The Radioactive Orchestra: learning about radionuclides through music.
Absolutely fascinating article about how the songs of humpback whales in the South Pacific evolve and spread. It turns out that specific themes in songs change astonishingly quickly, every 2 to 3 months, and new songs travel westwards from the east coast of Australia to French Polynesia.
But the best part? “Sometimes the “hit song” contained snippets from previous seasons…” Humpback whalesong mashups!
“Fifty years ago, a faulty connection in a mixing board gave birth to fuzz, which is a term of art. … But fuzz was different from those tube-driven sounds. Transistors boosted and then severely clipped the guitar’s signal, creating a buzzy, not-quite-of-this-world timbre. It sounded kind of synthetic, and far from warm or earthy. It was perfect, though, for a world still dreaming of the cosmos — the first manned space flight would occur a few months after the release of Robbins’ song — but not quite ready for the purely electronic tones to come.”
Read more: Fifty Years of Fuzz in Rock’n’Roll, at The Atlantic.
Secondhand Music: the chance harmonies of everyday sound may mean more than we think.
Lovely essay in the Atlantic about the psychoacoustics of the sounds in our environments.
Outside of the Malba museum, an ambient city noise sensor
Sergio Avello, “Volume”
An installation for the forecourt of the Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires, this piece uses 7 VU meters to gather ambient noise, and then converts them into a visual display of LEDs.
More information here.
Cliche or classic? Depending on your inclinations and level of expertise, this list at Synthmania can be interpreted as either an encyclopedia of hackneyed samples, techniques and loops, or as an excellent primer into famous sounds, complete with explanations and audio samples.
A twist on sound sculpture: in this case, speakers were used to make gorgeous kinetic sculptures with paint. This is the making-of video.
Erwin Stache, “87,3 Kilo Ohm”
My favourite thing about this sound sculpture is that it encourages people to play together in public.
This installation looks fantastic:Five modified toy pianos circulate the gallery on five elevated wooden tracks. Each piano is equipped with small speakers to play amplified sounds picked up from conductive tape on the tracks. Each piano also contains small motors which intermittently spin to strike the toy pianos’ tone bars, adding acoustic elements to the overall soundtrack of the work.
Needless to say, the idea of toy pianos riding atop magnetic tape and picking up samples as they go is a brain-tickler.
Really, what’s not to love?
Sun Boxes are an environment to enter and exit. It’s comprised of twenty speakers operating independently each powered by solar panels. There is a different guitar sample in each box all playing together making the composition. The guitar samples are all of different lengths so the whole piece keeps evolving.