2015-06-15 Soundscapes

Recently, I was reading a piece on Wired about the music of Holly Herndon and how it relates to the NSA and our loss of trust in the institutions of our government. That’s my take, at least. I was fascinated and searched for he on YouTube ended up listing to this one hour interview where she talks about the sound of Now. What do cities sound like? What should electric cars sound like? And it goes on from there. How to play music on the laptop, what sounds it plays. Avatars as extensions of ourselves. The rights you have regarding your physical body and the rights you lack regarding your digital “body”.

I always think about the historical perspective. How singing and drumming developed, changed, the necessity of physical implements, the relation of the visual input to the audio – do we see people playing? I remember arguing that synthesizers are better than electric guitars with my step brother in the eighties. I remember being fascinated with drum machines when I discovered The Sisters of Mercy. And trackers on the C64. Consider the PixiTracker (also on YouTube). It’s great. Electronic music. The deconstruction of pop music.

And now I’m listening to an episode of 99% Percent Invisible on the Symphony of Sirens. Arseny Avraamov was interested in the sound of Now. He wanted to make a symphony about the feeling of a nation being born, an industrial revolution unleashed, a revolution ongoing. As Wikipedia describes it: This piece involved navy ship sirens and whistles, bus and car horns, factory sirens, cannons, the foghorns of the entire Soviet flotilla in the Caspian Sea, artillery guns, machine guns, hydro-airplanes, a specially designed “whistle main,” and renderings of Internationale and Marseillaise by a mass band and choir. The piece was conducted by a team of conductors using flags and pistols.

Holly Herndon mentioned the programming language ChucK in the interview. I installed it half way through the video. Then I checked out the examples directory and started playing some of the files. Amazing! It makes me want to write an application to identify bird songs. It makes me want to write an application that can generate ambient sounds based on activity in front of the laptop camera. I start wondering about plugging the Animoog app and tinkering with sound.

Sometimes I’m sad. I feel all these artistic urges in me and lack the necessary training to really act on them. I also know that I’m never going to take the time to learn and practice. There are so many other things to do in life.

Remember Zenosyne: the sense that time keeps going faster. The YouTube page has a transcript of the video.



Sometimes, things just keep piling up. I just saw a link to Classical Indian Music On iPad + Animoog on playing Carnatic music on the ipad using Animoog.

– Alex Schroeder 2015-06-15 08:29 UTC

In the question and answer section, Common Lisp Music is mentioned.

– Alex Schroeder 2015-06-15 11:50 UTC

And SuperCollider.

– Alex Schroeder 2015-06-15 11:54 UTC

What about Overtone?

AlexDaniel 2015-06-15 17:25 UTC

“We combine the powerful SuperCollider audio engine, with Clojure, a state of-the-art lisp, to create an intoxicating interactive sonic experience.” It sounds very interesting!

– Alex Schroeder 2015-06-15 20:19 UTC

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