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

Disquiet Junto Project 0457: System Alert

The Assignment: Compose sounds for an OS.

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.

Deadline: This project’s deadline is the end of the day Monday, October 5, 2020, at 11:59pm (that is, just before midnight) wherever you are. It was posted on Thursday, October 1, 2020.

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

Disquiet Junto Project 0457: System Alert
The Assignment: Compose sounds for an OS.

Step 1: There’s an operating system called Haiku. It’s open source. Learn more at haiku-os.org.

Step 2: The OS is currently running a contest for System Sounds. Read the details at the subpage on haiku-os.org.

Step 3: The due date for our Junto project is this Monday, October 5, though the due date for the actual contest is November 25th. Regardless, please read through the instructions and create sounds accordingly. In terms of posting the sounds as part of this Junto project, please create a single track with each sound in sequence.

Thanks to Erik Schoster for suggesting this project.

Seven More Important Steps When Your Track Is Done:

Step 1: Include “disquiet0457” (no spaces or quotation marks) in the name of your tracks.

Step 2: If your audio-hosting platform allows for tags, be sure to also include the project tag “disquiet0457” (no spaces or quotation marks). If you’re posting on SoundCloud in particular, this is essential to subsequent location of tracks for the creation of a project playlist.

Step 3: Upload your tracks. It is helpful but not essential that you use SoundCloud to host your tracks.

Step 4: Post your tracks in the following discussion thread at llllllll.co:

https://llllllll.co/t/disquiet-junto-project-0457-system-alert/

Step 5: Annotate your tracks with a brief explanation of your approach and process.

Step 6: If posting on social media, please consider using the hashtag #disquietjunto so fellow participants are more likely to locate your communication.

Step 7: Then listen to and comment on tracks uploaded by your fellow Disquiet Junto participants.

Additional Details:

Deadline: This project’s deadline is the end of the day Monday, October 5, 2020, at 11:59pm (that is, just before midnight) wherever you are. It was posted on Thursday, October 1, 2020.

Length: The length is up to you. Alerts tend to be brief.

Title/Tag: When posting your tracks, please include “disquiet0457” in the title of the tracks, and where applicable (on SoundCloud, for example) as a tag.

Upload: When participating in this project, 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 always best to set your track as downloadable and allowing for attributed remixing (i.e., a Creative Commons license permitting non-commercial sharing with attribution, allowing for derivatives).

For context, when posting the track online, please be sure to include this following information:

More on this 457th weekly Disquiet Junto project, System Alert (The Assignment: Compose sounds for an OS), at:

https://disquiet.com/0457/

Thanks to Erik Schoster for suggesting this project.

More on the Disquiet Junto at:

https://disquiet.com/junto/

Subscribe to project announcements here:

https://tinyletter.com/disquiet-junto/

Project discussion takes place on llllllll.co:

https://llllllll.co/t/disquiet-junto-project-0457-system-alert/

There’s also a Disquiet Junto Slack. Send your email address to twitter.com/disquiet for Slack inclusion.

Image associated with this project is by Stanley Zimny and used via Flickr thanks to a Creative Commons license allowing editing (cropped with text added) for non-commercial purposes:

https://flic.kr/p/hMAXaC

https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/

Also tagged , , / / Leave a comment ]

Putting TikTok to Unintended Use

An ambient piano quartet by Lullatone's Shawn James Seymour

In this sweet little video demonstration, Shawn James Seymour (half of the husband-wife duo Lullatone, along with Yoshimi Yomida) shows how he used the TikTok video social-media app — in particular it’s feature-not-a-bug looping mode — to make a simple ambient track out of piano loops. He set all the loops, four total, to different lengths, and then let them play out on repeat, so that the notes overlap in different combinations. This “criss-cross” is, as he notes in one of a sequence of cards he displays by hand during the video (those hands colliding elegantly with the ones visible in all four of the devices laid out across the table), along the lines of how Brian Eno composed Music for Airports.

Last year, the influential and crafty artist Christian Marclay teamed with Snapchat, another social-media network, for an exhibit that mined user data to create all manner of sound art projects (see: latimes.com). The scale and scope of what Seymour is up to is, of course, quite more modest in comparison, but it also uses the app itself to achieve its goals. As Seymour says (well, displays on a card), inspirationally, in the video: “twisting technology to make something new is usually more fun than just browsing on it.”

This is the latest video I’ve added to my YouTube playlist of recommended fine live performances of ambient music. Video originally posted at the Lullatone YouTube channel. More from Lullatone at lullatone.com.

Also tagged , / / Comments: 2 ]

Live Coding “Avril 14th”

Aphex Twin fan Lil Data trades the piano keyboard for a computer keyboard

It’s April 14, which is just another day on the calendar, unless you’re an Aphex Twin fan. If you’re an Aphex Twin fan, then today is like your other favorite holiday, and your birthday, and an idealized version of Record Store Day all wrapped up in one. It’s the day when musicians celebrate the Aphex Twin song that takes its name from this date, “Avril 14th” (off the 2001 album Drukqs), and do their thing to and with it. Today there were numerous versions, as always, but the one that stole my heart was this live-coding version by Lil Data, who committed it in the open-source language TidalCycles. Screenshot above. Click through to Lil Data’s Instagram or Twitter accounts to witness it in all its monospace beauty as Lil Data brings the song to life one typed character at a time. “Avril 14th” is a solo piano piece, and it’s always a pleasure to watch the attention performers pay to it, such as Josh Cohen, whose YouTube video has racked up well over 300,000 views since it debuted in January 2017, and Kelly Moran (a Warp labelmate of Aphex Twin’s), who posted a version to Twitter today. But watching as Lil Data trades a piano keyboard for a computer one is next level. And in the opens-source spirit of the software, Lil Data posted the code-cum-transcription on GitHub. More on TidalCycles at tidalcycles.org. In the days leading up to April/Avril 14, Aphex Twin rebooted his soundcloud.com/user18081971 account (the seemingly generic name is, in fact, his birthday, August 18, 1971) and began posting new music, including a beautiful ambient piece, “qu1”:

Major thanks to twitter.com/rbxbex for having hipped me to Lil Data.

Also tagged , , / / Leave a comment ]

Listened to While Listening

The annals of music publicity

I receive three PR emails for music recordings. Which of these would I be least likely to check out?

  1. A link to an audio stream.

  2. A downloadable press kit with audio files.

  3. A link that first alerts me that my email and IP address will be saved, processed, and forwarded to the “product owner.”

Understand that there are days when I get hundreds of such emails.

For the record, it’s #3: I see no need to grant approval for email and IP address alignment and tracking simply to listen to an advance recording. (Even if it is one of my favorite musicians — and experience has shown that in such rare cases, an email request from me will allow me to bypass the digital protections because, ultimately, the publicist is glad to have found someone interested.)

Once upon a time, bushels of CDs arrived, at great expense, the cost put on the artist, onerously and not always transparently. Now, today, when sending a digital file costs virtually nothing, there is, in some PR corners, a need perceived to track the personal information of the listener. Or, in the best of circumstances, an anonymized data cluster showing generalized habits.

I suppose that this way the PR agency can report data back to the artist, but the data doesn’t register the varied interest of people who simply opt out because such tracking is just an even more invasive branch of DRM (digital rights management, the thing you don’t have to concern yourself with if you download music from Bandcamp or SoundCloud).

The resulting data doesn’t even matter because PR doesn’t exist to tell artists whether or not (anonymous?) individuals are listening to the work. The PR exists to help the musicians get the word out. Anything to the contrary is specious at best, and counterproductive at worst. One needn’t be listened to while listening.

If as a recipient of such PR requests, you refuse such tracking, you get a word sent back the other direction: These practices are invasive and unnecessary. I’d rather wait until the music is out and be, heaven forbid, “late.” And the fact is, there’s plenty (vastly more) to listen to that isn’t secreted behind a veil of invasive protection. That’s where I’ll spend my listening time.

Tag: / Leave a comment ]

Graphic Notation x Visual Code

Software-based music from Fahmi Mursyid, who is based in Indonesia

There is a tradition of graphic notation, in which images are read as musical scores, whether or not that’s actually the intended case of the original source — contrast, for example, the beautiful designs of an Iannis Xenakis’ orchestration (below) with the found scores of Christian Marclay (further below).

There is, as well, the growing range of software tools that are, in effect, visual programming languages for sound. They allow the user/composer/coder to create systems — virtual instruments — that then emit audio both planned and discovered, intended and by chance.

In turn, when an implementation of a visual programming language reaches a certain synchrony with the music it produces, the visual can be said to serve double duty: both as virtual instrument and, in effect, as graphically notated score.

This is certainly the case with the vibrant hodge podge, shown up at the top of this post, that constitutes “Generative Music with Modular Synth in Pure Data,” by musician Fahmi Mursyid. As its title suggests, it’s a generative piece (one that produces music that might differ over time) in Pure Data (a programming language originated by Miller Puckette). Listen and watch here (and if you are a Patreon supporter of Mursyid’s, the original post for the track on YouTube includes a link to the Pure Data patch, which you can download, listen to in real time, and tweak as you like).

More on Pure Data at puredata.info. More from Fahmi Mursyid, who is based in Indonesia, at ideologikal.bandcamp.com. (I don’t usually write about the same musician twice in a week, but this piece is quite different from the feedback drone of Mursyid’s I wrote about on Tuesday.)

Also tagged / / Leave a comment ]