january 10, 2011.
It is almost seven years ago, on April 12th 2004, that as the 102nd entry of the (at the time still relatively young) SoundBlog I posted a long entry with an extensive description of a project that had already caught my attention way before. I mentioned it first in the SoundBlog's 6th entry, on September 2nd 2002: how enchanted I had been by the My2k project of a small group of musicians who decided to each record 10 seconds of sound/music everyday of the year 2000, and over the year kept each other informed of their progress via a dedicated Yahoo group (which, as you may verify, still exists, but that for much of the past decade merely functioned as sort of a black hole for spam).
At the time I learned about My2k, the year 2000 belonged to the past. The new millennium was well on its way, had given us a 9/11, and it was of course already far too late for me to join in with that particular project myself.
In the conclusion, though, of my long review of the project and the CDs that eventually were realized by four of the participants, more or less according to the original plan, I decided that one day I would take up a similar challenge, and do a 10 seconds of sound a day-project myself.
Here is what I wrote back then:
" [... I]f I were to keep a year long sound diary, would I do it the way the My2k-ers did?
I guess the answer is no, I would not. I would try for something different. But then I have had the privilege to hear and experience the results of these here earlier efforts, something that is difficult to over-estimate. I do think I have learned an awful lot. But how precisely my approach would differ, I cannot yet say.
For this to become clear, I'd need to start doing it.
And in fact this very morning I decided I will.
I will keep a sonic diary, by making ten second long recordings every single day of the year, in all the remaining years of my life whose number is prime.
Which means that, given good health and remaining efficiency, I will start my first sound diary some seven years from now, on january 1st, 2011. I might do a second one in 2017, and - if the lord permits - two more in 2027 and 2029 (a prime twin). Not totally impossible, though far less probable still: I'd have a go at my fifth attempt in 2039. And then - but oh, how unlikely this - might be lucky enough to finish a sixth one on december 31st, 2053 ... "
At the time of this writing there was no particular reason to choose one year rather than another for trying my hand at a year long sound diary myself. I liked the idea. I liked it a lot. But I most certainly did not want to start recording it already the next year. As I always had a weak spot for prime numbers, prime years for me then were sort of an obvious next thought. There would not be too many of those, but enough to - maybe - even allow me to finish more than just one year long sound diary within the remaining years of my life.
Also, in april 2004, the next prime year, 2011, lay safely far-a-way, somewhere in a hidden future, thus allowing me to just toy with the idea, rather than execute it. Seven years do make a quite substantial span of time. And many things did change between then and now, on both personal and more global levels. But now that the year has come, I'm happy to find that myself and this blog are still around. And while we are, why not enjoy it?
Which obviously means that indeed on the 1st of January of this new year I began to work on a sonic diary that will allow you to follow me through all of this prime year's 365 days in snippets of recorded sound that each last 10 seconds.
The past decade has seen a proliferation of making-one-thing-a-day-for-each-day-of-the-year projects, so much so, that it is really not too farfetched to start thinking of this as a genre. Though in principle it has nothing whatsoever to do specifically with the web or internet, the web and related software tools that nowadays are so readily available do seem to encourage the self-imposed regularity of a daily creative task to be fulfilled for the period of a year (artificial, but of obvious symbolic importance). A nice subject, maybe, for research, your thesis or a monograph.
I have not followed and/or searched for any of such projects specifically the past years. But sometimes one just stumbles upon them. Like the pretty neat 2010 'One collection a day' project, by San Francisco based artist and illustrator Lisa Congdon. The picture below shows Lisa's 290th day's collection: of sewing machine parts.
In the line of the sounding arts, there was New York based composer R. Luke DuBois, who took up the challenge of creating a piece of music every day, for an entire year. He started the year on his 34th birthday, on September 10th 2009, and indeed did follow through, until the day that he turned 35. Luke reported on his 'year in mp3s' in a NYT opiniator blog entry. It was this article, as a matter of fact, that a couple of months ago reminded me of the 'promise' I made in 2004 ... I was especially struck by the following observation in Luke's report :"[W]ithin a few months, making music every day became not only second nature, but a necessary part of my routine, like a morning coffee or remembering to feed my cat. " It is indeed this installment of a self-imposed daily routine, this second nature, that originally attracted me, and that I would be looking for as soon as I would dive into it myself.
I also already came across a music-a-day project for 2010. The Toronto-based ambient/noise/drone artist SIGHUP announced that he will be posting a new clip of music each day of 2011. And there are surely more that I am not (yet) aware of.
My own project for the year is less ambitious, in the sense that I certainly will not attempt to create a full-fledged piece of music every day. It is far more ambitious though, in the sense that for all of this year it will involve my daily recording of the soundscape in which I happen to find myself according to a strict routine. I will daily record within a time frame, that each month cyclically shifts through the 24 hours of the day. There is a formula for that, which I use as a rough guideline: on the n-th day of each month I will record (all or parts of) the sounds around me between n+12 (mod 24) and n+13 (mod 24) hours. Which means that on the 1st, I record in the afternoon between 13h and 14h; on the 2nd between 14h and 15h ... on the 12th between midnight and 1h, on the 13th between 1h and 2h ... and so on, until the 1st of the next month, when the recording will take place again in the afternoon between 13h and 14h ...
Because January 1st this year happened to be on a Friday, my recording week runs from one Friday to the next. At the end of each week, on Saturday, I select a 10 second fragment from each of the recordings made on the previous seven days. These I then assemble chronologically in a weekly track of Seventy Seconds. This assemblage involves a certain kind of 'composing', as I will allow myself to choose the daily 10 sec fragments within a weekly track in some 'fitting' relation to one another. I will also, most probably, each week pick an opening 10 secs that in some way 'fits' the 10 secs that ended the week before.
The weekly Seventy Seconds will every Sunday appear on hard//hoofd, a young, original, ambitious and creative Dutch online daily dedicated to art and journalism that I like a lot (also, but not only, because a couple of months ago hard//hoofd had the good taste, sense of humor and courage to take on my Final Soundtrack, complete and unabridged... :-)
The weekly Seventy Seconds on hard//hoofd each are accompanied by a 'diary' text (in Dutch); short enough to be read in about the same time as it will take you to listen to the sounds.
All of the current tracks will throughout the year be available, in reverse chronological order, at soundcloud.com/seventy seconds.
A technical note on the recordings: though there might be exceptions, in principle all recordings will be done on a Zoom H2 digital 'handy recorder', in stereo 44.1 kHz/16 bit wav-format.
added July 8th, 2012: You can listen to the full collection of 10-secs-a-day recordings for the prime year 2011 in two six-months parts as Episodes #10 and #28 of the experimental radio broadcast platform Radius, based in Chicago IL, US. The first part was broadcast in July 2011, the second part in July 2012.
Seventy Seconds, January 1st - June 30th, 2011
Seventy Seconds, July 1st - December 31st, 2011
tags: sound diary 2011, seventy seconds
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