My typical way of working in the studio for some time now has been to create a patch (the set of connections of a modular synthesizer), explore it until I’m satisfied, make one piece from it, then remove all the connections to start over from scratch for the next piece. For Variations A I decided make one patch with which I would then make multiple recordings. Even within one simple patch, there is a lot of potential for variety and I wanted to explore the continuum of similarity and difference.
Our earlier album Less Exquisite continued the original pattern that we developed for Exquisite Coast where we created pairs of solo pieces asynchronously. The subsequent More Less Exquisite was our deep exploration of Less Exquisite in real time. While the goal of More Less Exquisite was to bring our process to a live context, during the preparation for each rehearsal we continued to record solo versions of each patch before coming together in performance. Our latest release, Even More Less Exquisite, is a selection of the tracks recorded ahead of these live sessions.
Exquisite Coast is a shared patch game for the Make Noise 0-Coast created by Damon Holzborn and John O’Brien. Exquisite Corpse is a collaborative image or text game, developed by the Surrealists, where a text or drawing is created either by some set rule or by only revealing the end of what the previous person contributed. In that spirit, Exquisite Coast uses a tight set of technical constraints as an artistic challenge that encourage a deep exploration of the instrument. These guidelines are designed to foster creativity, provide a useful method to get to know your 0-Coast, and engage with a wider community of music makers
Learn more and join in at ec.rustle.works.
Musicians looking for a little connection in this time of isolation might consider the Disquiet Junto. Each Thursday Marc Weidenbaum posts a compositional prompt to stoke creativity and over the next few days members of the junto complete the assignment and share their recordings. Track sharing and discussion takes place at the lines community (the forum set up by the Monome folks). You can browse past projects here. Sign up for the project announcement list to get the weekly prompts straight to your inbox. More about the Junto.
Music and video by Damon Holzborn.
Music by Damon Holzborn.
Video by Betsy Nagler.
[This is the fourth in a series of scripts I’m sharing while I learn to write applications for the new Monome Crow, a Eurorack module that connects to Norns or computers running Max, Max for Live, and other serial-enabled applications. Crow also stores a complete script, so that without a USB connection it can continue to run, responding to CV input and ii messages.]
This script is my take on the Krell patch. If you are unfamiliar with this idea, learn more at Learning Modular. My Crow version of this idea outputs envelope and pitch plus two other user selectable CV values.
Download the script and find more details at the Lines forum.
See my previous post to hear it in action.
[This is the third in a series of scripts I’m sharing while I learn to write applications for the new Monome Crow, a Eurorack module that connects to Norns or computers running Max, Max for Live, and other serial-enabled applications. Crow also stores a complete script, so that without a USB connection it can continue to run, responding to CV input and ii messages.]
I’m always finding myself befuddled about the CV range a given input of a Eurorack module wants to see. The main function of this script is to take CV into input 1 OR input 2 and scale it out the outputs.
You can also send it a message in order to just send an arbitrary fixed voltage out each of the outputs, or a different fixed voltage out of each.
Download the script and find more details at the Lines forum.
Lest we think that we weren’t warned about the perils of social media until too late, here’s Douglas Coupland (or, one his characters in Microserfs anyway) in 1993:
“The modern economy isn’t about the redistribution of wealth—it’s about the redistribution of time. Instead of battling to control rubber boot factories, the modern post-Maoist wants to battle for your 45 minutes of daily discretionary time. The consumer electronics industry is all about lassoing your time, not your money—that time-greedy ego-part of the brain that wants to maximize a year’s worth of year.”
A beta exploration of the upcoming Park pseudo live coding system.
The first in my new series of imagined sounds aboard a starship.
Rustle Works has a new collaborative project with: music videos! Here’s a new one Betsy Nagler created for my 2012 piece, “Alexander,” from the album Character Weekend 1. It draws on footage that we filmed at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
The genesis of Tap Hear is rooted in a listening exercise I learned as an undergraduate studying music [redacted] years ago. At some point I was exposed to, or perhaps assigned, this task designed to open one’s ears to environmental sound.
Its effect on me was much more profound than I imagined it would be when I first sat down to try it. I found a nice place in the UC San Diego undergraduate library, got out my notebook and pencil, and prepared to sit and write down everything I heard for 15 minutes. I figured that would be plenty of time, but instead the experience was so unexpectedly interesting and enjoyable that I found myself wanting to continue after the time was up.
It’s hard to put myself in my state of mind from back then. I was young and just getting exposed to new worlds of interesting and unexpected music. It was music that sounded like nothing I had been exposed to growing up (this was long before the internet would provide easy access to the long tail of the music world and visits to Tower records could only take you so far…). Musician philosophers like Pauline Oliveros and John Cage were telling me to listen to the world around me, and after doing this exercise, I realized that that was a great idea!
For years I’ve looked back fondly on this formative experience, but I couldn’t remember exactly where it came from. Though I knew (or at least was pretty sure) it was from the writings of Pauline Oliveros, the exact source was lost to me until recently, when some helpful Facebook friends were able to quickly point me in the right direction. The instructions were simple:
Listen to the environment for 15 minutes or a longer but pre-determined time length.
Use a timer, clock or any adequate method to define this time length.
Describe in detail the sounds you hear (heard) and how you feel (felt) about them.
Include internal as well as external sounds.
You are part of the environment.
Explore the limits of audibility:
(highest, lowest, loudest, softest, most complex, nearest, most distant, longest, shortest sound)
That’s it. Just listen attentively in order to bring sounds that we generally ignore into focus. It turns out, when you give those sounds your attention, they become interesting.
There’s a good argument to be made that Tap Hear is technological overkill. All you really need is a pen and paper (or just your favorite notes app on your phone). Nevertheless, I’ve found it to be a useful tool that encourages me to spend some quiet time listening, and I hope that you will too. Either way, just find yourself a quiet space, and enjoy the music.
So find a spot, head over to Tap Hear, and listen!
 Pauline Oliveros, Software for People. Special thanks to Miguel Frasconi, Gascia Ouzounian, Ellen Weller, John O’Brien, Ellen Waterman, Jason Freeman and Daphna Naphtali for helping me ferret this out and suggesting additional resources. The Grand Prize goes to Gascia for being the first to suggest not only right book but the page number too. Honorable mention to John for being the first to suggest the book. Also thanks to all those in the undergraduate library at UCSD that afternoon sometime in the early [redacted]s for performing such a beautiful symphony.
I’ve never bought into the cruel lie that the artist must suffer in order to make art, though it’s certainly the case often enough. Many are able to productively channel pain into beautiful and powerful work. Work that touches others and work that is therapeutic for the creator. Perhaps for some it is not merely helpful but rather a necessary part of processing their emotion.
But not me. Whenever I’ve suffered through periods of anxiety or depression, my work has suffered right along with me. In the current shock and confusion, there’s a part of me that refuses to see any point in making art right now.
But that’s bullshit, as you were probably already yelling at your screen, and I know it. This post is really just a reminder to myself, present and future, to get back to work. Getting back to work spawns a virtuous cycle while breaking a seductive vicious one. This moment will pass, and when it does we will need to be ready to continue the fight for our values.
So first things first, time to get the fuck back to work.