Like us elsewhere!


Subscribe - RSS feed
E-mail address:

Gandhara Super Mini

Music is never tied to an object. OK, a CD is a physical object containing music, and we can discuss the emotional value of it, but it is easily replicable, and the plastic disc itself is not worth a thing. 

That is what inspired sound art label Field Noise Records to create the Gandhara Super Mini. In collaboration with Toshikatsu they created these little handmade boxes with music inside them and a traditional Japanese painting of waves on them.

It is a great idea to use an art object to carry the music to its listeners. They even participate as they can operate these ‘noise machines’ themselves. As this description implies we should not expect the sweet music-box sounds the package suggests. 

There is an oscillator inside the box, and a knob to change the frequency. There is no built-in speaker, you will have to use the headphone jack output. And how does it sound? Here is an example (the Gandhara Super Mini combined with a multi-effects processor:

You do not have to be the owner of one of their hardware boxes to be able to listen to Field Noise Record’s music, as all their releases (basically just recordings of their art objects), are free to download. 


Five Sound Questions to Yuri Suzuki

One of the first projects featured on Everyday Listening was Yuri Suzuki’s Prepared Turntable, a wonderfully simple but clever idea. In the ‘Design’ section of his website you will find many other great sound art projects.

Yuri Suzuki, born in Tokyo and currently living in London, is product designer and electronic musician. Sound art is not the only thing he does. Check out the Breakfast Machine he created with Masa Kimura for instance, quite a remarkable installation!

It is great to see how normal, simple things can be transformed into a piece of art, or with some small modifications gain completely new functionality. These are his answers to the Five Sound Questions:

1. What sound from your childhood made the most impression on you?

I really love this music clip when I was child, maybe my all interest came from this video. I almost saw this video every night: Herbie Hancock - Rockit 

2. How do you listen to the world around you?

I extremely hate big noise, like shouting and so on. In the same time, I love big sound. And I love silence as well, but it makes me nervous.

 3. Which place in the world do you favor for its sound?

I really like the sound of silence in mid night, the noise always comes from big cities like Tokyo, New York and London.

4. How could we make sound improve our lives?

This is one of my big topics of creation. My “Re-design soundscape” series came from this question. This is one project from the series:

Click to read more ...


Music visualization: Narratives 2.0

In his keynote for the Sonic Acts festival last week, Dirk de Kerkhoven spoke about data visualization and he briefly showed Narratives 2.0 by Matthias Dittrich. The program visualizes music by segmenting it in different channels and showing them in a fan-like manner. The angle of the line is determined by the frequency of the channel while high levels are colored orange. 

In the image above we see the result for Beethoven’s fifth symphony. Quite beautiful. It makes me want to listen to the piece and see if I can follow the lines and intensities. It is nice to look at a piece of music from a different perspective. The purpose of the project is not to create an exact mapping of the frequencies, but to have an aesthetic, artistic representation of it.


The Poetics of Space

The World Soundscape Project group in 1973 with Barry Truax, second from the right.

Last weekend I attended the thirteenth edition of the Sonic Acts festival. This year’s theme was “The Poetics of Space”. I heard some interesting pieces of music, lots of noise (literally), saw a lot of abstract moving images and a few interesting lectures.

Barry Truax

I found some of the Saturday sessions especially interesting. Barry Truax gave a lecture on acoustic space and composing with the environment. Barry is well known for his electroacoustic and computer music and was part of the World Soundscape Project group (pictured above), a group founded by R. Murray Schafer at the Simon Fraser University in Vancouver to research the changes in the sonic environment. He also created the first implementation of real-time granular synthesis in 1986.  

During his lecture he spoke about how spaces influence sounds, how sound have spaces inside them and how we can use this in compositions. When you record a sound, you automatically record the space around that sound as well, so in Barry’s words:

Each sound tells us where it has been.


We were treated to some beautiful sound examples on the eight-channel system (“Eight channel is the new stereo”), including a preview of his newest work Challice Well, which was played later that day in its full length at Paradiso. 

Click to read more ...


Etude No.13

Japanese artist Mamoru creates ‘sound art’ by using normal, everyday objects and placing them in an abnormal situation. He calls these art works “Etudes”. 

Mamoru invites his audience to deeply listen to what is around them. In one piece the audience is asked to eat together with the artist, thus becoming part of the artwork itself. A great example of ‘Everyday Listening’. 

For Etude No.13 we listen to ice melting. Ice cubes are hung from the ceiling, and we hear the dripping of the ice melting. Next to that the sound of melting water in small glass tubes filled with frozen water is amplified by even smaller glass funnels. There is a sound example on Mamoru’s website.


Five Sound Questions to Alyce Santoro

As you might have read on this website before, Alyce Santoro is the creator of the Sonic Fabric, made of old cassette tapes. Be sure to check out her website and read more about her inspiring projects:

1. What sound from your childhood made the most impression on you?
The rhythmic slapping of rigging against the masts of sailboats.
2. How do you listen to the world around you?
For me it seems that listening requires not only the ears, but also a heightened awareness of other very subtle sensations/feelings in the body that cannot easily be described by the ordinary five senses.
3. Which place in the world do you favor for its sound?
The place where I live - in the mountains near the Big Bend National Park in far west Texas - has the most peculiar and alluring sonic quality - it’s very difficult to describe. Perhaps I could say the “silence” here is lush and harmonious.
4. How could we make sound improve our lives?
If we could all fully realize the profound effect of sound on the very cells of which we are composed - if we all had an understanding that, on a quantum level we are all literally made of sound - we could more effectively harness the power of sound for healing on a personal and planetary level.
5. What sound would you like to wake up to?
Aside from waking up here in the strange “silence” of the high desert, I love to awake to the sounds of the lapping of waves against the hull of my sailboat, and the slapping of rigging against the mast.
Also read the answers of other artists in the Five Sound Questions section.

Sew-O-Phone and Vacumonium

Dutch artist Dennis de Bel creates wonderful objects inspired by things we find in our everyday lives. Like the Sew-O-Phone, a combination of a sewing machine and a turntable. Or the Vacumonium, in which a harmonium perfectly melts together with a vacuum cleaner. 

The retro design of these ‘transfunctional’ machines make them great to look at. Their simplicity and finish on one hand and their mysterious novelty on the other make them very attractive at first sight! Here is an example of what the Vacumonium sounds like.


Nord Rute

If you happen to be in London, visiting Nord Rute must be a great way to spend your weekend. Nord Rute is an ambisonic (surround sound) narrative based on poems by Nils Aslak Valkaeapää, a renowned Sámi artist. His poem No. 272 will be interpreted by Plaid, Sámi poet Synnøve Persen and field recordist Ross Adams. 

I would love to experience the Sámi culture, the reindeer migration and the freezing cold of the most nordic part of Europe, in sound. To complete the experience there will be no heating in the venue (the Trinity Buoy Wharf), the audience will be given blindfolds and sit or lie down on reindeer pelts. So bring you sleeping bag and immerse yourself!

Via Joachim Baan


Five Sound Questions to Jack Pavlik

I am thrilled to announce the first artist featured in this new series on Everyday Listening: Jack Pavlik. I wrote about his artwork the Storm in the early days of this website, may 2009. He creates wonderful kinetic sound sculptures.

In his installations we hear the natural sound of the material, mostly bands of metal, mechanically played. It is like these things come to live, to sing their songs to us. Visit Jack’s Vimeo page for some great examples.  

1. What sound from your childhood made the most impression on you? 

I grew up in the northern United States, I remember during the winter when it was bitterly cold, sounds had a more harder than normal piercing feel, as if the sound was frozen and hitting you like a piece of ice.

2. How do you listen to the world around you?

I am actually very sensitive to sound, I am often tuning things down and blocking sounds out.  When a sound interests me I close my eyes and try to focus on different parts of the sound. If it is an oscillating sound I will try and count beats or cycles and look for repetition.

3. Which place in the world do you favor for its sound?

Sarajevo. It is a place that has the mix of church bells and the ezan, or call to prayer. During different times of the year there are different intersections between these two distinct sounds as the church bells are fixed to time and the time of the ezan is set by positions of the sun. Also in the city you are never far away from the sound of running water from the natural springs in the city.

4. How could we make sound improve our lives?

This might sound strange coming from a sound artist, but I would like a quieter world. I think often less is more in sound art; the most important part of sound compositions is the space or silence in between the component sounds.

5. What sound would you like to wake up to?

Waking up is always best with the sound of coffee being made, maybe also with the sound of bacon and eggs and someone telling me it is ready?

Also read the answers of other artists in the Five Sound Questions section.


Website: Building Sound

We can discuss the right use and effectiveness of sound on websites, and in most cases we will hear background music and interface sounds, but the Building Sound website is using sound in a way I have never seen (or heard) before!

As we mouse over the colored horizontal bars on the website we hear the name of each menu item. The length of the bar gives an indication of the length of the item we will hear when we click on it. It is fascinating to see how easy it actually is to navigate this site without any textual information. 

The implementation is done well, although the site leaves some things to be desired. What if we surf the web with the sound turned off? And to be honest, there is a lot of background noise in the files and the intonation of the voice we hear is not very compelling. Nonetheless, a great idea.

Via Joachim Baan