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.
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.
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.