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.

What Sound Looks Like

An ongoing series cross-posted from

One of the many stations in the San Francisco Botanical Garden Flower Piano festival

An ongoing series cross-posted from
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Disquiet Junto Project 0290: Text-to-Beat

Use computer-generated speech as the rhythmic foundation for a track.

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.

This project’s deadline is 11:59pm wherever you are on Monday, July 24, 2017. This project was posted in the morning, California time, on Thursday, July 20, 2017.

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

Disquiet Junto Project 0290: Text-to-Beat
Use computer-generated speech as the rhythmic foundation for a track.

Step 1: This week we’re going to build a track around text-to-speech, the results of a computer-generated voice speaking. In past text-to-speech we’ve used pre-existing text as the source. In this case we’re going to build the text to order. Keep this in mind.

Step 2: Find a good text-to-speech system that you think you can work with musically. In MacOS, for example, there’s a built-in system shortcut: Just select the text you want to hear, highlight it (in a browser, or a text editor, wherever) and then hit the ESC button while holding down the OPT button. There are also other tools, including browser-based options, like the one here:

Step 3: Experiment with different combinations of words to produce a rhythm you want to work with.

Step 4: Record the rhythm you developed in Step 3.

Step 5: Produce a track using the rhythm in Step 4 as the foundation. (Level Up: Use more than one text-to-speech pattern to create cross-patterns, phasing, among other polyrhythmic events and effects.)

Five More Important Steps When Your Track Is Done:

Step 1: If your hosting platform allows for tags, be sure to include the project tag “disquiet0290” (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, July 24, 2017. This project was posted in the morning, California time, on Thursday, July 20, 2017.

Length: The length is entirely up to the participant, though two or three minutes is suggested.

Title/Tag: When posting your track, please include “disquiet0290” 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). Keep an eye on the license of the audio you source, as that may determine the license you end up using.

Linking: When posting the track online, please be sure to include this information, along with details of your source audio, including links to it:

More on this 290th weekly Disquiet Junto project — Text-to-Beat: Use computer-generated speech as the rhythmic foundation for a track. — 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 by Flickr member Jordan, used thanks to a (note: No Derivatives) Creative Commons license:

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What Sound Looks Like

An ongoing series cross-posted from

The mystery of apartment 835 persists. One day this building was a modest, three-family dwelling. The next day a smudge had infected the neighborhood’s collective memory. To this day there is no consensus in the local community. The Old 35ers still gather once a month at a nearby cafe to debate the building’s comings and goings. The Voiders meet less regularly these days, only when some bit of 35er quasi-evidence requires a little actual effort to be refuted. The Voiders haven’t yet failed to rationalize every shadowy visitor, every piece of mail marked return to sender, every arrival of a public-utility vehicle. Neither have the 35ers failed to feed the Voiders’ sense of purpose. Tellingly to both sides, the building’s remaining residents haven’t pledged allegiance to either point of view. The bachelor dentist in 831 has kept mum, the Voiders presume, simply to preserve his business, unlike the tiki bar on the main drag that features a somber 835 flag on the roof and a Never Forget cocktail on the menu. The 35ers insist on a nefarious pact between the dentist and … well, there are splinter groups as to whether the landlord, the unidentified former tenant, or some other party entirely has scared 831 into silence. As for the ancient widow in 833, she speaks only a near extinct dialect from a remote region that neither China nor Russia have bothered to lay claim to. The Old 35ers and the Voiders agree on one thing: both groups focus their canonical teachings on the mysterious scribble next to the bottom button. The 35ers point to the consistency of the color with the other addresses. The Voiders early on brought in a paleolinguist from the city college to testify. She felt that the indent and shorter “x height,” among other Talmudic marginalia, firmly distinguished the markings from the other two. If anyone does still live in what was or wasn’t 835, they may very well have disconnected the button, as it’s the favorite dare among students at the neighborhood’s four elementary schools.

An ongoing series cross-posted from
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An Installation for Oliveros

This document of a sound installation created in memory of the late Pauline Oliveros delivers the opposite of closure. As it proceeds, the lulling ambience is overtaken by the harsh slashes of what might be a violin, or a knife against rough leather for that matter. In retrospect — that is, upon subsequent listens — those string-like noises toward the end help reveal the source of the held tones at the track’s opening, the higher-pitch notes amid the general fog-horn drones. The violin is a constant presence, as it turns out, even though some time must pass before its presence becomes clear. The installation was created by the Vienna-born Mia Zabelka at the behest of the Austrian Cultural Forum New York ( Pauline Oliveros, a maverick composer and sound theorist, was a practitioner of Deep Listening. So listen deep, put yourself inside Zabelka’s installation, and observe as her violin gains substance.

Track originally posted at More from Zabelka at and

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Three Decks, Six Minutes, Twelve Layers

A live tape-loop performance by Austin, Texas–based Amulets

If you were to just hear — rather than also watch — this track by the artist known as Amulets, you might wonder about the little clickety clacks that occur six times, first at five seconds in, then at half a minute in, and then at just past the minute-and-a-half marker, and then again in quicker succession, within 30 seconds of each other, toward the track’s end. These clicks, sharp and fragile, appear amid and yet apart from the otherwise wooly-lush six minutes of music. What’s occurring is the start and stop of cassette tapes being placed into a trio of multi-track player-recorders. Those tapes are the source and the receiver of the echoing, excellently lo-fidelity, gently crackling music. The tapes are both producing and layering the audio, hence the slow yet discernible buildup as it progresses. Since these are four-track recorders, the result is a dozen component parts, twelve separate loops being manipulated in real time.

This is the latest video I’ve added to my YouTube playlist of recommended live performances of ambient music. Video originally posted at More from Amulets, aka Randall Taylor, at and

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