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: software

Buddha Machine Variations No. 40 (MBP BMV VCV)

A series of focused experiments

Been a while. This is a new entry in the occasional Buddha Machine Variations series. The previous one was about 10 months ago. This was a test run of something I’ve never done before: recording video straight off my laptop (a MacBook Pro), bypassing the microphone in favor of the internal sound. Oddly, such a routing isn’t an immediate option within macOS Monterey, so I had to use a third-party tool, in this case Loopback from Rogue Amoeba. Recorded in QuickTime. Edited in iMovie. Cover image in InDesign. The source audio is one of the tracks from the original Buddha Machine, created by the duo FM3. It’s been looped and processed in VCV Rack (this is the Pro edition, but there’s probably nothing going on in this patch you couldn’t do in the free edition, except a few of the modules may have had a fee associated with them). In any case, this was more a proof of concept, or of several concepts: (1) could the routing work, and (2) would this all happen without the new laptop’s fan turning on. In both cases: yes!

Video originally posted at youtube.com/disquiet. There’s also a video playlist of the Buddha Machine Variations.

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Disquiet.com 25th Anniversary Countdown (3 of 13): Autechre 1997

An archival ambient advent calendar from December 1st – 13th, 2021

“Our live set’s become increasingly complex recently; we’ve been doing stuff that’s been vastly too much information for most people to deal with and I think it’s quite interesting watching how people behave in those situations, under those circumstances.”

—Autechre’s Sean Booth, 1997

It’s day 3 of my archival ambient advent calendar countdown to the 25th anniversary of Disquiet.com, which was founded December 13, 1996. This interview I did with half of Autechre in 1997 is probably the most-read thing on this website (er, blog).

And at a friend’s coaxing, here’s another highlight:

Me: I think that the mathematician Joseph Fourier is a godfather of electronic music.

Booth: Hmm. Yeah, of course. That’s fucking absolutely true; it’s fucking absolutely — especially in terms of digital technology. I’ve always thought of digital manipulation — because of the way that basically working in the digital domain you’re using things that are approximating things.

Read the full piece: “More Songs About Buildings.”

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Tweeting Audio

And the complications and temperament of sound in this new (or new-ish?) service

So, it’s unclear to me how long this has been around, but you can tweet sounds. Not merely sounds that are links from other sources, but from within Twitter itself. I only got my new phone a few months ago, and all of a sudden today the iOS Twitter app had a little colorful waveform symbol next to the photo, GIF, poll, etc. options, and there was a little announcement saying it was new and I should try it out. So, I did.

My initial tweet, which isn’t embedding easily here, hence the link, contains 17 seconds of living room room tone (“living room tone”?). I could hear fog horns and passing cars from where I was seated, on the couch, when I recorded it, but I’m not sure how much is evident in the audio recording. Either way, this is nifty. Here’s what the tweet looks like:

It’s an interesting development. For many years, I’ve tweeted (in words) what I hear, and now I can just post sounds themselves. For example, at the start of 2019, I tweeted: “Morning trio for bathroom fan, passing commuter buses, and low-level electric hum.” And a few months later: “Morning sounds: plane overhead, typing, distant bus, low-level electric hum.”

Of course, it’s not that simple: Our phones “hear” differently from how we do. And describing is itself a form of recording, of inscribing. (I wrote an essay on this topic back in June 2017, “Audio or It Didn’t Happen,” for New Music Box: nmbx.newmusicusa.org.)

It’s funny that this thing seems to be called “Twitter Voice,” since the human voice is to non-verbal sound what sight is to sound in general: an overbearing presence. I’m sure this will be used for more than voice. Oddly, there was a Twitter blog post, which I vaguely remember, back in 2020 about the service, but I think today is the first I saw (well, heard) it in action.

A few more initial thoughts:

  • The Twitter embed isn’t functioning well on my website, but that may be an issue on my backend. Still, the fact that it isn’t simple to share the audio beyond Twitter gets at the ease and versatility of text and image online versus the complications and temperament of sound.
  • It was just two weeks or so ago that someone on Twitter said they wanted to know why they couldn’t just drag an MP3 to Twitter the way they can an image. You still can’t, but you can record audio on the spot (well, on your phone) and post it.
  • I wonder how the copyright bots will come into play.
  • From what I can tell, this isn’t on Android yet. I’m also not seeing it in the macOS client, or in the web browser.
  • Is there an official manner by which one can extract one’s audio from a tweet one has uploaded?
  • Certainly, the “Mute this conversation” option within Twitter means something unintentional in a Twitter suddenly filled with sonic tweets. I wonder if the word “mute” will be revisited if sound takes off.
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    Moving Day

    To a new laptop

    No post tonight … well, except this post. Spent the afternoon and evening getting a new laptop set up. The old one had gotten to the point where it did very little without its fan running at full blast, and it took forever to turn on whenever the screen was brought back from sleep. Still have a bit further to go with the new one, but it’s working well.

    I’m not so picky about my settings that I need to transfer them over, but doing it manually does take a bit of time. The fact is, I’m fairly OS-agnostic at this point. The cloud is my computer, and a laptop is just a means to access that data and processing power. Still, one wants that laptop to have a good screen, and a fast hard drive, and a powerful CPU, albeit not so powerful that it sets the fan running.

    This new one seems pretty solid. The laptop is so deep, there is a sense of cavernousness to the keyboard, like the space below the keys is evident, not just the depth of them, but the spaciousness further below. That’s unlike my more recent laptops, where I was essentially tapping on the surface of something just above the table top, with a negligible air gap. Typing on those super thin laptops wasn’t particularly different from doing so on an iPad.

    There’s much to adjust to with the new laptop, but the majority of the software has now been installed. There are a few lingering issues, like an account calendar that won’t sync and a social network denying access due to some missing backup codes, but it’ll get sorted soon enough.

    Getting a new laptop is sort of like moving into a rental apartment. You know you’ll only be here for about five years (I’m pretty rough on laptops, and they often last little more than three), but while you’re here, you want to make it your own. Swap out the wallpaper, add your fingerprint to the lock, change the default tools for more specialized ones.

    And one by one, turn off those annoying alert sounds. Every time you mute one, another makes itself known. Months will pass at some point, and only then will you look back and realize, “Oh, it’s been a while since an alert went off. I must have gotten them all.”

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    A Glitch in the Canyon

    Taking cues from the Algorithm

    It was only there for a moment, but scrubbing back through YouTube is so simple as to be an inherent part of the viewing process. For a moment, the album cover is in view, and there it is. In The Matrix, the appearance of a black cat, the experience of deja vu, is evidence of being in a simulation; the glitch in the matrix is a short circuit, flubbed data, a sign of the system failing to maintain perfect verisimilitude to real life.

    Back up a week. A walk in the park. My interlocutor tells me that Joni Mitchell’s album Ladies of the Canyon has only one good song on it, “The Circle Game.” Not looking for an argument, I just politely note that the album has at least four other excellent songs (“Morning Morgantown,” “Big Yellow Taxi,” “For Free,” and, of course, “Woodstock”), and arguably more. Two days later, I bring up the conversation opener with someone else, who says the same. I bring up the other songs, and my second interlocutor is astonished, not having remembered many of them were even on the album. I search and put my cellphone up the screen as evidence: one screen against another screen, to be displayed across town on a third screen. This is not an argument. It is not a debate one wins. One simply opens the window, points to the clear sky, and everyone agrees the sky is clear, no matter what they had thought previously.

    And then, today, YouTube recommends I watch a short video about a small apartment in Paris, around 350 square feet. I live in a small home, but by no means that small, and I occasionally watch small home videos to marvel at and even take tips from the organization and design. At 7:10 in the video’s nearly over timeline, I pause and scrub back. Something looks familiar as one of the residents is giving a tour, at that moment of how the home stereo system is secreted behind plain panels. A home this small must have only the essentials. What is true of furniture is true, as well, of books, and of record albums. You see where this is going. And yes, there, briefly in view, is the sliver of an image: the cover of Ladies of the Canyon.

    I’ve been rewatching the TV series Person of Interest lately, and doing some writing about artificial intelligence, so these things are on my mind, key among those things: the way a nascent intelligence might make its presence known. I thought I was watching a “small home” video because I’d watched a few in the past. I came to wonder if it had been recommended because of some searches I’d done of a record album nearly a week ago, something then viewable for a second or two, and even then just as a tiny image beneath someone’s arm. I came to wonder if by pausing the video to confirm, I had now further encouraged the Algorithm to send future messages through barely visible snips of relevant cultural artifacts.

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