Monthly Archives: October 2012

Sound recording in public

Today I saw someone hastily pocketing their M-Audio Microtrack II while listening on headphones; instantly recognisable from its strange scientific looking stereo mic configuration. If only sound recording devices were more socially acceptable like the digital camera one could carry it around in public without raising suspicion. It feels like there’s a stigma around sound recording equipment – they are alien devices, unknown by most and akin to spy like technology. Taking a photo of a someone in public is more acceptable than recording their voice because as a society infused with CCTV and remote surveillance we have become used to a visual invasion of privacy. Audible privacy is something we feel we own the right to; sometimes stepping out of that right in a public conversation on a mobile phone for example. I think there is a fear that our social exploits would be used in a negative way such as if the words on this blog were turned around for a different use. If a conversation happens in public – who owns the sound if it were recorded? If everyone was being recorded in public right now would we be more careful about what was being said?

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Radiophonic Workshop

Today I went to check this event out as part of THE SPACE and really enjoyed it. Matt Herbert, who is becoming a favourite of mine is the recently appointed creative director of the reborn ‘Radiophonic Workshop’. The day was split up in to a number of talks; the ones I saw were Music and Technology. The music one was a very interesting explorative debate on the role of music in films, theatre, tv and artistically. One point that Matt Herbert made was the seeming regression from electronic music to classical in certain theme tunes such as the re-imagined Doctor Who theme, originally created by Delia Derbyshire at the Radiophonic Workshop. The parralels between climactic, orchestral scores in film are apparent in some TV programs as a solution to mainstream audience need in the perception of importance. Another speaker on the panel, Paul Morley spoke of the TV ‘Classic Awards’ as a collective climax of uninspired music that could be stamped from a template of safely played underscore….or something along those lines.

The technology talk was something that got me thinking too. Yann Seznec showed us his project called ‘The secret sound of spores‘ which was a fantastic demonstration of combining technology with nature in its purest sense. The arbitrary results of a spore-catching-light-triggering midi synthesizer wonderfully reaffirmed a connection between a natural living process and an engineered electronic outcome of which a sense of control blends between the natural and the unnatural. It got me thinking about how we can make musical instruments that give back to the performer; a deeper interaction between musician and instrument much like the improvisation of two musicians responding to each other’s playing. We also heard from Robert Thomas from RjDj explaining how ubiquitous technology platforms (such as the iPhone) can provide us with a rich mine of data that can be extracted and used to target listeners musically based on unique situations they are in such as the weather, where they are in the world, how fast they are travelling in a car etc. This is a really interesting approach for a musician because you have the chance to engineer an exact experience for the listener defined by all-encompassing (‘shotgun’) and  fine-tuned (‘sniper’) scenarios.

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The Space

I just discovered THE SPACE – “a new, deliberately experimental service, managed by Arts Council England and developed in partnership with the BBC. It has been designed to give arts and culture organisations the opportunity to experiment and engage with new and existing audiences in a completely innovative digital environment. It is a pilot and will be available from the 1st May 2012 to the 31st October 2012”

I have only briefly looked at this and it looks like they have  a lot of interesting stuff so far – check it out

http://thespace.org/

Mindful Solitude

I was recently perusing the shelves of Foyles in Euston station one evening without a purpose and found a book called “Seeking Silence in a Noisy World” and having briefly scoured the first few pages I knew that it was the book to buy. It talks in depth about the value of silence and how different cultures and religions approach silence. I particularly liked the explorations on the natural environment and how it connects us with our past both visually and sonically. Silence is a term that changes in context and cannot be explicitly defined as it mostly always a subjective experience.

The foreword reads

Often we do no recognize the value of silence until we are driven to seek it; most of the time it remains an unused resource. My own stumbling journey, which I will describe throughout the book, included a formal retreat while I was at college and a self-imposed silence on a Cumbrian moor. What I began to discover was that it is the natural world that helps me most of all.

http://www.foyles.co.uk/witem/mind-body-spirit/seeking-silence-in-a-noisy-world,adam-ford-9781908005113

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