Category Archives: English

The words are in English

Away in a Manger

[play]Away in a Manger (2004)

If you like this piece, please consider donating to Shelter, a charity that deals with homelessness in the UK.

In 2004, back when I was doing my MA, I had just devised algorithms for automated cutting for Text Sound Poetry. I was mostly using these on political pundits, but when the holidays came around, I thought I could have my mac’s internal voice read some hymn lyrics and then do some cutting. The computer brightly proclaimed, ‘I love you, Lord Jesus!’ and I felt giddy with horror.

My partner at the time listened to it and said it was too cynical. So it sad on a hard drive for these last 11 years. It probably is too cynical for Christmas, but it’s not altogether out of place for this project.

This track is part of a larger project, ’12 days of Crimbo’, which will raise funds for homeless and/or LGBT charities.


I Love Christmas

I Love Christmas (2015)

If you enjoy this piece, please consider making a donation to the Refugee Council. We are in the midst of the largest refugee crisis since WWII. Refugees need our support in staying housed, clothed and fed.

this pieces uses more or less the same structure as a previous piece, Music for Panic Attacks, however, the synthesised timbres are seasonal for the holidays. It uses FM tubular bells, STKShaker Sleighbells and a Karplus Strong harp.

The voice is Donald Trump from two different occasions, talking about how, as president, he will pass a law mandating that all shops in the US wish patrons ‘Merry Christmas’, instead of ‘Happy Holidays.’ He doesn’t mention what will happen to shops owned by religious minorities,but let’s not dwell on that.


Nice to See You

[play]Nice to See You by No More Twist (2008)

No More Twist is a new duo of Polly Moller and I. We played this improvised set live on KFJC on 17 July 2008. She was on flute(s) and noisemakers and I played a live sampling application (written in SuperCollider). We were featured to promote the Edgetone New Music Summit. We will be playing there on Wednesday (23 July 2008), where we will be premiering a piece called “Inquisition.” It’s going to have Polly hooked up to a lie detector that I built and I’ll be interpreting her biometric data as she answers questions posed by the audience.

This piece here, however, has text from a long spam email and uses the latest iteration of my SC program SimpleSample.



[play]Phreaking (2008)

I wrote this piece for BrumCon 07. The con was sponsored by our local 2600 group, so I decided to use telephone in-line signaling codes as source materials. I spent a lot of time readin up on phone phreaking, which was just so completely cool. I never did it as a kid because the threats my dad made against me were so dire. But man, it was awesome!

The piece, though, is slightly silly. Well, maybe more than slightly. I doubt I’ll play it again, but I think the logic I used around the drum beats will definitely be refined and reused.

In the spirit of the con, the fugly, un-clean code is below the cut, along with some explanation of what the heck is going on. When I say ugly and unclean, I really, really mean it.

Continue reading



Every other week, I have to give myself an injection of testosterone. I find it really hard to actually pierce my flesh with a needle. It’s like stabbing myself. At the same time, having testosterone in my body is crucial to my identity.

About a month ago, I used a small digital camera and apple’s photobooth software to film myself from either side, trying to do the shot. The pressure was intense. The shot went terribly wrong. It took me forever to work up the nerve to actually push in the needle and when I did, I didn’t push it in far enough. The testosterone leaked back out of my leg through the puncture.

I created a soundtrack to this disaster using SuperCollider. The sound sources are my voice and de-tuned sine wave generators. The left and the right channels differ by 10 Hz. The sine waves move along a tuning lattice but with so much imprecision that the lattice becomes meaningless. Their timing is out of synch. Finally, a clock ticking sound comes in. How long has this been going on? How long have I been sitting here holding my needle? How long is this going to take me? How many more times will I have to go through with this?

Until the end of my life.

The video is created with Every time a new sound starts, the picture updates, but with a a lot of transparency, so time bleeds together and the images become blurry. I’d hoped that through the repetition of images that I experienced in making this piece, that doing the shot would become demystified and I would exorcise my demons. Did it work? I’ll tell you in two weeks.

[play] Shot (2008)


She’s Not There (2008)

[play] She’s Not There (2008)

I picked up my sousaphone this afternoon, with the idea that I could improve my chops and work out some angst. As I lifted it, the spit valve fell off. As I played it, several other bits rattled loose. Alas. So I put the headphone part of a usb headset around the part of the bell just above the bolts and started recording.

My voice has been changing. It’s more or less stable now, but I only have good control of it for about the bottom fifth of the main octave. After I sing some warmups, it feels tired. This process of learning to sing again in a lower pitch reminds me very much of switching from playing trumpet to tuba. Vocal cords and buzzing lips use the same physics, so it’s about the same idea. This is the first recording I’ve made of my voice since it began to change.

I found the last recording I made before it started to change and discovered I’d used the words “boys” and “girls” in a longer text. So I grabbed those two words and stretched them out a bit. It’s very very strange to me that’s no longer my voice. My voice now is the voice of a stranger. I wouldn’t recognize it in a recording.

I overdubbed some low frequencies from my MOTM synthesizer to make up for the headset’s inadequacies – it doesn’t have good frequency response in the tuba range.

The title of the piece is from a book by Jennifer Finney Boylan, She’s Not There: A Life In Two Genders. She talks about how she chose to keep her old voice. I can’t keep mine. It will never return. I feel a profound sense of loss for an attachment I never knew that I had. This is an elegy for my old voice. It was never lovely, but it was mine. No longer. It’s also an introduction to my new voice. The new instrument I’m just learning to play.


Are You a Feminist (Part 1)

[play] Are You a Feminist (Part 1) (2007)

I started making recordings for this piece well before I made the piece, when I recorded two women in Paris answering the question “Est-que ce tu es une feministe? Pourquoi ou pourquoi pas?” (Are you a feminist? Why or why not?) Then, uncertain how to proceed with the material, I let it sit on my hard drive for over a year until Sula, one of the voices, contacted me asking if I wanted to play some music at ETC, a feminist hacker con.

Rather than do the piece entirely in French, I asked the same question in English to some of my American friends and then in German to some of the con attendees. All but one of the participants was put on the spot with the question. Part one uses the voices of Kendra, Nick Dave and Sula.


Shorts: #22 For Benjamin Britten

[play] Shorts: #22 For Benjamin Britten (2007)

Commissioned and titled by Michael Strickland (aka sfmike)

Mike gave me the title before I wrote the piece. I spent a lot of time thinking about what to do with this. This last year, I learned that the Phillips Corporation had intended to get Britten to do the music for their pavilion in the 1958 Brussels World’s Fair.. They first went to their preferred architect, Le Corbusier, and he insisted that they use the music of Edgard Varèse. instead and Philips agreed. Their reason for initially wanting Britten was due to the popular success of his orchestral piece, The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra. It’s a piece with an optional vocal part which explains what instruments are playing as the musical themes pass through the different sections. They thought he could do something with a Young Person’s Guide to Electronic Music.

This came up in my classes because the studio that Philips built for Varèse eventually become the Sonology course, in which I am now enrolled. We have a large portrait of Varèse working on his composition on one wall. But what if they had not given into Corbusier’s demands and had just picked a different architect? I purchased a copy of the Young Person’s Guide and listened to it a few times, trying to imagine what Britten might have done with the Phillips Pavilion. It was boring! So I listened a few times to his much preferable War Requiem. Testcase suggested that I do something with the poetry of Wilfred Owen, since Britten used his work. I decided to combine both approaches.

After Varèse, Koenig started a course in electronic music, which also helped form Sonology. I got a copy of the instructions on how to realize Koenig’s Terminus. His instructions were more or less state-of-the art at the time, and thus would be related to what Britten would have done. I focussed on attacks and synchronization, synchronizing to the middle of every note except for the last few notes. I used some voltage control to change attack shapes – something that couldn’t be done at that time, but is labor-saving. The attack shapes are two different kinds of triangles, sines, sawtooth going up, sawtooth going down and square. Most of the sounds are tuned sines, but I added some variation later by using triangle waves and FM modulation, the later of which was definitely not available, but there were way more complicated techniques at the time that lead to similar sonic results.

The poem is Anthem for Doomed Youth, read by me. It’s stereoized by putting the right and left slightly out of synch, and is quiet. However, this doesn’t make it sound far away, because it sounds so close miced. This is the only non-mono part. The Philips Pavilion was all about spatialization, but this is an alternate universe where Philips refused Corbusier’s demands and got a different architect. Xenakis never wrote Metastasis. Curtis Roads never wrote his book on microsounds. River Runs was never written. Computer music takes a drastically different direction. And we all wear silver clothes and have flying cars.


Savage Beasts

Savage Beasts

To the right of Rush Limbaugh on the prison torture issue, there was Michael Savage, who advocated increasing prison torture and sticking lit dynamite in the anuses of Arab detainees. (Savage May 10-11, 2004)

I found a similarly racist clip from a morning show on NBS called Imus in the Morning, which was showing pictures of Palestinians mourning the death of Yassir Arafat. One of the voice-overs from the Imus show was calling the Palestinians “animals” and was advocating dropping “the bomb” on them and killing everyone. The other co-hosts laughed along with this idea. A week later, they played a clip of someone pretending to be General Patton, speaking about a real event in which an embedded reporter had just filmed footage of a US Marine shooting an injured, unarmed Iraqi insurgent. “Patton” used the term “raghead,” and the phrase “bearded fatwa fairy.” (Imus in the Morning) Imus’ racism was thus clearly linked to his homophobia. During the Arafat sequence,, one of the male voices said something about the “fat pig wife of [Arafat] living in Paris.” Another commentator, noting the emotion of the Palestinians said, “It’s like the worst Woodstock.” Hippies are liberals are feminists are Palestinians are ragheads are gay are women are Iraqis are French. Alien others are thus interchangeable. Every group is standing in for every other group. And while they laughed, one of the commentators kept repeating “animals” and “kill them all.”

As I worked on the piece, I became discouraged. NBC was forced to apologize for the content of the Imus show (“MSNBC apologized for racist commentary on Imus”), but the piece only reminded me of the left’s failure to turn torture into a mainstream issue. I decided that offensive statements about the desirability of torture were not enough to support the piece, as clearly, not enough people would care. Also, “here’s a guy saying something offensive” seemed too weak to carry a piece.

I decided to focus on the laughter. I looped the laughing track and played violent phrases from Imus and Savage on top. Thus the Imus men laugh hysterically at themselves and at Savage. The entertainment value of genocide, violence and torture is thus highlighted.


Lock Up Your Children

Lock Up Your Children

This piece explores the controversy surrounding Buster the Bunny. In one episode of this children’s show, the cartoon rabbit goes to visit a Vermont family headed by two moms. He says hi to the moms once in an extremely brief scene. This caused a controversy as the United States government withdrew funding for the show.

This piece uses clips of the controversy being discussed on Frontline, of Bill O’Reilly and other pundits discussing the controversy, and of Fred Phelps preaching some gospel truth.

Il y a un emission pour des enfants aux Etats-Unis que s’appelle “Buster the Bunny.” Une fois, le lapin animé, Buster, est allé au Vermont et a vu une famille lesbienne avec des enfants. Il a dit «bonjour» aux mères dans une scène breve. Il y a eu une grande dispute et le gouvernement a donné une réprimande à PBS.

Ce morceaux contient des extraits des nouvelles à propos de cette dispute, la voix de Bill O’Reilly (un présentateur), et de Fred Phelps qui prêche le vérité de l’évangile.