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

No Birds Were Harmed in This Sonic Manipulation

An acousmatic project by Caitlin Rowley

Caitlin Rowley says her piece “Nightbirds” is best listened to with headphones. The title is also the source audio, birdsong captured and manipulated. There is no caged bird singing. There is some vestige of the wild bird, worked with out of context, the sounds transformed into files, and the files into something else. Rowley labels the piece as “acousmatic,” which is to say it’s tape music, intended to be heard not performed, or that the performance is the act of hitting play.

At first it may very well be just birdsong, though the tight echo suggests either an unfamiliar species or a circumstance with very particular acoustics. The echo is not the result of a room, but of the virtual chamber of Rowley’s digital audio workstation. The found sound is, in short order, transformed beyond anything a fellow bird might recognize. It gets deeper, darker, less content. The nightbird song merges with the night.

Track originally posted at soundcloud.com/caitlinrowley. More from Rowley at caitlinrowley.com. She is is an Australian composer living in the United Kingdom.

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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