Field recording isn’t just an empty exercise. It can change how you think. Just listen to Chris Watson, who records nature for a living: “Listening in a positive way – that is, actively taking the decision to focus on certain things and reject others … stimulates my thought process. It makes me think more laterally about problem solving. It makes me think in a different way.”
SX are the embodiment of just how dynamic DIY music can be. The Belgian duo, now in their second outing, make music that’s unmistakably pop, but with plenty of raw power humming under the hood. And Benjamin and Stefanie are fully invested in their collaboration in every last detail of production, from studio to music video to live. I wanted to talk to them primarily about how that creative process came together.
The world’s spaceflight programs generate astounding piles of images. But sight is just sense through which we can understand and imagine space exploration. And the medium of sound has been comparatively under-used. That’s starting to change. Recently, both NASA and the European Space Agency announced new archives of sounds were being made public and Creative Commons licensing. The licensing on these sounds means that you can not only listen, but also remix, sample, and share those sounds. This could be just the beginning. In November, I visited ESA’s European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC) in Noordwijk, Netherlands as part …
Last November, I went armed with some LOM label microphones to the Netherlands to find out what sounds you could discover in a space research facility. That exploration produced a lot of sounds, and one way to play with them was to transform them into percussion. Now you can download the drum kit I made for your own use, or to create your own instruments.
Microphones already expand what we can hear. New devices can sonify an unheard world even beyond sound. We covered the use of sound as a way of conveying gravitational waves, waves that – while not sound – are far easier for both scientists and lay people alike to grasp when translated to the audible spectrum. And we’ve already seen a world of microphones and devices by Jonáš Gruska, whose LOM label shares both the electronics and music made with them. Well, now Jonáš is back with a new generation of devices. Here’s what they are and how their results sound.
Apple has apparently been paying attention to the way musicians use their iPhones. If you’re like me, you’ve occasionally used Voice Memos for a quick musical idea or impromptu field recording. Apple is now turning that into an app, called Music Memos.
Celemony’s flagship Melodyne audio editor has long been reaching past the limits of what most people imagine as pitch correction. It was clear the mission of the software was no less than seamlessly transforming audio – shaping sound as directly as you can MIDI notes. Well, now it’s gone even further. Now we’re not just talking about moving polyphonic notes around. In Melodyne 4, we’re talking reaching into the spectra of polyphonic sound material itself. It’s like playing God with a recording.
The iPad has matured into a serious musical instrument and production tool. So it only makes sense to give it a serious audio interface. Now you can add to the list of candidates MOTU’s MicroBook IIc. MOTU announced this week their mobile interface is class-compliant, which means you can use it with the iPad. Since powering an audio interface would drain the iPad’s battery, you’ll instead connect this device via USB and the anachronistically-named Camera Connection Kit adapter, then use the AC power adapter in the box for juice. (It’s bus-powered on other devices.)
The music industry is fantastic at hindsight. We’ve obsessed over the spread of online piracy, the death of the CD, then the impact of streams. But every measure of the business model is somehow framed around acquiring records. And it’s about passive consumption. We have to remember, though, that passive consumption is itself really the outlier. Until the dawn of recording, music only existed when you played it. Our current copyright and licensing system was first structured around sheet music. And that world never went away. Precise recordings can give you the experience of listening, but no technology can give …
It’s French composer Pierre Schaeffer’s birthday, and if you’re using any form of sampling, it’s worth pausing to remember him. At 105 years of age, he’s more relevant than ever. Listen, to his Cinq études de bruits : Étude aux chemins de fer. Amazingly, this 1948 piece (made when my Mom was born) sounds like it’d still be a good listen on SoundCloud today (thanks, Yuri Spitsyn):