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

This Week in Sound: Commercialized ASMR + Rooster Politics + …

A lightly annotated clipping service

Soft Machine: Arielle Pardes (who interviewed me a few weeks ago for a Wired article about generative music apps) writes this week about the commercialization of ASMR (“videos created to encourage the ‘brain orgasm’ that can come from listening to gentle whispers or watching people touch soft objects”). “Brands capitalizing on the interest around ASMR,” she writes, “often do so with a wink, as if to suggest that they, too, are in on the joke.”

Playing Chicken: There is a special beauty to the conflict in which people who supposedly prize the supposedly idyllic country life go to war against people who actually live in the country and, you know, have animals. A crowing rooster has “become a symbol of a perennial French conflict — between those for whom France’s countryside is merely a backdrop for pleasant vacations, and the people who actually inhabit it.” (Related: Why is it that we say a rooster “crows”? What is it, in turn, that crows do?)

16 Coaches: I will never tire of linking to stories about the sounds associated with Japanese trains. Here’s an interview with Hiroaki Ide, who in 1989 worked on the sounds for the JR East railway company: “This, Ide says, is important if the sound of a bell is to work successfully as a departure melody. He likens this to a Buddhist concept called chudo, or the ‘middle way,’ which attempts to strike the right balance between a harmonious sound and one that catches people’s attention at specific moments.”

Let’s Buzz: A writer goes in search of quiet in New York City, and comes to recognize the attractive power of volume, though the word “noise” gets beat up along the way: “The human roar of the metropolis is why so many of us gravitate to it.”

Blipverts 2.0: Among various technologies being initiated by NBCUniversal to appeal to advertisers is something referred to as “Must Hear” TV: “audio cues that play as a program fades to commercial and are meant to hold the viewer’s attention.”

Holy Crap: “After Facebook banned posts featuring the cover of Led Zeppelin’s 1973 album, the social media giant say they’ll be restoring posts that were previously removed.” The album in question is Houses of the Holy, the image by Aubrey Powell, co-founder of the storied design firm Hipgnosis.

Czech Marks: “This November, the Prague Philharmonic will perform the third and final movement of ‘From the Future World,’ an AI-completed composition based on an unfinished piano piece by the famous composer Antonín Dvořák, 115 years after his death. Emmanuel Villaume will conduct.” (via Jeff Kolar)

Make It So: Engadget makes the case for voice-controlled computing.

Morse Majeure: Google has been accused by Genius of stealing the latter’s lyrics database. What raised the media-tech company’s awareness? Old-fashioned Morse code:

Peep Show: A “renter-friendly” doorbell has been announced by Ring. It goes in your peephole.

Customer Service: Can a technology have a future if it isn’t a conduit for commerce? That’s the question lingering around voice shopping:

DAW Inspiring: Install pirated music-production software, and end up with a bitcoin miner running in the background on your laptop. (via rbxbx)

King Missile: Things that go 15x the speed of sound are anxiety-provoking.

/ / A GOOGOL OF BLOGS
My paean to the benefits of blogging lead to a great amount of correspondence this past week, and I want to say thanks to everyone who shared the article, and who wrote in about the topic. I had planned to write a little follow-up this week, but frankly there was so much of a response, I need to still consume it all. I will say, if you have a blog that is focused on sound and/or music, please let me know. Blogs will have an increased presence in the This Week in Sound newsletter as the weeks proceed. A few blog favorites from the past week (or so):

Westy Reflector on a more harmonious urban automobile experience.

Kira Grunenberg on the effort that went into the effortless music of Christopher Willits’ new ambient album, Sunset: http://throwthediceandplaynice.com/2019/06/christopher-willits-sunset-rises-to-a-new-level-of-creativity.html

Trevor Cox on the unique “fluttering reverb” of a railway tunnel.

Ethan Hein on the music theory behind why it’s difficult to tune a guitar.

Starthief on the uncanny valley in synthesized impressions of physical instruments.

And this last one isn’t a blog. It’s a zine in the form of a PDF, which is an awesome medium unto itself (perhaps it’ll be the blogging of 2020, when the hemlines shift again.) The zine is called Plurletariat and it’s about socialism in dance music. It opens with a great quote from Ayesha A. Siddiqi: “Debating fascism is a precious waste of time. Bass might be a more effective strategy of drowning it out.” (via Iain on the Disquiet Junto’s Slack)

This is lightly adapted from an edition first published in the June 23, 2019, issue of the free weekly email newsletter This Week in Sound.

By Marc Weidenbaum

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