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October 26, 2007

Kristin Oppenheim

Here are the pieces I played during last night's presentation:
Hey Joe
Tap Your Shoes

Bonus Tracks:
A Woman Left Lonely
She Was Long Gone

For reference:
The Beach Boys "Sail On, Sailor"
Sail on Sailor

and Jimi Hendrix's version of "Hey Joe"
Hey Joe

October 19, 2007

La Monte Young

On La Monte Young...

"Disdainful of worldly realities, he once subscribed to a twenty-seven-hour day around the clock - eight for work, eight for play, eleven for sleeping - a regime that meshed with the rest of the world only a fraction of the time. He insists that other people who perform his work must pay in inverse proportion to a piece's length - three hundred dollars for seven minutes, twenty-five dollars for twenty-four hours."

Known as a father of minimalism, his legacy lies in the influence he's had on the concepts of spatiality, tonality, drone, duration, amplification, theater, singularity, repetition, psychology, and dream. He's also dealt heavily in different tuning systems, such as just intonation. You can see his influence in musicans like the krautrockers Faust, the ritual theater doom of SUNN O))), Lou Reed, Tony Conrad, William Basinski, and the stoner metal masterpiece by Sleep, "Dopesmoker."

works in particular:
Compositions 1960
The Theater of Eternal Music
Tortoise, His Dreams and Journeys
Dream House
The Well-Tuned Piano

A few quotes:
"The first sustained single note at a constant pitch, without a beginning or end, that I heard as a child that did not have a beginning or ending was the sound of telephone poles - the hum of the wires."

"Once I tried lots of mustard on a raw turnip. I liked it better than any Beethoven I had even heard."

Regarding his performance of Toshi Ichiyanagi's "Mudai Number One," in which he timed and counted 30 cents worth of string beans:

"Was it music?"

"I think so. There was a score, and certainly it involved a duration of time, an element with which music has always been involved. Certainly, picking the pods out of the bag made a little rustle here and there. People were sitting and listening, and I was definitely performing. According to the definitions that I had exposed in my earlier 1960 pieces, I'd say it was certainly music."

"Music might be defined as anything that makes a sound, or anything one listens to."

For more information...
UbuWeb on La Monte Young
La Monte Young's Drift Study


If you're interested in looking for more of La Monte Young's music that isn't headpiercing periodic sine waves, or music by any of the other influenced/related artists and musicians I mentioned, let me know and I can help you out. It seems absolutely impossible to find anything La Monte Young has done on the internet.

October 18, 2007

Letters of Numbers--Tyler Hallett

Download file

I can sit in a room too!--Tyler Hallett

After listening to I am sitting in a room I at first had mixed reviews, but reflecting on it now I see it as great listening experience. During the beginning parts of the piece I felt like he monotonous voice dragged on and caused the strange desire to hear the abstract noise alluded to as each version of the speech became less recognizable. As the speech became abstracted by noise the piece took on a new feeling and caused an almost meditative state, which I attribute to the length and sounds of the piece. The thing I like most about the piece was the fact that it took me out of my reality or at least moved me away from the chaos of life, for that time I was sitting in a room and the noise became something to explore and enjoy.

October 12, 2007

I am Siting in a Room

This piece really required alot of patience's. By the third time that it repeated I began to get a little tired of it, especially after having to restart the piece. Theres something about knowing somewhat where the whole experience is headed that can disrupt the the initial experience.

As the words and sounds began to disintegrate it reminded me of 2001: A Space Odyssey, when H.A.L. began to "die."..... It was interesting as how one aspect of sound disappeared another was formed.

I also thought it was interesting that when the words disappeared, for a period of time there after you were able to follow the pacing and understand where you were in his speech.

October 11, 2007


This is an opportunity to find out about sound artists that you may not be familiar with as well as an opportunity to present related work of sound artists that you are already familiar with.

some links to sound artists ~ add more


one lonely pixel

University of Southhampton, UK


In response to the reading in Background Noise, LaBelle really demonstrates the degree to which sound art is becoming a definite and more defined art form. The reading gives a pretty comprehensive overview and a general history of what sound art exhibits. The relationship between sound art and the emergent audio technologies appears to be increasingly dynamic, as well as, the way in which sound art functions spatially through reproduction and disseminated of media, and in relation to the intensities of communication and its context. I find it interesting to see how this style of art continues to find new contexts and the way in which it can be manipulated as it continues to grow.


Presentations Scheduled for 30 minutes including discussion:

October 18th

1.niles jefferson

2. tim zhu

October 25th

1. Rachel Lundstrom

2. Kelsey Dilts McGregor

3. Andrea Steudel

November 8th

1. Steven Schmitz

2. Juanita Berrio

3. Nic Buron

4. brett nelson

November 15th

1. Tyler Hallett

2. Nick Andreoli

3. Mitch Moritz

Background Noise

While reading this book, I kept thinking of the term background noise, and how usually, for me at least, is a hindrance, especially when recording. I thought those were interesting words to use for the description of sound art.
random article on background noise: http://www.livescience.com/health/051202_background_noise.html

Anyways, I like that there is an attempt to create literature on this art, but I agree with the others, sometimes it's hard to read about sound art and not to experience it. I hate that I can't ever hear these pieces in their natural environment, I can only read about them and listen to them on CDs. I suppose thats the same with most art, the environment changes everything. I like that debate between sound art and music also, where that line is drawn--and again, how is 'sound art' suppose to be experienced?

I liked reading about John Cage because I've only learned about him in a music class setting and when you approach him from a "sound art" perspective, it can change. The idea that everything is music changes the way I think of sound art.

Again, the whole technology is so freakin' intriguing to me, and how it has shaped and influenced the making and listening of sounds as a whole. The use of technology, and whether the listener is aware of it and the intent of the artist all plays a huge part of my own listening experiences. It ties into Cage's idea of audience participation, and the difference between passive and active engagement.

Altogether I'm enjoy reading the book, despite the heaviness of it. I like that I'm beginning to make connections to other things I've read on the subject.


1 minute re-contexualized

download remix

i am sitting in a room.

1. I'm familiar with this piece, but it changes every time I hear it. Listening to it in a large room, as opposed to my bedroom, makes it eerie and lonely to me. It isn't as intimate or inviting, it reminds me of loss when I hear it in an open space.

2. I still love the moment where my brain finally lets go of the text and just listens to the sounds, I think it happens about 25 minutes in. Then I can finally listen, and not try to decipher the text.

3. The idea of the technology behind it is probably what intrigues me most, and kept me thinking the entire time. How speech and music are reduced to frequencies, which opens up into all those frequencies we don't notice or hear. How they intersect without anyone knowing. And the way we can tap into this "other world" (which I really think it is) by using a microphone, a speaker and tape.

The room

Even though the physical phenomenon is not what the artist is really interested, I find it very interesting and is what I like the most of the piece.
I like the "room's voice" better than the artist's voice!
It's interesting that everything around us has it's own resonant frequency, it's own voice, and that everything is constantly talking to us, but we just ignore it.

Background Noise

Big problem I had with this book is Labelle's style of writing. I felt like I was back in my intro to philosophy class being forced to dissect every sentence to obtain the meaning from it. He then had a habit of adding "In other words" at the end of this long rants that he would go on. I guess to help the poor "lamen." If you feel like you need to add a dumbed down version of what you just said for the sake of your audience, then you should probably rethink exactly who you are writing this book for. I seemed verbose for the sake of being verbose.

I did find the "People or Plants" section of 4'33" very interesting. By actually engaging the audience in the piece, making them a part of it rather than a passive element, I think that Cage does a wonderful job of breaking the barrier between audience member and participant.

I am sitting in a room reflection

As I am new to sound art that was and probably will remain for some time the longest sound art piece I've listened to thus far. I closed my eyes and felt everything around me disappear just imagining the emptiness of this room that Alvin Lucier is recording this in. This piece forces your brain to work. Even when his voice is distorted to almost incomprehension your brain can still pick out bits and pieces of the original speech. By the time it was over I felt exhausted by the concentration that I had unconciously exherted just to hear his voice for as long as possible.

1 Minute Sound Art piece

Download file

I guess this is a remix, but it is of my own work. It feels like cheating, so I am going to work on something new.

Background Noise

I was always really interested in the idea that John Cage used to attach objects to the internal organs of his piano. I have read about it many times, but have never actually heard it.

I was always drawn to that idea, because I felt that it reflected (or rather, I reflected it) what I am doing with the music/sound that I make. I have always been interested in many types of music/sound, and strive to incorporate all of these influences in what I do. I like to combine organic/acoustic music with inorganic/electronic music. I feel that beyond the influence other music has on what I create - my biggest influence is the city I grew up in. St. Paul. This city is filled with both trees and tall buildings (not that tall).

So, this post was originally going to be about John Cage, but turned into some bogus artist statement for a seemingly over-prentencious work of sound. Sorry. Maybe I justed liked Cage's idea because I think painos are cool?

Another idea that I was drawn to in the book was Cage's constant reflection. He reflected on what sound was, by making sound. It's like looking at a mirror, by looking at a reflection of it in a mirror.

Three Moments of "Sitting in a Room"

1. I start to forget that I am listening to anything at all.
2. Soon after that I realize that I have been listening to someone repeating the same thing over and over again.
3. I forget all about everything for a short while, and then remember my last two thoughts. I now think to appreciate what is happening.

Reflections - I am sitting in a room

Yes. I am sitting in a room. As I am sure you're as well. I am reflecting on what it means to be sitting in this room, any room. It may mean a lot, it may mean nothing. I feel, with all redundancy, that we are always sitting in a room. We're at school. We're at our desks at work. We are trapped under our televisions. Stuck behind glass in our little insulated vechiles. When aren't we sitting in a room? When we're outside? When we're riding our bikes or cutely going green? Aren't we still just trapped in a room? Aren't we thinking about work, or school, or that episode of Lost? No matter where we go, we're buried under mortar, stacco, plaster - until we're buried under wood, dirt, and worms. Until the feedback rises and Alvin Lucier's voice is gone, and we hear the walls fade away. Suddenly we realize that maybe we aren't sitting in a room. Maybe all we hear is the microphone listening to itself. Maybe we don't know where we are.

October 10, 2007

One-minute project

Almost two minutes. Sorry!

Download file


Here goes my mix!
Download file

Alvin Lucier, "I am sitting in a room"

First, my attention is brought to the immediacy and pure presence of Alvin's voice, speech, language, words, and sentences, and then to the fact that I can almost see the room he is sitting in. Let's see where this goes...

My anticipation begins to pool a little as I realize exactly how long this process Lucier has envisioned will take: a really long time. But I begin to think of other ways to perform this experiment, and realize that this piece is an instruction manual.

Moments of boredom share themselves with moments of giddy realization; the room is singing, the room is speaking, not Alvin, in fact we never truly speak at all, the air between our lips and our ears is what does the speaking. And on another note... everything is decay, all things, including sound, are impermanent and always changing.

How to listen

Hello all! I'd like to recommend a video posted in TED.com (actually, I'd recommend most of the talks you find there). It is not exactly about "sound art" but I find it very interesting for our class. It is a talk called "How to listen to music with your whole body" and the lecturer/musician is Evelyn Glennie.
I hope you enjoy it!

October 9, 2007

The last hours

Download file

One minute sound experiment

Download file

I am sitting in that room too

The first thing the sound reveals is a non-fluent speech and all the concentration goes there (as I usually feel when I'm speaking English).
Then, after several repetitions, sound insists and highlights the idea that the man says, beyond the non-fluent speech.
To conclude, both the idea and the speech, fluent or not, are lost and only remains the sound as a shadow of the two of them.

One-Minute Coughing at Chaos

Download file

One-Minute Chaos

Download file

LaBelle's first section

The actual act of listening to sound is way more rewarding than the act of hearing about sound. After all, sound’s ultimate purpose is to listen to sound, not to talk about what sounds sound like, right? While reading about all of the revolutionary things Cage, Musique concrete and Group Ongaku are doing with sound, I can only merely envision what the performances and pieces are like. But I want more! I want to be a part of the creation! After all, the art these artists are creating is all about the time at that moment and the feelings associated with that time. It is all about the space, the form, and the specific people involved. Cage says himself that “music takes on social weight beyond symbolic systems and toward immediacy and the profound presence of being there.? What good does it do to hear about it now long after the experience?

I am not directing blame onto LaBelle or any of the quotes contributed in the reading. It is actually quite interesting learning about the evolution of this genre of art, and the strong feelings present about how life equals art. Although, I do agree with Kelsey in that the reading poses great difficulty with repetition and contradiction as its ingredients. But, it all makes sense to me; the reading of the writing on sounds reflects how it naturally is to discuss sounds—impossible.

My statements

1. T-t-today junior!
2. “I’m sitting here is this awesome room making all these cool reverberations and
resonating frequencies and you are not. Ha-ha!?
3. Would you like fries with that?

‘I was learning the fugue when suddenly a vacuum cleaner started up beside the piano. Well, the result was that in the louder passages, this luminously diatonic music in which Mozart deliberately imitates the technique of Sebastian Bach became surrounded with a halo of vibrato, rather the effect that you might get if you sang in the bathtub with both ears full of water and shook your head from side to side all at once. And in the softer passages I couldn’t hear any sound that I was making at all. I could feel, of course - I could sense the tactile relation with the keyboard which is replete with its own kind of acoustical associations - and I could imagine what I was doing, but I couldn’t actually hear it. But the strange thing was that all of it suddenly sounded better than it had without the vacuum cleaner, and those parts which I couldn’t actually hear sounded best of all. Well, for years thereafter, and still today, if I am in a great hurry to acquire an imprint of some new score on my mind, I simulate the effect of the vacuum cleaner by placing some totally contrary noises as close to the instrument as I can. It doesn’t matter what noise, really - TV Westerns, Beatles records; anything loud will suffice - because what I managed to learn through the accidental coming together of Mozart and the vacuum cleaner was that the inner ear of the imagination is very much more powerful a stimulant than is any amount of outward observation.’ - Glenn Gould’s account of his experience when studying one of Mozart’s Fantasias. Liner notes written by Michael Stegemann (translated by Gery Bramall), found in The Glenn Gould Edition SONY SMK 52 626.

I read this originally from a post of Lawrence Li's on his excellent blog Global Noise Online. GNO is perhaps the best resource regarding Chinese/Asian sound art, noise, and experimental music around.

Background Noise Reflection

I appreciate starting with Cage & how his work delivered pedestrian sounds into the spotlight . . . as illustrated by his statement that "everything we do is music." Having been born after these ideas came into the world through Cage's work, it's hard for me to imagine what the world was like before that. I find myself often romanced by the idea that everything we do is music - this typing I'm doing right now? It's a beautiful sound. I kept thinking as I read this book how Cage is somewhat akin to Marx or Freud in the way that he grandfathers a movement which spawns others to follow suit and even more to de- or re- construct the ideas that began with Cage.

I think Tim's insight into thinking about the Buddhist ideas of thus-ness are spot on. While I was reading about Cage I kept wondering if he studied Zen as his work embodies the very notion of exploring both what is present and what is not. It's a strange concept to try to explain because it's something that doesn't make any kind of linear or logical sense. As it turns out, Cage did study Zen to a certain degree although it's my understanding that he never became a practitioner of it.

I'm rather fascinated with the research of musique concrete with the advent of tape recorders replacing phonograph records & how a collective curiosity managed to explore all the new ways sound could be manipulated. Again, I try to imagine what the world was like before you could play something backwards or have reverb put on an existing sound. It's so easy to sculpt sound in this way today I keep thinking, "what was this like when it was totally new?" If anyone has the chance to listen to the radio lab piece on the musicality of language, there's a story about a composition that caused rioting upon it's debut that's both entertaining & enlightening. How humans sonic-ly evolve to new sounds is fascinating to me. When does a reverb transform from being a really weird and maybe uncomfortable sound into an attractive sound?
It reminds me that in this digital age we're in a new era of sonic evolution ourselves.

Now that I'm farther into the book, it's hard to comment specifically on the first assignment because the first chapter really sets the stage for what's to come. I'm also still not a huge fan of the writing style although I'm decidedly less crabby about it now that I've moved farther into the book.

I'm anxious to hear what others thoughts are on the book & the historical perspective given.

October 8, 2007

One Minute Sound Re-mix

Re-contextualization Download file

One Minute Sound

Download file

Sound Recontextualization

Download file


October 7, 2007

Happenings and Jorge Luis Borges

Reading the first part of the assigned section in Background Noise for this week, I began thinking about a short story by Jorge Luis Borges in relation to what I was reading about Happenings. The story is "The Lottery in Babylon," and details a process in which a simple lottery becomes so complex and multifaceted that the lottery becomes life itself and life becomes the lottery. It's a fantastic story.

Also, Kelsey was talking about a Radiolab program last time, called "Musical Language."

reading reflection

In regards to the relationships between the evolution of experimental music and the emergence of rapidly developing new tech, I found it very interesting that what had essentially occurred, it seems to me, was many disparate artists and musicians, dissatisfied with the current state in general, had picked up the detritus of modern civilization and remade it with tape loops, turntables, radios, TVs, and the junk of new technology. Of course... I'm casting my own subjectivity on this and my analysis is probably way off.

The primary motives of all these artists related in the first section (Group Ongaku, John Cage, and musique concrete) remind me of a certain term used in Buddhism: suchness, or thusness. The sound in itself, an expression of the enlightenment of the very moment that is all moments.

It is slow reading because Brandon LaBelle seems to enjoy wordplay and convoluted, complex sentences, but I have to admit I find it very fun to read because of this. He evidently takes a high appreciation for his wordcraft, I think... Also, ubuweb definitely provides almost everything you could need in terms of listening to the artists that LaBelle references. A CD companion would have been nice. I love Group Ongaku!

Reading Reflection

Before I post an entry containing any feedback related to the topics Diane suggested we write about, I wanted to find out what reaction others are having to the reading. I am having a really hard time with the author's writing style. His sentences are frequently longer than they need to be and seem to over-complicate ideas that, in my opinion, could be stated more simply. This causes me to wonder if his ideas are not completely formulated in his own mind as he seems to get caught up in the rush of contradictions (among other things) present in the world of sound, music, and sound art. Also, there are many references to specific works, styles, and movements that I have no prior knowledge of which frustrates me further. I wish this book came with an accompanying cd. Without one, my reading is disrupted as I need to frequently look things up online or try to find recordings of pieces referenced.
Is anyone else struggling with this text?

October 6, 2007

One Minute Sound Piece + ReMix

Here's the link to our first assignment, the one minute sound piece:

Download One Minute Piece

Here's the Re-Mixed one minute piece:

Download ReMix file

3 Moments by Kelsey

1. Interesting how the stutter fades early on.
2. It's taking a loooong time to lose all semblance of language in this.
3. I wonder if it's possible to translate speech from the reverberations.

October 5, 2007

3 statements by Andrea

1. Ha...Interesting contradiction.

2. Is she really going to play the whole thing?


3 moments

Reflect on your experience listening to Alvin Lucier's work "I Am Sitting in a Room"

Post your reflection as a series of 3 statements, each describing a distinct moment in your experience of listening to "I Am Sitting in a Room".

Make a Blog Post under the category Reflections - I Am Sitting In A Room.

"I Am Sitting in a Room", Alvin Lucier

I am sitting in a room different from the one you are in now. I am recording the sound of my speaking voice and I am going to play it back into the room again and again until the resonant frequencies of the room reinforce themselves so that any semblance of my speech, with perhaps the exception of r-r-r-rhythm, is destroyed. What you will hear, then, are the natural resonant frequencies of the room articulated by speech. I regard this activity nnnnnot so much as a demonstration of a physical fact, but more as a way to s-s-smooth out any irregularities my speech might have.

October 4, 2007

Class on Thursday October 4th

This evening's class provides you unexpected time to continue working on your sound art projects.

Regrettably I am not able to be in class this evening to facilitate the listening of the remaining 1 minute remixes of sounds gathered from the 1 minute sonics of others in the class, nor discuss our readings from Background Noise, nor introduce you to the wonders of working with sound in Room W112.

Before we meet again next week, and before or after you enjoy this evening's gift of time, please prepare by doing the following:

- Post your (2) 1 minute sound files on the blog: the 1 minute site-sound piece and the remix that you composed.

- Reflect on your experience listening to Alvin Lucier's work "I Am Sitting in a Room"
Post your reflection as a series of 3 statements, each describing a distinct moment in your experience of listening to "I Am Sitting in a Room". Make a Blog Post under the category Reflections - I Am Sitting In A Room.

- Make a Blog Post, as a paragraph of text or another form of your choice, in response to the reading in Sound Art. Focus your attention on the relationships between sound art and the emergent audio technologies of the times as explored in this first section of the book, pages ix - 46.

- Begin to consider the sound artist that will be the topic of your presentation. We will set the schedule for presentations next week. For inspiration check out

- Next week's Readings - Read pages 47 - 132 in Background Noise. We will begin our next class with a discussion of the readings to date.

- I will email a set of links that you can use to begin to familiarize yourself with the resources of W112 in preparation for some studio time next week as well.

- and finally to listen to some work by an artist interested in this week's theme of sonification, such as the work of Andrea Polli . I will present her work next week.