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.

tag: field recordings

twitter.com/disquiet: Museum Dreams, Lawnmower Jam, Atwood x Anderson

From the past week

I do this manually each week, collating tweets I made at twitter.com/disquiet, my public notebook. Some tweets pop up (in expanded form) on Disquiet.com sooner. It’s personally informative to revisit the previous week of thinking out loud.

▰ Weirdest side effect of getting my first shot of the Moderna vaccine on Saturday morning was that for the rest of the weekend I found myself daydreaming being in various rooms at SFMOMA.

▰ Ooh, the upcoming Disquietude ambient music podcast episode will have its first entirely original piece of music (that is, first heard on the podcast).

▰ Lawnmower jam: Saxophonist Jeff Coffin (Dave Matthews, Bela Fleck) noticed his neighbor’s lawnmower was in A flat, so he decided to accompany her. (Thanks, Brian Biggs!)


▰ A trick to navigating the modern internet, one that’s even more addled with targeted ads than anything Neal Stephenson imagined when the ‘net was young, is to regularly search for a few things you already own and love. Then you’ll be inundated with reminders of them.

▰ I love this detail in this piece (nytimes.com) by writer Max Gao on the upcoming Kung Fu TV series: ubiquitous actor Tzi Ma has no children, despite having “played the father figure for a bevy of Hollywood talent” (e.g., in The Farewell, Meditation Park, and the live-action Mulan).

▰ “So, 1981. We had the radio on while cooking dinner, when an eerie sound came pulsating over the airwaves.” Because we’ve been good, we get Margaret Atwood writing about Laurie Anderson: theguardian.com. “Do you want to be a human being any more? Are you one now?”

▰ I’m pretty enamored of wind chimes. As I wrote about in my book on Selected Ambient Works Volume 2: If as Brian Eno has said, repetition is a form of change, then wind chimes can show that change is a form of repetition.

▰ The first track is up on the latest Disquiet Junto project and it includes the sentence “I added a phaser effect to the dishwasher track” and this is how I know I’ve found my people.

▰ RSS 4 Life

▰ It’s cool to have some new Twitter followers following yesterday’s lengthy thread about the benefits of blogging, and I should note for the record you’re now following someone who gets excited about: refrigerators humming, doorbells, silence, TV captions, hold music.

▰ OK, have a good weekend. Listen to some poetry. Read some TV. Seek out some birdsong (while masked). And if you’ve got time and interest, play a recording of wind chimes on a speaker and record how it interacts with your own environment: disquiet.com/0484. See ya Monday.

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Soundbites: Halo Sound Design, Emotion Detection, Noisy Jobs

Recent reads (etc.) on sound

These are the sort of items I’d usually put in the This Week in Sound email newsletter (tinyletter.com/disquiet), but I’ve been super busy, too busy for a new issue, and so at a friend’s suggestion I am initially noting some here.

The team behind the audio for the Halo video games share process in an advance peek at Halo Infinite, due out later this year. It’s packed with interesting details, such as how the relative proximity of gunfire wasn’t a sufficient filter in earlier games, leading to innovation this time around: “The new Halo Infinite audio system detects all gun sounds frame by frame, and prioritizes them in a threat order to decide output sound volume for each gun.” To a degree this is a matter of noise and confusion reduction, and of audio as an informative aspect of user interface. It also maps to hearing’s role in self-preservation. Likewise, ambient noises are adjusted in-game to make them more lifelike: “A variety of factors feed into this system, combining gameplay states, time of day, location tracking, timers, and more, all working together to bring the environment to life. This gives us the ability to create a dynamic mix of ambient sounds that remains compelling and immersive the entire time you’re playing.”
https://www.halowaypoint.com/en-us/news/inside-infinite-march-2021

And you have to check out video of the destruction of an old piano done as part of the sound design effort:


Molly Moser reports on how high-speed frame-by-frame records of hummingbirds flying helped sort out how they emit their trademark hum. The tiny birds yielded terabytes of data: “Higher harmonic content throughout the wing stroke, they explain in the paper, results in a ‘buzz,’ while equivalent first and second harmonic content makes hummingbirds ‘hum,’ and dominant first harmonic content results in the softer ‘whoosh’ of larger birds.”
https://www.osa-opn.org/home/newsroom/2021/

The digital civil rights group Access Now expresses concern that Spotify’s reported “mood-recognition features” could lead to “misgendering” and “discrimination,” reports Lilia Dergacheva. This is based on a patent “to detect emotion, age and gender using speech recognition algorithms.”
https://sputniknews.com/science/202104021082522962-spotify-reportedly-asked-to-ditch-bid-to-predict-mood-gender-over-discrimination-privacy-concerns/

People who require computers to speak for them deserve their own individualized voices that reflect “who they really are” — that’s the subject of a podcast episode from the Index Project featuring Rupal Patel, found of VocaliD. https://theindexproject.org/stories/podcast-restoring-lost-voices

Grant Suneson of MSN Money’s 24/7 Wall Street lists the 25 jobs most likely to damage your hearing. Musicians rank at the bottom of the list. Higher up are surgeons, shoe and leather workers, gaming (aka gambling) service workers, and, at the top of the list, emergency medical technicians and paramedics.
https://www.msn.com/en-us/money/careersandeducation/these-24-jobs-could-ruin-your-hearing/ss-BB1feUL4

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RIP, Gregory Kondos (1923-2021)

A life by the river

RIP, painter Gregory Kondos, known for his blue-skies depiction of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. (I heard the news via Scott Gilbert, a friend and artist.) I had the pleasure of interviewing Kondos at his Sacramento home shortly before he turned 90. He has died at 97.

I’d spoken with Kondos previously, while researching a story on his old friend, painter Mel Ramos, and I then mentioned to my excellent editor at the magazine Sactown that I wanted, when appropriate, to interview Kondos again, because he had been so outspoken. It was, as expected, a blast.

I love this childhood memory Kondos shared about his early years in Northern California, after moving at age 3 from Massachusetts, where he was born to Greek immigrants who, as he told me, didn’t speak a lick of English: “I fished all the time. But my dad had to catch a fish, I didn’t. If I caught a fish, fine. But if I didn’t, fine, didn’t matter. I just sat there and looked at the river and the trees.”

The full piece is at sactownmag.com.

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Sound Bites: Pandemic Playlists, Disliking Dislikes, Martian Noise

Recent reads (etc.) on sound

These are the sort of items I’d usually put in the This Week in Sound email newsletter (tinyletter.com/disquiet), but I’ve been super busy, too busy for a new issue, and so at a friend’s suggestion I am initially noting some here.

It’s good YouTube experiments with hiding dislikes. I’m not sure it’s just about creator ego or hate mobs. The interface is flawed. We’re used (post-Netflix) to dis/liking things to nudge the algorithm. Hiding lets users register taste without offending. (I wrote about this two years ago in “Speaking Privately to the Algorithm.”)
https://www.theverge.com/2021/3/30/22358992/youtube-hiding-dislikes-experiment-creator-review-bomb

“Getting ‘vaxxed at moscone and they’re literally playing Here Comes the Sun on the PA and I’m shaking,'”: Peter Hartlaub quotes local food critic Soleil Ho at the start of this piece about the playlist at Moscone Center, one of the San Francisco Bay Area’s major vaccination centers. Her tweet was the first I’d heard of the music there, as well. I’m still ineligible for vaccination, but have been following along as folks tweet (and otherwise share) their shots. The playlist originated, interesting, not for patients but for administers: “it was initially created for staffers arriving early for their first day of work.” (via Daniel Raffel)
https://www.sfchronicle.com/local/article/Here-s-the-story-behind-the-amazing-Moscone-16061677.php

Robocalls have altered our relationships with phones, both household and mobile. Good news: The FCC has been taking action. Less good: “A fine, even the biggest in the agency’s history, is unlikely to rein in robocalls. In fact, there’s evidence to suggest they haven’t been effective at all.” More good: “If there’s good news, it’s that the FCC isn’t limiting itself to fines. In a separate announcement, the agency detailed its new anti-robocall agenda. Acting Chair Jessica Rosenworcel has established a Robocall Response Team. Made up of 51 FCC members across six offices, the team will coordinate the agency’s anti-robocall efforts and develop new policies for it to put in place.”
https://www.engadget.com/fcc-225-million-fine-194419208.html

We’ve been back on Mars barely a month and already introduced noise pollution: “It’s so noisy that Dave Gruel, the lead engineer for the EDL (entry, descent and landing mic) system, said he’d pull over and call for a tow if he heard these sounds while driving his car.” (And, yes, I first read that as Dave Grohl, too.)
https://www.engadget.com/perseverance-driving-on-mars-sounds-063118359.html

Geeta Dayal surveys the past and future of music at Mills College, which has been home to such musical mavericks as Pauline Oliveros, Darius Milhaud, John Cage, Fred Frith, Steve Reich, Terry Riley, Laetitia Sonami, and Roscoe Mitchell, in light of the institution ceasing to grant degrees.
https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/30/arts/music/mills-college-music.html

You know how with each successive generation, ties to ethnic and cultural heritage diminish? It’s true of birds, too. “As the population of the critically endangered regent honeyeater plummeted over the years, some young birds could no longer find older ones to teach them to sing, a new study reports.”
https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/17/science/bird-honeyeater-australia.html

The Foghorn’s Lament: The Disappearing Music of the Coast, a new book from Jennifer Lucy Allen, is due out in later this year (May in the U.K., where she is based, and July in the U.S.). Allen received her PhD, with a thesis titled Fog Tropes: The social and cultural history of the foghorn 1853 to the present day.
https://www.hachette.com.au/jennifer-lucy-allan/the-foghorns-lament-the-disappearing-music-of-the-coast

Whale song can be used “to map undiscovered faults through tectonic sound recordings of the sea,” Geoff Manaugh notes from paper in Science. https://www.bldgblog.com/2021/03/cetacean-surroundsound/

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