New Disquietude podcast episode: music by Lesley Flanigan, Dave Seidel, KMRU, Celia Hollander, and John Hooper; interview with Flanigan; commentary; short essay on reading waveforms. • Disquiet.com F.A.Q.Key Tags: #saw2for33third, #field-recording, #classical, #juntoElsewhere: Twitter, SoundCloud, Instagram

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

A Violin Is a Violin Is a Violin Is a Violin (MP3)

Looping and layering go hand in hand, the latter generally a result of the former.

Looping may get criticized for numerous reasons — depicted by some as lazy, monotonous, easy — but as Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt’s Oblique Strategy cards advise, repetition is a form of change.

What this means, at least in part, is that as a given loop progresses, as it repeats and thus becomes a loop, the listener is likely to notice things that might not have been noticed earlier, and wouldn’t have been noticed had looping not influenced the way the mind focuses on the sound.

As a loop repeats, the downbeat shifts, the background becomes foreground, the foreground recedes, and chance elements — such as the touch of a finger against a guitar string, or surface noise from a vinyl sample, or a slight irregularity in a vocal — come to take on the appeal of a proper, composed hook.

Take “Window” by Jim Goodwin as an example. Recently highlighted on the blog alt-classical.com, it is comprised of layers of violin playing that accrue over time (MP3).

[audio:http://paulhmuller.files.wordpress.com/2010/10/windowgoodin.mp3|titles=”Window”|artists=Jim Goodwin]

Simple initial sawing becomes a kind of rhythm, a rhythm that gets more internal beats as a second and third layer are added. For a moment it flirts with chaos, a glistening chaos, before congealing beautifully. This is not a simple, singular loop by any means. The layering introduces a second kind of change, because counterpoint creates patterns.

The alt-classical.com post includes some useful explanation from the composer:

“Window was created with my rather primitive violin technique and a Digitech Hardwire Delay/Looper pedal. I’m using some arcing technique as well as repeated figures indicative of my interest and influence in minimalism in music. ”¦ My violin is a custom made electric solid body 4 string. Window is completely improvisation, no music was pre-thought or noted.”

It’s worth pondering whether various factors associated with the violin help diminish the sense by which the ear recognizes the seams in the loops in Goodwin’s “Window.” Does the fact that the violin signals “classical” to most ears, especially as this violin is played, mean that the work is more likely to be thought of as several violins playing at once, rather than one being manipulated electronically? And does the rich, complex tone of the violin make the looping seem less artificial?

More on Goodwin at his site, woodandwiremusic.wordpress.com.

(Photo of violin adapted from flickr.com, via Creative Commons license from CRS – University of Edinburgh; image shows the neck, scroll, and tuning pegs of an instrument, circa 1810, credited to one James Sandy of Alyth, Perthshire, Scotland.)

By Marc Weidenbaum

Tags: , , / Comment: 1 ]

One Comment

  1. Kevin Seward
    [ Posted November 18, 2010, at 7:10 pm ]

    “less artificial?”: It’s interesting how any single layer will seem out of tune but as layers squeeze together they form a string ensemble lushness. An animated sound, yeah.

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

*
*

Subscribe without commenting

  • about

  • 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

  • Field Notes

    News, essays, surveillance

  • Interviews

    Conversations with musicians/artists/coders

  • Studio Journal

    Video, audio, patch notes

  • Projects

    Select collaborations and commissions

  • Subscribe



  • Current Activities

  • Upcoming
    • December 13, 2022: This day marks the 26th anniversary of the founding of Disquiet.com.
    • January 6, 2023: This day marked the 11th anniversary of the start of the Disquiet Junto music community.

  • Recent
    • April 16, 2022: I participated in an online "talk show" by The Big Conversation Space (Niki Korth and Clémence de Montgolfier).
    • March 11, 2022: I hosted a panel discussion between Mark Fell, Rian Treanor and James Bradbury in San Francisco as part of the Algorithmic Art Assembly (aaassembly.org) at Gray Area (grayarea.org).
    • December 28, 2021: This day marked the 10th (!) anniversary of the Instagr/am/bient compilation.
    • January 6, 2021: This day marked the 10th (!) anniversary of the start of the Disquiet Junto music community.
    • December 13, 2021: This day marked the 25th (!) anniversary of the start of the Disquiet Junto music community.
    • There are entries on the Disquiet Junto in the book The Music Production Cookbook: Ready-made Recipes for the Classroom (Oxford University Press), edited by Adam Patrick Bell. Ethan Hein wrote one, and I did, too.
    • A chapter on the Disquiet Junto ("The Disquiet Junto as an Online Community of Practice," by Ethan Hein) appears in the book The Oxford Handbook of Social Media and Music Learning (Oxford University Press), edited by Stephanie Horsley, Janice Waldron, and Kari Veblen. (Details at oup.com.)

  • My book on Aphex Twin's landmark 1994 album, Selected Ambient Works Vol. II, was published as part of the 33 1/3 series, an imprint of Bloomsbury. It has been translated into Japanese (2019) and Spanish (2018).

  • disquiet junto

  • Background
    Since January 2012, the Disquiet Junto has been an ongoing weekly collaborative music-making community that employs creative constraints as a springboard for creativity. Subscribe to the announcement list (each Thursday), listen to tracks by participants from around the world, read the FAQ, and join in.

    Recent Projects

  • 0544 / Feedback Loop / The Assignment: Share music-in-progress for input from others.
    0543 / Technique Check / The Assignment: Share a tip from your method toolbox.
    0542 / 2600 Club / The Assignment: Make some phreaking music.
    0541 / 10BPM Techno / The Assignment: Make some snail-paced beats.
    0540 / 5ive 4our / The Assignment: Take back 5/4 for Jedi time masters Dave Brubeck and Paul Desmond.

  • Full Index
    And there is a complete list of past projects, 544 consecutive weeks to date.

  • Archives

    By month and by topic

  • [email protected]

    [email protected]

  • Downstream

    Recommended listening each weekday

  • Recent Posts