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.

tag: field-recording

Bell Increments

Five tracks of overtones on overdrive

Until yesterday evening I had never uploaded audio before to Bandcamp.com, despite being a longtime user, and despite investigations of the service playing a role in the course I teach on the role of sound in media landscape.

Anyhow, I recently added a new module to my modular synthesizer, and in the process of testing it out, I thought I would go and post some of the results. Those results became the collection, two and a half minutes total — five tracks of modulated bell tones. Below is the embedded sound and the information from the disquieteditions.bandcamp.com page:

This is a collection of five variations on the same bell sound. The bell is being run through a modular synthesizer, with an emphasis on a module called the ADDAC601. The ADDAC601 is a filter bank. It divides the inbound audio into eight bands across the audio spectrum, and then allows those bands to be worked upon by any manner of inputs. In this case the inputs are a variety of LFOs, or low frequency oscillators, often working in combination. Sine waves and triangle waves and saw-toothed waves consort and, in turn, exaggerate the source audio. The LFOs put the overtones into overdrive. These five tracks, each more complex than the previous, are excerpts from a larger collection that accumulated after I added the ADDAC601 to my small modular synth rig. They explore incremental changes as LFOs pile up and the variations take on more internal complexity. Because they were recorded in sequence without pause, each retains echoing, refracted elements of the previous track.

The source audio is a bell recorded by Freesound.org participant Sarana and uploaded for communal reuse on October 14, 2009. The source audio was pitched down a bit before being worked upon by the modular synth, and it also is run through a digital delay before hitting the ADDAC601. Here is the source audio, for comparison:

www.freesound.org/people/sarana/sounds/81832/

The track is licensed under this Creative Commons license:

creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Tag: / Leave a comment ]

Disquiet Junto Project 0262: Ice Code


The Assignment: Record the sound of ice in a glass and make something of it.

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, January 9, 2017. This project was posted in the morning, California time, on Thursday, January 5, 2017.

These are the instructions that went out to the group’s email list (at tinyletter.com/disquiet-junto):

Disquiet Junto Project 0262: Ice Code
ӬThe Assignment: Record the sound of ice in a glass and make something of it.

Welcome to a new year. This week’s project is as follows. It’s the same project we’ve begun each year with since the very first Junto project, back in January 2012. The project is, per tradition, just this one sentence:

Please record the sound of an ice cube rattling in a glass, and make something of it.

Background: Longtime participants in, and observers of, the Disquiet Junto series will recognize this single-sentence assignment — “Please record the sound of an ice cube rattling in a glass, and make something of it”— as the very first Disquiet Junto project, the same one that launched the series back on the first Thursday of January 2012. Revisiting it at the start of each year since has provided a fitting way to begin the new year. At the start of the sixth (!) year of the Disquiet Junto, it is a tradition. A weekly project series can come to overemphasize novelty, and it’s helpful to revisit old projects as much as it is to engage with new ones. Also, by its very nature, the Disquiet Junto suggests itself as a fast pace: a four-day production window, a regular if not weekly habit. It can be beneficial to step back and see things from a longer perspective.

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 “disquiet0262” (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 llllllll.co please consider posting your track.

http://llllllll.co/t/ice-music-years-first-project-disquiet-junto-0262/5990

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, January 9, 2017. This project was posted in the morning, California time, on Thursday, January 5, 2017.

Length: The length is up to you, but three to four minutes sounds about right.

Title/Tag: When posting your track, please include “disquiet0262”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 262nd weekly Disquiet Junto project — “Ice Code: Record the sound of ice in a glass and make something of it”:

https://disquiet.com/0262/

More on the Disquiet Junto at:

https://disquiet.com/junto/

Subscribe to project announcements here:

http://tinyletter.com/disquiet-junto/

Project discussion takes place on llllllll.co:

llllllll.co/t/ice-music-years-first-project-disquiet-junto-0262/5990

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

Photo associated with this project is by Fabienne D, used thanks to a Creative Commons license:

flic.kr/p/UnB9e

creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

Also tagged , , / / Comment: 1 ]

Disquiet Junto Project 0256: Music in Place

Record a short piece of music using the sounds around you.

4755644480_34cac48263_z

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 was posted in the morning, California time, on Thursday, November 24, 2016, with a deadline of 11:59pm wherever you are on Monday, November 28, 2016.

These are the instructions that went out to the group’s email list (at tinyletter.com/disquiet-junto):

Disquiet Junto Project 0256: Music in Place
Record a short piece of music using the sounds around you.

Step 1: The goal of this project is to record a piece in place using only sounds from that place. Block out time, maybe an hour or so, and a place where you think you’d like to do the work. Also plan on portable equipment — laptop, iPad, OP-1, etc. — that would suit the endeavor.

Step 2: During the time planned in advance during Step 1, record sounds around you and shape them into an original piece of music, editing and processing as you see fit.

Five More Important Steps When Your Track Is Done:

Step 1: Per the instructions below, be sure to include the project tag “disquiet0256”(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 llllllll.co please consider posting your track.

http://llllllll.co/t/disquiet-junto-project-0256-music-in-place/5482

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 was posted in the morning, California time, on Thursday, November 24, 2016, with a deadline of 11:59pm wherever you are on Monday, November 28, 2016.

Length: The length is up to you, but three to four minutes sounds about right.

Title/Tag: When posting your track, please include “disquiet0256”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 256th weekly Disquiet Junto project — “Music in Place: Record a short piece of music using the sounds around you.”— at:

https://disquiet.com/0256/

More on the Disquiet Junto at:

https://disquiet.com/junto/

Subscribe to project announcements here:

http://tinyletter.com/disquiet-junto/

Project discussion takes place on llllllll.co:

http://llllllll.co/t/disquiet-junto-project-0256-music-in-place/5482

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

Image associated with this project is by Matthew Betts, used thanks to a Creative Commons license:

flic.kr/p/8feVqm

Also tagged , , / / Leave a comment ]

Disquiet Junto Project 0254: Fog and Steam

Make music from two provided samples.

3519398956_d347dedc41_b

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 was posted in the late morning, California time, on Thursday, November 10, 2016, with a deadline of 11:59pm wherever you are on Monday, November 14, 2016.

These are the instructions that went out to the group’s email list (at tinyletter.com/disquiet-junto):

Disquiet Junto Project 0254: Fog and Steam
Make music from two provided samples.

For the 254th weekly project, we’re going to revisit the second project, from back in early January 2012.

Step 1: Download these two samples:

Fog Horn: http://www.freesound.org/people/schaarsen/sounds/69663/

Train Whistle: http://www.freesound.org/people/ecodios/sounds/119963/

Step 2: Create an original piece of music utilizing just those samples from Step 1. You can only use those two samples, and you can do whatever you want with them.

Five More Important Steps When Your Track Is Done:

Step 1: Per the instructions below, be sure to include the project tag “disquiet0254”(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 llllllll.co please consider posting your track. (Assuming you post it on SoundCloud, a search for the tag will help me construct the playlist.)

http://llllllll.co/t/music-of-fog-and-steam-disquiet-junto-project-0254/

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 was posted in the late morning, California time, on Thursday, November 10, 2016, with a deadline of 11:59pm wherever you are on Monday, November 14, 2016.

Length: The length is up to you, but three minutes sounds about right.

Title/Tag: When posting your track, please include “disquiet0254”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 necessary, due to the licensing of the source audio, 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 254th weekly Disquiet Junto project — “Fog and Steam: Make music from two provided samples”— at:

https://disquiet.com/0254/

More on the Disquiet Junto at:

https://disquiet.com/junto/

Subscribe to project announcements here:

http://tinyletter.com/disquiet-junto/

Project discussion takes place on llllllll.co:

llllllll.co/t/music-of-fog-and-steam-disquiet-junto-project-0254/

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

Fog horn sample by Schaarsen: http://www.freesound.org/people/schaarsen/sounds/69663/

Train whistle sample by Ecodios: http://www.freesound.org/people/ecodios/sounds/119963/

Image associated with this project is by Paul Johnson and used with a Creative Commons license:

flic.kr/p/6mZQGm

Also tagged , , / / Leave a comment ]

“Tug Tropes”

Dank techno from San Francisco Bay recordings by Alexis Madrigal

The peripatetic and admirably curious journalist Alexis Madrigal wandered down to the San Francisco Bay today and came back with audio recordings. The tapes document what occurs as a trio of tugboats, in Madrigal’s description, “drag a huge cargo ship out of its berth.” He subsequently posted two tracks of the audio to his SoundCloud account, one with the “underwater,” or “hydrophonic,” sounds, and the other with the “above water” sounds. He then, via Twitter, offered them up for remixing.

I’ve been fiddling, perchance, these past few days with a new piece of music software called Grainfields. The application is by the sound designer Kasper Fangel Skov, who was born in Texas and lives in Skanderborg, Denmark. Grainfields is a granular synthesizer, which is to say that it allows you to focus on slivers of sound within a given sample and employ them for their varied tonal and rhythmic characteristics. In granular synthesis a fleeting, even microscopic moment can be distended to something “playable.”

screen-shot-2016-11-02-at-7-57-20-pm

Grainfields was designed for use in Max, the visual programming language developed by Cycling ’74 and named for Max Matthews, the late computer-music pioneer. Grainfields is used in coordination with a Monome, the open-source grid music interface.

monome

When Grainfields was first released on GitHub, about four days ago, I started with some varied bell recordings from freesound.org, and then sampled some dub techno tracks that I find myself often returning to. This evening I downloaded Madrigal’s pair of field recordings and listened through them (each of the two tracks is just under 21 minutes long), eventually isolating three choice snippets. From the hydrophonic audio I selected one bit that had a rattle quality, and another that was more tonal. Both had a density that spoke of their submerged origin, though they also had the rough texture of something recorded where there was lots of activity. From the above-water track I found a tiny instance of what sounded like a horn. Grainfields allows for eight voices or samples, but in this case I just used those three. Combined they were just under a minute of sound total, the shortest just two seconds in length.

The resulting track, “Tug Tropes,” aims to make something musical from Madrigal’s field recordings. (The title is my nod to Ingram Mashall’s beloved composition “Fog Tropes,” which was based on fog horns recorded in the San Francisco Bay.) The piece moves back and forth for the majority of it between two notes — that is, two grains, two attenuated slivers of the aquatic sounds. What I was trying for was a see-saw quality that was barely a song and had some of the ebb and flow of the water. The other elements come in on occasion, lending some drama, and after the halfway point I begin to nudge to the shriller end of the segment that provided the two main notes. I didn’t change the tuning of any of the source audio, even though Grainfields allows various forms of alteration, including pitch.

Playing field recordings as if they were instruments is one of my favorite musical activities. When you’re out in the world, especially when you’re alone, there can be a symphonic quality to the everyday sounds that are around you. Your brain does something in real time that experiences the audio as if it were music. That experience is reinforced on repeated listen, when the familiarity of a recording hardens the elements that initially were happenstance. With “Tug Tropes” I tried to get at, through the artifice of musical performance, the way everyday sounds can feel like music, how our memories and our human habit of locating — even projecting — patterns can suggest the presence of a composition in the quotidian.

More from Skov and his Grainfields application at kasperskov.dk. He introduced it on the Monome discussion boards, llllllll.co, which is where I first learned about it. More on the Monome at monome.org.

Also tagged / / Leave a comment ]