SB Tweet Digest #2 (march 2010)

april 02, 2010.

[ podcast :: sbpc 36 ... s ]

Since our previous digest the SoundBlog twitter birdie twittie yelped another 49 times. Here are some of this month's highlights, with comments and digressions, of course:

[9863885333] Already quite a while ago I managed to make a large group of Dutch natives "clog dance" in the streets of the village of Dokkum to the sound and image of Dr. Bibber's choco-sado hiprap, by simply aligning two different uTube clips on a web-page and instructing the viewers to play them simultaneously. The 'collaborative music/spoken word project' In B-flat 2.0, conceived by Darren Solomon, takes this idea - which is as obvious as it is potent - a step further. Darren put out an open call to musicians worldwide to make a uTube clip in which each one sings or plays an instrument in B-flat major. He assembles twenty of those in one web-page, where, again, the instruction is to play (all, or a certain number) 'simultaneously' (which means: start them one after the other, in some order).
[ In B-flat was partly inspired by Terry Riley's In C. Which reminds me of an article I read recently that did not make it into a tweet. Not because it dated back to last christmas, of course, but ... well ... though sort of informative, it somehow did not win me over enough. But if you're interested, do hop over and give it a read. (David Ocker - Could Terry Riley's In C be accepted as classical music?) ]

The sort of mix/mash that you can create and experiment with using embedded uTube video clips, obviously works great also with a series of soundfiles embedded in a web page.charly rjdjThus each of the many, many pages on the RjDj-website containing recordings that were uploaded by the users of this reactive music application becomes a ready-made instrument. Try it yourself: just hop over to RjDj-user Charly's profile page, and play around with the sounds ... (use the first button, the triangular one, to start/pause the play-back of a file). For the lazy and/or less DIY ones among you, there's this SB-edition's podcast: a short mash-mix made in one at once good-take, using Charly's profile page in the way described above.
Quite an interesting manner, actually, to roam and discover RjDj's sonic universe. Also if you do not (yet) have an i- or other smart-Thing that allows you to try out the app itself...
You can use the existing user- and application-pages, containing a wealth of user-upped recordings. Alternatively, you may create an RjDj user-profile yourself, and then shop for recordings on the site to add to your list of 'Liked Recordings'. These you then can play/mash/mix with in the corresponding section of your profile page. Btw, all of this said: it would be nice if it were possible also to remove files from a 'Liked' list. And, to enhance the use of RjDj pages to mash/mix recordings, it would come in handy to have a volume-control per recording; maybe also throw in the possibility to loop-playback a file? ... ;-) ...

[10329310115, 10693040217] There was a lot of interesting RjDj news this month. So much, that not all of it made it into the tweets. hijackThe SB-birdie did mention though that one now can have paged scenes, which really is a great addition to the application's possibilities. The Kids on DSP's new Core Dump scene, for example, has four distinct 'modes'. Each mode has its page, and you can switch modes by swiping pages (only sequentially, though, forwards and backwards). A similar modularity is at work in the gorgeously 'old school electronics' sounding SXSW Hijack scene, one of two Kids on DSP scenes, released on the occasion of the 24th edition of the SXSW® Music and Media Conference, in Austin, Texas.
[ The recordings used in User Charly's RjDj Mashymix, this edition's podcast (click (right) to download and/or listen li) were made with ookoi's RjDj scenes, with Gunter Geiger's Echolon, and with Core Dump and SXSW Hijack by Kids on DSP. SXSW Hijack was an 'event specific' scene and is not on the official RjDj scenes list, but you'll find the secret link that will allow you to grab this great scene, in the corresponding soundblog tweet. ]

[ 10113477783 ] An awful lot of water has gone down the world's drains since I actively tried my hands at it myself (it was in days now far gone of ever longer growing listings of Fortran code compiled on monstrous PDP machines), but I always kept a keen interest in the promises and pitfalls of algorithmic composition. Besides of fractal geometry, non-commutative algebras, games and lots of other fascinating mathematics, the words remind me of the long hot summer nights that, almost thirty years ago now, I spent scrutinizing the about 1600 pages of the two heavy blue hardcover volumes of the Schillinger System of Musical Composition, writing and scribbling all kinds of notes, ideas and formulas onto a whole pack of bits and pieces of paper of different sizes. That soon after I then closed those and similar books, and put away that pack of papers, is another story. It did not end my fascination for the subject, but it probably does explain why I had not yet before heard of David Cope's work, which is the subject of "Triumph of the Cyborg Composer", a long, non-technical, article by Ryan Blitstein, that in turn was the subject of this March 7th tweet ...

[ 11137740989 ] The Arduino micro controller is a relatively recent and cheap open source programmable tool, that allows for quick and modifiable prototyping. It is used a lot by artists and designers, for a great many different reasons, in a lot of different contexts. I saw Jonah Bruckner-Cohen and Katherine Moriwaki use it to great effect in last year's Scrapyard Challenge workshop in the Palais de Tokyo, just to give one example. Because of its apparent versatility and ease of use, it has been high on my list of things to get and learn more about soon. This tweet links to a pdf version of Alicia Gibb's master's thesis on the Arduino and its use in new media art and design. For those interested in the technology and willing to cope with the pedantic and scholastic style of writing, there's a lot of valuable information to be found in Alicia's paper.

[ 10780443891 ] I stumbled upon Rob Walker's colorful 'picture gallery with musings' on the idea of the cassette because one of the commenters on Walker's article (Disquiet's Marc Weidenbaum) linked in his comment to my recent post on the Paris Tape Run ("from deep in the world of cassette-sound-art").
Almost all of the stuff exposed by Rob Walker in his gallery (some of which you may already have come across elsewhere), falls into the category of classy, colorful and trendy design much loved and sought after by many a young and sometimes intelligent urban professional. This therefore is a nice occasion to show you some 'cassette based goodies' that I acquired some time ago, but that are of a rather more trashy sort.
First, here's two cassette boxes, containing electronic circuitry. According to the labels printed on the backs, one is an 8-bit DAC (analogue output port 15488, RD 8150), the other an 8-bit ADC (analogue input Module 15424, RD 8130), custom made - or so it seems - by a UK-based outfit called RD Labs:

casselectronics casselectronics

Unfortunately I forgot where I got them. Maybe it was Cosmo or Flex that dived them up somewhere? Or was it Rébus? It for sure was Rébus who picked the following beauty from a dustbin maxell LN C60somewhere near the university at Chévaleret: it is nothing less than a cas-set-de-voyage, made in Japan (Fabriqué au Japon), and signed "Selection Bernard Carant, Paris". The cover is designed a bit like (or rather: the design was ripped from) the Maxell LN C60, that you see in the image to the left (courtesy the Dutch online Hifimuseum). It says "mexicI LN C60", with above the 'LN' in small capitals: "LOW NOICE". (It is unclear whether that 'c' in 'noice' is there on purpose, caused by the 'made in Japan', or due to the Kindergarten level of a French designer's English.) Bernard Garant's "Cassette Set de Voyage" originally came with a little comb, a mirror, a toothbrush and toothpaste.

cassetdevoyage cassetdevoyage

This cas-set-de-voyage just has to become a part of the travel gear of just about every cassetteur! ... I wonder, would maybe Bernard Carant not have some old stock left? ...

[ 11354065591 ] There is a lot more analog tape lurking behind this tweet, dated March 31st. tapegloveIt leads to a post on the Hack a Day site describing an installation called Signal to Noise, which, as a matter of fact, comes with its own dedicated blog. If you go through that blog in reverse direction, from bottom to top, starting at its beginning, you get a nice step-by-step tour of "the making of" Signal to Noise: a neatly executed variation on the idea of playing back stretches of analog tape by means of a hand-held tape head. Here on the blog, a couple of years ago, we met Colin Ponthot's Happy Monster Tape. And somewhat later, in Berlin, Ben Roberts, who is a specialist in hand-held magnetic media reading techniques, that, as far as I can tell, found their earliest application in Nam June Paik's Random Access Music from 1963. For Signal to Noise the makers fitted tape-heads into the fingertips of a glove, which is a nice and subtle twist. When holding a smallish tape head between two of your fingertips you are pinching, which is a closing movement. Sliding on a glove, with tape heads in the tips, however, will incite you to open up your hand. As a consequence, the approach and playing of the taped surface will feel - and be - far more physical than in the case you would approach it with a 'tape head pinched between fingers' reader. The open hand makes the interaction very tactile. There is something almost erotic about the gloved caressing of the taped surface (attached to the wall as if it were a painting) by the people interacting with Signal to Noise, as you can see in the short uTube below, shot at an exhibition late 2009 in Brighton (UK). Hope some day I will be able to try - literally :-) - my own hand at Signal to Noise ...
[ hattip via kuz.b ]

[ 11201594044 ] My SL started as early as january 2007, with an impromptu ookoi performance in some virtual cabaret, if I remember rightly. It continued with a fine interpretation of 'Vicky's Mosquitoes' by the AOM all dressed up as ookoi, in march of that same year. Personally I consider "OK! Let's Dance!", the schizo-war/peace-dance that, dressed in nothing but his pale virtual skin, my avatar Hars Hefferman performed ( * ) at the first (and only, I think) SL edition of das kleine fieldrecordingsfestival, the high point in my Second Life. It was on that occasion that I first met Evo Szuyuan, already on her way then to become an esteemed and highly accomplished machinima film maker. Evo is Dutch in Real Life. (And that is where we indeed managed to meet some time later, in Dutchland.) After, I did continue to every now and then participate in AOM rehearsals and performances, and also enjoyed a couple of the SL Dorkbots co-organized by Evo; but it proved too difficult to continue to fit all of this into my already overbooked First Life. That is why, together with SL, the AOM, the fine people and avatars there more or less slipped away from my view. My one and only recent visits to this virtual Wunderland were last summer, when with Evo the ookoi did the rushes for Woody, a short but very exciting ookoi machinima clip, shot on the beaches of the SL equivalent of the Dutch island of Ameland, where Captain Haglet rules supreme... Evo still has to do the final editing of Woody, so stay tuned for that some time later.
As a little teaser, here's a wonderful shot that she made of the ookoi caught on the Ameland beach in a bird's cage, watched by a ferocious animal. Click it for a larger version ....

ookoi caught

All of the above merely to sketch the context of this particular tweet. It will help you understand why I felt so pleased when I found the nice write-up Michael Peters did in his recent post "My Avatar Is Not Blue". Here he describes his enchantment with an SL performance by the AOM last saturday March 27th, the orchestra still going strong and still including several good old avatar friends, like Bingo Onomatopoeia and Gumnosophistai Nurmi, just to name two of them.

I now know what it was that I felt when I read Michael's concert review.
It was something akin to nostalgia.


Next SB Tweet Digest in may.

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notes __ ::
(*) It accompanied life audio streaming and was sub-titled, all together adding up to sort of a concise history of Rock 'n' Roll. [ ^ ]

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