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.

tag: software

Dead Radio

Lost signals, social media, and finding wave lengths

I started reading Nadine Gordimer’s novel July’s People this week simply because I’d never read her, and many friends had recommended her. In terms of the stack of books sitting here waiting to be read, reading about end of apartheid seemed like a useful filter on the world. To read meant to look away from work (which was easy, as I was on vacation), but also to look away from media, especially social media. Gordimer’s writing demands attention. She’s like if John le Carré wrote about interpersonal relations — and if he did so at a tenth the speed and several times the level of detail. Both are writers of, simultaneously, micro and macro politics, of the personal and the global. Both explore nuance and codes within communication. But she does so across impenetrable emotional voids and with zero interest in titillation.

In turning away from Twitter, I entered the deep emotional grasses of her book, and found amid the narrative strains two parents. They’re lost in many ways, foremost without a working radio. They fight over the device, searching for stations, checking “wave lengths.” More to the point, the radio works, but the stations don’t. There are no signals to be received. This is both fact and metaphor. All along, during my reading, my social media is out of control. I take breaks from it to read about the dead radio. Then I take breaks from the dead radio of Gordimer’s book to take in the fire hose of our current moment. I alternate. I think about taking a social media break, which I’ve done on occasion, but this seems like a time to be aware, to be aware of being aware. I’m intrigued by mediated awareness, I suppose.

The most quoted tweet I had was years ago, in the Arab Spring. At the time, Twitter was more about consumer goods and personal expression. I’d mentioned how “I used to look at Twitter to see what tech gadget has been released, and now it’s to see what country is on fire.” Or something along those lines. Anyhow, it’s pretty clear which country is on fire now. I might turn off Twitter, but of course when I choose to turn it, or the radio, on both would function. If the dead radio in July’s People suggests one form of broken interpersonal communication, what is the hyperactive Twitter a metaphor for? More to the point, the radio in July’s People seems dead because there are no signals. Social media seems to work because there are signals. The main thing I’ve come to appreciate is that something can function and still be broken.

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Disquiet Junto Project 0293: Emerge/Immerse

Make music for Paige Dansinger's Palmyra 3D/VR images, paying tribute to the late Bassel Khartabil.

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, August 14, 2017. This project was posted in early afternoon, California time, on Thursday, August 10, 2017.

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

Disquiet Junto Project 0293: Emerge/Immerse
Make music for Paige Dansinger’s Palmyra 3D/VR images, paying tribute to the late Bassel Khartabil.

Step 1: This is the first of two consecutive projects we’re undertaking, following the news of Bassel Khartabil’s death. (If you’re new to the Junto, Bassel was an open-source coder who did a lot of work in CGI before being imprisoned in Syria. Word of his execution just recently became public.) Paige Dansinger is making VR drawings in Tilt Brush inspired by Bassel’s Palmyra CGI work, drawing from her own interest in making a better world. For this project we’re going to make sound, in Bassel’s honor, to accompany her 3D work. View Paige’s pieces at:

http://www.newpalmyra.org/projects/junto-emerge-immerse/

Step 2: Think about the sort of sound that might accompany, contribute to, or otherwise be a component part of a VR experience. Now, record a short piece of music, up to two minutes, that is about something emerging — something being brought to life, or coming out of a cave, or otherwise coming into being.

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 “disquiet0293” (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-0293-emerge-immerse/

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, August 14, 2017. This project was posted in early afternoon, California time, on Thursday, August 10, 2017.

Length: Keep your piece to under two minutes.

Title/Tag: When posting your track, please include “disquiet0293” 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: For this project, please make sure 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). This is aligned with Paige Dansinger and Bassel Khartabil’s work.

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 293rd weekly Disquiet Junto project — Make music for Paige Dansinger’s Palmyra 3D/VR images, paying tribute to the late Bassel Khartabil — at:

https://disquiet.com/0293/

Thanks to Niki Korth, Jon Phillips, and Barry Threw for encouraging this project, and to Paige Dansinger for the collaboration. View Dansinger’s 3D drawings of Palmyra here:

http://www.newpalmyra.org/projects/junto-emerge-immerse/

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-0293-emerge-immerse/

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 Paige Dansinger, more on whom here:

http://paigedansinger.com

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Two Programs in Collaboration

A SuperCollider experiment

Multiple lines thread through this piece, one slow and muffled, like a water-logged bandoneon, the other chipper and vibrant, like a tiny robotic vibraphone with a glitchy chip. What it is is an experiment, apparently, in letting two pieces of software share data with each other in real time. The musician at the helm(s) of these softwares, programmed in SuperCollider, goes by Data Mads, who likens the composition to an experiment in code that is “selfaware.”

Video originally posted at YouTube. More on the processes at sccode.org.

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Disquiet Junto Project 0276: 808 Blockchain Beats

The Assignment: Make 808-style beats based on the blockchain.

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

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

Disquiet Junto Project 0276: 808 Blockchain Beats
The Assignment: Make 808-style beats based on the blockchain.

Many thanks to Jon Phillips for proposing and helping to develop this project.

Step 1: This week we’re making music informed and inspired by blockchain. If you’re not familiar with blockchain, this concise summary might be of use:

The Blockchain is a distributed database that maintains a continuously growing list of ordered records called blocks. Each block contains a timestamp and a link to a previous block. The most well known and original implementation is the Bitcoin Blockchain which is often described as a peer-to-peer (p2p) public ledger of all transactions. Blockchain technologies offer a consensus mechanism of indirect coordination, which provides the ability to achieve large-scale and systematic cooperation in an entirely distributed and decentralized manner. Blockchains can be considered as hyper-political and global governance tools, capable of managing social interactions on a large scale and dismissing traditional central authorities. Specific uses include accounting, identity management, record keeping systems, voting, and land registries.

The source of the summary:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blockchain

Now, if blockchain is too technical and you aren’t using bitcoin as the new gold ;) then use the images that come to mind: block & chain, and use 808 sounds to make some beats.

Step 2: Make a beat informed by blockchain that uses or is in someway inspired by the 808 drum machine.

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 “disquiet0276” (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/808-blockchain-beats-disquiet-junto-project-0276/

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

Length: The length is entirely up to the participant.

Title/Tag: When posting your track, please include “disquiet0276” 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, and if possible link to the original track:

More on this 276th weekly Disquiet Junto project — “808 Blockchain Beats: Make 808-style beats based on the blockchain”— at:

https://disquiet.com/0276/

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/808-blockchain-beats-disquiet-junto-project-0276/

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:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blockchain/

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Surface Pro 4 Meets a Soft Synth

A little video about touch screen music software

I have a Microsoft Surface Pro 4 for the next few weeks. I don’t think I’m going to keep it, but I may yet switch from my MacBook Air to the Surface Pro 5 when that device comes out, supposedly later this quarter (early 2017). This video is simply a glimpse at how the touch screen works for music, specifically in this case how the Aalto synth, from Madrona Labs, works. Aalto is running here from within Ableton Live. The sound quality is poor because I’m just using my phone for both the video and the audio.

The short version is that the screen is great for this sort of software, something with lots of virtual knobs and patch cords and buttons intended for touchpad/cursor use. Aalto is fine with a keyboard and trackpad, but it’s even better with the touch screen. (Less great was finding an angle that would allow me to play the instrument and yet have the screen fairly visible. This is the best I could manage. I’m not much of a videographer. I annotated the video using iMovie. My iMovie skills are pretty limited, so forgive the junior-grade typography.)

The main thing that happens once you start using a synth like Aalto with a touch screen is that things that aren’t touchable, such as the shape of an envelope, suggest themselves as touchable. Perhaps software will become more touchable as time proceeds, with some features only available on touch screens. As a friend said elsewhere, once some things are touchable, you want everything to be touchable.

Shortly after I posted the video, Randy Jones of Madrona Labs took note of it and said interface adjustments were possible: “Nice. Yes, I could probably do something with those envelope areas.”

In related news, late last year I started this modest subreddit for Surface Pro audio discussion: reddit.com/r/winSurfaceMusic.

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