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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'!

Monday
Feb082010

KarmetiK Machine Orchestra

Electronic music performed on stage often leaves a lot to be desired in terms of visual entertainment. That is a good point Ajay Kapur, director of Music Technology at CalArts and founder of the KarmetiK Machine Orchestra, makes. 

Were as robotic instruments on themselves can still be quite static, controlling these instruments with technology, and combining the result with live instruments certainly creates a more lively image on stage. 

Tuesday
Feb022010

Sync/Lost

The history of modern electronic music can be explored with Sync/Lost, an interactive multi-user installation, created by 3Bits, a creative studio from Brazil. Up to three users can interact with the installation simultaneously. 

The installation uses Wii-motes and wireless headphones or speakers. Users can browse and listen to the different genres and see the connections between them. On the right of the screen we find more information about the selected tracks.

Via Richard van Tol

Friday
Jan292010

Pappeltalks

While for some of us the CD is far from obsolete, it is a fact that it is not as easy for an artist to sell a physical album as it was in the pre-iPod era. And as we can buy an album on iTunes for half the price we had to pay in the store, that is what many of us choose.

Limited editions of interesting boxes might convince music buyers otherwise. Like this design by Jaroslav Juřica. The first time you open the package the cover graphics are created. A limited edition: only 60 pieces are manufactured. 

Via Dave Haynes

Tuesday
Jan262010

"Silence, Please"

Some sounds border on silence. They are unnoticed, ignored, but gently surround us every day. There is no complete silence in our world, even in our quietest moments. That is what "Silence, Please" illustrates.

Chris Kubick created a catalog of these sounds. He codified these sounds in the form of text (wrote them out on transparencies), thus creating a silent 'sound installation'. This catalog "attempts to represent peace, tranquility, emptiness".

If this installation just makes visitors more aware of the sounds around them, it already serves its purpose, in my opinion.

Thursday
Jan212010

The sound of frozen water

Berlin Based composer and sound artist Andreas Bick made underwater recordings of a frozen lake near Berlin. It is a wonderfully clear recording, made with underwater microphones placed directly under the ice sheet.

It reveals some haunting sounds we will never be able to hear live. If you would not know the source you would probably not guess these sounds are made by frozen water. Visit Andreas' blog Silent Listening and listen to his recordings!

Via Simon Wald-Lasowski