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

tag: iphone

Non-Experimental Experimental Music (MP3)

A beat that explores the iPad app DM-1

Some of the most enjoyable work on SoundCloud is of the experimental variety, but that’s not necessarily “experimental” as in “noises that push the limits of a listener’s comprehension of music.” It’s often simply experimental in the sense of an experiment on the part of the musician: trying something new, whether that be a new piece of music, a new instrument, or a new approach, or perhaps all at the same tine. Take “Ex the Extrax” by freesoulsound, aka Gerren Grant. The piece is a straightforward but thoroughly engaging bit of bippy downtempo rhythmic play. Part of its pleasure is its lack of intended utility — it isn’t the backing track to a vocal cut; it’s simply a rhythm beating like a sonar, exploring the user-interface caverns of a new piece of software.

Track originally posted for free download at soundcloud.com/freesoulsound. More on the DM-1 at fingerlab.net.

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Disquiet Junto Project 0020: App Beat

The Assignment: Make a piece of music with the NodeBeat app and one other instrument.

Each Thursday evening at the Disquiet Junto group on Soundcloud.com 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 to the Junto is open: just join and participate.

This project marked the 20th week in a row of the Disquiet Junto. I had wanted for some time to employ an app in the projects, since the mobile app is, in many ways, the definition of creative restraint: each app has its own self-contained set of rules and tools, and they don’t inherently play well with each other all that often. The creators of NodeBeat were generous to provide free download codes for iOS users, and it is also available for Android, Blackberry and, in a more limited rendition, Flash. More on the app at nodebeat.com.

The assignment was made late in the day on Thursday, May 17, with 11:59pm on the following Monday, May 21, as the deadline. View a search return for all the entries: disquiet0020-nodebeat. As of this writing, there are 46 tracks associated with the tag.

These are the instructions that went to the participants:

Deadline: Monday, May 21, at 11:59pm wherever you are.

Each Disquiet Junto project explores the role that restraints can play as a springboard to creativity and productivity. This specific project explores the inherent creative limits of a mobile app. All participants will employ the same app to complete the project.

Everyone working on this project will use two instruments. One of those instruments will be NodeBeat, an app available for iOS (iPhone, Touch, iPad), for Android, for Blackberry, and as a cross-platform (Flash) implementation. The other will be an instrument of the participant’s choice; this second instrument should fall into the broadly defined category of “traditional” — i.e., a keyboard, a guitar, woodwind, percussion, etc. More on NodeBeat at nodebeat.com.

(Please note: the NodeBeat app is not free, but it is inexpensive, between 99 cents and four dollars, depending on which platform you use. Also, there is a free, though more limited, version for desktop/laptop use. And I also have 25 free codes for the iPhone/Touch and 25 for the iPad, available on a semi-first-come basis, weighted a bit for folks who have already participated in a Junto project. Shoot me an email at [email protected] if you’d like one.)

The project employs three steps:

Step 1: Create a piece of music to your liking in NodeBeat.

Step 2: Record a segment of that music no shorter than 30 seconds and no longer than four minutes.

Step 3: Use that segment as the basis for a track employing one additional instrument.

Additional techniques are certainly allowed, including editing/transformation of the NodeBeat audio and of the second instrument. However, the NodeBeat audio and the second instrument should retain some semblance of recognizability.

Length: Please keep the length of your piece to between two and four minutes.

Information: Please when posting your track on SoundCloud include a description of your process in planning, composing, and recording it.

Title/Tag: When adding your track to the Disquiet Junto group on Soundcloud.com, please include the term “disquiet0020-nodebeat”in the title of your track, and as a tag for your track.

Download: As always, you don’t have to set your track for download, but it would be preferable.

Linking: When you post your track, please include this information:

This track employs the app NodeBeat, created by Seth Sandler, Justin Windle, and Laurence Muller. More information on NodeBeat at nodebeat.com.

More details on the Disquiet Junto at:

http://soundcloud.com/groups/disquiet-junto/info

The project also included the instructions translated into Turkish and Spanish respectively by M. Emre Meydan and Norma Listman:

Instructions in Turkish:

Disquiet Junto Projesi 0020: App Beat

Talimatlar:

Son Teslim Tarihi: 21 Mayıs pazartesi, 23:59 (bulundugunuz ulkenin saatine gore)

Her Disquiet Junto projesi, kisitlamalarin yaraticilik ve uretkenlik uzerindeki tetikleyici etkilerini kesfetmeye yoneliktir. Bu seferki proje, bir mobil uygulamanin yaratici limitlerini arastiriyor. Tum katilimcilar ayni uygulamayi kullanacaklar.

Bu proje uzerinde calisan herkes iki enstruman kullanacak. Bunlardan ilki NodeBeat adinda bir uygulama – iOS (iPhone, Touch, iPad), Android, Blackberry, ve platformlar-arasi bir Flash uygulamasi versiyonlari mevcut. Diger enstruman ise katilimcinin sectigi bir enstruman olacak, bu ikinci enstrumanin “geleneksel” diyebilecegimiz bir kategoriden olmasi gerekiyor: klavye, gitar, uflemeli calgi, perkusyon vs gibi. Nodebeat hakkinda daha fazla bilgi icin nodebeat.com.

(Nodebeat uygulamasi ucretsiz degil ama ucuz, hangi platformu kullandiginiza bagli olarak fiyati 99cent ile 4 dolar arasinda degisiyor. Ayrica masaustu/laptop bilgisayarlar icin ucretsiz ama daha kisitli bir versiyonu da mevcut. Elimde 25 adet iPhone/Touch icin, 25 adet de iPad icin ucretsiz kod var, bana ilk ulasanlara bu kodlari dagitacagim, onceki Junto projelerine katilmis olanlara oncelik saglanacak. Eger ilgileniyorsaniz bana mail atin: [email protected] )

Bu proje uc asamadan olusuyor:

  1. Adim: NodeBeat uygulamasinda istediginiz gibi bir muzik yaratin.

  2. Adim: Bu muzikten en az 30 saniye, en fazla 4 dakikalik bir bolum kaydedin.

  3. Adim: Yaptiginiz bu kaydin uzerine sectiginiz ikinci enstrumani ekleyin.

Elbette ek teknikler kullanabilirsiniz, bunlara NodeBeat’in ya da ikinci enstrumanin sesini degistirmek/donusturmek de dahil. Fakat NodeBeat ve ikinci enstrumanin sesi taninabilir halde kalmali.

Uzunluk: Lutfen yaptiginiz parcanin uzunlugunu 2-4 dakika arasinda tutun.

Bilgi: Lutfen yaptiginiz parcayi paylasirken, bu parcanin planlama, besteleme ve kayit sureci ile ilgili bilgi de verin.

Isim / Tag: Yaptiginiz parcayi Soundcloud.com’daki Disquiet Junto grubuna eklerken, lutfen “disquiet0020-nodebeat” kelimesini hem parcanin isminde, hem de tag olarak kullanin.

Download: Her zamanki gibi; parcanizin indirilebilir olmasi gerekmiyor, ama oyle olmasi tercih edilir.

Linkler: Yaptiginiz parcayi paylasirken, lutfen su bilgiyi ekleyin:

This track employs the app NodeBeat, created by Seth Sandler, Justin Windle, and Laurence Muller. More information on NodeBeat at nodebeat.com.

More details on the Disquiet Junto at:

http://soundcloud.com/groups/disquiet-junto/info

Instructions in Spanish:
Disquiet Junto Proyecto 0020: Aplicación Ritmo

Instrucciones:

Fecha limite: Lunes 21 de Mayo a las 11:59pm del lugar donde te encuentres.

Los proyectos de Disquiet Junto exploran el rol de las restrixiones y como estas son un trampolin hacia la creatividad y la productividad. Este proyecto en particular explora lis limites creativos y los que desemboca una aplicación para telefonos celulares. Todos los participantes deberan usar la misma aplicación.

Todos deberan usar dos instrumentos. Uno de los instrumentos es NodeBeat, una aplicación disponible para iOS (Iphone, Touch o iPad), Andreoides o Blackberrys y para implementar como una plataforma alternativa (Flash). El otro instrumento sera de tu eleccion y debera “caer”dentro de la categiria de tradicional, por ejemplo ”“guitarra, percucion, piano, etc.

Para mas informacion acerca de NodeBeat ve a nodebeat.com.

Favor de tomar en cuenata que NodeBeat no es gratis, sinembago es muy barato de 99 centavos a 4 dolares, dependiendo de la plataforma que uses. Tambien hay una, pero mal limitada que se gratis para computadoras o laptops. Tambien tengo disponibles 25 codigos gratuitos para iPhone/Touch y 25 mas para iPad, e participado en Disquiet Junto antes y se los dare a los primeros en contactarme ([email protected]).

Pasos:

1) Crear una pieza musical usando NodeBeat. 2) Graba un segmento de esa pieza de un minimo de 30 segundos y un maximo de 4 minutos. 3) Usa ese segmento como la base para una nueva pieza, pero ahora agregando un instrumento.

Puedes usar tecnicas adicionales como edicion/transformacion del audio en NodeBeat, asi como de el segundo instrumento. Lo unico que te pedimos es que ambas alteraciones deberan retener semejanza a la pieza original.

Duración: Favor de mantener tu pieza de dos a cuatro minutos.

Información: Incluir una descripcion de tu proceso de planeacion, composicion, y grabacion.

Titulo: Porfavor incluye el termino “disquiet0020-nodebeat”en el titulo de tu track cuando lo subas al grupo Disquiet Junto en Soundcloud.com, tambien usalo como tu tag cuando lo quieras busacar.

Descarga: Es preferible que tu mezcla se pueda descargar, pero no es necesario ( es tu decision).

Enlaces: Cuando subas tu track, por favor incluye la siguiente información:

Esta grabacion usa la aplicación NodeBeat, created by Seth Sandler, Justin Windle y Laurence Muller. Para mas informacion ve a nodebeat.com

Mas informacion en Disquiet Junto:

http://soundcloud.com/groups/disquiet-junto/info

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Instagr/am/bient: 25 Sonic Postcards

25 ambient musicians respond to one another’s evocative Instagram photos.

25 ambient musicians created original sonic postcards in response to one another’s evocative Instagram photos.

An Introduction to Instagr/am/bient:

Photos shared with the popular software Instagram are usually square in format, not unlike the cover to a record album. The format leads inevitably to a question: if a given image were the cover to a record album, what would the album’s music sound like?

Instagr/am/bient is a response to that question. The project involves 25 musicians with ambient inclinations. Each of the musicians contributed an Instagram photo, and in turn each of the musicians recorded an original track in response to one of the photos contributed by another of the project’s participants. The tracks are sonic postcards. They are pieces of music whose relative brevity—all are between one and three minutes in length—is designed to correlate with the economical, ephemeral nature of an Instagram photo.

The result of the 25 musicians’ collective efforts is an investigation into the intersection of technology, aesthetics, and artistic process. What parallels exist, for example, between the visual filters that Instagram provides users to transform their photos and the sound-processing tools employed by electronic musicians?

In many cases here, the musicians employ sonic field recordings as source material for their music. In the case of both their photos and their compositions (photography in one case, phonography in the other), documents are altered to emphasize their atmospheric qualities: to eke a modest art out of the everyday.

Thumbnails of the 25 Images:

The full collection is also streaming at soundcloud.com/disquiet.

The 25 MP3s are downloadable for free individually and as a Zip file at archive.org.

Download a 58-page PDF with full-page reproductions of the images and additional information on all the participating musicians: PDF.

A Disquiet.com Project Commissioned by Marc Weidenbaum

Design/Boondesign.com Cover Photo/Brian Scott

This project in no way intends to imply any formal association with Instagram.

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Fragments from the iMaschine (MP3)

Small software, small experiments, small files. Mike Rotondo recently tweeted a new recording, and it turned out to be 35 seconds of beat bliss. Arguably shorter than that, given its loop-based construction — and arguably longer, given its inherent temptation to be set on loop for an extended period of time.

Titled “Flip Throw In,” it has the feel of a hip-hop production waiting for vocalists, but one secretly more than happy to keep the pace all by itself. There’s a robot heartbeat of a pulse, and what appears to be a sample of piano. Not only does the looseness of the analog piano recording align at best roughly, and therefore rewardingly, with the tensile routine of the tiny beat — so, too, does the lush low fidelity of the recording, a kind of muslin filter, pair against the beat’s pixel precision. The result is promising: a little of J Dilla’s underkey metrics, a little of Kanye West’s alchemical ability to turn sloppy into louche, a little of DJ Premier’s fetish for imperfect ivories. “Flip Throw In” was recorded in an inexpensive iOS app called iMaschine that its developer describes as a “beat sketchpad,” pictured up top. From little things, lovely little things grow.

Track originally posted at Rotondo’s soundcloud.com/treehouses account. More on iMaschine at native-instruments.com.

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Cache a Falling Star (iOS App)

Fans of the great Thicket iOS app who are awaiting an update (one is in the works) can bide their time with a lovely free app produced in part by Thicket’s developers, Joshue Ott and Morgan Packard. Titled Falling Stars, it’s a marketing piece created on behalf of a gum (Trident Vitality, a Kraft subsidiary), though the branding is limited to some relatively low-key logo appearances. It’s a work of playful, generative music-making, with an emphasis on appealing to a broad audience. Generative music is music that results from a system, a set of rules, rather than from a fixed score. It was released on June 27.

Here’s how it works: The user draws vines on the screen, which are hit by falling stars, thus triggering sounds. Each vine signifies a different sound, most “musical,” which is to say tonal and melodic, though there are also simulated hand claps. The user can trigger the five stars by tapping on them, or can wait for them to fall on their own. The stars bounce when they hit vines, which means that the user can set up Rube Goldberg compositions, sending the stars bouncing from one vine to another, or capturing them in literal loops (a complete circle of vine) that will put the star into a lengthy repetitive cycle. The stars also make different sounds when they hit the bottom of the screen, depending on where they land.

There are seven types of vines, selectable from a menu along the bottom of the screen (it disappears with a swipe). A couple of these vines don’t become available until the user shares a composition, via Facebook, Twitter, or email. (It isn’t particularly invasive, as I was able to just email myself a composition to unlock the remaining sounds.) This being a marketing tool, the emphasis on networked participation isn’t surprising, and the app thankfully lets users share their compositions. And should the visualization of small round dots triggering sounds along long lines bring to mind an abstract take on the traditional format of a piece of sheet music, that probably isn’t an accident.

Speaking of non-accidents, rest assured that the sounds that result from Falling Stars aren’t purely random. Quite the contrary, they are musical and enjoyable, owing to careful balance of the vine-related tones, and to some sort of underlying metronomic pulse that keeps everything relatively in sync.

iOS 4.2 & Vine: The main screen of Falling Stars app

This demo video was posted at the youtube.com account of Interval Studios, home to Thicket’s Ott and Packard. The brief piece is narrated by Ott:

There is additional footage posted by Trident.

Given the advertising-world origin of the app, Falling Stars is worth investigating for what it says about the commercial opportunities for generative music. As of this writing, of the 714 reviews of Falling Stars, almost 90%, 634 in total, give it five stars, the highest rating possible. Of the remaining 73 ratings, more than half are four stars, leaving just 12 three-star, nine two-star, and 16 one-star. The most negative reviews include a few critiques of the app, generally finding it useless, but a lot of them seem to be technical in nature (reporting audio defects that have not been evident on my test units: an iPad 2 and a current, aka fourth, generation iPod Touch). Those “useless” comments are common for generative sound apps, given that they often lack both a self-evident melody and the sort of goal or ending that is the hallmark of a proper game. (The Falling Stars app’s promotional text describes it as an “audio/visual digital toy.”)

The iPhone app based on the film Inception serves as the primary example of the power of a commercial brand to not only draw attention to something as adventurous as generative sound, but to lend it a useful context. The Inception app has 5811 ratings, over 77 percent of which are either four or five stars. By contrast, the various apps associated with RJDJ, the app from which Inception was derived, are more evenly divided between positive and negative responses.

This isn’t to say, merely, that a mass-market commercial property is necessary to garner public interest in generative sound — mass-market commercial properties can bring attention to any number of seemingly esoteric subjects. It’s simply to say that if a popular subject can indeed lend legitimacy to avant-garde ventures, then perhaps those ventures aren’t as esoteric as some might imagine. The Inception app provides the additional evidence that a good story, a rich narrative, can be a grounding force. Inception accomplishes this not only by tying itself to the popular film, but by having built a sense of discovery into the various stages, or levels, of the app. Falling Stars doesn’t have a story, per se, but its natural-world setting brings it out of the realm of pure graphic-score abstraction (the cold grids on which so many generative sound apps are founded), and into something that a broader range of people can relate to. The natural environment is a common source of inspiration in experimental music, and Falling Stars may even help some intrigued users track back to such figures as Stephen Vitiello (whose scores have drawn from images of nature), R. Murray Schafer (who popularized the concept of the soundscape), and Cheryl Leonard (who uses found objects, like bones and rocks, as instruments).

Water Music: Falling Stars’ mix of sheet-music elements and the natural environment echoes avant-garde graphic scores, such as sound artist Stephen Vitiello’s “Reed Music,” shown here, which superimposes sheet music onto a photo of reeds in a pond.

Closer at hand, Thicket’s Ott and Packard have acknowledged (in the text accompanying the video up above that features Ott) the influence of the app Soundrop on Falling Stars. Here’s a demo of Soundrop:

Trident is putting money behind the Vitality app’s promotion. There was a paid gawker.com post, and according to noisenewyork.com, a firm that was also involved in the app’s development, Falling Stars saw “over 100,000 downloads” during its first week of launch (other stats as of late June: “Trident Vitality app is #8 in the new and noteworthy section of the iPad, #15 in free entertainment apps, #85 overall in free apps”).

Get the Falling Stars by Trident Vitality Gum app (that is indeed its full name) at itunes.apple.com. Additional information at the gum’s website, tridentvitalitygum.com/fallingstars.

(Image of Vitiello’s composition from cnylink.com.)

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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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  • Upcoming
    December 13, 2021: This day marks the 25th anniversary of the founding of Disquiet.com.
    December 28, 2021: This day marks the 10th anniversary of the Instagr/am/bient compilation.
    January 6, 2021: This day marks the 10th anniversary of the start of the Disquiet Junto music community.

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    July 28, 2021: This day marked the 500th consecutive weekly project in 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.)

  • Ongoing
    The Disquiet Junto series of weekly communal music projects explore constraints as a springboard for creativity and productivity. There is a new project each Thursday afternoon (California time), and it is due the following Monday at 11:59pm: disquiet.com/junto.

  • 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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  • Background
    Since January 2012, the Disquiet Junto has been an ongoing weekly collaborative music-making community that employs creative constraints as a springboard for creativity. Subscribe to the announcement list (each Thursday), listen to tracks by participants from around the world, read the FAQ, and join in.

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  • 0511 / Freeze Tag / The Assignment: Consider freezing (and thawing) as a metaphor for music production.
    0510 / Cold Turkey / The Assignment: Record one last track with a piece of music equipment before passing it on.
    0509 / The Long Detail / The Assignment: Create a piece of music with moments from a preexisting track.
    0508 / Germane Shepard / The Assignment: Use the Shepard tone to create a piece of music.
    0507 / In DD's Key of C / The Assignment: Make music with 10 acoustic instrument samples all in a shared key.

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