The hook on this doorbell marks it as a unicorn. Many building entryways evidence telltale technological change, such as the addition of a gate, the replacement of a knob, the widening of a passage. In this case the doorbell retains the vestigial communication appendage on which once hung a mouthpiece. Several generations have passed since it would have been in use. Minus that hook (which I tried to photograph at an angle), the circle above it would be mistaken for a two-way speaker/microphone, whereas it was only ever used for the former.An ongoing series cross-posted from instagram.com/dsqt.
This “Ambient Performances” set is a playlist-in-progress of live performance videos on YouTube of ambient music by a wide variety of musicians using a wide variety of equipment.
Rule #1: I’m only including recordings I’d listen to without video.
Rule #2: I’m only including recordings where the video gives some sense of a correlation between what the musician is doing and what the listener is hearing.
Rule #3: By and large, the new additions to the playlist will simply be, reverse-chronologically, the most recent tracks added, but I’ll be careful to front-load a few choice items at the beginning.
YouTube proved frustrating the past day. I tried again and again to paste the URL for the “Ambient Performances” playlist into Twitter, and every time I did it broke. That is, the link in the resulting tweet wouldn’t work. Eventually a Twitter-friend suggested I share Twitter’s own shorthand URL, so if you’re interested in sharing the list, try this: bit.ly/1rHFC9l.
As a side note, for reasons I don’t fully comprehend, I have two different URLs for the same account. Perhaps it’s early-adopter blues:
A lightly annotated clipping service (fairly brief edition this week):
RJDJ Return: This video is just a tease, but it’s a promising one. The makers of the RJDJ augmented-reality audio app have a new app in the works, named Hear, that processes everyday sounds through filters. There’s been much talk of an “Instagram for sound.” This has a sense of that wish being fulfilled. Video found via Ashley Elsdon’s palmsounds.net. (Post-script: since this note first appeared in the This Week in Sound email newsletter, the app has gone live on iTunes’s App Store. Unfortunately the app is not, for the time being, compatible with my fifth-generation iPod Touch, so I haven’t had a chance to use it yet.)
Sound Studies: Geeta Dayal interviewed Mouse on Mars’ Jan St. Werner, who is teaching a course at MIT called “Introduction to Sound Creations.” Says St. Werner, “I think it’s great that the visual-art world has embraced sound more, but there is the risk of that becoming a novelty. There’s also a great chance for sound, to see it as its own art form. It doesn’t need anything that makes it agreeable. That’s the great opportunity we see at the moment.”
Mapping Silence: At the Washington Post, Christopher Ingraham writes about a map commissioned last year by the National Park Service “of what the United States would sound like if you were to remove all traces of human activity from the picture,” pictured above. (Via Steve Ashby)
Wainwright Syndrome: Slightly removed from sound, though as always sound is vibration so buzzing is sound, and phones buzzing are doubly sound since the buzz is a stand-in for a ring(tone): at nymag.com, Cari Romm writes about phantom phone vibrations: “These imagined sounds and sensations are examples of pareidolia, the phenomenon of perceiving a pattern within randomness where no pattern exists (seeing the man on the moon, for example, or hearing satanic messages in a record played backwards). For this particular pareidolia, there are a few things that make some people more susceptible than others.”
Always On: As someone who is rarely a foot from his phone, I still find the voice activation aspect of phones alarming in a privacy sense, but Google keeps upping the ante: “Google Announces Voice Access Beta—Control Your Phone Completely by Voice” (androidpolice.com).
Pre-Acoustic: If you’re near University of Copenhagen, there’s an interesting symposium happening there in two days, on April 21: “The field of sound studies often gets restricted to sound practices, listening experiences and auditory dispositives after the advent of modern acoustics, established as an academic subdiscipline of physics in the 19th century. Yet unsurprisingly, auditory knowledge was present and impactful in cultures of the middle ages, the renaissance, and early enlightenment”: soundstudieslab.org.
Spotify Protip: Since I’ve been on and off tracking my use of Spotify (following the demise of the Rdio service), here’s a Spotify protip. If you’re having issues with the offline sync (which lets you store tracks or albums on a device, as I do on my iPod Touch, which is the primary way I use Spotify), the issue may be that you have too many devices associated with your account. I had four. Once I reduced it to three everything worked fine.
This first appeared, in slightly different form, in the April 19, 2016 (it went out a day late), edition of the free Disquiet “This Week in Sound”email newsletter: tinyletter.com/disquiet.
So, on Monday I wrote about the drones of Valiska. On Tuesday I wrote about the old-school synthesizer explorations of Sarah Davachi, focusing on her new album, Dominions. After posting that piece, I came to learn that the two musicians, coincidentally, know each other and are, in fact, playing a show together on May 5. On Wednesday I (purposefully) wrote about one of the musicians also playing a set on that same bill. And on Thursday I learned that Davachi is the guest on the latest edition, #36, of the Why We Listen podcast — furthering the coincidence factor, because I was the guest on #35.
The podcast is hosted by musician Marc Kate, who listens to and discusses three (or so) pieces of music with each guest. It’s a genius format to focus the podcast listener’s attention on Kate’s subject, because we listen to him listen. Davachi brought with her Dennis Wilson’s “Mexico,” James Tenney’s “Critical Band,” and John Frusciante’s “Untitled #11” and “Untitled #12.” In addition to talking about the pieces, Davachi talks about her own performance and compositional work. Subjects include moving from piano to synthesizer, working at a musical instrument museum, and bringing her “fidelity standards” down. There’s a great moment when she talks about how ambient music makes listeners uncomfortable because they don’t know — lost in the timeless-ness of it, in contrast with the attention-deficit nature of much pop culture — “what to do with their hands.”
The podcast is available at whywelisten.wordpress.com and on iTunes at apple.com. This link goes to the MP3 for direct download. More from Sarah Davachi, who is based in Montréal, Québec, at sarahdavachi.com.
Each Thursday in the Disquiet Junto group on SoundCloud.com and at disquiet.com/junto, 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. There’s no pressure to do every project. It’s weekly so that you know it’s there, every Thursday through Monday, when you have the time.
This project was posted in the afternoon, California time, on Thursday, April 28, 2016, with a deadline of 11:59pm wherever you are on Monday, May 2, 2016.
These are the instructions that went out to the group’s email list (at tinyletter.com/disquiet-junto):
Disquiet Junto Project 0226: Bucky Ball Compose music for a fictional greatest-hits collection of the electronic music of R. Buckminster Fuller.
This week’s project is based on an imaginary scenario. The electronic music of legendary architect, inventor, and theorist R. Buckminster Fuller is being compiled. You will make music for that compilation — music you imagine Buckminster Fuller might himself have composed. Thanks to C. Reider (actually, a dream that Reider had) for inspiring the project.
Step 1: Imagine there will be a collection of the electronic music of legendary architect, inventor, and theorist R. Buckminster Fuller.
Step 2: Compose and record a piece of music that you imagine Fuller might have created.
Step 3: Upload your completed track to the Disquiet Junto group on SoundCloud.
Step 4: Annotate your track with a brief explanation of your approach and process.
Step 5: Then listen to and comment on tracks uploaded by your fellow Disquiet Junto participants.
Deadline: This project was posted in the afternoon, California time, on Thursday, April 28, 2016, with a deadline of 11:59pm wherever you are on Monday, May 2, 2016.
Length: The length is up to you, though between two and five minutes feels about right.
Upload: Please when posting your track on SoundCloud, only upload one track for this project, and be sure to 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. Photos, video, and lists of equipment are always appreciated.
Title/Tag: When adding your track to the Disquiet Junto group on Soundcloud.com, please in the title to your track include the term “disquiet0226.”Also use “disquiet0226”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 226th weekly Disquiet Junto project (“Compose music for a fictional greatest-hits collection of the electronic music of R. Buckminster Fuller”) at:
More on the Disquiet Junto at:
Join the Disquiet Junto at:
Subscribe to project announcements here:
Disquiet Junto general discussion takes place at:
Project inspired by a dream that C. Reider of Vuzh Music had:
Image of album cover created for this project is by Brian Scott of Boon Design: