space

Audio Visual Big Guitar

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The sonic installation explores architecture as an essential element in our listening experience. Elizabeth Martin in Pamphlet Architecture 16, describes the project which

" uses interactive rotating roof element that alters the small space in which a player is enclosed. The individual faces the neck of the large guitar, connected to six 10’ strings that are set in motion. The instrument produces the sound, the player does the manipulation, and the oscilloscope displays the visual representation of the sine wave forms. Thus, viewer experiences more of an active role in musical exploration in contrast to the passive occurrence of the concert."

The project was created in 1987 at Columbia University by Mark Brearley, Peter Cook, Larry Daves, Neil Denari, Diana Thater, and Hishman Yousef.

and then [disquiet0159-kitchenhyperlapse]

Disquiet Junto Project 0159: Recipe Hyperlapse
The Assignment: See what music the steps of a favorite recipe yield.

Lemony Kale and Couscous Salad
[Ingredients]
    1 Tbsp olive oil
    2 cloves garlic
    ½ bunch Dinosaur/Lacinato Kale
    1½ cups vegetable broth
    1 cup uncooked couscous
    1 fresh lemon
    ¼ cup chopped walnuts
    1 oz. crumbled feta

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[Instructions]
1. Rinse the couscous well with cool water. Remove the stems of the kale leaves by running a sharp knife along both sides of each stem. Cut each leaf in half lengthwise, then across into ½ inch strips. Rinse the kale well in a colander.
2. Mince the garlic and add it to a large pot with the olive oil. Sauté over medium-low heat for one minute, or until the garlic is slightly softened. Add the rinsed kale and sauté for 2-3 minutes more, or just until the kale has wilted and looks dark green and glossy.
3. Add the rinsed couscous to the pot along with vegetable broth. Stir the contents of the pot, place a lid on top, and turn the heat up to medium-high. Let the pot come to a boil. As soon as it does, reduce the heat to low and let it simmer for 15 minutes. Make sure the pot is simmering the whole time.
4. After 15 minutes, check the quinoa to see if it is done. Each granule should look slightly transparent with a white outer rim. If there is still a considerable amount of broth left in the bottom of the pot, replace the lid and let simmer for a few minutes more. If there is a small amount of liquid, simply remove the lid and sauté for a couple of minutes, or until the excess liquid evaporates.
5.  While the pot is simmering, zest half of the lemon. Chop the walnuts and crumble the feta.
6. Once the couscous is cooked and any excess moisture has evaporated, remove the pot from the heat. Sprinkle the lemon zest over the kale and quinoa. Squeeze the juice from half of the lemon over the pot as well. Finally, sprinkle the chopped nuts and crumbled feta on top.

...with couple glasses of wine.

 

[Sound]

All [kitchen] sounds were recorded with a Tascam DR-100. It has a nice little remote that makes it even easier to avoid the irritating, spring-loaded, button blunk that begins most of my recordings. 

Due to the unpredictable humming of refrigerator and other undesirable noises, sounds were cut as to maximize the action while to minimize the unnecessary. Some sounds required more or less of an amount of EQ to remove undesired frequencies. This varied depending on what action was occurring and in what proximity to the drone of the fridge or incessant pollution of the leaf-blower outside. Not the most Cagean of approaches, but because I was more focused on capturing the details of each sound specifically, I found the myriad of buzzing tones to be distracting when editing and arranging. This provided other, and even greater sonic opportunities. For example, take the chopping of garlic with the pounding and peeling of the outer layer, scraping of the cutting board to organize, the chopping. All of these steps are not as fluid when comes to the impact (desired) sounds. There is in between, more space that the environment around us is only too excited to occupy. In a practical sense, there is unwanted and therefore wasted time in there too.

Once desired sounds were isolated, clusters about 4-8 seconds long were looped and individual sounds were arranged to produce some sort of musicality representative of complex action.  One inspiration was the well known hip-hop montage technique in Darren Aronofsky's Requiem For a Dream. (Side note, the sound department responsible for the success includes over 40 people.)

These clusters were then arranged in sequence to other clusters. I then consolidated each of these clusters to one track. Additional tracks were added that included two simple chords which were recorded with an acoustic guitar; another with an electric. There is also a finger-picking phrase that is looped, swells in reverse, treated with a large amount of reverb and sits quietly in the periphery. All tonal additives cease with the uncorking of a wine bottle.

The rolling of a drawer, procurement of spices, cutting of garlic, clicking of the gas light, pouring of couscous granules, sizzling of the kale, rinsing with water, mixing in a bowl, sprinkling of salt, squeezing of a lemon, gathering of plates. All these sounds - and editing them - provide a greater awareness of being in the kitchen than I had previously. An unedited (tonal additives/music absent) version of this project is below.

More on this 159th Disquiet Junto project

— “See what music the steps of a favorite recipe yield” —

at: http://disquiet.com/2015/01/15/disquiet0159-kitchenhyperlapse/

More on the Disquiet Junto at:

http://disquiet.com/junto

Join the Disquiet Junto at:

http://soundcloud.com/groups/disquiet-junto/

Disquiet Junto general discussion takes place at:

http://disquiet.com/forums/

 

 

pressed-for-space [disquiet0158-syllablegumbo]

Disquiet Junto Project 0158: Syllable Gumbo
The Assignment: Go from noise to signal with words.

1. reading of phrase from article of the st. petersburg times.  every story had mentions of people dying, so the story of a nearby hospital planning to expand seemed the least important. i've always wanted to record in the historic snell arcade, located in downtown st. petersburg. janet williams read the first sentence of the article:

"moffit cancer center officials are considering a plan to replace the pressed for space hospital with a new building that would be more than twice as tall."

2. the recorded phrase was sliced first into 1/64s, then into 1/32s, 1/16s, 1/8s, and lastly 1/4s. although the tiny slices were relatively proportionate, the syllables being sliced were random.

3. a tonal piece was created over the slices.

4. later that day, i returned to the snell arcade and recorded the playback of the tonal piece which was amplified into the space with a battery powered fender mini amp. the distortion sounds are due to the gain and drive of the amp.

5. i walked around the space during the playback, which was recorded with portable field-recorder. in the piece, this creates the rise and fall, a certain physicality of tonal swelling based on distance and direction. in addition to the original (now distorted)  tonal playback, other sounds captured were the ambience of the space, footsteps, cars passing, and voices. upon careful listening, the last sounds of the piece are of a man apologizing because he thought he was in the way.


More on this 158th Disquiet Junto project — “Go from noise to signal with words” — at:

http://disquiet.com/2015/01/08/disquiet0158-syllablegumbo/

More on the Disquiet Junto at:

http://disquiet.com/junto

Join the Disquiet Junto at:

http://soundcloud.com/groups/disquiet-junto/

Disquiet Junto general discussion takes place at:

http://disquiet.com/forums/

Bernhard Leitner’s Le Cylindre Sonore, 1987

Bernhard Leitner is an architect, sound artist, and researcher exploring the intersection of the aural and architectural. As one of the few physically built works of his, Le Cylindre Sonore operates within the landscape to enhance the sonic qualities of the environment. As one engages with the space by walking in and through it, one notes the change in acoustic characteristics of the area. He describes the project as, "a cylindric space that allows a concentrated listening of the place, a contemplative rediscovery of oneself in the transcendence of the place." This correlates well with a notion presented by sound theorist, Salome Voegelin in Sonic Possible Worlds:

"Listening to the landscape’s pluralities and possibilities, hearing the dense multiplicity of its mobile production, allows us to challenge the singularity of actuality and articulate a different sense of place and a different sense of self that lives in those possibilities and shows us how else things could be."

 

The pier [disquiet0149-processingthepresent]

Being new to an area provides many opportunities to learn about one's environment. I've done many soundwalks, but not so many in downtown St. Petersburg. It was a beautiful day on Friday and a bike ride over to the Pier was in order. The area has been neglected for some time and plans exist to demolish and redesign some of the structures. I like the idea of capturing the history of a place, whether abandoned or in the process of entropy.

My initial plan was to soundwalk the length of the pier, a paved road that was much longer than I had anticipated. Walking around the Pier building,a five-story inverted pyramid-shaped structure, rendered 4:34 minutes of recording time.  I explored the area a bit more and experimented with the boardwalk at the eastern most edge of the pier. I worked with the 3:19s of walking/recording time which appears in the left channel unedited. Sounds from the nearby International Airport, fisherman talking, the call of seabirds, resonant waves lapping under the concrete pier supports, creaks from the boardwalk, and other site specific field recordings are littered throughout. I also added a few ominous loops that change throughout the length of the walk/track.

In many ways, I feel this particular Disquiet Junto project is an odd extension of some of my work, namely working with the environment and using maps as points of departure for a composition, with field recordings as source material.

The map illustrates different scales of context of the St. Petersburg area. I also incorporated a sense of visual continuation throughout the image, one that reflects the spatiotemporal length of the 'track', both audio and physical motion of walking along the pier.


More on this 149th Disquiet Junto project — “Take a walk around the block and make something from it″ — at:

http://disquiet.com/2014/11/06/disquiet0149-processingthepresent/

More on the Disquiet Junto at:

http://disquiet.com/junto

Join the Disquiet Junto at:

http://soundcloud.com/groups/disquiet-junto/

Disquiet Junto general discussion takes place at:

http://disquiet.com/forums/

Jacob Kirkegaard's Labyrinthitis

Released in 2008 by Touch, the composition by Jacob Kirkegaard builds on ideas from Duchamp, Cage, and Lucier. It may even be a nod to the early pyschoacoustic work of Maryanne Amacher

With Labyrinthitis, Kirkegaard used otoacoustic emissions recorded with tiny speakers and microphones to capture the sounds generated by his inner ear.  He then amplified these tones, and created a site-specific installation which produced otoacoustic emissions in the ears of the listeners.

These high frequency tones were looped and played through a series of speakers resembling the structure of the inner ear. The 16 speakers were attached to metal rods of varying lengths to create an ascending spiral hanging from a dome ceiling. The piece was first performed at the Medical Museum in Copenhagen, Denmark. 

More info on the project with an in depth look at the project by Douglas Kahn here.

Also, a great review of the project by Manuel Arturo Abreu here.

MUSICIRCUS

 
 

This past Saturday I attended Musicircus, an event held by MOCA Cleveland,  to celebrate the building’s move to University Circle as well as the centenary of composer John Cage’s birth (Cage was born on September 5, 1912).  The new building is designed by Farshid Moussavi, previously co-founder and co-principal of Foreign Office Architects (FOA). 

Musicircus is a concept developed by John Cage in 1967: “The idea of this composition is nothing more than an invitation to a number of musicians, who perform simultaneously anything or in any way they desire.”

All performers (over 30 in this case) are treated with equal weight and importance. The length of each musician’s or ensemble’s set, along with their order of presentation, is predetermined in advance by utilizing chance procedures from the I Ching.  

Performers were in as many spots in the building as possible, to evoke the “simultaneity of unrelated intentions” which Cage sought with this framework.

The audience was free to roam and focus their attention on one musician or ensemble at a time. Instead of performing myself (though I brought along a few home-made contact mics in hopes for true unplanned sonic intervention) I decided to experience the sound and the architecture of the space while recording with the portable Tascam DR-100. My performance was in the tour of sounds themselves, the movement between the aural happenings. What resulted was a personal tracing of my journey throughout the building: experiencing the myriad of sonic phenomena and textures among the phase shifts from one room to another, footsteps, doors closing, the passing of a group of musicians on the stairwell, a theremin along a wall, violins in a corner, Cluster ‘71-like drones, dinks from a broken wine glass from behind a sculpture, homemade contraptions, random conversations, a baby, garbage bags.

As the entire recording lasted a little over 2 and a half hours, I chose a 12 minute portion which illustrates the success of the event, which you can listen to below. Some of my favorite parts of the event were the in between spaces, where it seemed that out of the chaos, everything was unintentionally part of the whole, peculiarly vibrating together. 

 

music for solo performer

Alvin Lucier, Music for Solo Performer in which performer’s brain waves are amplified and used to generate sounds from a variety of objects including gongs, wine glasses, drums, and cans.

musicforsoloperformer

Alvin Lucier, Music for Solo Performer in which performer’s brain waves are amplified and used to generate sounds from a variety of objects including gongs, wine glasses, drums, and cans.

The Long-Stringed Instrument

Created by Ellen Fullman, the Long-Stringed Instrument is a project that employs one hundred and twenty suspended strings that span eighty-five feet. When the performer moves fingers along the strings, the specifically tuned strings create a tantalizing effect that manipulate the perception of time with proportionate planar complexity created by elongated harmonies and overtones.  Intervals noted on the floor directing how far the performers are to walk add to the sonic textures and natural resonances created in the factory, which allow the audience to be inside both the sound and instrument.  The Long-Stringed Instrument explores the ideas of time, space, and sound while offering new ways to experience the natural order of physics.

Listen here.

photo credit: cactusbones

Sound Mirror

A sound/acoustic mirror is a structural instrument used to reflect and focus sound. Formally a Royal Airforce site, Denge is the location where numerous experimental listening apparatuses were built during WWI. The image to the right features a 30ft concrete dish that still retains the microphone pole at it's center. An individual would be located in a chamber below ground listening for any possible attacks.

The Sound Mirrors Project:

“The history of the sound mirrors is a story of research, trial and error that left a legacy of enigmatic, monolithic ruins, suggestive of previous civilizations and strange practices. The original acoustic mirrors listened to the sky in apprehension of an invasion; our continuing fascination comes from their very human atmosphere of longing and solitude. The mirrors seem to be yearning for contact, an image that is echoed in today’s radio telescopes, listening for extra terrestrial voices.”

Alvin Lucier's I Am Sitting In A Room

Alvin Lucier's 1969 composition is among the best known minimal tape pieces. This work explores the relationship between sound and space through a process of spoken word and recording, re-recording, and re-re-recording. The acoustical properties of the space transform the speech until natural resonances create a tonal harmony with an additive droning, ambient quality. Alvin Lucier is a pioneer who realized that architectural space is not merely a setting for traditional musical experiences but that it could be used an instrument itself. His sizable body of experimental works and sound installations explore this concept.

Ubu provides the original 1969 tape recording along with a few of his other works. In an interview with Lucier, he explained how he had to record late at night and unplug the refrigerator to minimize unwanted noise. Below is the 1981 recording. More on Lucier at Lovely Music.

aural architecture

"Whether it is snapping fingers, whistling notes, singing songs, or remaining silent, a space responds. The listener is immersed in the aural response of the space, as if in auditory dialogue with the environment. By responding to human presence, aural architecture is dynamic, reactive, and enveloping. In contrast, because humans do not have the means of creating the presence of light, a space does not react to our visual presence, but is only manifested through the interruption - as shadows or reflections."

- barry blesser & linda-ruth salter