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.

Monthly Archives: September 2012

Junto Byproduction Edit (MP3)

Spare parts in search of creative reuse

The most recent Disquiet Junto (“Zola’s Foley”) project was about conglomeration, about the creation of a sense of place and space using far-flung source material. It wasn’t one of the more popular of the weekly composition-project series, but it yielded some fine work — not just in the final productions but in the byproduct. Zedkah, who hails from London, put humorous effort into his entry, which imagined a retail space: “Carla Stores is on the outskirts of NE London, accessed by one of the last stops on the Makebelieve line.” And subsequent to posting that, he shared one of the work’s constituent parts, under the title “Creakfoot mix [ for your creative use].”

In the Junto track he noted that “several footmen constantly pace the panel wood reception in a surprisingly rhythmic way.” Here we hear just the pacing itself, as he recorded it for use in his Junto piece. He posted this excerpt with hopes of hearing it sublimated into others’ musical efforts: “This is offered as download to anyone who might like it to do something with it. Would love to hear some musical use of this.” Here’s hoping someone takes him up on it.

Visit Zedkah’s page to download “Creakfoot mix [ for your creative use]” and his Junto effort that resulted from it.

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Environment Jamming (MP3)

Joshua Wentz echoes David Van Tieghem in an improvised duet with passing Chicago train.

There are field recordings, and there are field recordings. There are audio documents of the soundscape, and there are regionally indigenous musics archived thanks to portable gear.

And then there are hybrids. There are compositions that make use of the physical environment to perform something tuneful or rhythmic or otherwise musical in real time. Such is “Construction Container” by Joshua Wentz, in which simple percussion prefaces, then aligns with, and overall frames the sound of a passing train. The very brief liner note associate with the track is simply: “Felt mallet on an overturned metal construction container, as the El passes by.” That’s El for elevated train — Wentz is based in Chicago. The distant train is heard coming into sonic view, as it were, though the looming presence may not be self-evident on first listen. It passes quickly, and once it’s passed by, the percussion slows, a denouement that artfully echoes the vehicles diminishing presence.

Wentz track originally posted at More on Wentz at

The urtext of such experiments in realtime environment jamming is arguably “Ear to the Ground” by the great David Van Tieghem, once upon a time a stalwart of the nascent New York downtown scene, and today a major force in theatrical sound design and composition (upcoming projects include August Wilson and Clifford Odets revivals). Here, for reference, is a video of it:

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The Electronic Voice (MP3)

Granular vocalese from Sollefteå, Sweden

Miulew is Björn Eriksson, of SollefteÃ¥, Sweden. It’s unclear if his track “Electric Voices in Happy Cloud – experiment 1” is voice processing or electronic voice phenomena. That is, it is unclear whether it is voices clipped and truncated and splintered and filtered until they sound abstract, or if it is the semblance of voices arising from within electronica’s effluence. Is it noise from signal or signal from noise? Either way, it’s a granular pleasure. Here’s how Eriksson describes it:

So this was a tryout of seeing if I could capture some voice-like sounds in a feedbacked granulator setup. At first I found some rather “voicy” things, but when I started to work deeper onto it I lost it. So this must be considered an experiment more than a worked through track/piece. Anyway; i was rather happy about some of the sound textures and frequency behaviours of the feedbacked loops so this is something I am happy to share with whoever might be interested! This is definitively something I will go for another round with soon. After when listening to this I was having the image of being inside a “happy cloud” – hence the title. In a cloud drifting over landscapes, dreamlike – ((which in some some way also must be a reference to that track by 801 I liked so much when I was young))

Track originally posted for free download at More on Miulew/Eriksson at and

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Past Week at

I made one edit of significance below. The Judge Dredd quote was “4,000 frames per second” not, as I’d initially tweeted, “4,000 frames per session.”

  • A favorite netlabel returns after two-year absence with music from a favorite musician: Kenneth Kirschner on SHSK’H. #
  • Dates for @djunto concerts added to “upcoming events” sidebar: Manhattan on Nov 27, San Francisco on Dec 6: #
  • It’s nice to be able to do simple math functions in the OS X Spotlight bar. #
  • Guy on cellphone in quiet café talking about “break support.” People look at him and each other and smile, like, “What are you thinking?” #
  • An answer about what @trent_reznor‘s “Yes.” tweet was about: New band, new EP, signed to Columbia. #
  • Production video from which previous tweet’s quote originated: #dredd #slomo #3d #
  • “None of us really understands what happens at 4,000 frames per second.” Very much looking forward to Dredd. #
  • Waiting for Tea Party to complain it isn’t video games but specifically co-op play that’s weakening America’s youth. #
  • Dumfounded when CCA dropped “craft” just as gen-Etsy was rising, and again that SF’s Museum of Craft & Folk must close: #
  • I hope this week’s @djunto project holds interest for folks. Employing “foley” techniques to create a “faux field recording” is enticing. #
  • RIP, Miss Monitor aka Tedi Thurman (b. 1923), at one time perhaps “the most recognizable female voice in the country”: #
  • Read more »
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“Sounds of Brands / Brands of Sounds,” Week 2

A Brief History of Sound: celebrity death, oral culture, anatomy, perception, synaesthesia; Whitney Houston, Gordon Hempton, John Cage

Wednesday of this week was the second of the 15 weekly three-hour classes I’m teaching on sound at San Francisco’s Academy of Art ( this semester. Last week’s entry on the first class got a helpful and enthusiastic response, so I thought I’d do it again. As with last time, this isn’t the full lecture, and even less so is it a representation of the discussion, which this week was great; it’s just a quick run through the subjects we covered.

Per the syllabus (PDF), this second class meeting focused on “A Brief History of Sound:”

Overview: We’ll trace overlapping paths through the history of sound, beginning with the human conception of sound, and then exploring the developing role of sound in modern media.
Part I: Celebrity Death

The class starts each Wednesday at noon, and my intention was to begin this one by playing some music, specifically an instrumental version of a Whitney Houston hit. The subject at hand was “celebrity death,” more on which in a moment. The tech failed me (more likely I failed the tech), so I ended up playing the song after the class break, but in the interest of context, this is a video containing the audio:

One of the pleasures of this course is probing my own uncertainties. Last week, the specific uncertainty on which I focused related to the role of sound in the work of JJ Abrams (briefly: to what extent his notable sonic sensitivity contributes to the popularity of his projects). This week allowed me to touch on a question that haunts me: What was the emotional and cultural experience of losing a musician to death before development of recorded music? Read more »

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