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

Homebrew 8-Bit Community Music-Making MP3 from Dotdummy/Hexawe

Just about every new upload at the netlabel hexawe.net comes in pairs. One is an MP3, the other a Zip archive. The MP3 is a playable file, the Zip a collection of goodies. The MP3 is the headliner, but it’s also the tease. Most visitors to Hexawe are likely in pursuit of the basic netlabel goods: free music, produced by musicians who engage willfully in the ever-expanding community of so-called “copyleft”-inspired cultural activity. It’s a world of individuals and bands who share their music and their techniques, and who generally espouse a philosophy in which it’s expected that others will use their materials to produce something new. Call it Generation Remix.

The MP3s on Hexawe are uniformly fun, but the Zip file is where the action is. Take for example the most recent, as of this writing, upload to Hexawe, a single electro-pop instrumental track titled “Trinity of Dignity” and credited to Dotdummy. The song is a treat, a blippy bit of arcade-ready music that takes you on a mysterious, drama-packed night run through Pixel City (MP3). Dotdummy (aka Bradley Leo) acknowledges the piece’s theatrical structural when he describes it, in accompanying text, as “a rite of passage in three acts.”

As for the Dotdummy/”Trinity” Zip file, like all those at Hexawe, it contains multitudes. See, the Hexawe website is focused solely on music produced on an elementally simple bit of audio software called Little Pig Tracker (aka LGPT), and the Zip files at Hexawe contain the source code, and often the samples and cover art, for the associated MP3. This means that users can remake or remodel a given tune to their own taste. In the case of “Trinity,” the Zip file includes cover art, three additional images, the LGPT code, and instructions on how to use the code to make your own tunes (ZIP). More details on Little Pig Tracker, including the software itself, at 10pm.org/nostromo/lgpt. More on Leo/Dotdummy at dummydrome.com.

By Marc Weidenbaum

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  • Marc Weidenbaum founded the website Disquiet.com in 1996 at the intersection of sound, art, and technology, and since 2012 has moderated the Disquiet Junto, an active online community of weekly music/sonic projects. He has written for Nature, Boing Boing, The Wire, Pitchfork, and NewMusicBox, among other periodicals. He is the author of the 33 1⁄3 book on Aphex Twin’s classic album Selected Ambient Works Volume II. Read more about his sonic consultancy, teaching, sound art, and work in film, comics, and other media

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