This Week in Sound: Another Kind of Mouth

+ parenting + surveillance + sonic weapons + Fripp apps + more

An annotated clipping service

Outboard Voice: “What’s a wheelchair but another kind of movement? What’s a device like this but another kind of mouth?” — a parent, Jamie Sumner, writes in the New York Times (“Helping My Nonverbal Son Find His Voice”) about her son, who has cerebral palsy, and his use of technology that gives him if not speech then “bits of speech.”

Telegram Parenting: “Mommy-gram (and Daddy-gram) is an Alexa skill that essentially allows you to text back and forth with your child at home without he or she having a phone or even needing to know how to spell or read,” writes Emily Price at

Mic Off: The human voice gets just one brief mention (“Chinese companies are developing globally competitive applications like image and voice recognition”) in this lengthy New York Times article on the Chinese surveillance state (“Inside China’s Dystopian Dreams: A.I., Shame and Lots of Cameras”), which certainly begs the question: What about the microphones? Hopeful for follow-up coverage. And, um, a future that looks less like that recent Clive Owen / Amanda Seyfried straight-to-Netflix movie, Anon.

Sonic Sickness: The Center for Disease Control has joined the research investigation into the reported “sonic attacks” in Cuba and China, via Boing Boing.   / / /   Meanwhile, perhaps all this sonic-weapon anxiety has overlooked opportunities.

Schizoid Apps: If you dug Brian Eno’s Bloom app, then check out the latest trio of apps from his co-developer on that, Peter Chilvers. It’s a set of “virtual live performance” apps featuring King Crimson guitarist Robert Fripp and flautist/saxophonist Theo Travis. More at

Echo Location: You apparently don’t actually need an Amazon Echo to play that audio-only Westworld game mentioned here recently.

Format Function: WYNC asks what a DJ is in the digital age. “We’re getting more music sent to us than ever in our history, and yet most of it’s digital and contains no other context so it gets ignored,” the article quotes Ken Freedman, the General Manager and Program Director at WFMU (via Mike Rhode).

Multi Media: The Telemetron is a brand new instrument intended for use in zero gravity. It was developed by Nicole L’Huillier and Sands Fish at the MIT Media Lab.   / / /   Also from MIT, an AI “can recognize instruments in a video, identify specific ones at pixel level and isolate the sounds they produce.”

Face Dance: Latest reports, via, that Facebook isn’t using “ambient audio” techniques to spy on its users — despite having a patent to, in essence, do just that, per the article.

Duplex Planet: That Google Duplex AI mentioned here recently that can make phone calls for you might also find its way into call centers, per

We All Scream: Someone hacked the LinkNYC internet booths in New York City and made them play the music from ice cream trucks, per, via Dan M.

Sports Doctor: My lack of knowledge regarding competitive sports can fill a stadium, so I’m always glad when someone like Gabrielle Cornish, a PhD candidate in Musicology at the Eastman School of Music, can do something like break down the sounds of soccer.

Unquiet Place: “The premise: there is a mysterious and terrifying noise called The Sound that attracts children when they hear it.” That’s the story of a forthcoming film based on “first time filmmaker Julian Terry’s horror short They Hear It,” per Deadline.

News Submissions: If you find sonic news of interest, please share it with me, and (except with the most widespread of news items) I’ll credit you should I mention it here.

This was first published in the July 12, 2018, issue of the free weekly email newsletter This Week in Sound.

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