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. • 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: score

The Everyday Musicality of Autumn de Wilde’s Emma

And especially of Johnny Flynn

I really dug the recent(ish) Jane Austen adaptation, Emma (2020), with Anya Taylor-Joy in the title role and Johnny Flynn as (I’m about to risk a 170-year-old spoiler) her belatedly betrothed. What I only realized during the end credits is that’s the same Johnny Flynn who did the great theme song for the great TV series The Detectorists (for which he also co-wrote the score).

Emma itself did right by music, too, start to finish. There’s plenty of pop culture out there, from Riverdale to Downton Abbey, where everyday (“amateur,” horrid* word) musicianship is part of how communities gather around each other, with the roles of performer and audience ever in flux. In Emma, this topic is particularly well handled, how we witness the title character, plus Flynn’s George Knightley (in a duo with Jane Fairfax), performing in front of friends, frenemies, and family. Bonus points for how centuries are bridged with covers by Maddy Prior and June Tabor, and by the Watersons.

And yow, how the playfully genteel score by David Schweitzer and Isobel Waller-Bridge fills each moment that the film’s director, Autumn de Wilde, leaves for them. The music choreographs the internal reactions of characters, to always affectionately comic ends. It’s like emotional ballet.

Coincidentally, I’ve been re-reading a lot of Dennis Potter lately, and it’s no surprise Emma’s director came from pop music (via videos and photography). Like Potter, de Wilde gets (and gets at) how singing other people’s music is form of self-expression.

* “amateur” having become a near-synonym for “dilettante,” both words having lost association with their origins (love and delight, respectfully)

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Current Favorites: Score, Drone, Cover

Heavy rotation, lightly annotated

A weekly(ish) answer to the question “What have you been listening to lately?” It’s lightly annotated because I don’t like re-posting material without providing some context. I hope to write more about some of these in the future, but didn’t want to delay sharing them.

▰ The score to a short film, Jim of Earth, composed by Coma Calling, aka Kyle Cramb of Wichita, Kansas. Some richly suggestive atmospheres, full of tension and narrative.

▰ Three tracks by mora-tau, aka Takenori Iwasaki of Utsunomiya, Japan, comprise the album Memorial. The key track is the opening one, “Into Secret,” an 18-minute drone with varying textures.

▰ A synthesizer cover of Aphex Twin’s “Avril 14th” by Perplex On (based in Munich, Germany), with a musicbox-like quality to it:

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Current Favorites: Four Turntables, Eight Needles

Heavy rotation, lightly annotated

A weekly(ish) answer to the question “What have you been listening to lately?” It’s lightly annotated because I don’t like re-posting material without providing some context. I hope to write more about some of these in the future, but didn’t want to delay sharing them.

Maria Chavez reworks recordings of singing bowls on four turntables, each equipped with remarkable “double needles,” meaning we’re hearing two different parts of each record simultaneously, for eight separate lines of audio:

▰ Christopher Hanlon submits deeply lofi, nostalgia-rich, crackly instrumental hip-hop in supreme slow motion with “Old Blue”:

▰ Evgueni Galperine and Sacha Galperine’s superb score for the series Scenes from a Marriage deserves a listen as close as the microphones were placed to the instruments, which by all appearances was quite very close, indeed.

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This Week in Sound: Deepfakes, Subways, NSFW

A lightly annotated clipping service

It’s been a while. Best way to dust off the This Week in Sound apparatus is to kick out a new issue, which I did last night (subscribe at Things have been busy. A lot of writing, a lot of working, a lot of pandemic-era living. As always, tips on topics related to sound are always appreciated. Send them my way, please. They’re in no short supply, but the best examples often originate from sources deep into a seemingly non-sonic topic that ends up having unique sonic components.

There’s a company called Pindrop that was created to pinpoint the presence of deepfakes. They think they’ve sorted out which bits of the recent Anthony Bourdain movie, Roadrunner, were created artificially. The director, Morgan Neville, had said they would be “undetectable,” writes Tom Simonite, when Neville elected to have machines impersonate Bourdain to record things the late author and television personality had written but never spoken. Pindrop (and various online commenters) now think otherwise. As for the filmmaker’s ethics, this section of Simonite’s Wired story is especially solid: “[I]t is still possible to inform listeners about the source of what they’re hearing. At one point in Roadrunner, a caption advises viewers they are hearing ‘VOICE OVER – OUTTAKE.’ It’s not clear why Neville didn’t use a ‘synthetic audio’ caption for his AI-generated clips — or if disclosing them in the film, not just interviews in which he boasted they were undetectable, would have softened the backlash.”

I can’t remember the last time an article was shared with me more often than the recent New York Times online piece, complete with audio selections, about the sounds of subways around the world. It’s filled with choice details, such as how the “synthetic ‘doo-doo-doo'” of the Montreal system has its roots in a sound that was a byproduct of the circuitry. And with nuances regarding the employment of sound: “It seems to a layperson like a door chime is innocuous, but it’s a really critical part of keeping the capacity of the subway up,” reports a New York City Transit conductor. (Article by Sophie Haigney and Denise Lu, design by Gabriel Gianordoli and Umi Syam.)

Without quoting it directly, I will simply say there is a NSFW and highly satisfactory anecdote in Rebecca Mead’s profile of Jesse Armstrong, writer and creator of the HBO series Succession. I recommend reading the whole thing, but you can also just search for the word “slapping” and learn about the role of music in masking the sonic byproduct of certain group activities.

R. Murray Schafer, to whom we owe the modern concept of the “soundscape,” has died at age 88. “In a way, the world is a huge musical composition that’s going on all the time, without a beginning and, presumably, without an ending,” he is quoted by Robert Rowat in this obituary. Schafer died a little under a month after his birthday, July 18, which has served, in his honor, as the date of the annual World Listening Day.

Quiet Parks International ( is identifying the “last quiet places” on our planet, ranging from the rural, such as the remote Zabalo River in Ecuador, to urban ones, such as Hampstead Heath in London. According to Nell Lewis, the organization has identified “260 potential sites around the world.”

Hans Zimmer has written music for numerous movies, and now he’s added a book to his resume, alongside providing sounds for everything from apps to cars. He hasn’t written a book. He’s written music to accompany a book, specifically a limited edition art book on Denis Villeneuve’s forthcoming adaptation of the Frank Herbert novel Dune. Zimmer also scored the film, of course. And don’t fret the “limited” situation. Abbey White reports that it will be available for streaming and download.

Windows 11 is due make users less “jumpy” thanks to a new suite of sound cues produced by sound designer Matthew Bennett. “The new sounds have a much rounder wavelength, making them softer so that they can still alert/notify you, but without being overwhelming,” according to a company spokesperson. Bennett shared some examples, including default beeps and calendar notifications.

The “quiet” of the title locale in journalist Stephen Kurczy’s new book, The Quiet Zone, is not literal. The town is Green Banks, West Virginia, and the “quiet” involves restrictions on “devices emanating electromagnetic emissions,” writes Don Oldenburg. This is all so as to not interfere with the National Radio Astronomy Observatory. And as it turns out, this town is in many ways the opposite of quiet.

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Current Favorites: Raw Material, Black Samurai, Deft Esoterica

Heavy rotation, lightly annotated

A weekly(ish) answer to the question “What have you been listening to lately?” It’s lightly annotated because I don’t like re-posting material without providing some context. I hope to write more about some of these in the future, but didn’t want to delay sharing them.

▰ Raw material is often some of my favorite listening, and so while these short loops (collected as Field Notes 02) by Simon James French are intended as source audio for music-making, in fact the ambient tones, field recordings, and general droning-goodness are fine just unto themselves.

▰ Flying Lotus (Steven Ellison) scored the new Netflix anime series Yasuke, about an African-born samurai, and while the soundtrack album has plenty of cinematic instrumental hip-hop (“Using What You Got” is a particular fave), it also has chill for days (check out “Shoreline Sus” and “Enchanted”).

▰ Claude and Ola Aldous publish the zine Deft Esoterica, and they also make their own deftly esoteric music, on display on vol, nine tracks of rangy experimentalism, with an emphasis on noisy field recordings, fragile piano, and old-school scifi synthesizer.

▰ As I mentioned yesterday, I’ve never actually played Cyberpunk 2077, but I’ve spent an enormous amount of time with YouTube videos of its ambient street noise playing on loop. This video is a good example, though the title is a bit ambiguous, so possibly not all the sound is from the game itself:

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