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Minimalist Ringtones

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Monday
Mar012010

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 ...

Thursday
Feb252010

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.

Wednesday
Feb242010

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: www.alycesantoro.com

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.
Monday
Feb222010

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.

Friday
Feb192010

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

Wednesday
Feb172010

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.

Monday
Feb152010

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

Saturday
Feb132010

Starting next week: Five Sound Questions

Next week I will start a new, weekly series on Everyday Listening: ‘Five sound questions’. I will ask various sound artists, sound designers and other sound professionals to answer these five questions about sound:

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

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

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

4. How could we make sound improve our lives?

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

I am eager to learn the answers to these questions from all these talented people. If you are working with sound professionally and you would like to participate in this series, please let me know. Just send me a little info about you and your work and a link to your website or blog.

Friday
Feb122010

A portrait of Eliane Radigue

In this portrait created by the Austrian Institute of Media Archeology we see Eliane Radigue, a remarkable French composer, talking about the process of composition and recording. As her cat sleeps on the cupboard, we see her tweaking the knobs of the old ARP 2500 synthesizer.

Eliane Radigue about her sounds: 

If you are ready to open yourself up to them, to listen truly and devote yourself to listening, they really have a fascinating, magnetic power. [...] Above all I listened to them with the greatest respect, trying to understand what they had to say. 

Tuesday
Feb092010

What is your favorite sound?

My friends from Creative Heroes created this nice little commenting/polling system: the AnswerGarden. So here is my first AnswerGarden question to you: what is your favorite sound? Fill in your own answer or click on an existing one and hit 'submit'!