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.

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Disquiet Junto Project 0282: Berio’s Bach

Make a piece of music based on one composer's observation regarding another composer.

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, May 29, 2017. This project was posted in the late morning, California time, on Thursday, May 25, 2017.

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

Disquiet Junto Project 0282: Berio’s Bach
Make a piece of music based on one composer’s observation regarding another composer.

Step 1: The composer Luciano Berio once said that part of the attraction of some of Bach’s music is in its clear distinction between which notes are “structurally significant” and which are “decorative.” Consider this observation.

Step 2: Compose a short piece of music that opens and closes with there being a clear sense of which parts are “structurally significant” and which are “decorative,” but that in the middle gets ambiguous in this regard.

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 “disquiet0282” (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-0282-berios-bach/

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, May 29, 2017. This project was posted in the early afternoon, California time, on Thursday, May 22, 2017.

Length: The length is entirely up to the participant.

Title/Tag: When posting your track, please include “disquiet0282” 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 282nd weekly Disquiet Junto project — “Berio’s Bach: Make a piece of music based on one composer’s observation regarding another composer” — at:

https://disquiet.com/0282/

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-0282-berios-bach/

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

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The Neural Synthesizer and Orchestral Chimera

I was interviewed by Wired about Google's latest Magenta undertaking

It was a pleasure to be interviewed by Wired‘s Cade Metz for a piece he was writing about AI at Google, specifically part of Google Magenta. Magenta is an attempt on Google’s part to make the tools of machine learning accessible to people who make art and music. Metz was researching the NSynth, a “neural audio synthesis” technology the Magenta folks were debuting this week at Moogfest in Durham, North Carolina (see: moogfest.com). AI is one of Metz’s main beats, and he’s soon to move from Wired to the New York Times, where he’ll continue to report on the subject.

Part of the promise of NSynth is the ability to merge the sonic, timbral qualities of multiple existing instruments in the pursuit of previously unheard sounds. On the NSynth website it’s described as follows:

Learning directly from data, NSynth provides artists with intuitive control over timbre and dynamics and the ability to explore new sounds that would be difficult or impossible to produce with a hand-tuned synthesizer.

Here, for example, is what a flute and an organ combined might sound like:

Metz and I had a good chat about the promises and potentials of the technology. In brief, I think it’s helpful to think of NSynth in the context of what conductors and composers have done for centuries to create an unidentifiable sound by combining instrumentation. Someone from Google does contradict this point directly in Metz’s article — I just think there’s a grey area worth exploring between comparing and contrasting orchestral chimera and algorithmic chimera.

To experience NSynth check out the Sound Maker (at withgoogle.com), an online instrument that lets you play with the instrument-merging tools:

I also think it’s especially exciting that Google is up to this sort of work, because where Google leads others generally follow. Furthermore, whereas it’s hard these days for a company to compete against Gmail or (other than Apple’s iOS) Android or many other of Google’s entrenched accomplishments, music provides a lot more opportunity for a new technology to distinguish itself, especially this early on in the realm of the AI arts.

You can read Metz’s full piece, which was published on May 15, at wired.com.

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Disquiet Junto Project 0281: Pattern Interruption

Create a pattern, loop it, and intersperse alterations.

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, May 22, 2017. This project was posted in the early afternoon, California time, on Thursday, May 18, 2017.

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

Disquiet Junto Project 0281: Pattern Interruption
Create a pattern, loop it, and intersperse alterations.

This week we’re exploring the interruptions of patterns. The project was proposed by Lin Mu. It is inspired by CRISPR, the prominent gene-editing technology. The word CRISPR stands for “clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats.”

Step 1: First, create a brief musical pattern of individual notes that will be looped. The pattern should be a palindrome in form — that is, its center-most point should serve as a mirror’s edge, so that its latter half repeats the first half, albeit in reverse.

Step 2: Create a piece of music in which that initial loop from Step 1 plays several times in a row. It should then continue to loop, but you should add notes in its midst as it proceeds. Some of these sounds might be added to the loop, thus breaking the palindrome form. Other introduced sounds might never repeat.

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 “disquiet0281” (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-0281-pattern-interruption/

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, May 22, 2017. This project was posted in the early afternoon, California time, on Thursday, May 18, 2017.

Length: The length is entirely up to the participant.

Title/Tag: When posting your track, please include “disquiet0281” 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 281st weekly Disquiet Junto project — “Pattern Interruption: Create a pattern, loop it, and intersperse alterations” — at:

https://disquiet.com/0281/

This week’s project was proposed by Lin Mu.

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-0281-pattern-interruption/

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

Image associated with this project is from Wikipedia:

By James atmos – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7821536

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Disquiet Junto Project 0280: 20170514

Celebrate the 70th birthday of a Junto member.

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, May 15, 2017. This project was posted in the early afternoon, California time, on Thursday, May 11, 2017.

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

Disquiet Junto Project 0280: 20170514
Celebrate the 70th birthday of a Junto member.

This week we celebrate the May 14, 2017, birthday of Junto member ferrie = differentieel, of the Netherlands.

Step 1: Junto member ferrie = differentieel, of the Netherlands, turns 70 years of age on May 14, 2017. In correspondence leading up to this project, ferrie shared an observation that the composer Frederic Rzewski had previously shared with him in a letter: “Using pre-existing material for building new things is a very old practice.”

Step 2: In ferrie’s honor, please do something that takes the opposite approach of Rzewski’s letter. In other words, please use new musical things to recreate some old musical thing.

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 “disquiet0280” (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/celebrate-a-junto-members-70th-birthday-disquiet-junto-project-0280/

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, May 15, 2017. This project was posted in the early afternoon, California time, on Thursday, May 11, 2017.

Length: The length is entirely up to the participant.

Title/Tag: When posting your track, please include “disquiet0280” 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 280th weekly Disquiet Junto project — “20170514: Celebrate the 70th birthday of a Junto member” — at:

https://disquiet.com/0280/

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/celebrate-a-junto-members-70th-birthday-disquiet-junto-project-0280/

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

Image associated with this project is of the Netherlands-based musician ferrie = differentieel, in whose honor we’re making music this week. More from ferrie at

https://audio.dailym.net/
https://twitter.com/differentieel/
https://soundcloud.com/differentieel/

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“HVAC Cosplay”

Where the duct ley lines create a confluence of overtones

I’ve come to recognize that the sounds I aspire to make on my modular synthesizer are, often as not, the sounds that I hear in public transportation and HVAC systems. I had several titles planned for this, but in the end it is HVAC cosplay. It is a synthesizer disguising itself as a semi-industrial drone, the drone the product of the infrastructure of some imagined generic place, an office building, a hotel, a school, that works very hard to disguise the presence of its infrastructure. The drone is the evidence of infrastructure that seeps into view — into hearing view, that is, into earshot — when your elevator is stuck between floors, or you find yourself in a subbasement because of poor wayfinding signage in the staircase, or most opportunely at a particular spot in a hall where the duct ley lines create a confluence of overtones. The sound may not even be present in the world; it may be specific to how your ear receives and contorts the sound. You alone may be witness to a particular signal.

More practically, the overtones here are the result of three different oscillators on my modular synthesizer being heard in unison, impacting each other, and being impacted by a handful of low frequency oscillators. Some frequency bands within those main oscillators themselves are being impacted by variations on the low frequency oscillations, and then amid it all one of those three main oscillators occasionally is triggered to move up and down an octave, at times suggesting a tonal center, at others testing the contours of the system’s comfort zone.

More specifically, for those playing along at home, the three oscillators are: an Intellijel Dixie II, a Hikari Sine, and a Pittsburgh Oscillator. The LFOs are all courtesy of a single module, the Xaoc Batumi (I just installed it last night; this is my first patch with it). The filter bank is an ADDAC 601. There’s a Doepfer A-121 and a Circuit Abbey Invy in the mix, too, as well as a 2hp Filt. They keyboard is a QuNexus, doing its thing on the Dixie II. I’ve long fiddled with oscillators to try to engender dense, rich tones, and this is closer to what I’ve been trying for than anything I’ve done until now.

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