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: May 2017

Gamelan Hypnotism

A "Bell Study" by Dave Seidel

This “Bell Study” by Dave Seidel, aka Mysterybear, uses light echoes of looped gamelan samples to create a quiet, peaceful sonic space that has a rhythmic component even as it suggests itself for reflection and contemplation. In theory, or at least based on the barest of descriptions, the combination of melodic percussive tones and a fairly rapid sequencing should gather the listener’s attention rather than what happens here, which is that it provides a kind of gentle lull. It’s music that you can focus on, but also music that encourages you to not focus. The result is hypnotic. The tones themselves have a similarly self-contradictory beauty, in part richly tonal and at the same time lightly sour, especially when the loops allow for beading and overlays that expose subtle harmonic dissonances.

Track originally posted at More from Seidel, who is based in Peterborough, New Hampshire, at

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Sound Class: Extra Credit

Create a sound walk

I just gave an extra-credit assignment to the students in my sound class.

Maybe you wanna do it, too:

For my students the assignment is due by 10am on Wednesday, May 24, 2017, the last day of class.

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Disquiet Junto Project 0280: 20170514

Celebrate the 70th birthday of a Junto member.

Each Thursday in the Disquiet Junto group, 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. A SoundCloud account is helpful but not required. 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.

Tracks will be added to this playlist for the duration of the project:

This project’s deadline is 11:59pm wherever you are on Monday, May 15, 2017. This project was posted in the early afternoon, California time, on Thursday, May 11, 2017.

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

Disquiet Junto Project 0280: 20170514
Celebrate the 70th birthday of a Junto member.

This week we celebrate the May 14, 2017, birthday of Junto member ferrie = differentieel, of the Netherlands.

Step 1: Junto member ferrie = differentieel, of the Netherlands, turns 70 years of age on May 14, 2017. In correspondence leading up to this project, ferrie shared an observation that the composer Frederic Rzewski had previously shared with him in a letter: “Using pre-existing material for building new things is a very old practice.”

Step 2: In ferrie’s honor, please do something that takes the opposite approach of Rzewski’s letter. In other words, please use new musical things to recreate some old musical thing.

Five More Important Steps When Your Track Is Done:

Step 1: If you hosting platform allows for tags, be sure to include the project tag “disquiet0280” (no spaces) in the name of your track. If you’re posting on SoundCloud in particular, this is essential to my locating the tracks and creating a playlist of them.

Step 2: Upload your track. It is helpful but not essential that you use SoundCloud to host your track.

Step 3: In the following discussion thread at please consider posting your track:

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’s deadline is 11:59pm wherever you are on Monday, May 15, 2017. This project was posted in the early afternoon, California time, on Thursday, May 11, 2017.

Length: The length is entirely up to the participant.

Title/Tag: When posting your track, please include “disquiet0280” in the title of the track, and where applicable (on SoundCloud, for example) as a tag.

Upload: When participating in this project, post one finished track with the project tag, 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.

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 online, please be sure to include this information:

More on this 280th weekly Disquiet Junto project — “20170514: Celebrate the 70th birthday of a Junto member” — at:

More on the Disquiet Junto at:

Subscribe to project announcements here:

Project discussion takes place on

There’s also on a Junto Slack. Send your email address to for Slack inclusion.

Image associated with this project is of the Netherlands-based musician ferrie = differentieel, in whose honor we’re making music this week. More from ferrie at

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April’s Drones

Two albums of drones from April Larson

The title track of April Larson’s It Was Misplaced is an echo chamber of strings, layer upon layer of strings, half representing stasis, the other half momentum, and between them finding an uneasy truce. “Sorry, You Know About the Pain” seems built, as well, from strings, but they’re muffled, as if heard from the floor above, with the exception of one tiny screech, as if a single string on a single bow is getting through the obstruction — the result shows a level of pixel-perfect detail that drone music rarely achieves let alone aspires to. The whole album explores drones, from the choral-like “The Shape of Wings in One of Many Worlds” and “A Quiet Life in a War Zone” to the hush of “Black Arctic,” its out-of-focus drama like a Richter painting.

It Was Misplaced was released back in 2013, but I only just heard it this week after falling for her brand new album, Up Below on the Polar Seas label. These are more drones, denser and less specific in their constituent parts. Listen as a beading rumble infuses “Floating,” or a thrilling wind surfaces in “The Excavation.” Gorgeous stuff.

It Was Misplaced originally posted at, Up Below at polarseasrecordings.bandcamp. More from Larson at

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This Week in Sound: Plasma Waves + Cymatic Art +

+ listening posts + womb tunes +

A lightly annotated clipping service.

Ring Cycle: The second season of The Expanse, the Syfy channel’s excellent (stellar?) adaptation of the James S. A. Corey novels, may have come to a close last month, but NASA is here to fill the void. Not only has the Cassini spacecraft situated itself between Saturn and its rings, it has captured audio data of the particulates therein. As Rae Paoletta reports at, the Radio and Plasma Wave Science (RPWS) instrument on Cassini (see recording above) picked up “the hits of hundreds of ring particles per second,” something of an apparent surprise to scientists back home on Earth.

Synaesthesia Loop: Over at, Heather Sparks summarizes the cymatic art of Jeff Louviere and Vanessa Brown. They took pictures of what different notes look like (see above) when stimulating “ink-black water,” and then turned those images back into sound, using the software Photosounder.

Audiophile Update: The whole notion of what “home audio” means is experiencing a continuing shift of late, as listening becomes — for better and worse — as much a subject for gadgets as producing sound: Google Home, it’s listening-enabled tech hub, now supports multiple users, by recognizing their independent voices; Amazon, in a race with Google Home, has made its AI available to chatbot developers; and in case neither of those instances raise privacy concerns for you, a lawsuit alleges that Bose wireless headphones spy on their users.

Womb Tune: An artificial womb, currently being tested on lamb fetuses, is being considered for gestating humans. As Jessica Hamzelou writes at, the parent-oriented item would allow “parents to communicate sounds to the baby and to see it with a camera.””

Sound Material: The miracle substance graphene, the world’s reported strongest material, has numerous gee-whiz applications, ranging from desalinating sea water to cleaning up radioactive waste. It also has sonic potential, according to a paper (at by M. S. Heath & D. W. Horsell. Check it out for details on thermoacoustics.

Noise Central: Three of the noisiest cities on the planet are in one country, India, according to a report in This coincided with the attempts to institute an annual “No-Horn Day” (

This first appeared, in slightly different form, in the May 2, 2017, edition of the free Disquiet “This Week in Sound”email newsletter:

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