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 0290: Text-to-Beat

Use computer-generated speech as the rhythmic foundation for a track.

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’s deadline is 11:59pm wherever you are on Monday, July 24, 2017. This project was posted in the morning, California time, on Thursday, July 20, 2017.

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

Disquiet Junto Project 0290: Text-to-Beat
Use computer-generated speech as the rhythmic foundation for a track.

Step 1: This week we’re going to build a track around text-to-speech, the results of a computer-generated voice speaking. In past text-to-speech we’ve used pre-existing text as the source. In this case we’re going to build the text to order. Keep this in mind.

Step 2: Find a good text-to-speech system that you think you can work with musically. In MacOS, for example, there’s a built-in system shortcut: Just select the text you want to hear, highlight it (in a browser, or a text editor, wherever) and then hit the ESC button while holding down the OPT button. There are also other tools, including browser-based options, like the one here:

https://text-to-speech-demo.mybluemix.net/

Step 3: Experiment with different combinations of words to produce a rhythm you want to work with.

Step 4: Record the rhythm you developed in Step 3.

Step 5: Produce a track using the rhythm in Step 4 as the foundation. (Level Up: Use more than one text-to-speech pattern to create cross-patterns, phasing, among other polyrhythmic events and effects.)

Five More Important Steps When Your Track Is Done:

Step 1: If your hosting platform allows for tags, be sure to include the project tag “disquiet0290” (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:

https://llllllll.co/t/disquiet-junto-project-0290-text-to-beat/

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, July 24, 2017. This project was posted in the morning, California time, on Thursday, July 20, 2017.

Length: The length is entirely up to the participant, though two or three minutes is suggested.

Title/Tag: When posting your track, please include “disquiet0290” 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). Keep an eye on the license of the audio you source, as that may determine the license you end up using.

Linking: When posting the track online, please be sure to include this information, along with details of your source audio, including links to it:

More on this 290th weekly Disquiet Junto project — Text-to-Beat: Use computer-generated speech as the rhythmic foundation for a track. — at:

https://disquiet.com/0290/

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:

https://llllllll.co/t/disquiet-junto-project-0290-text-to-beat/

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 Flickr member Jordan, used thanks to a (note: No Derivatives) Creative Commons license:

flic.kr/p/6vQoMS

creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/

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An Installation for Oliveros

This document of a sound installation created in memory of the late Pauline Oliveros delivers the opposite of closure. As it proceeds, the lulling ambience is overtaken by the harsh slashes of what might be a violin, or a knife against rough leather for that matter. In retrospect — that is, upon subsequent listens — those string-like noises toward the end help reveal the source of the held tones at the track’s opening, the higher-pitch notes amid the general fog-horn drones. The violin is a constant presence, as it turns out, even though some time must pass before its presence becomes clear. The installation was created by the Vienna-born Mia Zabelka at the behest of the Austrian Cultural Forum New York (acfny.org). Pauline Oliveros, a maverick composer and sound theorist, was a practitioner of Deep Listening. So listen deep, put yourself inside Zabelka’s installation, and observe as her violin gains substance.

Track originally posted at soundcloud.com/miazabelkamusic. More from Zabelka at miazabelka.com and twitter.com/miazabelka.

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Lush and Sharp

When puffy clouds cast menacing shadows

This is a lush composition, rendered with a sharp blade. “Declensions” by Dave Phillips is largely a confluence of cloud-like apparitions, but each of those overlapping, spacious presences is outlined in serrated detail. These are clouds so bright that they blind. Played at foreground-level volume, it reveals piercing peaks. The whole thing hovers over a dense bass drone, and it features a little pixelated wisp of a filigree that entices the ear even as those clouds cast menacing shadows.

Track originally posted at soundcloud.com/davephillips69. Phillips is based in Findlay, Ohio.

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Disquiet Junto Project 0289: Ancient Artifacts

Imagine a forgotten instrument and make music with 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, July 17, 2017. This project was posted in the morning, California time, on Thursday, July 13, 2017.

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

Disquiet Junto Project 0289: Ancient Artifacts
Imagine a forgotten instrument and make music with it.

Step 1: Imagine an instrument that has been lost in the sands of time.

Step 2: Imagine what that instrument sounded like.

Step 3: Record a piece of music employing that instrument. (Be sure to describe your instrument’s history in an accompanying note.)

Five More Important Steps When Your Track Is Done:

Step 1: If your hosting platform allows for tags, be sure to include the project tag “disquiet0289” (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:

https://llllllll.co/t/disquiet-junto-project-0289-ancient-artifacts/

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, July 17, 2017. This project was posted in the morning, California time, on Thursday, July 13, 2017.

Length: The length is entirely up to the participant, though roughly three minutes is suggested.

Title/Tag: When posting your track, please include “disquiet0288” 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). Keep an eye on the license of the audio you source, as that may determine the license you end up using.

Linking: When posting the track online, please be sure to include this information, along with details of your source audio, including links to it:

More on this 289th weekly Disquiet Junto project — Ancient Artifacts: Imagine a forgotten instrument and make music with it. — at:

https://disquiet.com/0289/

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:

https://llllllll.co/t/disquiet-junto-project-0289-ancient-artifacts/

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 Flickr member Zolakoma, used thanks to a Creative Commons license:

flic.kr/p/5gqCTN

creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

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When Tats Met RDJ

A Korg leader and Aphex Twin talk synths, and share some new ambient recordings

A conversation appeared online this week between an esteemed Japanese engineer of musical equipment and a beloved British musician who exploits that equipment to its unanticipated ends. The engineer is Tatsuya “Tats” Takahashi, who recently stepped down from a senior role at Korg, the Japanese instrument manufacturer. The musician is Aphex Twin, born Richard D. James, who returned to active public duty in 2014 after a long quiet period. The discussion might have been between one person fading out and another person enjoying a highly mediagenic resurgence. But career matters play virtually no role in the lengthy discussion. Instead it is two men well into life geeking out in public. It reads more like something we’re eavesdropping on that it does like something initially intended for public consumption. They dive deep, quickly, into matters that are certainly esoteric to the general public: microtuning agency, hardware economics, aftermarket software, 440 Hz politics, and polyhedra synaesthesia, just to name a few of the subjects.

The full piece, published warp.net, the website of Aphex Twin’s record label, is very much worth a read. One major topic in the article is the Monologue, a monophonic synthesizer recently introduced by Korg. At the time of its release, about a year ago, news broke that Aphex Twin had consulted on its development. In this new conversation, Takahashi and James talk a lot about the microtuning that the latter inspired the former to add as a feature. Says Takahashi at one point:

“Well, my initial impression was that microtuning is a really niche thing that wouldn’t be needed for a mass market synth, especially a monophonic one, but if you try shifting the tuning while running a sequence, you can hear that it gives it another dimension even if it’s subtle. I’m not super-sensitive to pitch or anything, but you can still hear it change. To me, it feels like casting light on a rough surface and seeing different patterns as you move the light.”

Replies James:

Yep, on a monophonic instrument, what you just described will be more pronounced if you use a delay with plenty of feedback or reverb, so you can hear the differently tuned notes overlap each other.

As if the interview wasn’t enough of a treat, Korg uploaded to its SoundCloud account six tracks that Aphex Twin made with its equipment. Five of the tracks are deeply ambient, some of them quite reminiscent of the great Selected Ambient Works Volume 2 album, which Aphex Twin mentions briefly at one point in the discussion, again in reference to microtuning:

I was always interested in sound and how it affected me, especially the tuning. It wasn’t until my Selected Ambient Works Vol. II album that I actually made my own full custom tunings, although there were a few scattered things before that.

The sixth of the new tracks is something of a banger, so I excluded it when adding the five others, which are suitable for background listening, to my longstanding playlist, Selected Ambient Works 3 (beta). The list initially was comprised of a dozen or so tracks Aphex Twin uploaded to SoundCloud when he renewed his public activities back in 2014. Most of those tracks have since gone offline, but I add to the playlist occasionally, such as now, when new ambient Aphex Twin audio surfaces.

Read the full article at warp.net. Listen to Selected Ambient Works 3 (beta) at my SoundCloud account. And, of course, consider reading my 33 1/3 book on Selected Ambient Works Volume 2 (amazon.com, bloomsbury.com, pitchfork.com).

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