A realisation of Nature Study Notes CCR76 by Cornelius Cardew, commissioned by Stefan Szczelkun.
Nature Study Notes is a collection of 152 different rites, or short text ‘scores’, used by the Scratch Orchestra as a spring board for improvisation. CCR76’s text says, ‘It’s not music. It’s my heart beating.’
For this, piece, I started with the most obvious cue. I downloaded a sample of a heartbeat from Freesound and recorded my coffee grinder, which I felt alluded to a rapid heart rate. Both of these sounds appear with no modification, but the heartbeat sound is also used for amplitude modulation and ring modulation of a FM sweep I coded in SuperCollider. The piece was assembled in Ardour.
This piece was used in the Scratch Orchestra Nature Study Notes performance at Cafe Oto in London on 22 February, 2015. As Stefan only had one speaker, the piece is in mono.
Commissioned and titled by David Jensenius, who says the title is the unix timestamp of when he received the commission.
This is an acoustic piece, recorded with a zoom and mixed in Ardour. The source sounds are my radiator, my kettle boiling, shoving a running recorder into a plastic bag and finally feedback from when I accidentally told Ardour to do monitoring of the internal microphone to the internal speakers. The feedback timbre is modified by putting my thumbs over the speaker grates. This does not have as much subtlety as the kind of speaker cupping that PowerBooks UnPlugged does with macs and feedback, but it still works.
The plastic bag portion of the sound is influenced by the Fluxus composition Micro 1 by Takehisa Kosugi, “Wrap a live microphone with a very large sheet of paper. Make a tight bundle. Keep the microphone alive for another five minutes”. I highly encourage people to try that out, as it’s surprisingly wonderful.
If you would like to commission a one minute piece, check out my online shop.
I was home last year for my uncle’s funeral. I don’t have a car or even a drivers license any more, so I rode a lot of trains, especially around the the South Bay Area. Silicon Valley’s trains are diesel, with real bells on them. They sound like something out of time, like our rail infrastructure is from the past even as our gadgets are pushing us into the future.
I recorded the trains and bells with a Xoom recorder. Then, I analysed the spectrum of the bells and used dissonance curves to construct a tuning for FM tones modelled on the bells. I used those tones to construct a drone and then mixed in some processed versions of the train sounds. There’s also a bit of binaural beating in this piece, making it a safe, legal high.
In the process of making this piece, I released a SuperCollider Quark called TuningLib, which has in it a DissonanceCurve class, useful for computing tunings based on timbre.
Commissioned and titled by Josh Fruhlinger. (2007)
Josh gave me the title before I started the piece. Gil Thorp is the name of a surreal American newspaper comic which is supposed to be about high school sports. Josh runs a blog discussing newspaper comics, called the Comics Curmudgeon.
I recorded (British) football from my TV, which included my housemate clapping after a goal. Then, I decided to use white noise, because it’s very similar to crowd sounds. I filtered it a lot to make sort of screetchy sounds. The football announcers didn’t exactly have the accent that I would expect Marty Moon to have, so I kept them in the background. My girlfriend said that it struck her as very Mark Trail-like, so I raised the volume of the background at the end, to make the sports connection clearer.
Bird-like sounds remind me of high school sports, but that’s probably because my high school had a terrible seagull infestation.
I suspect this particular piece might get especially high traffic, so I made a little YouTube video to go with it, but feel free to grab the mp3 if you prefer.