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: June 2014

A lightly annotated linkblog about the role of sound in the media landscape

This is the fourth or fifth time I’ve taken a fresh start at my account. This time I feel — as I suppose I have each time, for varying lengths of time — like I’ve finally sorted out how to manage it, what use to make of it. I’m pretty unsatisfied by simply reposting things without commentary. At the same time, Tumblr is even more like Twitter than it is like Facebook: it doesn’t seem to reward longer considerations of subject matter, and much of the collective participation happens through hashtags and through reposting. So, I’m now using Tumblr as a kind of linkblog, an “active” as it were. It has a specific focus: entirely on my research on “the role of sound in the media landscape. That’s the realm of the class I’ve been teaching since 2012 at the Academy of Art in San Francisco (“Sounds of Brands / Brands of Sounds”). Everything that I post to will be annotated, but only lightly, and I’m doubling down on the hashtags, so they’ll be of use to me for collation purposes. For the re-inauguration, I’ve updated the theme, just to tonally note that there’s been a shift.

Recent posts include the “ghost lap” of a race car, aftermarket activists undoing the sounds added to vehicles, Teju Cole’s ode to the vuvuzela (via Alexis Madrigal), and Yuri Suzuki’s new sounds for shoes.

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Making Music from “Making Waves Make Waves”

A remix by L-A-J

Larry Johnson, whose music is often credited to L-A-J, has taken the nascent modular synthesis experiment that I recently posted, “Making Waves Make Waves,” and reworked it into something considerably more nuanced and complex, for which I am quite thankful. I’ve had field recordings reworked by others in the past, but this is the first time something closer to the consensual definition of “music” that I’ve posted has been reworked. What’s especially enticing for me is how it sounds like the music in my head I’d like to make, more layered and attenuated. Johnson has done right by my beeps and boops:

Track originally posted for free download at

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Disquiet Book Club: Daphne Oram’s An Individual Note

The discussion begins at on June 18

20140607-daphneoramA proper online discussion forum was recently introduced on The implementation is still in beta, but it seems to be functioning well. One of the things the forum will support is an occasional book club. After much deliberation, the first book we’ll be collectively reading and talking about is the out-of-print volume An Individual Note of Music, Sound and Electronics by composer, theoretician, philosopher, and studio manager Daphne Oram, perhaps best known for her pioneering efforts in the BBC’s Radiophonic Workshop. Oram passed away in 2003 at the age of 77. The discussion will begin on the 15th of this month, a Sunday. Originally published in 1971, An Individual Note is available as a free PDF download here:

On the morning of June 15, California time, a discussion thread will appear in the forums here:

Thanks for considering joining in. There will be more such discussion groups in the future. A number of excellent suggestions were contributed to the forum in the process of coming up with the Oram title.

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Disquiet Junto Project 0127: Library Shhh

Record the sound of your library — and then maybe make something of it.


Each Thursday at the Disquiet Junto group on a new compositional challenge is set before the group’s members, who then have just over four days to upload a track in response to the assignment. Membership in the Junto is open: just join and participate.

Tracks by participants will be added to this playlist as the project proceeds:

This project was published in the evening, California time, on Thursday, June 5, with 11:59pm on the following Monday, June 9, 2014, as the deadline.

These are the instructions that went out to the group’s email list (sign up at

Disquiet Junto Project 0127: Library Shhh

This week explores the concept of silence. You will record one full minute of sound in the sort of place that is often associated with silence, or at least near silence: the library. By doing so, you will help support artist Zoè Benoit’s artwork called “bibliobeep,”which is a collection of library soundscapes from around the globe. Benoit is especially interested in the “beeps” that might occur in a library, so if possible follow this instruction:

“We are looking for one-minute recordings of background noises occurring at library checkout points and returns, including: electronic ‘beep’ sounds, sounds of books or other library media being handled, words exchanged, etc. To properly record a sound, position yourself near the offices where you can hear especially machine ‘beeps’ that incorporate the voices and sounds of library staff and the materials they handle.”

These are the steps:

Step 1: Record the sound of a library.

Step 2: Locate a continuous one-minute segment and upload it to the Numelyo “bibliobeep” project website:

Step 3 (optional): If you so desire, create a very quiet piece of music suitable for background listening. This piece should employ your library field recording as source material.

Step 4 (optional): If you made the piece of music in step 3, then create a two-minute file by appending it at the end of the original one-minute library field recording.

Step 5: Whether you did steps 3 and 4 or if you merely made the field recording from steps 1 and 2, upload the finished file to the Disquiet Junto group on SoundCloud, following the remaining instructions:

Deadline: Monday, June 9, 2014, at 11:59pm wherever you are.

Length: The length of your finished work should be either one minute (if you just do the field recording) or two minutes (if you also do the composition).

Information: Please when posting your track on SoundCloud, include a description of your process in planning, composing, and recording it. This description is an essential element of the communicative process inherent in the Disquiet Junto.

Title/Tag: When adding your track to the Disquiet Junto group on, please include the term “disquiet0127-libraryshhh” in the title of your track, and as a tag for your track.

Download: It is preferable that your track is set as downloadable, and that it allows for attributed remixing (i.e., a Creative Commons license permitting non-commercial sharing with attribution).

Linking: When posting the track, please be sure to include this information:

More on this 127th Disquiet Junto project — “Record the sound of your library — and then maybe make something of it”— at:

Disquiet Junto Project 0127: Library Shhh

More on the Disquiet Junto at:

The Disquiet Junto Project List (0001 – 0279 …)

Join the Disquiet Junto at:

More on Zoè Benoit’s “bibliobeep” art project at:

Photo associated with this project via:

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“Making Waves Make Waves”

A first upload from my new experiments in modular synthesis

I continue to explore modular synthesis, with my nascent Eurorack (small format) setup assembled, and then expanded thanks to some loaner modules from a friend. The above track is the first thing I thought was vaguely upload-worthy. It’s titled “Making Waves Make Waves” because it’s an early attempt at using waves as both sound and as patterns for effects. Here’s what I wrote about it on SoundCloud:

I’ve begun fiddling with a simple modular synthesis setup, using module components in the Eurorack format. This is a recording I made in the afternoon of June 2, 2014. As shown in the accompanying picture, I’m using six modules to accomplish this, one of which (a Doepfer A180) is just to get the audio out. The main sound is from an oscillator. It’s a triangle wave being fed into this filter called the Harvestman Polivoks. An LFO, the Doepfer A-145, is affecting the Polivoks filter as the result of a saw wave. That same LFO is outputting a sine wave that is feeding into the Ginkosynthese, which is affecting a horizontal wave distortion (if I understand correctly, which I likely don’t), which, to bring things full circle, is triggering note values in that original oscillator mentioned at the start of all this. One thing not visible in the accompanying photo is that I used a fairly slow pace to set the tempo with the Ginkosynthese. Anyhow, I’ve been fiddling with this stuff for a few weeks, and this is the first thing that felt uploadable.

Here’s a short loop of that same piece in Vine:

These are the loaner modules I mentioned:

And my explorations of this can be followed intermittently via the #modular tag.

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