) notes that “Norway will next week become the first nation to start switching off its FM radio network.” This despite overwhelming support for FM. The switch happens tomorrow.

Audio Borg: Google has acquired Limes Audio, based in Umeå, Sweden, to improve the sound quality of online conversations (or calls, or whatever we call them). Via Google.

Tone Man: Pharrell Williams lost a lawsuit last year due to what many consider a ludicrous judicial ruling regarding similarities between a song he produced and the work of Marvin Gaye. Interestingly, tone — sounds that reflect an era — is precisely his emphasis in this article on his role in the score for the film Hidden Figures (nytimes.com).

Game Tunes: While I managed time for best-of-2016 lists about apps, music, and film scores, I didn’t include several lists I’d like to be knowledgeable enough to attend to, among them video game soundtracks. Fortunately, the folks at originalsoundversion.com provide their analysis of exactly that. Visit to see (and hear) to the opinions of Ryan Paquet, Michael Hoffmann, Shawn Sackenheim, and Brenna Wilkes. (Found via Simon Carless’ excellent Video Game Deep Cuts email newsletter.)

Wah Wah: Del Casher, born Delton Kacher, is the father of the wah-wah guitar pedal, writes Jonny Whiteside at LA Weekly, and the pedal turns 50 this year. “I played it for James Brown and he really liked my playing, but he didn’t understand the wah-wah at all. He said, ‘Why the fuck would anyone want a guitar to do that?’” (Via Ethan Hein.)

Philly Sound (Art): Museums often have firsts, as they adjust to changing times and aesthetics. The Barnes Foundation takes firsts with extra consideration. This is the institution that faced legal challenges when its relocation was in the works. Now it is hosting its first sound art installation, titled Unbounded Histories. It’s by Philadelphia artist Andrea Hornick, and it functions as “a string of poems responding to specific works in the Barnes collection.” Visitors to the museum access the audio through “web-enabled phone.” It opened on January 6 and runs through February 19 (philly.com, barnesfoundation.org).

Fade Out
Recent notable deaths

RIP, Abdul Halim Jaffer Khan, sitar star (b. 1929).

RIP, Serbian composer Vlastimir Trajković (b. 1947)

RIP, French conductor Georges Prêtre (b. 1924)

RIP, jazz critic Nat Hentoff (b. 1925)

RIP, composer Karel Husa (b. 1921)

RIP, singer Sylvester Potts (78) of the Contours (“Do You Love Me,” “Can You Jerk Like Me”)

RIP, Hawaiian musician Eddie Kamae (b. 1927)

RIP, British singer-songwriter Peter Sarstedt (b. 1941; “Where Do You Go To (My Lovely)?”)

RIP, hip-hop producer DJ Crazy Toones (45).

This first appeared, in slightly different form, in the January 10, 2017, edition of the free Disquiet “This Week in Sound” email newsletter: tinyletter.com/disquiet.

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