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

Time of the Sines (MP3s)

The sine wave is arguably the most rudimentary building block of electronic music. It is the source for various forms of synthesis: a simple sonic object that can be tweaked, prodded, processed, and layered to create new sounds. Simple as its sonic makeup is, that undulating up and down cycle, it can be, in the hands of some musicians, an object of intense aural attention unto itself. C. Reider has made a prolific habit of using constraints as a means toward creative ends, perhaps most notably in the employment of early drum machines in the production of music for which rhythm is not the main point. On his recent freely downloadable album Formerly Sine Drones, released by the Modisti netlabel, Reider makes several different sine waves do marvelous things.

The tracks range from wildly active to deeply sedate. The latter is the case with the album’s final cut (MP3), titled “777 Hz.” All the tracks are named for the frequency of the sine wave from which they are built, ranging between “12 Hz” to “3456 Hz,” as chosen by followers of his twitter.com/vuzhmusic account when he put a call out for random numbers.

[audio:http://www.vuzhmusic.com/water/777hz.mp3|titles=”777 Hz”|artists=C. Reider]

The processing of each frequency uses the most basic of tools: “The sine waves were altered only by changing equalization (EQ changes, and/or low & hi pass filtration), and dynamics (volume, panning and compression),” the Modisti site reports.

Love Hz: Spectrum analysis for the track “777 Hz” shows how the original tone has been overshadowed.

After listening to the album, I asked Reider to describe what he was up to with the sine waves, and he provided the above spectrum analysis of the “777 Hz” track and this description of the process that led to it:

As with all of the tracks, the original sine wave went through many passes of high- and low-pass filtration and equalization, just pushing the original frequency out of the way more and more with each filtration pass until it’s barely noticable, but still there. The new dominant frequencies are 97 Hz & 334 Hz. You can see the two new peaks there, but the tiny little bump off to the right is the remains of the original 777 Hz frequency. The final filtration pass was a low-pass filter and I manually sweeped the control around to get the bass tone surges you can hear in the piece.

In other words, that tiny little bump about midway between 500 Hz and 1000 Hz is what is left of the original sine wave from which the towering peaks to the left were derived during the course of Reider’s production.

More on the release (all seven tracks of which are available as a 48.9MB Zip file) at the releasing netlabel, modisti.com, and at Reider’s vuzhmusic.com website.

By Marc Weidenbaum

Tags: , / Comments: 6 ]

4 Comments

  1. Thomas
    [ Posted July 11, 2011, at 5:49 am ]

    Really enjoyed this release!

  2. Guy
    [ Posted July 11, 2011, at 11:23 am ]

    Yep, good stuff – was listening the other week to this. I didn’t realize that’s where the frequencies came from! Nice use of spectral analysis. Also, both good titles – the album and this article.

  3. c. reider
    [ Posted July 11, 2011, at 4:58 pm ]

    Thanks for mentioning this work in Disquiet, Marc!

    I realized sometime after writing you that I think the final pass on “777 Hz” was probably a high-pass filter, not a low-pass. Well, with so many processing iterations it’s easy to get confused! :)

    • Marc Weidenbaum
      [ Posted July 11, 2011, at 5:03 pm ]

      Thanks for the clarification — and, as always, for sharing your music.

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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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