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

Drone + Video = Vrone

Exploring the sonic potential of the Vine app

2013-vinelogoThe app called Vine facilitates the easy production of six-second audio-video clips. It has managed to locate an entertaining parallel between tweets and animated gifs, between short outbursts of self-expression and the hypnotic splendor inherent in repetition.

My first Vine post (I’m @disquiet on Vine) was of a 7″ single playing on a turntable, specifically a 7″ that was a compilation of locked grooves, short loops in which the record needle gets stuck and plays forever. The length of the loop and length of the video do not quite match, and the seam is all too evident, but it was a fun experiment, especially because it used an old nifty bit of loopy pop culture to test out a new nifty bit of loopy pop culture:

(The compilation 7″ in question was released in 1993 on RRRecords. It features pieces by Big City Orchestra, Controlled Bleeding, Randy Greif, Jim O’Rourke, Gregory Whitehead, and 95 other contributors. View the full track list at discogs.com. There’s a picture of it at deadformat.net.)

Matthew Barlow has posted several items on Vine that are musical in nature — that is, they emphasize the audio as equal to if not over the visual. That is in contrast with the majority of Vine posts, in which the sound is often just the ambient noise of whatever happens to have been going on when the video was shot. Note that outside of the Vine app itself, Vine loops come up muted, requiring the listener-viewer to opt to turn up the volume. One example of Barlow’s exploration of Vine’s sonic potential is this bit of wind chime, which can be thought of as an especially early version of endlessly looping music, though of course its structural complexity makes those sounds more varied that a locked groove. When looped to six circular seconds, the distinction becomes less meaningful. Barlow ingeniously uses multiple seams between short segments of clips of the wind chime to make the overall length of the clip less self-evident than it would have been with a straight single shot:

The core of Barlow’s Vine experiments have tended to focus on a balance of visual and drone. He’s tagged them many things, including #lofi and #loop and #experimental, but foremost is the neologism #vrone. It is a useful term, not only because it suggests a new form, but because the word #drone on Vine is mostly of small flying objects.

Here is an example of his efforts:

And here is another:

Better yet, use vineviewer.co to pull up the results of the #vrone hashtag, and listen to (as of this writing) three of Barlow’s pieces playing simultaneously.

More from/on Barlow, who is based in Asheville, North Carolina, at twitter.com/MattCBarlow and matthewbarlow.bandcamp.com. More on Vine, which is currently only available for iOS, at vine.co and itunes.apple.com.

Postscript: Shortly after this was published, Barlow informed me that the term #vrone was suggested by the musician Sima Kim.

By Marc Weidenbaum

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  • 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

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