New Disquietude podcast episode: music by Lesley Flanigan, Dave Seidel, KMRU, Celia Hollander, and John Hooper; interview with Flanigan; commentary; short essay on reading waveforms. • Disquiet.com F.A.Q.Key Tags: #saw2for33third, #field-recording, #classical, #juntoElsewhere: Twitter, SoundCloud, Instagram

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

This Week in Sound: Rating the Pronunciation

A lightly annotated clipping service

These sound-studies highlights of the week are lightly adapted from the August 8, 2022, issue of the free Disquiet.com weekly email newsletter This Week in Sound: tinyletter.com/disquiet.

As always, 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.

“The call of the corncrake — a small, shy bird related to the coot — is harsh and monotonous, yet for older generations it was a beloved sound of summer in Ireland, evoking wistful memories of warm weather, hay making and romantic nights.” ➔ nytimes.com

“Twitter is developing an updated version of its audio chat rooms product known as Spaces. … [S]creenshots of one of the earlier versions of this test include what appear to be thematic audio stations as well as a personalized audio digest.” ➔ techcrunch.com

Report from Mukono, Uganda: “[A Mukono municipal environment officer] accuses born-again churches of organizing open air night crusades that cause a lot of noise pollution in the area affecting locals but the Officer in Charge (OC) of the Mukono Police Division Environment Unit, Mr Moses Byamukama defends the churches saying ‘they are exercising their fundamental right of freedom of worship.’” ➔ monitor.co.ug

“In one vision of classrooms of the near future, young children will put on headsets and read sentences aloud as they navigate computer programs powered by speech-recognition technology. Behind the scenes, that technology will listen to each student and spit out dozens of lines of code, rating the pronunciation for each individual sound and word in the sentence and tracking the timing of every utterance. By the time each student reads an entire passage aloud, the software will have mapped where they stand on a few hundred finite skills needed to be a fluent reader.” ➔ wsj.com

“People could soon let their ears do the talking when using a virtual assistant thanks to an ear-reading device. When we speak or mouth words, our facial muscles move and our ear canals change shape. The new earphone technology detects those changes, allowing people to issue silent speech commands.” ➔ newscientist.com

John McWhorter, a New York Times opinion writer, connects the rise of the word “satisfying” to another popular phenomenon: “The inception seems to have been a proliferation, starting several years ago, of online videos exploring A.S.M.R. — autonomous sensory meridian response — as a kind of low-grade euphoria one can achieve from various, often mundane experiences such as hearing book pages turned, having one’s hair combed, or listening to repetitive sounds such as finger tapping or whispering.” ➔ nytimes.com (Thanks, Rich Pettus!)

A web browser tool for aspiring synesthetes: “What if you can hear your painting? Turn your paint brush into musical instruments and compose on sensorial canvases!” ➔ getrevue.co (Thanks, Rob Walker!)

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Sound Ledger¹ (Voice Camouflage, Neural Voices)

Audio culture by the numbers

68.9: The percent of increased errors in transcriptions for voices using “Neural Voice Camouflage” privacy technology

20,843: The number of consecutive hours that Lofi Girl broadcast on YouTube before the account was, temporarily (for different reasons), taken down

330: The number of neural voices (in over 110 languages) provided by Microsoft’s Azure platform

________
¹Footnotes

Camouflage: science.org. Lofi: arstechnica.com. Azure: fastcompany.com

Originally published in the August 8, 2022, edition of the This Week in Sound email newsletter. Get it in your inbox via tinyletter.com/disquiet.

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Current Favorites: Tuscany, Los Angeles, Prague

Another round of Instagram favorites

Like last week’s round-up, this post is a reminder of some of the inspiring music housed at Instagram. It’s also the latest in a series of occasional answers to a frequent question: “What have you been listening to lately?” These are annotated, albeit lightly, because I don’t like reposting material without providing some context. I hope to write more about these in the future, but didn’t want to delay sharing them.

▰ Tuscany, Italy-based Federico Chiesa, who goes by Oora (“pronounced like Aura”), at instagram.com/ooramusic, shared a live sequence of tender, lush synthesizer mood music.

Sarah Belle Reid (instagram.com/sarahbellereid), based in Los Angeles, does incredible things with her horn, processed live by racks of synthesizer modules. As she explains, “I am constantly exploring ways to add breath and organic motion into my synth patches, looking for ways to make my oscillators blend with and play off of my trumpet more, and so on.”

▰ Thinking too much about the potential for something akin to a proper “metaverse” can diminish the melding of physical and virtual already in full flower. This video by Prague-based Digiklvb (instagram.com/digiklvb) combines the synthesizer seen in real life with an overlayed image that is produced by the same system. Yes, these don’t appear in the “real world” as such, except through post-production editing, but I think the increasing prominence of such combinations is a glimpse into how musicians like Digiklvb experience such work as they produce it.

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twitter.com/disquiet: Fluxus, Gershwin, Murata

From the past week

I do this manually each Saturday, usually in the morning over coffee: collating most of the tweets I made the past week at twitter.com/disquiet, which I think of as my public notebook. Some tweets pop up sooner in expanded form or otherwise on Disquiet.com. I’ve found it personally informative to revisit the previous week of thinking out loud. This isn’t a full accounting. Often there are, for example, conversations on Twitter that don’t really make as much sense out of the context of Twitter itself. And sometimes I tweak them a bit, given the additional space. And sometimes I re-order them just a bit.

▰ I live close to Golden Gate Park. The best part of the Outside Lands Festival is Thursday, when the bands tune up, as they are doing now. It’s a popular-music rendition of one of Christopher DeLaurenti’s orchestra tuning recordings: bits of riffs as the sound system gels. The drum tests all echo like John Bonham at the far end of a dusty Valhalla hallway, and the vocal mic checks suggest Yoko Ono leading a Fluxus reunion at the edge of the Grand Canyon. Tomorrow begins three straight days of verse/chorus/verse monotony, but today is enjoyable.

▰ Remote office

▰ 1: Working on “Someone to Watch Over Me.”

2: Thing I said in guitar class: “I think I’m feeling like the second half of Flowers for Algernon today.”

3: Also: We’re at the point where guitar chords look a bit like chemistry symbols.

4: George Gershwin was a genius.

▰ Oh yes

▰ It’s satisfying to play a guitar chord where you use your thumb, wrapped around the neck from behind, on the low E string as part of the fingering.

▰ End of day

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Cage & Feldman in Conversation

An ongoing series cross-posted from instagram.com/dsqt

I’ve listened to these conversations (1966-67) between John Cage and Morton Feldman numerous times. I feel like I had a PDF of the transcripts once upon a time, but no longer. Finally scored a paperback copy.

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  • about

  • Marc Weidenbaum founded the website Disquiet.com in 1996 at the intersection of sound, art, and technology, and since 2012 has moderated the Disquiet Junto, an active online community of weekly music/sonic projects. He has written for Nature, Boing Boing, The Wire, Pitchfork, and NewMusicBox, among other periodicals. He is the author of the 33 1⁄3 book on Aphex Twin’s classic album Selected Ambient Works Volume II. Read more about his sonic consultancy, teaching, sound art, and work in film, comics, and other media

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    • December 13, 2022: This day marks the 26th anniversary of the founding of Disquiet.com.
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  • Recent
    • April 16, 2022: I participated in an online "talk show" by The Big Conversation Space (Niki Korth and Clémence de Montgolfier).
    • March 11, 2022: I hosted a panel discussion between Mark Fell, Rian Treanor and James Bradbury in San Francisco as part of the Algorithmic Art Assembly (aaassembly.org) at Gray Area (grayarea.org).
    • December 28, 2021: This day marked the 10th (!) anniversary of the Instagr/am/bient compilation.
    • January 6, 2021: This day marked the 10th (!) anniversary of the start of the Disquiet Junto music community.
    • December 13, 2021: This day marked the 25th (!) anniversary of the start of the Disquiet Junto music community.
    • There are entries on the Disquiet Junto in the book The Music Production Cookbook: Ready-made Recipes for the Classroom (Oxford University Press), edited by Adam Patrick Bell. Ethan Hein wrote one, and I did, too.
    • A chapter on the Disquiet Junto ("The Disquiet Junto as an Online Community of Practice," by Ethan Hein) appears in the book The Oxford Handbook of Social Media and Music Learning (Oxford University Press), edited by Stephanie Horsley, Janice Waldron, and Kari Veblen. (Details at oup.com.)

  • My book on Aphex Twin's landmark 1994 album, Selected Ambient Works Vol. II, was published as part of the 33 1/3 series, an imprint of Bloomsbury. It has been translated into Japanese (2019) and Spanish (2018).

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