Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Sine Waves: catch-up!

Here are a few sound files generated from driving different wave shapes through an oscillator I meant to post a couple weeks ago!

sine wave ramp-up
rectangular shaped wave ramp-up
saw tooth wave ramp-up
trapezoidal wave ramp-up
triangle wave ramp-up


Here's a few scales I put together, divided by equal temperament and just intonation:

Equal Temperament
2-note scale starting at 100Hz
4-note scale at 100Hz
5-note scale at 100Hz

Just Intonation
12-note scale, low D
12-note scale, low E
12-note scale, low F#
12-note scale, middle Ab
12-note scale, high C#

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Curated listening

I have made a few selections of sound/music that I found inspiring for various reasons.

The first is a song by the band Bowery Electric, called Out of Phase. They play with texture primarily and stretch the musical experience out in a droney, luscious fashion.

The second track is by a band from the UK, called Broadcast. The song title is Minus Two. Broadcast are well known for their ability to manipulate sounds into all kinds of textures and melodic strings.

Next is a recording I made myself of an escalator railing at the subway station in the middle of Times Square. It's a virtual symphony of mechanics.

And finally! There are a couple of selections I'd like to play from studies done by Mark Whittle, a professor at the University of Virginia. Analyzing Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) radiation data, he was able to sonify the first 100,000 million years of the universe after the Big Bang (which, according to him, was actually the Big Flash, as the beginning of the universe started with silence, rising to a dull scream as matter pushed out ever further.. pretty neat!). This BBC article has some concise reporting on it.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Listen out / Listen down

While practicing listening downwards into the inner nucleus of the buzz of hallway lights outside of my apartment door, I found myself distracted by the outer sounds I kept hearing. Therefore, before focusing on what was going on at deeper levels of fluorescent lighting, I let myself focus outwardly.

Starting from the light I was standing under and moving outwards, I became aware of the fact that once I stopped to really listen, I could hear everything from the clanging of dishes in apartment 3A to (unfortunately) my neighbor relieving himself over in 4B. Beyond this, cars were easily audible from the street out front, with a couple dog yaps and childrens' squeals piercing their way over from the building on the other side of the road. Moving further out still, I could trace the sound of more traffic rushing down the streets that criss-cross through the East Village, out towards the Williamsburg Bridge. Moving upwards, you can also detect the sound of wind swaying winter bare branches, to the flap of someone's drying rug outside of some unit above, all the way up to the dull scream of a jet slipping across the sky to I can't say where. Actually, the plane felt almost as loud as the cars cruising by out front of my building.

Having got that out of the way, it was easier to come back to think about the lowly light whose buzz nonetheless always caught my attention. It's not just these particular lights in my hallway; it's fluorescent lights with their buzz in every hallway that I've ever been in that catch my attention, specifically when I'm sitting in the stairwell trying to focus on anything to keep myself from being sick, usually around 4am after a party has gone on too long. Listening long enough, you can pick out the different layers of sound, overlapping each other like scratchy gauze. The different frequencies even seem to move in and out of phase with one another, creating a hypnotic lull of monotonous shifting audible vibrations.

For reference, here's a recording of the lights just outside my door.