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

P Is for Phonogene

Danjec plays with speech in a Make Noise module

20140523-muncky

The ellipsis in the title of the track “e for …” can be read as referring to several things, among them both the operational status of the work itself, and the means by which it accomplishes its goals.

The track in question is less a finished work than it is a step toward something. As Danjec, the musician who uploaded it to SoundCloud, notes, he’s using the music as a means to experiment with something called Phonogene. Phonogene is a modular synthesis module that takes the tape recorder as its inspiration. From the Phonogene website:

The Phonogene is a digital re-visioning and elaboration of the tape recorder as musical instrument. It takes its name from a little known, one of a kind instrument used by composer Pierre Schaeffer. It is informed by the worlds of Musique Concrète where speed and direction variation were combined with creative tape splicing to pioneer new sounds, and Microsound where computers divide sound into pieces smaller then 1/10 of a second to be manipulated like sub-atomic particles.

Here’s what it looks like:

20140523-phonogene

The Phonogene, like most modular synthesis modules, is not an instrument unto itself, but an element toward making an instrument, by working with it in combination with external sound sources and other modules. In Danjec’s hands, a short sample of human speech is tweaked this way and that above a burbling sequence of semi-random percussion:

Track originally posted for free download at soundcloud.com/danjec. More from Danjec, aka London-based Grant Wilkinson, at danjec.com, twitter.com/_muncky, and instagram.com/muncky (that’s where the above image was sourced). More on the Phonogene module at the website of its manufacturer, makenoisemusic.com. Make Noise is based in Asheville, North Carolina.

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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