September 2010 Archives

Rain Day


John Cage

To contextualize our readings in Background Noise, we watched several of John Cage's performances as presented on the virtual stage - youtube. Although several generations from the source experience I hope that these provide us with a shared reference as we continue discussing Sound Art theory and practice.

We watched video of:

4'33" as performed by David Tudor.

We talked about contrasting this with a performance of 4'33" with a full orchestra such as this.

To glean a momentary sense of how John Cage's work was perceived by the public when he began performing his compositions we watched:

the televised performance of Water Walk

I would also recommend:

about silence

27 sounds manufactured in a kitchen

To have a deeper sense of John Cage's work we viewed a collaborative performance of Variations IV with choreographer and dancer Merce Cunningham.

... followed by Marie Cieri's interview with John Cage and Merce Cunningham at the Walker Art Center.

Northern Lights and Art(ists) on the Verge [AoV]

Founded by Steve Dietz - a self proclaimed "serial platform creator", Northern Lights describes itself best.

"Northern Lights is a roving, collaborative, interactive media-oriented, arts agency from the Twin Cities for the world. It presents innovative art in the public sphere, both physical and virtual, focusing on artists creatively using technology, both old and new, to engender new relations between audience and artwork and more broadly between citizenry and their built environment."

Art(ists) on the Verge [AoV] is one of the programs of Northern Lights

Here is an example of a past call to artists to participate in the AoV program.

You can get a better sense of the program by looking at the participating artists from the 1st round and 2nd round of grantees.

Steve Dietz describes the purpose of Art(ists) on the Verge:

The Jerome Foundation supports several world-leading organizations such as Rhizome and Turbulence, who foster new media art practice and are important champions of such work. In addition, technological considerations increasingly expand all artistic practices, including literary, visual, and performing arts, the moving image, architecture and design. While there are many students and practitioners of so-called new media art in the Twin Cities and Minnesota, there is a paucity of opportunities and support to critically develop and present such work. The ultimate goal of the AOV Fellowship and Mentorship programs is to create sustainable habitat for the local ecology of experimental art practice with the following key elements: critical support and evaluation, monetary and technical resources, audience development, and institutional recognition.

Spark Festival


Spark is here now.

We will be visiting the installations during class on Thursday.

Look at the schedule of events to find one that interests you.

Attend that event and create a blog post that enables us to benefit from your perspective as you describe:

  • What was the event you experienced? - describe it such that we can imagine being there with you
  • How did you responded to and engaged with that sonic experience?
  • How do you relate this experience to concepts that you are exploring in Sound Art?

I encourage you to experience the performances of as many of the featured artists as you can fit into your schedule.

Music and Sound Studies Colloquium Series

Monday, October 4
4:30 pm
Ferguson Hall, Room 280
Reception to follow
Free and open to the public

The New Capitalism, Globalization, and the Commodification of Taste

Timothy D. Taylor
Professor, Departments of Ethnomusicology and Musicology
University of California, Los Angeles

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, myriad discourses emerged that attempted
to understand the present: was it postmodern, the information age, the
postindustrial era, an era of the new capitalism? Many influential
publications adopted and fleshed out these various perspectives.
"Globalization" as a way of viewing the present and recent past
appeared relatively recently, yet it has come to dominate considerations of
the present, both in and out of academia, eliding some aspects of other
perspectives. This presentation examines what is lost when globalization as
an analytical framework becomes dominant.
"Globalization" as a perspective and related body of theory can help us
understand how musics travel, for example, but is less useful in explaining
what happens once world music has traveled and entered the Euro-American
music industry in an era of the new capitalism. With the explosion of music
available on the Internet and the difficulty of finding what one wants,
what emerges, among other things, is the importance of what people in the
culture industries call "search": the means of finding music or other
cultural products. The importance of search has resulted in the increasing
commodification of taste, both in the form of music supervisors, who choose
music for use in films and television programs and who have become
increasingly influential in the entertainment industry; and the rise of
complex algorithms that help consumers find music to listen to based on
their prior purchases or listening habits, and those of others.

Music and Sound Studies upcoming speakers
October 25: James Hepokoski
February 7: Ron Rodman
March 7: Mark Katz
April 8: Kiri Miller

Music and Sound Studies Colloquium Series
Sponsored by the U of M's Office of Interdisciplinary Initiatives

3 Questions - Sam

What is the usefulness of studying media through a singular artist, and what about this approach can be problematic?

What role does authorship play in sound-art in relation other media?

What are the compositional relationships between musique concrete, and the work of Jon Cage?

questions after digesting written thoughts.

1. What are and can be some approaches to address the quest of defining beauty via sound art? What is like to interlink some of the objectives within art's realm?
2. Investigation of cultural and/or historic elements that have helped to confirm synergy in overall works discussed so far.
3. Why can't I get rid of a feel that 'sound art' has limited listeners/observers compared to best of the rest (art) ?

Rainy Day Sketch: Eric Tanaka


Art of Noises Reflection: Eric Tanaka

This was a very interesting take on how music will evolve, and in many ways, it has. There are new sounds, new noises, new vibrations that have been brought forth and conquer the radios today. The inclusion of electronic and digital sound have brought a vast amount of new noises to add to the array of acoustic noises that we have come to be accustomed to. One thing I disagree with him about is that there are infinite noises. That is because I doubt infinite exists, especially with what is applicable to humans, but that is just a nit-pick. Anywho, back to my reflection, I like how he is a painter and definitely sees the capabilities of music in the way a painter or visual artist would. He sees vast potential in the art and does not settle for what is here now, and because we, the people, haven't settled either we have come leaps and bounds from the classic orchestra and we will continue on that path until the end of our days. I am sure the writer would be proud if he were to see the soundscape of today.

Reflection Questions

1. Do you think that John Cage sound transcends music as he is trying to? Do you think he has failed in doing so or do you think he is successful? What approach would you make to make sound "transcend" music?

2. There is much talk about music and sound art and experimental music (which can, perhaps, either be defined as both of or the blurry line between the latter two.) Do you think there are or can be any other uses or compositions made from noise? If so, do you think that it will overlap as sound art and music do?

3. After reading about electronic sound, do you think that music created through the electronic rather than acoustic instruments makes it any less reputable? What about if a piece was preformed by one person using MIDI even though the entire piece could have been played exactly the same way (or better) through the use of acoustic instruments? Where do you draw the line and what makes it any more or less valid?

artists on the verge program

find information here
and also Spark Festival 2009 archive

Sketch #4


Meena's wet walk


rainy sound sketch


Sound sketch #3

| 1 Comment

rainy day sounds.wav

I arranged this after reading "Art of Noise," and I think this noise/sound dichotomy influenced the way that I put this together. There is a backwards quality in the order of sound that was not intentional but sort of exemplifies the act of looking back to a particular day. How events of a day unfold and in retelling them one might almost be telling a story backwards.

Reading Questions/Thoughts

I believe the 4'33" seconds of silence makes a good point. Taking silence and placing it in the right environment that we get an extreme even over exaggerated moment of silence.

I think the point is for us to then look at how often we actually experience silence in our lives. How often do any of you drive home, or to work, or to a friends, anywhere really with out the radio on? How often do we turn the tv on while at home even if your not watching it or leave a fan on as you sleep and not to listen to but for the sake of stimulation alone?

Similarly a lot of music today seems exist for the same task. It's not to actually be listened to but exists as a filler; a blend of noises often as meaning full as static just to fill the air.

We should probably first ask, what do we actually consider listening? I believe it is in part searching, understanding, and finding meaning in a piece of music, or a piece of sound from human or nature or anywhere. We gain or learn something threw listening. Understandably most people probably don't want to do this constantly but then again some people aren't experiencing this at all which comes back to the point of 4'33". Really it seems like its a reminder to listen.

To rehash:
1. How often do we actually take a moment in the car or at home to just be alone in quietness?
2. What do you consider listening to be?
3. Have you ever listened to something and taken away something more then you expected?

Art of Noise

Although I disagree with many of Russolo's statements in this article, such as "ancient life was all silence," I do think that he brings up some interesting points in his aim to distinguish "sound" and "noise." I like the idea of sound being divine, a thing of its own. Russolo describes making "sound" as a purposeful inquiry, a kind of a human way of interacting with the sonorous world that eventually developed into music. Noise, by contrast, is dissonance. While I do not think that the modern machine invented "noise," I do agree that the industrial age dramatically altered the soundscape of our time.

After reading this article and considering the distinction between sound and noise for myself, it seems to me that sound is something we appreciate and strive for, noise is less important, often "tuned out" sound that certainly can be interesting in and of itself. The article aims to chart the evolution of music into noise-sound, describing how we the mechanical age has dulled our appreciation of the great masters, and an unsatisfied palate for musical exploration of the world around us. After reading this for a second time I then preceded to make my morning coffee, conscious of the clinking silverware drawer, clap of the cupboards, the rattle of dishes, scooping, pouring, click, and of course the beloved dripping and steaming of the coffee pot. I think that background noise becomes sound when it is self-conscious.--The job of the sound artist/ noise-sound musician.

Reflection Questions

How does culture shape our sound landscape/structure?

What changes has technology made on our ability to receiving sound and music? Viewing of John Cage's 4'33"-Comments posted in past 24 hours.

-fuck me are these guys for real? typical middle class idiots who try to fill their empty lives with something meaningful.

-to those who say silence is "music",If you truly want to appreciate the "beauty" of TRUE silence, GO BLOW OUT YOUR EARDRUMS!! What a load of pretentious crap!!

What do you feel has brought such a strong reaction to the piece? Has sound art created a cultural divide in the realm of music and art?

my reflections questions

If technology wasn't where it is today, would experimental music and sound art have this many people involved or would it be considered science?

What separates experimental music from sound art?

If visuals are stronger than the sound art piece itself, should it become a different named form of art then just using sound in a piece?

Rainy Day: Eric Tanaka

Sound Art Collabrative Project: Eric Tanaka


So after battling it out with Reaper, I finally got things to work. I am very excited with the new things I learned and can't wait to do an even more in depth piece. Hope you guys like it! Enjoy.

Rainy Day Ambiance - Sam


Callspace is a sound installation that utilizes cellular technology to network ambient sound from site-specific locations throughout a given metropolitan area. Six cellphones modified to run on solar power and answer automatically when an incoming call is received are placed in remote locations, and connections are made between these cellphones and cellular telephones located in an exhibition space. The output of each telephone is wired directly to a dedicated loudspeaker housed in a monolithic speaker enclosure.

Art of Noises - Sam

The Art of Noises seems an aptly titled piece to me. While I found the overall tone of the essay rather disagreeable while reading, I find its content rather interesting. It rings true that the only difference between what is perceived as noise, and what is perceived as music, or more simply, pleasant sound, is the frequency and regularity of vibration, and in realizing this - the understanding of all sound as different physical vibrations - the pool of what could be harnessed with the intent of creating with sound opens vastly. Hence the title, The Art of Noises
I think to reinterpret this idea and title, with the intent to apply it to Minneapolis, or anywhere for that matter, a possibly more appropriate title could be The Art of Sound, or more generally, Creation with Sound, or something less corny and bland but along the same lines. I say sound because Russolo seems obsessed with the idea of "noise," as being sound not intentionally made or heard for the purpose of listening, but if the realization of the potential for "noise" to be regarded as sound, don't they become one in the same? And if as a result noise becomes a tool to be used compositionally, does it not then cease to be "noise"? Maybe, maybe not. I would just say that if we accept the idea that all that is audible and can be made audible and can be made inaudible has creative potentia, then we find ourselves in a very fortunate position with a vast amount of resources and potential inspiration.

Sept 23 Rainy Day Clip

Keeping up with the water theme..

September 23 faint traffic.wav

rainy day cafe

Vanessa's sound.wav

My five second sound

Rain on box


wet walk

:;';:';;' Not really liking touching wet artificial earth.

my dumbrella

Jeramiah rain day

Rob's Rainy

Sketch 3

Sketch 3 Finished2.wav

Kurtis and Teroy

Incident at the River : JerRob collaboration.

Furban Sounds


Sam and Meena

The Art of Noises Reflection

I don't entirely agree with Russolo in regards to his stance on disignated musical instruments.

Luigi says, "Away! Let us break out since we cannot much longer restrain our desire to create finally a new musical reality, with a generous distribution of resonant slaps in the face, discarding violins, pianos, double-basses and plainitive organs. Let us break out! " I can't conscientiously agree with casting aside these instruments. They have their place. They may be old but they have also been refined ability to communicate on their own. A Chopin nocturne is able to speak just as much as a Mozart piano concerto. I do agree with changing our ideas on how to use these instruments though and break out of old tradition to find something new.

Luigi Russolo wrote this paper near the beginning of the 20th century, if I were to show him contemporary music he may be very excited by sounds we've already grown bored with. Despite my appreciation for the old and modern instruments I agree and see the potential in the sounds outside these that the modern world provides.

My favorite modern bands use sounds outside of the guitar, drums and bass. These are often sounds with timbers you can't give a name. Along with new techniques for recording and mixing its now possible to turn these sounds into soundscapes that have never been available even until the last few decades. Despite this people rarely leave the typical model that almost modern music from any category like to fall into.

This is why I agree with every one of Luigi's conclusions and while I may appreciate many aspects of modern and old music I also have complaints and am finding much of these complaints are being or have been answered by people interested in the art within sound with out falling into stereotypical models and creating something entirely unique that belongs to the sounds alone.

So if I had to choose a new title for a modern day adaption I would probably go with the title: The art within sound


Always I am drawn to the the dynamic interplay between space and sound. From the reverberations of an auditorium to the clattering morning din of a crowded coffee shop-- "The sonorous world always presses in, adding extra ingredients by which we locate ourselves." The Geographer in me is interested in the site specific sounds. There is an element of history in the act the of recording sound.

I won't have a chance to read all of the section on Cages' work before class, but I am intrigued by what I have read so far. I think it is somewhat difficult to read about sound art without having heard the piece, so look forward to the opportunity to listen.

site sound #2

sound art response #1

These articles reminded me of my first ever encounter with the world of sound art. It was about 8 years ago and I was driving in my car listening to NPR when they mentioned they were introducing a sound artist (sadly i don't remember his name). He focused on the sounds of rain and would lay out various types of material in his backyard and collect the sounds the rain would make. They played a long clip of his sounds and it was so memorizing. It was musical but it did have a different quality also from music. I feel while music and sound art are closely linked, sound art I believe has the ability to be more flexible, as it doesn't need to necessarily be tied down to a genre or class.

new van-lan

new van-lan

art of noise response

I liked this article and agree to some of the author's points. As a turntablist and future circuit bender, I have been experimenting with noise music and experimental patterns in my live and recorded sets for years along with many other dj/turntablists.

I do think that the art of noise is a good title for any scene where noise is played with and is best called art of rather than noise music because without maintaining rhythms and structure pleasant to others ears, then it must remain noise art

Barground Noise Ch 1- 3 [pg ix - 45

In preparation for class on Tuesday, refer to Kurtis's link to Background Noise: Perspectives on Sound Art. Read pages ix [in the introduction] through page 45. This is the complete section Part 1: 4'33" : Sound and Points of Origin.

In the reflections category, post 3 questions that will contribute to our discussion on Tuesday.

Author Brandon LaBelle is a sound artist as well. You can listen to some of his projects here.

Digital Copy of Background Noice

Technically this is a preview so you cant print it but the whole book appears to be available.

Background Noise

collaborative sound sketch #3

Post your collaborative 3 minute site sound sketch here.

The Art of Noises

Read Luigi Russolo's The Art of Noise.

Post your reflections on the title of this essay The Art of Noise.

If a similar critique was made of our contemporary sound scape here in Minneapolis, what title would you choose for such an essay?

Sketch 2 - Meena

Eric's Reaction to "What is sound art?"

After reading these articles, I agree that there is no all-out defining line between sound art and music. There are many bands that are considered musicians that I would consider sound artists, or more specifically, they may have songs on the same cd where I would consider some to be more musical and some to be more sound arty. But there are certain qualities that I believe provide a distinction between the two. It is hard to say what these distinctions are, but there are things such as format (music has the refrain, stanza, bridge, etc.) the way or if vocals are used, and the way the dimension of sound is used, and the way in which sound is used or manipulated. One of the biggest things that have to do with the difference is the intention of the artist, whether that artist may be a sound artist or a musician. The feel of the sound really is the way in which I determine whether a piece is a song or a work.

The Record ~ Contemporary ART and VINYL

Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University
September 2, 2010 - February 6, 2011

What is Sound Art? - 2

Read the following interviews conducted by sound artist Nathan B. Aldrich, as well as his reflections on Sound Art and write a response to that explores your current understanding of "What is Sound Art?".

What Is Sound Art? reflections by Nate B. Aldrich

What Is SoundArt? An interview with Alvin Lucier

What Is Sound Art? An interview with Annea Lockwood

What Is Sound Art? An interview with Stephen Vitiello

Site Sound #2

I used mainly the "chop saw", "Sound Sketch," "Welcome to the Machine" and "Sound" to create this piece. I enjoyed mixing the sound of voices and footsteps with high pitched squeals of the saw and heavy drumming sounds. I used this assignment to experiment with my audio editing software. I feel like this piece conveys both a sense of urgency as well as being trapped.


remote access to the server

guide to accessing files on our server remotely ... when you are away from here.


What is Sound Art? Reaction

When I'm attempting to create a sound piece a large part of the process is from the chaos that exists from pure sound and figuring out how to create even a small amount of order. The unknowable and uncontrollable aspect of the sound an object is doing much of the speaking

Inversely, when I create a musical piece, I start from order. I consider the instrument, tempo, time signature, key, scale, etc. as the means of expression. However this doesn't mean both are completely distinct. I often find myself drifting between the two as both are sources for inspiration where similar means bring us to a different end.

Sound Sketch Number 2

Second site sound sketch created with sound from everyone who posted the first sound sketch.

You can click the left image to download.

Processing gossip

Day late But catching up

I will read more later.

Rob's Reaction

"What is sound art?" is a question I was curious about myself. These readings all offered some insight, Mark Garry's article especially because I was unknowing about where music falls in. Sound-art versus music seems to be a question/dilemma inherent to my tastes because I want my sound pieces to have some musical qualities--such as rhythm, tempo, and melody. I like the idea that there is no difference between sound-art and music but I think I'm more sympathetic to the idea that they are two very separated entities, with many parallels. I guess I'm interested in the blurry spaces in between where sounds and music are combined. I have a strong background in music so its difficult to know where the lines are drawn between music and sound and, more importantly, how far to go musically in my own work here. I think the music falls into the broader catagory of sound and that sound does not have to be in anyway musical.

Sound art...

After reading these articles, I realized that in order for a sound art piece to really work it is necessary to have a strong visual to go along with it. For me it was hard to even listen to or watch some sound art piece where someone just randomly played on equipment, but now I see it more as a theater performance. I still believe that some randomness is hard for me to appreciate but I am getting there.


site sound sketch #2

Listen to the one minute sound sketches #1 and make selections that you use to compose a new 1 minute sound work site sound sketch #2.

Post your site sound sketch #2 to the blog.


Good Stuff

equipment access

You can reserve Art Department equipment at Equipment Checkout

Prosumer and Professional equipment is available via the CLA-TV Studios

CLA-OIT has loaner equipment available as well.

What is Sound Art? - Sam

I feel that sound art, like any other term, exists more usefully as a way to generally refer to something, rather than a way to ultimately define something. Sound is something that exists in and of itself, and any attempt to use it for a particular effect or manner of communicating and idea can be considered sound art if the constructor of a piece feels as though that term applies to the work in question.


While the readings conveyed no clear distinction between sound art and music, the common ideas centered around sound art as a challenge to conventional ideas about music and art. The idea that sound art makes an intentional effort to appeal to visual and sensory palates came across as a suitable definition to me. One of the readings mentioned that the fact that sound art does not require musical background differentiates it from music in that anyone in tune with the sensory world can give it a try, but this is understating the training in audio editing techniques and sound equipment required of a sound artist.
Vitiello distinguished sound art from music in the way that it relates to space. I like the idea of a spatial element of sound. The space seems to transcend the physical world too. When an artist reveals the "sounds of silence," a new space is created. Lockwood describes the importance of the audience to be "absorbed" by sound. I am really fascinated by the concepts of sound and space and want to think more about it this semester...
All in all, the definition of sound art seems to be subjective and perhaps it is better this way. When we adhere to definitions we tend to put up boxes and new conventions that in some level limits creativity.

Sound sketch #2

This sketch is a composite of 5 different sound sketches with a computer generated voice reciting a script of random vowel-consonant pairings such as: po it of po pit pit mo...etc.

composite site sound sketch w voices.wav

Welcome to the Machine Part 2 (Better version)


This is mine, Eric Tanaka's, project where we combine all our shizz.
Hope you like it.
Best with big headphones

Site Sound Sketch #2 - Sam

Welcome to the Machine

| 1 Comment

walking noise

This was recorded walking after class one evening. Walking is a psychological site to me in the sense of where my mind goes when in the physical act of walking. The intensity of the traffic noise was quite unexpected on the recording. I think this helps capture walking as a psychological site


Jeremiah's site sound #1

Work-Site Sound Sketch #1

The selected site for this project was work, and more specifically, my place of employment. It is my attempt at making a reflection of my relationship with the place where I work, and also exploring the idea that often times physical sites like "home," or "work," etc., become symbols for the activities, emotions, and relationships, etc., that happen there.


Site sound recording: Miter Saw

I recorded the sound of a miter saw in use as well as the spin-down of the machine in the U of M wood shop with a basic directional mic. Some clipping occurs as the mic is very basic and simply designed for use with computers. I really liked the sound artifacts that came with using such a mic as they add a sense of space and suspense.

chop saw.mp3

Teroy's sound sketch

Response to my old house of windows-1380

What is Sound Art? -1

Share your reflections in a paragraph that describes your current thinking about sound art after reading the following:

Stephen Vitiello and Marina Rosenfeld
Sound Artist vs. Composer

Mark Gary
A survey of four Contemporary Sound Artists

Kenneth Goldsmith
Bring Da Noise: A Brief Survey of Sound Art

First Sketch

This sketch created with a found sound from the West Regis building and a synthesizer. It ran over a minute but I didn't want to constrain further then I already have. The site I chose is a psychological mixture between suspense and anxiety, both building and leaving, in what I hope resembles a 3 dimensional space. Recommend listening with headphones.

I've tried uploading but the files not showing up. Hopefully no one minds I'm using for now. You can download the file by clicking the player.

site sound sketch #1

when you post your 1 minute site sound sketch #1, select the category finished projects / site sound sketch #1

audio recorder guide has a critique and review of Marantz PMD 620


audio editing resources is a fantastic resource.

introduction to sound editing environments:


iphone editing

pro tools shortcuts


site sound sketch 1 ~ project description

| 1 Comment

site sound sketch #1

Create a 1 minute sound work that conveys the site of your choosing.

We will share these on Tuesday and upload them to blog.

We will also archive these sound sketches in a folder on the server that will be available to all for the collaborative production of sound sketch #2.

The site for your sound sketch may be a:
a place

  • physical location

  • geological node

  • architectural space

a psychological state

  • suspense

  • anxiety

  • contentment

a social space

  • culturally specific environment

  • public meeting place

  • livingroom

..... OR ........



equipment - CLA

In addition to th equipment available from the Art Dept, there are audio recorders, mixers, microphones, and other equipment available from the College of Liberal Arts. The gear is located in CLA TV studios on the 5th floor of Rarig Center. Browse the available equipment and make reservations at

... and the Art Dept's equipment checkout website is

equipment checkout - Art

Equipment Checkout: W139 Regis Art Center - 612.625.9532

Mon-Thurs 9am-10pm
Friday 9am-7pm
Saturday 10am-6pm

+Equipment can be reserved online or at the checkout counter.

Checkout Policy
+User may book a piece of equipment up to 48 hours per week.
+Reservations can be booked up to 2 weeks in advance.
+Sunday is not counted as part of a user's checkout time.
+Users can schedule up to 5 reservations per day and a maximum of 5 acive reservations in the schedule at one time.
+Users must pick up their equipment within 1 hour of their reservation time or their reservation will be cancelled.
+Users are limited to 1 camera per checkout.

User Responsibility
+Users are financially responsible for equipment that is lost, stolen, or damaged, while checked out in their name. Replacement or repair cost may be placed on the user's student account.
+Users are responsible for returning their equipment at their scheduled return time.

Overdue Equipment Policy
+Users who are habitually late returning equipment or return equipment more than 24 hours late may be banned from using equipment checkout.