The murmur of the snarkmatrix…

August § The Common Test / 2016-02-16 21:04:46
Robin § Unforgotten / 2016-01-08 21:19:16
MsFitNZ § Towards A Theory of Secondary Literacy / 2015-11-03 21:23:21
Jon Schultz § Bless the toolmakers / 2015-05-04 18:39:56
Jon Schultz § Bless the toolmakers / 2015-05-04 16:32:50
Matt § A leaky rocketship / 2014-11-05 01:49:12
Greg Linch § A leaky rocketship / 2014-11-04 18:05:52
Robin § A leaky rocketship / 2014-11-04 05:11:02
P. Renaud § A leaky rocketship / 2014-11-04 04:13:09
Jay H § Matching cuts / 2014-10-02 02:41:13

The Hidden Fourth Dimension of Music

I’m picking up on a musical meme — probably an old one, but new to me.


Start with this nice NYT write-up of a piece of music composed for long, curving lines of trombone players — 89 in all! — surrounding the listener.

Cross-reference with the new physical electronica — and the argument that real sound sources, placed creatively in space, create an effect not replicable by any speakers, no matter how slick.

Pile on academic projects like spherical speaker arrays and laptop orchestras.

In an era when anybody can crank out music in stereo that doesn’t sound half-bad, how do you distinguish yourself? The same way the movie studios are doing it, of course: add a dimension.

So now, I want the home version: How about an iPhone app that plays a composition on many phones simultaneously, networked via BlueTooth, and requires you to place them strategically around a space to get the full effect. Maybe dynamic performance instructions flash on-screen: “Run forward!” or “Muffle this phone with your shirt!”

If the app knew the relative locations of the iPhones — (you, as a user, could probably give it some clues) — the sound could swish and pan from phone to phone, in a sort of super-amorphous surround sound.


Barrett says…

You might also check out the Flaming Lips’ Zaireeka. The album is four discs, meant to be played simultaneously on four different stereos.

Oh, man, I love Zaireeka. Have you ever seen recordings from the Tape Experiments, Boom-Box Experiments, and the Parking Lot Experiments?

As the names suggest, there’s something relentlessly analog about what the Lips did in the 90s. Part of the problem/genius was that the multiple recordings could never be perfectly synced. When intrepid fans started using software programs to time, record, and mix down Zaireeka, and when people talked about releasing a 5.1 DVD-Audio version of the thing, the whole “happening” aspect of it lost some of its bite.

Zaireeka also inspired one of the most divisive Pitchfork reviews (criminally now scrubbed from the site) when Jason Josephes gave it a 0.0, lamenting that he couldn’t even play it on his ratty CD player (with a bit of tape holding the whole kit together). Mark Richardson’s look back is (to say the least) way more appreciative.

The snarkmatrix awaits you

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