The audio comprises two realizations of These are They, locally by Bhob Rainey and externally by Eric Laska. Rainey's realization includes material contributions from Chris Cooper, Ernst Karel, Leila Bordreuil, James Ilgenfritz, Kate Czajkowski, Matt Mitchell, Andie Springer, Carrie Frey, Vasko Dukovski, MinKyung Ji, Gibi ASMR, GentleWhispering, Creative Calm, and Unintentional ASMR. Both realizations were produced autonomously by the software.
EL: You describe "These are They" as an algorithmic "machine." Did you conceive the project as a way for other artists to re-arrange and manipulate their original audio?
BR: First, I should mention “machine”. The README file where that description appears isn’t exactly a paragon of precise terminology, but I was somewhat deliberate in choosing “machine”, for two main reasons:
1.It is metaphorically sound to the point of being on-the-nose. The piece is structured around different sources of “energy” that are gathered by a few loosely coupled “storage centers” that eventually release a transformed version of that energy when certain thresholds are exceeded. It’s an amateur steam engine or maybe a slightly dangerous circuit.
2.There is currently a rush to label any software that does minorly complex things quickly and without assistance as AI. Aside from this being an annoying tic of contemporary society, it is also completely false regarding this piece, which – intentionally – is not “intelligent” and does not “learn”. So, just “machine”, no “learning”.
I’m fascinated by many aspects of machine learning (the algorithms and math involved are often strikingly elegant), but it is still largely a practice of statistical imitation. If you want it to produce an unforeseeable aesthetic outcome (without being too fast and loose with the meaning of “aesthetic”), you have to either deliberately introduce some kind of noise or design your experiment badly (and get really lucky). People who are doing the hard work in this area will justifiably have a bone to pick with my terse critique, but, ultimately, it still requires a lot of data and a lot of real, heat-releasing energy to get any kind of aesthetically surprising output from machine learning at this time. As someone who is primarily interested in the aesthetic process and not in furthering the field of artificial intelligence, I consider this energy wasted.
So, lately, rather than making programs that are intelligent, I’ve been focusing on programs that are “mysterious”, “inscrutable”, “other”. While these programs, once executed, usually operate without assistance, they still require some form of human interaction to achieve resonance, the intention being that there is a productive encounter between the person(s) and the “other”.
Which brings me to your actual question – did I conceive this as a way for other artists to manipulate, etc., their original audio? Ultimately, no. I conceived this as an encounter that produces questions and problems analogous to the interpretation of traditional scores but in a contemporary technical environment that draws on different skill sets. It is ultimately a distinct piece that will always have a particular, if aleatoric, form, where a person can have dramatic effects on its outcome by developing intuitions regarding how the piece’s rigid and flexible components interact. It is a piece that can be learned and interpreted.
Typically, when an audio program isn’t a fixed or entirely self-generating piece, it is either a compositional tool (lloop, UPIC, Abelton, etc.), an instrument (virtual or augmented), or an electronic partner / accompanist (Voyager, ImproteK). While these all introduce “opinions” that affect the outcome of the music produced with them, they largely function more like “environments” than compositions requiring unique realization. I greatly appreciate that the best of these environments offer a well-tuned set of options and limitations, but I also long for the more specific challenges of interpreting and executing compositions. So, how might a piece of software idiomatically raise those challenges without merely generating something that is, more or less, a score? Here, I’ve tried tapping a relatively common contemporary skill set – “production”, or, more generally, creating and organizing sound files to mesh with and enhance a given context – and placing it in an ornery and sometimes adversarial situation. It becomes a bit of a puzzle, and to fully realize this piece, you have to get a feel for its transformation over time, and to get that feel, you have to feed the algorithm sounds that “work”, and to do that, you need a combination of intuition, analytical insight, and luck, as well as a feel for the transformation over time, etc. To me, this looks a lot like old-school music learning, and it’s kinda funny that the medium usually used to make things easier is deployed here to keep them difficult in a slightly altered way.
EL: The SuperCollider program includes 5 subfolders for audio that represent different dynamic components of the playback. Though there are quite a few variables to consider - length of the audio files, number of audio files, type of audio material etc. - the resulting material is structured in a particular way. What was your process regarding the structure of the program?
BR: The core components for me were the “talkers” and the synthetic events that interrupt them. I was riffing on the attention strain of 24/7 information and how existing and aspiring autocrats use it to their advantage. While I sympathize with the person who combats the exhaustion of staring at a screen that indiscriminately shifts from spreadsheets to social media stats to news of tragedy and outrage to friendly if ill-timed messages to “stand up and breathe deeply” notifications that pop up while the arctic melts by listening to a Spotify “Chill Out” playlist, I thought that I’d take more of a “ride the wave” approach to not being decimated by the assault of undifferentiated garbage that rather suddenly became the norm for our first world waking hours. This was not an effort to have Art show us Reality as it Really Is, but to find some kind of awareness or even joy that encompasses the mess without minimizing it.
These sorts of ideas are always on the verge of becoming painfully trite. So, I listened to the “talkers” and their rude synthetic complements to see if they had any wise “requests”. I think that this is a pretty standard way of making music, even if talking about it usually gets sloppy – someone lays down a groove and then wonders, What next? To find out, theyessentially ask the groove. Anyway, the material here wanted to be blurred in some places, sharpened in others, and it didn’t want to be confined to my laptop-smartphone anxieties. It also didn’t want to get boring after two minutes. My own intentions, which were to make this a type of algorithmic composition like I just described, complicated things. So, if I felt that I needed a blurry contrast, I had to think about it in a general way that could be expressed as a process and maybe, at most, a category of sound. And I had to think about how another person could navigate through all of this to make their own realization of the piece. I wanted their experience to be challenging but doable.
Five (folders, classes of sounds, types of transformations) emerged as a reliable number for both fun / horrific / perplexing musical outcomes, and for keeping someone engaged in the process of realizing the piece. Each class engenders a different kind of focus, so, when you’ve tweaked “chips” so many times that you don’t know right from wrong, you can switch to “ludes” or “sonks” and refresh your approach.
EL: "These are They" is a work in progress. Aside from minor tweaks to the SC code, what do you envision may change?
BR: Compositionally, the main change I want to make is allowing files within the audio folders to be organized into subsets, so that the piece proceeds from subset to subset after each “lude”. This would allow an individual to plan for a longer compositional arc, and it would also allow for multiple realizations to be organized into a kind of generative compilation.
The code itself is relatively well-organized, but I would like to give it a once-over for clarity and a second once-over for poetry, because, why not let the code itself be part of the expressive universe of the piece?
Installation and usage could be more user-friendly. There are plenty of people who could do amazing work on this piece but who freeze up when confronted with Github and plugin installation and folder structure and a “piece” that looks like an inert slab of characters with no “On” button. I could at least make it so that changes to the audio folder and subsequent re-execution of code is a more simple-looking process. At the same time, none of these things are particularly hard. Most of it comes down to careful reading of easily-accessible instructions, and I’m a little dismayed at how quickly the majority of people who use computers and software every day are reduced to utter helplessness when something is not a two-click process.
That said, I do need to make the notes for the score (largely, the role each folder plays) more score-like. Currently, I’m talking directly with whoever is using the program (to my knowledge). I’m very happy to do that, and it helps me understand better what information gets lost or botched in communication. Eventually, though, I should find language that is both precise yet open enough for people to proceed with a pleasurable ambiguity.
The material point of departure for the accompanying track  is a new implementation of pulsar synthesis seamlessly integrated with the Distortion Product Otoacoustic Emission (DPOAE) and sieve algorithm . The context of this implementation is my ongoing research project focused on historical techniques of pulsar synthesis – first introduced by Curtis Roads in his book Microsound – its conceptual and programming extensions and using it for composition. The nature and aims of the project are twofold. The first one is technical – an analysis of the original Pulsar Generator program, its source code, underlying programming paradigm and user interface which concludes in the design and development of the New Pulsar Generator program . This technical aim entails a reflection on a wider context of issues related to the process of digital instrument design, musical data representation and human computer interaction. The second aim is artistic creation – a systematic instrumental and compositional practice with the New Pulsar Generator, reflecting on particular formal issues afforded through this process. Intertwined here are retrospective analysis and prospective development, which are mutually dependent .
The following text serves as a brief historical and conceptual background to the track ‘(pulsar | head – rhythm) <> sieve’. The bidirectional arrow (< >) in the title indicates the process of osmosis of material (pulsar synthesis) and abstract (analysis descriptors and sieve), phenomenal (auditory) and symbolic (formalised), local (micro-temporal) and global (macro-temporal), and the emergence of timbre and musical form as a pendular movement between them. An investigation of the complex mediation between formalism of abstract procedure acting across and between multiple temporal scales constitutes a pertinent problem in my compositional practice.
I will start with a short introduction of the New Pulsar Generator program, its genealogy within wider sound synthesis categories and its operationalisation of the process of rhythm. The emphasis on the process of rhythm in the conceptualisation of pulsar synthesis allows me to introduce one of many extensions of the program – the analysis of a pulsar train and its re-synthesis with induced DPOAE signal. The rhythm of a pulsar train becomes an instrumentalisation of the very physiological conditions of audition – a head-rhythm. As a conclusion, I would like to introduce the concept of sieve. With its non-temporal nature sieve acts as an organising principle within accompanying work, a pre-existing structural scaffolding modelling the musical form across multiple temporal levels.
The New Pulsar Generator. The New Pulsar Generator (nuPg)  produces a form of synthesis called pulsar synthesis. Pulsar synthesis is a powerful technique of digital sound synthesis named after a highly magnetised rotating neutron star that emits a beam of electromagnetic radiation at a frequency between 0.25 and 642 Hz. The technique operationalises this range as it generates a hybrid of sounds between discrete pulses and continuous tones which cross the perceptual period from infrasonic pulsations to audio frequencies .
Pulsar synthesis melds established principles within a new paradigm. Its conceptual origins can be traced back to historical analogue synthesis techniques. In its purest form, PS generates a stream of electronic pulses and pitched tones akin to those produced by analogue instruments designed around the principle of filtered pulse trains (e.g. Ondioline, Hohner Elektronium ). However, as a purely digital technique, pulsar synthesis attains the power of precise programmable control and extensibility.
Genealogically, pulsar synthesis belongs to the micro-sound and particle based category of audio synthesis techniques. Aesthetically and conceptually these techniques can be classified as belonging to a wider category of non-standard sound synthesis techniques. The term non-standard has been coined by Stephen R. Holtzman to describe sound synthesis methods that are not based on an acoustical, physical, or psychoacoustic model, but instead utilise abstract concepts of compositional organisation of sound. The non-standard approach, given a set of instructions, relates them to one another in terms of a system which makes no reference to some established model and which relationships themselves are the description of the sound . Within the non-standard paradigm "the computer acts as a sound generating instrument sui generis, not imitating mechanical instruments or theoretical acoustic models" . The emergence of nonstandard sound synthesis systems signified an important conceptual and aesthetic shift brought by the computer and digital domain. The sound production becomes a compositional activity allowing for "the composition of timbre, instead of with timbre". It allows composition to think beyond a practice concerned with a permutational combinatorics within a closed homogeneous system describable essentially by four properties of pitch, duration, dynamic marking, and instrumental timbre. The emergence of nonstandard sound synthesis systems proposed composition with sound-objects – a heterogeneous endless universe of "liberated sounds" . Horacio Vaggione highlighted this shift in an interview with Osvaldo Budón :
The former common paradigm of instrumental music (of which the "total chromatic" serial approach was one of the last manifestations) required a kind of "neutrality of the material", an imperative for a compositional practice that was based on the autonomy of symbolic manipulations. To realize a pure permutational combinatorics, it was necessary to play with notes as "atoms", or primitive building blocks. Here, electroacoustic music caused a real paradigm shift, introducing the sound-object and the idea of morphological multiplicity.
Rather than simply radicalising such dichotomy, the paradigm shift caused by the emergence of electronic music and nonstandard synthesis systems opened a possibility of composition articulating the functionalities particular to each category ("notes", "sound-objects", and beyond) and allowed their integration within a new organisational model. This integrative approach – coalescing the symbolic and iconic representation of musical data  – constitutes a pertinent issue in the compositional practice with pulsar synthesis and the development of its digital instrument incarnations – both the historical Pulsar Generator  and New Pulsar Generator.
Pulsar Synthesis and Process of Rhythm. Pulsar Synthesis operationalises the notion of rhythm with its multi-temporal affordances as a system of interconnected patterns evolving on multiple timescales. The technique generates a complex hybrid of sounds across the perceptual time spans between infrasonic pulsations and audio frequencies, giving rise to a broad family of musical structures: singular impulses, sequences, continuous tones, time-varying phrases, and beating textures. Through its inherently multiscale character pulsar synthesis proposes a unique view on rhythm moving beyond a linear sequence of points and intervals tied to a time grid, and proposes a notion of rhythm as a "continuously flowing temporal substrate" . The extended view of rhythm has been proposed by Edgar Varèse , who wrote that:
Rhythm is too often confused with metrics. Cadence or the regular succession of beats has little to do with rhythm of a composition. Rhythm is the element in music that gives life to a work and holds it together. It is the element of stability, the generator of form.
We can think rhythm generally as any structure or pattern evolving in time. In some cases and specific perceptual limits this pattern can be quantified; we can distinguish the meter and count its basic elements. The scope of rhythm however goes beyond this simple conjunction of onset time and duration. The rhythm "subsumes the undulations internal to a sound, such as accents, swells, vibrato, and tremolo, which can be generalized to fluctuations in any parameter." Ontologically, rather than as a separate entity, the rhythm appears as a construct, a result of the actions –oscillations, modulations and changes of density – in pitch, amplitude, timbre and space . Rhythm’s blurred identity in relation to meter has been highlighted by Eugene Narmour  and cognitive studies have shown that listeners are able to construe the rhythmic organisation solely from melodic structure . This composite nature is reflected in rhythm’s unfolding on multiple timescales. As Cooper and Mayer Cooper observed :
As a piece of music unfolds, its rhythmic structure is perceived not as a series of discrete independent units strung together, but as an organic process in which smaller rhythmic motives, while possessing shape and structure all their own, also function as integral parts of a larger rhythmic organisation.
The recognition of the continuum between multiple timescales is fundamental to the modern concept of rhythm and lies at the core of practice with pulsar synthesis. Such conceptualisation of rhythm can be viewed as a special case of a rhythm-tone continuum. Henry Cowell described how sped-up discrete rhythms become a continuous tone in 1930 :
Rhythm and tone, which been thought to be entirely separate musical fundamentals, are definitely related through overtone ratios. Assume that we have two melodies in parallel to each other, the first written in whole notes and the second in half-notes. If the time for each note were to be indicated by the tapping of a stick, the taps for second melody would recur with double the rapidity of those of the first. If now the taps were to be increased greatly in rapidity without changing the relative speed, it will be seen that when taps for the first melody reach sixteen to the second, those for the second melody will be thirty-two to the second. In other words, the vibrations from the taps of one melody will give the musical tone C, while those of the other will give the tone C one octave higher. Time has translated, as it were, into musical tone.
Karlheinz Stockhausen formulated complementary theory of the continuum between rhythm and pitch in the context of serial music :
If the rate of beats is gradually increased beyond the time constant of the filter and the limits beyond which the ear can no longer differentiate, what started as a rhythmically repeated note becomes continuous. We see a continuous transition between what might be called durational intervals characterised as pitch levels.
In the essay “... how time passes...” he extrapolated a unified view of the relationship between the various time scales of musical structure. Stockhausen begins by noting the generality of the concept of period, an interval between two cycles. Period appears in both rhythm (from 6 sec to 1/16th of a sec) and pitch (from about 1/16th sec to about 1/3200th sec). The key here is that pitch and rhythm can be considered as one and the same phenomenon, differing only in their respective time scales. Taking this argument deeper into the micro-temporal domain, the tone colour or steady-state spectrum of a note can also be seen as a manifestation of micro-rhythm over a fundamental frequency. This point of view can also be applied in the macro-temporal domain. Thus, an entire composition can be viewed as one time spectrum of a fundamental duration. Stockhausen proposed the idea of an absolute uniformity of temporality, irrespective of apparent differences between rhythmic and timbral qualities. A lesson from Stockhausen’s essay “... how time passes...” was to show how difficult it is to apply a proportional series developed for a parameter operating on one timescale (e.g., pitch periods) to another operating on different one (e.g., note durations) . In “The Concept of Unity in Electronic Music” Stockhausen expanded this view by looking at the acoustical frequency continuum as a collection of units broken into different phenomena by human perception :
In working with impulse generator], one must proceed from a basic concept of a single unified musical time; and the different perceptual categories such as colour, harmony and melody, meter and rhythm, dynamics, and form must be regarded as corresponding to the different components of this unified time.
In the composition Kontakte (1960) realized with assistance from Gottfried Michael Koenig  Stockhausen had used an impulse generator to create pulse trains to which he had applied a narrow band-pass filter, which gave each pulse a variable resonance. At narrow band the pulses resonated at a specific pitch. If the pulse train was irregular, the infrasonic impulses generated non-metrical rhythms. By transposing these rhythms – via tape speed manipulations – up into the audible frequency range, Stockhausen was able to build noises from aperiodic impulse trains. The technique of recirculating tape feedback loops was developed in 1951 by Werner Meyer-Eppler, Stockhausen’s teacher . The section between 16:56 and 18:26 of Kontakte features the now iconic transition from rhythm to tone and back to rhythm.
Pulsar synthesis encapsulates this process and renders audible the transfer between rhythmic discrete units and the spectrum of a continuous tone. Perceptually, what on discrete polarity appears as a distinct rhythmic pattern becomes a spectral template on a continuous pole. This continuity – paradigmatic for pulsar synthesis – allows for a flexible modelling of the Distortion Product Otoacoustic Emission that relays perceptual tonal character on rhythmic properties of its beat frequency.
Distortion Product Otoacoustic Emission (DPOAE): Head-Rhythm. In 1856, Hermann von Helmholtz was the first to identify sum and difference tones as products of the auditory distortion . Helmholtz used two prolonged tones with a harmonic interval of less than an octave played at high volume. When two tones – a lower and a higher – sounded together, a third (combination) tone appeared. The observed tone had the frequency equal to a difference between the two primary tones – e.g. the combination of 100 and 250 Hz played at a strong intensity created a tone of 150 Hz. The combination tone is not being emitted externally, but it is clearly, objectively perceived by the listener . An initial explanation for these phenomena was that high-intensity levels forced the linear mechanics of the physical auditory system into a nonlinear region. The nonlinearity thus was thought to be located in the middle ear or in the basilar membrane . A shift in paradigm were findings of Thomas Gold and David T. Kemp which proved that the ear, rather than being passive, should be considered as an active system, and that parts of the inner ear – specifically, the outer hair cells of the basilar membrane – act as a dynamic amplification system . Nowadays, the phenomenon of auditory distortion forms an area of research on otoacoustic emissions, where the “distortion” is defined as a positive feedback mechanism within the cochlea called the cochlear amplifier – a sort of "a tiny loudspeaker in the ear" . In the field of medical practice, the otoacoustic emission phenomena have been used, among other purposes, to test hearing in infants . Distortion Product Otoacoustic Emissions challenge the sound as a solely externally constructed entity and place the listener as both a recipient and an agent of the auditory process. Listening ceases to be indexically oriented towards an external sound source and re-orientates itself towards the very physiological conditions of audition.
Maryanne Amacher contributed significantly to research on auditory distortion and its creative application into sound art. Her compositions such as “Head Rhythm 1” and "Playing Thing 2" utilised the Triadex Muse – a digital sequencer instrument designed and built by Edward Fredkin and Marvin Minsky at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) . By generating fast-paced interlocking patterns of short sine tones at very high volumes, Amacher achieved a presence of distinct separate musical streams from the audible distortion. In the liner notes to “Sound Characters (Making of the Third Ear)” a CD released by Tzadik, Amacher describes the experience of these tones:
When played at the right sound level, which is quite high and exciting, the tones in this music will cause your ears to act as neurophonic instruments that emit sounds that will seem to be issuing directly from your head ... [my audiences] discover they are producing a tonal dimension of the music which interacts melodically, rhythmically, and spatially with the tones in the room. Tones “dance” in the immediate space of their body, around them like a sonic wrap, cascade inside ears, and out to space in front of their eyes ... Do not be alarmed! Your ears are not behaving strange or being damaged! ... These virtual tones are a natural and very real physical aspect of auditory perception, similar to the fusing of two images resulting in a third three dimensional image in binocular perception ... I want to release this music which is produced by the listener. 
Amacher had laid the foundation for systematic exploration of DPOAEs and engagement with their novel musical properties. Jonathan Kirk and Christopher Haworth provided an extensive list of examples from 20th-century music where the auditory distortion product had been explored as an intentional material strategy . Recent examples of creative investigation of phenomena include Christopher Haworth's “Correlation Number One” (2010), Marcus Schmickler's “Fortuna Ribbon” (2015), Thomas Ankersmit “Otolith” (2015) , and Florian Hecker's “FAVN” (2017).
The application of DPOAE within accompanying track has been based on the Quadratic ( f2 – f1) and Cubic (2 f1 – f2) Difference algorithms proposed by Kendall, Haworth and Cádiz . The authors have provided a set of synthesis techniques by which the DPOAE's can be used in a determined and creative way with control over dynamic parameters of tone such as vibrato, tremolo, spectra and spatial location. A Dynamic Sinusoidal Synthesis (DDS) model has been used to generate material for the work. In DSS the amplitude and pitch of the QDT spectrum is a result of the analysis process performed on a complex and dynamically changing in time model signal . The working of sound material and form completes at the site of a unique psychology and physiology of the listener; here the ear is conceived as an actual instrument .
Listening to the Sieve. Hugo Reimann coined a term Beziehendes Denken - which tentatively can be understood as relational hearing - and defined as setting parts of the whole in relation to each other . A relational hearing defined as such is close to the notion of active listening - a strategy for reconstructing the logical flow of composition by conjoining musical patterns. Fundamental in this conceptualisation is the distinction between horizontal and vertical structures. When structural hearing relates to parts in linear order the process focuses on horizontal relations between adjacent or non-adjacent sections. The vertical structures, on the other hand, refer to parts in hierarchical order, whose relations are super- and subordinate to each other. The aim of structural hearing is to extract relationships horizontally and vertically at each hierarchical level - from the most reductive, the Ursatz or deep structure, to the surface structure, the most elaborate level Vordergrund. These two axes delineate an idealised space for the emergence of musical form. It is on these two axes where the formal procedure of sieve has been used extensively within accompanying work. At the micro-temporal level operations on sieves allowed construction of pulsar generator parameters, such as the pulsaret waveform and the pulsaret envelope. At the meso-time level sieve has the sieve procedure had been applied to generate a pattern of pulsar masking effect. At the macro-timesacle level I have used sieves to generate durations of consecutive sections, shaping the larger scale development of the work. The sieve (cribles) is a formal tool developed by composer Iannis Xenakis for construction of integer-sequence generators that can be applied to generation of various numerical patterns to represent any set of parameters of sound - or well- ordered sound structures - such as pitch series, time-points, loudness, density, degrees of order or local timbres . In mathematics, the term ‘sieve’ is a metaphor for a process of abstraction, a set-theoretical filtering-out that generates series of integers, particularly by means of a modulo operation, that exhibit intervallic repetition . Xenakis used sieves to generate multiple subdivisions of a given span applying different moduli. He then employed logical operators such as intersection or union to construct series that select different elements from the various subdivisions. The power of sieve formula proposed by Xenakis is that it is independent of time. The material generated through this procedure belongs to outside-of-time domain - which means that the way this material will unfold in time is not yet specified. The outside- of-time refers to any aspect of a work of music that can be formalised independently of time. Any other aspect, particularly if dependent on the time flow, belongs to the in- time domain. A 12-ton row, considered in its precompositional, theoretical state, is outside-of-time, while a particular realisation of this series in a score happens in-time. Xenakis used sieves in many of his instrumental compositions, the best documented being Herma for piano solo .The process of composition with pulsars and their DPOAE re-synthesis in conjunction with sieves mobilises a dynamic extension to a hierarchical stratification of auditory processing proposed by Reimann. The relational hearing becomes mediated through various abstractions of musical processes - as a direct experimentation with the micro-temporal emergent sonorities of the synthetic material, as its analysis and re-synthesis and as an outside-time formula.
Acknowledgment. I would like to thank Eric Laska for giving me the opportunity to presentthis sound work with accompanying text. Florian Hecker and Martin Parker for supervision of my research project and ongoing support of my creative work. Curtis Roads and Alberto de Campo for sharing the historical pulsar synthesis and Pulsar Generator code and commenting on the development of the New Pulsar Generator. Marcus Schmickler for advice on aesthetic and technical extensions of the program.
 The track accompanying this short essay is a variation on and an edit out from a forthcoming full-length CD 'The New Pulsar Generator Recordings' to be released on FANCYYYYY label in early 2019. http://www.fancyyyyy.com/
 The code analysed included early (1997) implementation of pulsar synthesis in SuperCollider 1 programming language developed by Curtis Roads and Steven T. Pope as well as a later one (2001) which eventually became Pulsar Generator program developed together with Alberto de Campo
 More information about the program and its documentation can be viewed here: https://www.marcinpietruszewski.com/the-new-pulsar-generator
 For detailed explanation of the technique see Roads, C. . Composing electronic music: a new aesthetic, Oxford University Press, USA and Roads, C. . Microsound, MIT press.
 Holtzman, S. R. . A description of an automated digital sound synthesis instrument, University of Edinburgh, Department of Artificial Intelligence.
 On a problem of representation of musical data see: Müller, M. . Fundamentals of Music Processing: Audio, Analysis, Algorithms, Applications, Springer and Roads, C. and Wieneke, P. . Grammars as representations for music, Computer Music Journal pp. 48–55.
 The original OS 9 Pulsar Generator can be downloaded from Curtis Roads’ webpage: https://www.curtisroads.net/software/
 Roads, C. . Composing electronic music: a new aesthetic, Oxford University Press, USA.
 Berry, W. . Structural functions in music, Courier Corporation.
 Narmour, E. . Toward an analytical symbology: The melodic, harmonic and durational functions of implication and realization, Musical Grammars and Computer Analysis: Atti del Convegno. Florence: Olschki pp. 83–114.
 In 1748 and 1754 respectively, the organist, Georg Sorge (1703–1778), and the violinist, Giuseppe Tartini (1692–1770) both observed the phenomena of "a third tone". For a history of combination tones before Helmholtz, see:Carlton Maley Jr, V. . The theory of beats and combination tones, 1700- 1863.[harvard dissertations in the history of science. O. Gingerich, editor].
 Jennie Gottschalk asks: "If the sound happens exclusively within the hearing mechanism, is it truly objective?" and suggests the answer - "it could be called physically subjective, yet mentally objective", see: Gottschalk, J. . Experimental Music Since 1970, Bloomsbury Publishing USA.
 Helmholtz, H. . On the sensations of tone, Courier Corporation.
 Gold, T. . Hearing. ii. the physical basis of the action of the cochlea, Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences 135(881): 492–498.
 Kemp, D. T. . Stimulated acoustic emissions from within the human auditory system, The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 64(5): 1386–1391.
 Ashmore, J., Avan, P., Brownell, W., Dallos, P., Dierkes, K., Fettiplace, R., Grosh, K., Hackney, C., Hudspeth, A., Jülicher, F. et al. . The remarkable cochlear amplifier, Hearing research 266(1): 1–17.
 See: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12764789.
 Amacher, M. . Sound characters:(making the third ear), Tzadik. Hear ‘Head Rhythm 1’ here.
and Haworth, C. . Composing with absent sound, ICMC.
 listen to an excerpt here: https://soundcloud.com/weerzin/live-at-ctm-2015-ex...
 Kendall, G. S., Haworth, C. and Cádiz, R. F. . Sound synthesis with auditory distortion products, Computer Music Journal .
 Haworth, C. . Ear as instrument, Leonardo Music Journal 22: 61–62.
 Neuhaus, C., Knösche, T. R. and Friederici, A. D. . Similarity and repetition, Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 1169(1): 485–489
 Neuhaus, C., Knösche, T. R. and Friederici, A. D. . Similarity and repetition, Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 1169(1): 485–489
 For an in-depth computer aided analysis of the work and underlying sieve procedure see: Agon, C., Andreatta, M., Assayag, G., & Schaub, S. (2004) Formal Aspects of Iannis Xenakis' "Symbolic Music": A Computer-Aided Exploration of Compositional Processes, Journal of New Music Research, 33:2, 145-159
Commissioned and Performed by The Living Earth Show
In Collaboration with Composers:
Zachary James Watkins
We spend 1/3rd of our lives sleeping and dreaming, yet scientist still don’t know exactly why…
SleepWalks is sound artists Andrea Williams and Lee Sparks Pembleton. We lead soundwalks through dreams by performing improvised soundscapes for an audience sleeping overnight in a venue. These dreamscapes are created using field recordings collected around the world over the course of our lives. The performances last twelve-hours, 9:00 PM to 9:00 AM, gently fading out in the morning as participants journal and share their dreams over breakfast.
The goal of this long-term project is to study the relationship between sound and dreams in order to learn to compose collective soundwalks for dreamers. During SleepWalks we record the sound samples that we use and later, by reading the timestamp, we mark possible correlations between the sounds in the improvisation and writings from the participants' dream journals. Dr. Todd Anderson of Sheep Dog Sciences often collaborates with us, providing wireless EEG to allow cleaner synchronization between individuals’ dream states and the sounds playing.
SleepWalks does not use spoken word as part of our guided dreaming. We do not use hypnosis. We do not use subliminal nor subconscious verbal manipulation of any sort.
SleepWalks began in 02009. We have performed SleepWalks at Issue Project Room, NYC; Soundwave Festival, San Francisco; Diapason Gallery, NYC; Parsons Hall Gallery, MA; Mills College, Oakland, CA; and Flux Factory, NYC, among many other venues. In 02016, we collaborated with Ellen Sinopoli Dance Company (ESDC) and Dr. Todd Anderson to create SleepWalks: The Body of Dreams, a multimedia dance performance. Choreography, sets, costumes, and video projections were drawn from journaled dreams where the participants saw each other, and the music for the final piece was taken from the soundscapes that the dancers and audience dreamt through previously. In 2018, SleepWalks: The Body of Dreams had a residency and multi-media performance at Kaatsbaan International Dance Center.
SleepWalks invites you to listen to the 45-minute SleepWalks: The Body of Dreams soundtrack as you sleep. You can journal your dreams and send the documentation along to Andrea Williams at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Our goal with this online manifestation of SleepWalks is to continue our research into how sound elicits dreams, and to look for similarities in the dreams of participants that might be related to the sounds we are all hearing as we sleep.
Southwest Key Programs’ website was unavailable on the night of June 19th. “Under Renovations,” a static page read. The next day, Southwest Key offered a second static page in place of its full corporate site: a few FAQs and a statement that the Program “does not support separating families at the border.”
Southwest Key Programs does not support separating families at the border. For 30 years, our work in offering youth alternative justice, immigrant children’s shelters and education has served to improve the lives of thousands of young people. We believe keeping families together is better for the children, parents and our communities and we remain committed to providing compassionate care and reunification. For every child who has come through our shelter doors, we start on day one to reunite them with their parents or a family sponsor and to provide them with the kind of service that will help them thrive. This has been our priority for decades.
Southwest Key was founded in 1987, one year after Reagan’s Immigration Reform and Control Act. The Act introduced an amnesty program alongside new surveillance technology at the U.S.-Mexico Border and, for the first time, imposed penalties on employers who employ undocumented workers, knowingly or not. The non-profit operates 27 centers in California, Arizona and Texas. Some of Southwest Key’s facilities are huge. The New York Times recently featured a Texas facility that houses 1,700 boys between ages 10-17. In San Diego, there are three Southwest Key facilities: Casa San Diego, Casa El Cajon and Casa Lemon Grove. All three are at least 20 miles from the border.
The day before – June 18 - the San Diego Tribune ran a few articles about the San Diego facilities, one with the eye-grabbing headline: “When Children are Separated From Their Parents at the Border, Here is Where They Go Next.” The headline promises transparency but contradicts itself almost immediately. The article details a specific facility – Casa San Diego, in El Cajon – to which no recently separated children had actually been sent. Southwest Key’s San Diego facilities are relatively small. Most house children who crossed unaccompanied to reach family already in the U.S. About 10% of the children in the San Diego facilities have been separated from their parents at the border. The largest facility has 65 available beds for boys and the other two hold a combined 25 beds for girls. They are all at capacity almost all the time. The Tribune piece underscores that Southwest Key workers say that the current number of arrivals is typical of the surges they see each summer.
I live in San Diego. Amid these early moments in the ongoing family separation crisis, I spent the following Thursday – June 21 – driving around two nearby Southwest Key’s facilities. I found them easily on Google Maps (no corporate website needed). I begin with the Tribune piece for a number of reasons. The article operates a stunning synecdoche in which Casa San Diego is made to stand in for Southwest Key’s vast corporate apparatus. This displacement takes place in the article’s written discourse but its accompanying video also gives this trope audio-visual form. Music studies and sound studies are, together, uniquely equipped to analyze the histories, places and subjects, objects that do and do not find expression in these sights and sounds. If the Tribune offered something of a panacea, I wanted to unpack the modes of listening that might have made it convincing.
I wrote this essay quickly. Frustrated by the Tribune’s fuzzy treatment of Casa San Diego, Southwest Key and the recently applied “no tolerance policy,” I was eager to unsettle displacements that seemed to balance “no tolerance” against Southwest Key’s longstanding presence in the region. I hoped that portraying the historical, political and sensorial specificity of Southwest Key’s San Diego sites might upset that balance. And so, my writing experiment joined a number of recent essays that trace the Southwest Key’s historically good standing among immigrant and civil rights activists since the mid-1980s through the present. Many of these same groups now rightly decry its implication in the ongoing family separation crisis. To do essential research on the non-profit’s corporate history, I add attention to the concepts of care that found expression in discourse on Southwest Key’s San Diego sites from the mid-2010s to the present. This apparent break from good standing, I’ll suggest, is internal to care discourses themselves – and specifically, to how care discourses balance the well-being of migrant children against the well-being of the populations that “host” them. As Saiba Varma notes, arguments that exemplify humanitarian care can resist a politics of violence but can just as easily replicate them on various scales. This essay begins and ends by listening for such resistance and replication.
The Tribune’s video opens with a roomful of empty well-made beds with colorful patterned sheets. A series of medium shots show kids lining up for food, kicking a soccer ball around and clapping to music. Their faces are not in the frame. Standing outside Casa San Diego, an immigration reporter tells the Tribune “it looks like a school where children sleep.” They do not interview any Southwest Key staff and there are no clear markers of place, like street signs or nearby businesses. We don’t hear what any of this sounds like because the video is instead set to music. A syncopated pattern in triple meter with an innocuous but thoughtful, optimistic Steve Reich-y feel loops for almost the video’s entire duration.
Of musical processes, the ostinato is perhaps least amenable to being represented as a bounded “unit” or complete musical “object.” A listener can join an ostinato as an already-ongoing process that might perhaps continue, open-endedly and unsegmented, beyond her period of engagement. This suggests a few different listening positions. As Naomi Cumming shows in her expert analysis of Reich’s Different Trains, such engagements might be experienced as comforting and horrifying by turns. Cumming locates this sense of comfort in rhythmic repetition that can be embodied, via listening, as kineasthetic motion. This mode of engagement is crucial to Tribune’s video panacea. Overall, the piece is meant to reassure us that Southwest Key has been doing their best and will continue to do so amid the application of “no tolerance.” The ostinato neither segments the image track nor illustrates the actions we see onscreen. It belies no geographic and temporal specificity until its gentle rocking loop is at last interrupted by a single sound that originates in Casa San Diego: a bell that children ring when they are re-united with a parent or sponsor. The video’s play with nondiegetic music and diegetic sound presumably recorded on-site composite deflects attention from what happens inside these facilities. We hear only the bell that indicates that Southwest Key has done its work successfully. We only hear, in other words, the sounds meant to childrens’ faith in the Programs’ effectiveness.Understanding and responding to this crisis requires a radical rethinking of its spatial distribution. The Mobilized Humanities working group’s project Torn Apart / Separados, for example, used a 2017 ICE Facilities List to create an interactive map that locates the centers that could be holding recently separated children. Orange dots cover the map; you can zoom in for Google street view. “A lot of America thinks this phenomenon is happening in this limited geographical space along the border,” writes digital scholarship librarian Andrew Gil, of Mobilized Humanities. This map is telling a different story: The border is everywhere. ICE is everywhere.” If ICE is everywhere, ICE has long been sensible in ways that are not obvious or spectacular; if ICE is everywhere, then there is somewhere nearby to which you might listen and look differently. Or that someone has been looking at listening to differently for some time. Powerful in its scope and density, this visualization also suggests that locally-specific ways of seeing and looking might provide cues for further intervention, forms of study and coalition-building work. Following Gil, I wondered after ways of reading the city that could connect what Hortense Spillers calls “mistaken glances of the eye,” visualizing tricks and auditory illusions to the vast geographical sweep of immigrant detention that Mobilized Humanities has so carefully mapped. How to hear and see a border that is everywhere? This essay’s next three sections experiment within the ambitus of this question.
** El Cajon, CA: June 21, 2018 **
In a then-recent clip, an NBC reporter stationed outside Casa San Diego tells us that the facility is located “on a residential street in San Diego.” Both details are false. El Cajon is a city in San Diego County about seventeen miles east of downtown San Diego. Broadway is a not a residential street – it is a four-lane commercial thoroughfare. Cars and trucks zoom past Casa San Diego. A little further south and west, frequent lights allow cars to turn in and out strip malls thickets lining both sides of the street. The businesses in the middle of Casa San Diego’s block, however, require a little more space: a recreational vehicle rental facility, a Middle Eastern grocery story with a large parking lot, a car parts wholesaler. Apart from the soft whoosh of vehicles traveling about 40 to 50 miles per hour, the block is quiet. This is not because it’s remote; it’s because June is hot and these are all obviously driving destinations.
Casa San Diego sits between a street-corner strip mall and parking lot. The facility is surrounded by a fence with opaque green privacy tape woven into its chain links. The green tape creates a strange continuity with leafy trees inside the fence but visible from the street. One tree has grown over the fence, creating the sidewalk’s only shady spot. Amid Broadway’s grays and browns, Casa San Diego’s combination of organic and inorganic greens looks cool and lush. Vehicles come and go through a white security gate that is easily visible from the street and sidewalk. The recreational vehicle rental’s gated driveway creates a weird symmetry with Casa San Diego’s, as though reassuring passersby that gated facilities are the norm, here. A sign about 20 feet above street level and inside the fence features Southwest Key’s logo, but not the non-profit’s name. The design is non-descript but vaguely optimistic: a soft orange sun with cutely asymmetrical rays peeks over an abstract horizon. The sign’s height stands out among the one-story building and seems to rise much like the sun it depicts. Single-family homes with large lots line the streets that run parallel to Broadway. Separated by a long block, some share a back fence with Casa San Diego.
As I walked by, an ABC film crew in town from Los Angeles was packing up. I asked them about what they were doing. Like the Tribune, they just wanted to show viewers what the facility looked like; they hadn’t interviewed any Southwest Key staff or the few protesters that had been there earlier that morning. Like the Tribune, he was both right and wrong when he told me that “this is where the children are being detained.” This easy sleight of hand furthered the need for analysis, strategy and action that could connect the longer-standing Casas with the immediate and catastrophic implementation of “no tolerance.”
** Lemon Grove, CA: June 21, 2018 **
Two houses away from Casa Lemon Grove, I could hear chickens clucking in a front yard coop. The street was that quiet. An occasional “crack!” signaled a construction project on a nearby house that I couldn’t see. Casa Lemon Grove’s address is easily visible from the street. There is one segment of unlined fencing in front of the house and you can see the structure easily atop a steep driveway with lush overhanging foliage like many of the other homes on the block. The street is easy to miss. Left and right turns off of the artery scales the mesa and intersects with Lemon Grove Boulevard which is not clearly marked. The street’s pavement tapers onto sandy dirt, suggesting little foot or vehicle traffic. Houses are set back from a street that cuts a steep incline into one side of the hill with long, flat yards on the other.
There is no Southwest Key signage and no opaque fence, but a surfeit of “No Parking” and “Video Surveillance” signage induced in me a pre-emptive guilt: walking, driving, driving slowly to read the signs, driving slowly to find parking would signal, to those who know, that I did not belong there. Like the recreational vehicle’s security gate in El Cajon, “No Parking” signs on nearby houses naturalized the signs outside Casa Lemon Grove. If you don’t know the neighborhood, you might be forgiven for thinking ok, maybe it’s just how things are here, I’ll move right along. Both facilities conceal themselves, in part, via their proximity to familiar signage that sanctifies private and commercial property. Southwest Key’s house fits into the block to avail itself of the surveillance technologies that have long been part of its built environment.
Southwest Key’s presence in San Diego convenes many important local histories. As North County residents were protesting a proposed Southwest Key facility in the city of Escondido in 2012, Lemon Grove residents underscored their co-habitation with Casa Lemon Grove as a relatively easy one. Lemon Grove and El Cajon have been home to historically organized immigrant communities. Just after the turn of the century, Mexican immigrants began settling in Lemon Grove. Isolated on the mesa, this rural region was extolled for its “blissful” setting and lucrative agricultural fields. By 1924, Congress created Border Patrol to combat Mexican immigration, reflecting local, regional and national sentiment that favored the deportation of the Mexican population in the United States. School segregation was a test case: Mexican segregation was institutionalized in Texas during the 1920s and, by 1928, at least 68 California schools were 80-100% Mexican-American.
Lemon Grove was the site of the first successful school desegregation court decision in U.S. history. Known as the “Lemon Grove Incident,” the 1932 case Roberto Alvarez vs. the Board of Trustees of the Lemon Grove School District barred the DA’s Office from creating separate schools for Mexican children. Though the case did not set precedent, Robert Alvarez Jr. (the plaintiff’s son) writes, “it is important in San Diego and U.S. history, […] because the community took court action and won the case they established the rights of their children to equal education.”
Southwest Key took over the house’s conditional use permit in 2008. The site had been a group home since 1987 and neighbors were well aware of the changeover. By 2014, the number of kids coming through San Diego had increased but, compared to kids arriving in Texas, their numbers were relatively small. Because the Southwest Key system is national, however, the San Diego facilities might house kids from all of over the country. (Again, the Torn Apart / Separados map makes this clear). In a 2014 article published, in part, in response to the Escondido case, Casa San Diego neighbor Marilyn Gutierrez clarified that “we have no complaints at all” about Southwest Key’s presence on her residential street. Fellow neighbor Nathan Johnson also underscores that he had no problems with the shelter: “I’m just glad that there’s a place like that for them,” he says.
** Escondido, CA: March 23, 2017 **
In the North County city of Escondido, however, public resistance to Southwest Key turned humanitarian rhetoric to anti-immigrant ends. By the time Southwest Key’s proposed to open a facility there in 2012, Escondido had long been well-known for its anti-immigrant measures. Amid increased drivers’ license checkpoints and a proposed 2006 ordinance that would have punished landlords for renting to undocumented persons, at least one-quarter of Escondido’s non-citizens left the city between 2008 and 2009. Close attention to residents’ 2012 arguments is telling. As Mayor Sam Abed put it “there is no plan whatsoever except that we are going to provide them with services in a prison-like environment.” The strategic “we” operates a number of slippages in Abed’s hypothetical. Abed produces Escondido residents as a “we” that would be implicated in Southwest Key’s standards of care. This historically inhospitable city can then be seen to take the moral high ground by demanding better care and at the same time recusing themselves from having to produce it. Though on their face, his remarks pertain to the care of migrant children, his statement is really about caring for Escondido’s “host” population. Abed promoted, for residents, a positive self-understanding and self-appreciation as defenders of care that, at the same time, preserved the city’s anti-immigrant status quo. Consider also, a complementary remark. “Let’s find something that’s appropriate space-wise for these kids,” one resident comments. The argument begins as a humanitarian question about the suitability of built space. Her “let’s” extends Abed’s suggestion that there is a “we” in Escondido that would take an interest in where “these kids” might end up. But she continues, ““…and not put them in Escondido.” An apparent concern for space belies exclusions that preserve the integrity of place, not-so-tacitly cast in racial terms. This “host” population is presumed to be white.
In a letter to the City, Southwest Key plays both ends against the middle. The letter validates residents’ concerns by underscoring that the number of visitors to the site would have been minimal. The tone is reassuring: bringing migrant children to a Southwest Key facility would not also bring families awaiting reunification to Escondido. Federal regulations require that visitors must undergo a background check that takes at least 21 days to complete. Southwest Key underscored that this exceeds the average stay at their facilities. They also highlight that 95% of their reunifications occur outside of San Diego County, which means that Escondido residents would not even have to tolerate the experiences of family member’s coming into two to pick up separated children. Southwest Key’s letter to the City of Escondido informs us that, in 2014 and between all three facilities, they hosted only a single visitor. (The implicit and explicit forms of surveillance I saw at the Lemon Grove and El Cajon sites underscore as much.) Their letter also specifies that outdoor time is tightly organized: one hour every weekday and three hours each weekend of “structured large muscle outdoor activity.” This statement plays both ends against the middle. In addition to school, music, movies and computer time, these details are meant to evidence Southwest Key’s well-rounded forms of care and activity. But it also reassures residents that they will only hear children outdoors for short and predictably specific times. Neither my visit to Casa Lemon Grove nor my visit to Casa San Diego coincided with those prescribed hours.
Southwest Key addresses the city of Escondido with compassionate language that correlates residents’ apparent grievances with their own standards of humanitarian care. This argument takes advantage of what political theorist Luca Mavelli calls rhetorics of “compassionate borderwork:” Southwest Key’s programs are not straightforwardly positive but they are also not thanatopolitical governance through violence and death. However, the Escondido residents’ comments suggest that this could never have been the case. Southwest Key’s children may be “good migrants” deserving of care but are at the same time “ bad migrants” whose presence in Escondido would attenuate their own flourishing. The qualifier “…not in Escondido” shows how demands for care also exposes those on whose behalf that demand is made to lethality and abandonment. The very lives that Southwest Key wants Escondido residents to agree to protect are - via precisely that demand – made all the more easily targetable by lethal apparatuses of security.This rhetoric also depoliticizes migration by concealing its historical basis in domination and violence. Suspending migration’s causes produces diffuse concepts of “perpetrator” and “perpetration.” As Luca Mavelli notes, children are often cast victims without perpetrators, while other migrants can be cast as perpetrators of their own suffering (i.e. for arriving a Port of Entry when it is “too busy” – or worse – as Sarah Huckabee Sanders specified at an early June press conference). Different notions of perpetration create scarily flexible distinctions between “good” and “bad” based on variably assessments of their current suffering as legitimate or not. Care is often structured to complement these distinctions. As a “structured relation of magnanimity to obeisance,” Varma points out, care disciplines its subjects while at the same time sorting them as more or less deserving. Migrants become visible and audible not as subjects whose actions intervene on histories of structural violence but as objects of a crisis lodged stubbornly in the present. To be the object of the question central to Southwest Key’s operation (in Escondido but also elsewhere) - how can waiting to be admitted or not be made more or less humane? – is also to be relegated to what Mavelli calls the “humanitarian present.” Care’s containments, separations and classifications also unfold via forms of social time.
Diffuse notions of perpetrations also suggest perverse enhancements for a “host” population that, as the Escondido case suggests, is often assumed to be white. If migrants can be made to seem to perpetrate their own suffering, then the U.S. population can be exempted from the conditions of migration itself and from the violent security apparatus migrant face before, during and after crossing. Trumps’s paradigmatic victim-blaming “look what you made me do” rhetoric admits to death-dealing while at the same time delivering biopolitical care: the phrasing enhances the life of some populations by suggesting that they are “blameless.” Care does not oppose biopolitical racism but rather provides an alibi for its “ways of measuring, assessing, ranking, intervening on and distributing individuals according to their endowment of absence of those biological qualities that can contribute to the well-being and flourishing of a population.” We need to continue pressing hard to see and hear what goes on inside these facilities. But noting their ubiquity – as I have tried to do, in this essay – means also asking how the delivery of care to migrant children has also been used to govern, classify, enhance and attenuate life across the socio-political field. And after all, Southwest Key’s longer-standing salutary standards of care suggest that family separation can in some circumstances be made viable. Care discourses point toward the violent exposures that result when those circumstances change.
Naomi Cumming’s analysis of rhythmic ostinati resonates surprisingly with this ambivalence. In one sense, the Tribune’s ostinato takes care of the viewer. The ostinato highlights the normalcy of everyday life in Casa San Diego to retrofit a kind of normalcy for the presence of Southwest Key in everyday life. The unsegmented repeating pattern reassures us that, though this has been going on for longer than we’ve perhaps known, everyday life in a Southwest Key facility is stable and unobjectionable. This audio-visual logic doubles the viewer’s emotional well-being in the well-being of the children it documents. But as Cumming might perhaps point out, it is also horrifying to have accepted this comfort. These sights and sounds invite us to become subjects of biopolitical care who can be variously enhanced and managed via migration discourses. But their invitation asks us to query seriously whether we are not not already subjects of that care. The horror lies in having not registered the ostinato’s invitation but to have perhaps already accepted it.
** Brownsville, TX: June 18, 2018 **
So far, I’ve tried to think through some audio-visual logics on which Southwest Key explicitly and implicitly relies to promote its work as an enhancement of life for both the children it serves as well as a larger “host” population while obscuring the implication of both in a politics of death and abandonment. The impetus for the essay came from the widely-circulated audio from Brownsville, Texas on June 18. We hear a CPB officer describe childrens’ voices and cries: “well, we have an orchestra, what’s missing is a conductor.” He delivered the remark in Spanish. He presumably addresses the children, although his statement is documented on a visiting reporters’ audio recording. I want to linger with his orchestra metaphor. For Sarah Kofman, metaphor is an analytic of power, comparison and hierarchy. The orchestra is a frequent player in metaphoric evaluations of many kinds, especially figures of complexity, cooperation and coordination. The office clearly ironizes these gestures. Yet, via that irony, the figure of the orchestra disciplines subjects of care and introduces shifting notions of perpetration central to migration discourse qua biopolitical care. The remark drags familiar, long-standing histories of listening along with it.
The comparison is obvious: beautiful symphonic music versus the detained childrens’ voices. To work, the orchestra of this metaphor would almost certainly have to be that of Beethoven or the Viennese composers that followed after 1860, like Brahms, Bruckner or Mahler. I say this because of their sonic force and cultural status as unquestionably beautiful, edifying or other-worldly. By the 1860s, hearing the orchestra was supposed to be a quasi-religious experience. Within a white middle class culture of bildung, the concert was an educational occasion for self-refinement. Though this project of self-cultivation was individualistic in character, it took place in massive new concert halls whose unprecedentedly thick walls gave material, architectural and acoustical form to an emerging Romantic notion of art. As Walter Frisch writes, “the symphony was a work in which everything must be cast more grandly, as if from the stage downward toward listeners.” Listening is a structured relation of grandness to gratitude via the work of bildung. “19th century symphonies were meant to be distinctive and recognizable,” Frisch continues, “aimed at a broad public.” In the museum-like architectural enclosure, the self-possessed liberal subject ritualizes the process of agreeing to have one kind of listening experience and not another.
If the modern listener can claim to choose the symphony, she can also claim to be victimized by sounds that, for various reasons, she doesn’t choose. Or, to respond with impunity to the sounds she chooses not to choose. As Bill Dietz puts it, “this history is redolent with the left fantasies about the rational public sphere. Yet, the very idea of a broad public has never existed. Rather, it was always premised on violent exclusions.” The officer’s quip recapitulates this history. Against the orchestra, the childrens’ voices can only be ugly, they can only be nearly nothing. The children are presumed not to hear or interpret one another. This noisy scene features only one legitimate listener: the CBP agent. His remark weighs the childrens’ suffering against the liberal right to very specific organization of the Western sensorium as children become the perpetrators of noisy violence against the ears of adult authorities. The modern listener loans the agent its logics of victimization.
This is not the first time that the orchestra has been deployed to contain the sounds that it also produces as racialized noise. When I teach the 9th, I take a page out of the Žižek playbook to point my students to this line in Schiller’s poem: “but he who cannot rejoice, let him steal weeping away.” The (silent) sounds of “weeping” accompany an “Ode to Joy” that foregrounds its constitutive exclusions. After this line, we hear a cliché of 18th century Orientalism: the so-called “Turkish march.” As Wendy Heller summarizes, conflict with the Ottoman Empire fueled European anxiety about threats from the “East” for most of the 17th century. However, after the Turkish army’s unsuccessful siege of Vienna in 1683, musical appropriation began in earnest. No longer tied to political threats, this music became “safe” to imitate in orchestral discourse. The result was a classicized version of the music of Turkish brass bands living and working in Vienna replete with expanded percussion ensembles and novel percussive effects. Mozart’s rondo alla turca, for example, uses the jangling low strings of the piano to this effect. These sounds cohered a public taste for “exotic” subject matter that poked fun at a once-feared enemy.
The suggestion that this scene “lacks” a conductor is fatuous. This crack occludes the myriad forms of authority to which the children he no longer wishes to hear have long been subject. His crack absents perpetrators. Among them, we could imagine Sanders, Nielsen, Sessions, ICE, CBP, DHS, Southwest Key and the speaker himself. And like that suspension, his quip depoliticizes the children’s sounds, voices and cries. They are, he might have it, the cause of disorder, not the effect of “no tolerance’s” disastrous disorder. Children are cast, here, as perpetrators of their own suffering. They would suffer less if only they would just be quiet. This quip doesn’t even allow us to hear the “weeping” that silently accompanies the 9th. On the Brownsville recording, weeping is not silent. Over weeping, the agent would perhaps have us hear laughter. He acts as a “conductor” precisely by declaring that there is not one. His surfeit of conductors – the sick chorus of Sanders, Neilsen, Sessions, ICE, CBP, DHS, Southwest Key – stands aside, laughing at the sounds of enemies that the orchestra “ritualistically dehumanizes.” In this sense, the CBP’s remark is not a metaphor at all. Rather, it correctly names a history of listening that stands in the way of hearing these children’s voices as historic interventions.
 At the time of this publication, Southwest Key’s website still features only a “temporary page” (though a better designed page that the one I encountered in mid-June). According to that temporary page, complete corporate website remains unavailable because of higher than usual traffic, accessed 19 June 2018.http://www.swkey.org/
 Ibid, last Accessed 26 June 2018.
 Kate Morissey, “When Children are Separated From Their Parents at the Border, Here is Where They Go Next,” San Diego Tribune, 18 June 2018.
 Manny Ferndandez and Kate Benner, “The Billion-Dollar Business of Operating Shelters for Migrant Children,” New York Times, 21 Jun. 2018. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/21/us/migrant-shelters-border-crossing.html. In their words,“Southwest Key was warmly received by left-leaning immigration activists and civil rights organizations. Post-Trump, some of the group’s former allies are now leading the outcry.”
 Henry Grabar, “Shelter in the Storm: Southwest Key was a model shelter for migrant kids. Once Trump’s family separation policy began, it became a villain,” Slate Magazine, 6 July 2018, https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2018/07/southwest-key-and-family-separations-was-the-shelter-complicit.html.
 Saiba Varma “Care's Abandonments: Nationalism, Militarism, and Humanitarianism in Kashmir” (lecture, UCLA Center for South Asia, Los Angeles, CA, 11 December 2017).
 Naomi Cumming, “The Horrors of Identification: Reich’s Different Trains,” Perspectives of New Music. Vol. 35, No. 1 (Winter 1997): pp. 129-152.
 Cumming, 135.
 Torn Apart / Separados,last accessed 30 July 2018, http://xpmethod.plaintext.in/torn-apart/visualizations.html#clinks.
 Emily Dreyfus, “ICE is Everywhere:” Using Library Science to Map the Child Separation Crisis,” Wired Magazine, 25 June 2018. https://www.wired.com/story/ice-is-everywhere-using-library-science-to-map-child-separation/amp?__twitter_impression=true. Here is the Torn Apart team’s description of the project. See their website for more and to learn from their interactive map. “MH brings together digital tools to equip broad social awareness and help in global critical situations. We mobilize humanities faculties, libraries, and students with relevant language, archival, technical, and social expertise to nimbly produce curated and applied knowledge. MH sits away from state and non-governmental organizations and is scholarly activism in a global context. Torn Apart is a result of intense 6-day collaboration between xpMethod (Manan Ahmed, Alex Gil, Moacir P. de Sá Pereira, Roopika Risam), Borderlands Archives Cartography (Maira E. Álvarez, Sylvia A. Fernández), Linda Rodriguez, and Merisa Martinez. A special acknowledgment for Moacir P. de Sá Pereira who hand-cranked the code for everything here.”
 Hortense J. Spillers, “Who Cuts the Border?: Some Readings on America” in Black, White and in Color: Essays on American Literature and Culture (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003), 319-336.
 Gadi Schwartz. “Inside a San Diego Detention Center Where Children Live in Limbo.” NBC News,15 June 2018, https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/video/inside-a-san-diego-detention-center-where-children-live-in-limbo/vp-AAyHYKn.
 Roberto R. Alvarez. “The Lemon Grove Incident.” The Journal of San Diego History. Volume 32, Number 2. (Spring 1986), accessed, 23 June 2018, http://www.sandiegohistory.org/journal/1986/april/lemongrove/.
 Edward Sifuentes, “Two Shelters for Migrant Children Operating in the County,” San Diego Union Tribune, 24 June 2014, http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/immigration/sdut-lemon-grove-el-cajon-immigrant-youth-shelters-2014jun24-story.html.
 On this date, that City of Escondido won their court and barred Southwest Key from opening a facility there. Please see Southwest Key Programs, Inc. v. City of Escondido (S.D. Cal.), https://www.justice.gov/crt/case/southwest-key-programs-inc-v-city-escondido-sd-cal.
 Zach Fox, “Escondido Faces Another Fiscal Obstacle: Fewer People,” North County Times, 23 September 2009, https://web.archive.org/web/20090815083400/http://www.nctimes.com/business/article_057ab19c-65c4-5d81-a452-11a8b4ffe8c5.html.
 J. Harry Jones. “Lawsuit Heats up over Escondido shelter” San Diego Union Tribune.2 December 2016, http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/communities/north-county/sd-no-aclu-lawsuit-20161201-story.html. (my italics)
 Sandra Phillips, “Shelter for Immigrant Kids Rejected in Escondido, Fox5 San Diego, 24 June 2014, https://fox5sandiego.com/2014/06/24/potential-housing-facility-for-immigrant-children-questioned/.
 Alexia Rodriguez. “Southwest Key: A Message to the Escondido City Council.” (letter, Austin, TX, undated) https://www.escondido.org/Data/Sites/1/media/agendas/Council/10-15-14_PHG14-0017/2014-10-13_Southwest_Key_Programs_Letter.pdf.
 Luca Mavelli, “Governing Populations Through the Humanitarian Government of Refugees: Biopolitical Care and Racism in the European Refugee Crisis,” Review of International Studies, accessed 21 June 2018, https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/review-of-international-studies/article/governing-populations-through-the-humanitarian-government-of-refugees-biopolitical-care-and-racism-in-the-european-refugee-crisis/934B0BB45D8971BE62F62DBBFC210C81.
 The literature on the political management of life and death is vast.My formation draws on Roberto Esposito and Giorgio Agamben’s re-workings of Michel Foucault’s 1970s work on biopolitics. Both attend to different articulation of life’s bifurcation – i.e., its reduction to biology and its expansion as horizon of politics. Demands for protection qua biological life often enables more ferocious forms of defense qua politic. What begins as what Foucault calls the power to “make live” instigates what Esposito calls a “thanatopolitical drift” toward the sovereign prerogative to kill or abandon in the name of defense. Please see Roberto Esposito, “Community, Immunity, Biopolitics,” E-Misférica, Volume 10, Issue 1 (Winter 2013), http://hemisphericinstitute.org/hemi/en/e-misferica-101/espositohttp://hemisphericinstitute.org/hemi/en/e-misferica-101/esposito.
 Mavelli, 814.
 Mavelli, 817. Saiba Varma: “Care's Abandonments: Nationalism, Militarism, and Humanitarianism in Kashmir” Lecture delivered at the UCLA Center for South Asia. 11 December 2017
 Jessica Winter, “The Language of the Trump Administration is the Language of Domesric Violence,” The New Yorker,11 June 2018, https://www.newyorker.com/culture/cultural-comment/the-language-of-the-trump-administration-is-the-language-of-domestic-violence.
 Mavelli, 818.
 Consider a contrasting hypothetical. A paranoid voiceover that assertsthat“neighbors don’t even know what goes on in Southwest Key’s buildings.” Regardless of whether or not this is true – reportage from Lemon Grove suggests that it is not – this soundbyte implies Southwest Key has abdicated its biopolitical obligation to care for “host” populations. In other words, both cases – the actual ostinato and the hypothetical more-critical voice over both appeal to the proper care of the host population.
 Sarah Kofman, trans Duncan Large. Nietzsche and Metaphor (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1994)
 Walter Frisch. Music in the 19th Century. (New York: Norton, 2012)
 Peter Ablinger, “Cézanne and Music: Perception and Perceptual Deficiencies / Music and Painting of the Last Thirty Years” Ear Wave Event, Issue One (Fall 2014)ed. Bill Dietz and Woody Sullender,accessed 26 June 2018, http://earwaveevent.org/article/cezanne-and-music/
 Frisch, pp. 53.
 Bill Dietz.,“Preface: A Note for ‘Positionen’” in L’école de la claque (Köthen: ONCURATING.org., 201), p. 10.
 Slavoj Žižek, “Ode to Joy Followed by Chaos and Despair” in The New York Times, 24 December 2007, https://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/24/opinion/24zizek.html.
 Wendy Heller, Music in the Baroque (New York: Norton, 2012), pp. 10, 53 & 218.
 Ibid., 218.
 This formulation is inspired by Josh Jones, “Slavoj Žižek Examines the Perverse Ideology of Beethoven’s Ode to Joy,” Open Culture, 26 November 2013, http://www.openculture.com/2013/11/slavoj-zizek-examines-the-perverse-ideology-of-beethovens-ode-to-joy.html. Instead of laughter, Jones hears in this moment a “perverse scene of universal fraternity in which the world’s dictators, arch-terrorists, and war criminals all embrace each other.”
 I am very grateful to Eric Laska for being open to publishing this essay, raw and in-progress as it is. I wrote quickly with a sense of urgency, though I have a sense that these thoughts arrivealready too late but also too early, incomplete and unresolved. Many, many thanks to Erin Rose Glass, Clara Latham, Julie Napolin and Katherine Young for thoughtful, encouraging feedback on earlier drafts. I would welcome any reader feedback on this work-in-progress.
In Long Distance Music, composers Max Eilbacher and Stefan Maier explore listening and composition across vast geographic distances. Drawing on Maryanne Amacher's text-scores of the same name, Eilbacher and Maier reinterpret Amacher's call for "new awarenesses" beyond normative spatial listening and investigate the prospect of telematic listening in the contemporary moment of supposed unprecedented "interconnectedness."
Having emailed on-and-off for a number of years with the intention of eventually collaborating, the duo's attempts at working together were continually frustrated by competing projects, touring schedules, and, most of all, by the fact that Eilbacher and Maier do not live in the same city. Long Distance Music thematizes this frustration and materializes the conditions of their inability to collaborate in-person through sound.
Work began with Eilbacher and Maier exploring the material differences between specific spaces — places of leisure, work and commerce — in their native homes of Baltimore and Vancouver, respectively. Over a number of months, this research was documented through time-sync'd field recordings of harbours, stadiums, casinos, business districts, their day-jobs and studios, among others. These recordings later became "backing tracks" for time-sync'd telematic improvisation sessions. Here, Eilbacher and Maier would improvise alongside the other's field recordings, attempting to play "together" despite not being able to hear what the other was playing.
To augment these encumbered attempts at real-time collaboration, the duo developed different strategies to enhance and develop long-distance listening which included commissioning custom software by Victor Shepardson for each to use. Internalizing Amacher's contention that the manifold conditions of a place — the geographic, acoustic and social factors that constitute a space — all contribute to the resultant sonic characteristics in a highly specific and perceptible manner, Shepardson's software translated nuanced sonic information into Eilbacher and Maier's synthesizers so as to directly condition and influence their playing. At the same time, deep-listening meditation sessions were conducted before each recording and improvisation session, wherein the duo attempted to connect cognitively and further embody new psychic awarenesses despite the glaring reality of geographic impasse.
Following these "enhanced" time-sync'd sessions, the duo mixed both field recordings and improvisations simultaneously so as to make audible the differences between place and their respective improvisational decisions at all times. The finished work consists of a single 20 minute piece assembled and mixed from the material recorded and generated from the five locations. In addition to the long form piece, available for download are each location/improvisation mixed down by Eilbacher and Maier. These 10 mixes are the sub mixes of each location that were then utilized to sculpt the long form piece. A conversation about the work and process between Maier and Eilbacher is also available in PDF.
Places of Work
Intellijel Designs Inc. (Vancouver, CA) - 03-27-2018
Notam studios (Oslo, NO) - 05-08-2018
Bar Clavel (Baltimore, MD) - 03-27-2018
315 E 33rd Studio (Baltimore, MD) - 05-08-2018
Oslo Port Authority (Oslo, NO) - 05-09-2018
Deep Blue studios (Vancouver, CA) - 06-07-2018
Inner Harbor Tourist District (Baltimore, MD) - 05-09-2018
315 E 33rd Studio (Baltimore, MD) - 06-07-2018
Bank of Montreal (Vancouver, CA) - 06-06-2018
Deep Blue studios (Vancouver, CA) - 06-07-2018
East Baltimore Street Subway Stop(Baltimore, MD) 06-06-2018
315 E 33rd Studio (Baltimore, MD) - 06-07-2018
BC Place (Vancouver, CA) - 06-06-2018
Bard College (Hudson, US) - 06-10-2018
M&T Bank Stadium (Baltimore, MD) - 06-06-2018
Attic Studio (Baltimore, MD) - 06-10-2018
Edgewater Casino (Vancouver, CA) - 06-06-2018
Bard College (Hudson, US) - 06-10-2018
Horseshoe Casino (Baltimore, MD) - 06-06-2018
315 E 33rd Studio (Baltimore, MD) - 06-10-2018
An excerpt from a larger work comprising writing and performance that revisits and examines adolescent memories of suburban subculture.
Oak trees and whitetail deer in
Abundances we tame
Razed woods and ticky tacky
TV dins with the fam
Excess, the new convenience
Tinged with work ethic shame
Same teenage rage all summer
Restraint, virtue or sham?
Widescreen and lens flare evoke the epic or
mundane, point out our hero amongst mass-
produced hot dog buns. The popcorn-crunching
audience files in prepared for thrill,
everyone on their own path back home.
Well if you wanted honesty
call me a faggot one more time
I’m not OK trust me
middle school sucks
LOL smooths friend awkwardness
like a sore muscle
Excess, the new convenience
Tinged with work ethic shame
Same teenage rage all summer
Restraint, virtue or sham?
Same teenage rage all summer
Restraint, virtue or sham?
Excess, the new convenience
Tinged with work ethic shame
Black Class Middle Upper
Down seat go after toilet bathroom put,
do your the not in the sink dishes to leave.
Your bed make the, love you, stop acting up.
Mind your position in life because there
are plenty people who don’t want you here.
I’m not alone ‘cause the TV’s on, yeah
‘cause plots depict a camp reality,
‘cause suburbs are movie sets, are settings,
are models already, for something, some
Relief, Deal, Clearance, Security, Hope.
If you were to have asked William Levitt about his vision for the future of US suburbs, a family like mine would not have fit the picture. A 2015 article from The Guardian describes how Levitt altered the US suburb, and laid the framework for countless US housing developments to come after with the construction of Levittown in Long Island New York, just outside New York City, beginning in 1947. Catering to white World War II veterans who, due to low housing stock, were living with relatives after returning home, houses were built rapidly, employing techniques used on automobile assembly lines as well as methods used during the war to construct military housing. At construction’s most efficient, 1 house was built every 16 minutes.
In a 1997 New York Times article, Black WWII veteran Eugene Burnett describes Levittown as “symbolic of segregation in America.” He continues: ''When I hear 'Levittown,' what rings in my mind is when the salesman said: 'It's not me, you see, but the owners of this development have not as yet decided whether they're going to sell these homes to Negroes.” A clause in the lease for the first Levittown houses explicitly stated that the homes could not “be used or occupied by any person other than members of the Caucasian race,” and for much of its history the suburban community remained 100% white. The aforementioned 2015 Guardian article states that the community was 94% white at the time of its publication.
Oak trees and whitetail deer in
Abundances we tame
Razed woods and ticky tacky
TV dins with the fam
Excess, the new convenience
Tinged with work ethic shame
Same teenage rage all summer
Restraint, virtue or sham?
Teens retreat into trees and
Smoke cigarettes and claim
Who’s more hardcore than hardcore
More rage sprouts from ho-hum
IMPORTANT: Do not click the "LISTEN" button that you see above.
The only way to experience this piece is to never listen to any of the audio. Listening to the audio, or any part of it, will make you unable to experience the piece. You will not only be not experiencing the piece while listening to the audio, but the possibility of experiencing the piece in the future or the past will also be destroyed. Even if you go a long time without listening to the audio, but then you decide to listen to it sometime in the future, you will not have experienced the piece even in the past. Do not think that you can listen to only a tiny snippet of the audio and still experience the piece.
There is a WAV file presented here that contains 4 hours of potential audio content, which would only become actual audio content if you streamed it, or downloaded and played it. This data is not meant to be turned into sound. Turning it into sound destroys your experience of the piece. If for some reason you need assurance that there is content in this file, you may download the file and note that it takes up 2.3 gigs of disc space. You could even open it in a WAV editor and look at the waveform, but do not play any part of it. I strongly discourage this however, because it would increase the temptation to listen to it, and furthermore, it would prevent you from optimally experiencing the piece, which is described below.
The optimal way to experience this piece is to spend as little time thinking about it as you are capable of. Anytime you notice yourself thinking about this piece, you can simply redirect your thoughts toward something else. If you talk about this piece, you won't be experiencing it fully while doing so, because talking about it requires thinking about it. Even reading this text is causing you to think about the piece, so in order to begin experiencing the piece fully, you will need to click the CLOSE button in the upper-right corner, and do something else to take your mind off this. You could listen to one of the other pieces presented on this website, or better yet, close the browser tab and look at something else on the Internet.
As long as you never listen to any of the audio file that is presented here, you will experience the piece. If you take the additional step of making an earnest effort to avoid thinking about this piece, you will experience it optimally. Rather than rereading any portion of this text, the best thing to do now is click the "CLOSE" button and allow this information to begin slipping away from your memory.
In Collapsing Ourselves from 2014, Hong-Kai Wang and Mattin presented a formal exploration of a dialogue in disorienting spatial contexts: four tracks layered over each other with varying levels of audibility, Chinese, English, sounds from different spaces, digital artifacts, snippets of self-reflexive conversation. This was done not as a way to innovate a new compositional framework or sound, but rather to problematize the social experience of playing the recording back, listening to it, and reflecting on it.
With this next iteration of the project, the process of superimposing four recorded conversations is repeated, though this time it was done with material recorded remotely over Skype and the addition of myself as the third conversant in the mix. A live remote performance took place between Taipei, Berlin, and Philadelphia on Saturday, December 16th, 2017 and the resulting audio contribution is a layered mix of all three sites (with Berlin represented for about a third of the recording due to technical issues). The playback experience is likewise affected, collapsing the boundaries between what is happening on the recording and the spaces it occupies.
Collapsing is the process of linking the inside text with the outside world. There is no outside-text. The tension between what we hear and how we talk about what we hear constructs a multi-layered dialogic space for the listener. Much like the use of diegetic and non-diegetic sound in film, the audible questions posed by Hong-Kai, Mattin and myself for our own reflection are turned around and opened up for a speculative listening audience.
On the sleeve of Collapsing Ourselves, Mike Sperlinger writes, “When Hong-Kai and Mattin speak, they are talking over themselves. When they pose questions, it is not clear who they are for, even if we can discern them, or whether an answer is expected - perhaps they are rhetorical? A rhetorical question is a kind of mirror too: it assumes we know the answer, that we reflect the views of the questioner. But I am not sure if the questions in Collapsing Ourselves are rhetorical. I am not sure that there is an answer shared enough to remain unspoken, or that I know who ‘we’ are any more than I know who you are. The answers that are spoken, for the record, are uncertain. Thoughts out of harmony.”
Upon playback of the combined session I find myself swallowed in the sea of voices, straining to follow any particular snippet of conversation. At points, Hong-Kai tries to swim in the opposite direction, asserting herself against an indifferent wave of chatter: “I’m trying to have a conversation here!”
But conversation isn’t the locus point of activity. Rather it’s the trying, the effort to correspond or alternatively the lack thereof that opens up a disorienting space for corrupted reflection and shared social confusion. We speak into disparate spaces, and hear but can’t quite listen, as one Philadelphia audience member posits. The sea amplifies or obscures our voices and ultimately collapses us.
i composed two versions of one work earlier this year. one is "from audience" (documenta 14 radio program; http://www.documenta14.de/en/public-radio/14747/from-audiences). one is "for audience" (the ecology of place; a cinema listening event in melbourne; http://bogongsound.com.au/projects/the-ecology-of-place). for both i used only sound recordings of audiences and their environments before, during and after concerts.
recently i received "live" recordings of the latter event in which the audience in melbourne contributed their sounds into the other audience's sounds of my composition. it's about 27 minutes long.
the next day, september 13th 2017, i recorded this audio at my new studio in beijing. i was sitting in the space, listening to the environmental sounds and my own sounds. there's a stereo mic set above. i tried to record my listening for 27 minutes without looking at the time. i did two takes. this is take 1.
someone knocked on the door during the recording. i muted this part as the audience (me) was out of (then back to) the situation.
for some reason the signal through the right channel of the mic was missing. i enjoy the result. with the muted section and the missing right channel the recording exhibits some characteristics of electroacoustic music.
the idea of focusing on audience was partly initiated 4 years ago. once a friend of mine argued with what i wrote on social media about audience. i said, "it's not enough for supporting artists if you just buy a ticket and beer and stand there. not at all. the artists are supporting you." he thought it was offensive to the audience. i explained more in my book, "the only authentic work," that the audience should play an active role in using the artist as nutrition and energy but that book offended him even more. as a music lover with great taste he always rates what he hears and sees. he is a good critic. i started to wonder if this is the ideal audience i want to be because i always enjoy bad taste music.
the situation of the audience is very political in today's consumptive-totalitarian society. a perfect consumer with great taste is nice for the system. in the national opera in beijing, they repeat voice recordings again and again before a concert in order to discipline the audience for good manners. similarly, rock stars and singer-songwriters on stages of outdoor festivals discipline their audiences by preparing them with optional rhythms and liberal life styles. i'm wondering how one leaves his or her previous identity and becomes part of the abstract concept of the "audience"? are there other possibilities for joining or building collective identity?
over the last year i've read most of peter handke's works. the script for his play "publikumsbeschimpfung" was introduced to me as being as simple as offending the audience. i feel as though i am misrepresenting it because obviously it's not that simple. it focuses on the identity of "audience.” it's on the language of being and the possibility of being. but i'm also wondering why people would like to understand it in terms of the stupid relationship between artist and audience? do we not have other options besides slave and master?
i have a lot of recordings of audience, especially of the magical moment when everybody is getting quiet and the performance is about to begin. during concerts i enjoy listening to such sounds. sometimes i find the sounds of audience and environment to be more interesting than the music.
A conversation between Khyam Allami and Sharif Sehnaoui recorded at OneHertz Studios, Beirut, late 2017
Two musicians with very different backgrounds and itineraries in music discuss their visions and some of the ideas behind their distinct practices and methods. The conversation is set within the greater context of advancing contemporary ideas into the space of Arabic music. Here, Arabic music is not thought of as a fixed thing but rather as a historical and cultural background that lends various shades of meaning to each artist’s work.
Though there was not quite enough time to fully expand upon the ideas discussed, the conversation nonetheless provides a window into the ways that two figures of the current Arabic music scene position themselves in relation to their given field and society.
In the background at points there are relevant excerpts from sessions Allami and Sehnaoui recorded together in Beirut during the final days of 2014.
Reciprocal Scores is a light, body and sound performance piece that I have been working on with Lotus Edde Khouri since 2013. Sounding Reciprocal Scores is a sound perspective of the performance that I edit together after each performance. This iteration is very simple; it's an overview of what occurred sound-wise during the last performance. The recording is always far from any worries of objectivity but ends up sounding closer to the mood of the performance than a more straightforward document. Of course, it sometime fails, and ends up being far from anything interesting, objective, subjective... This particular take was recorded in May 2017 in Vandœuvre-lès-Nancy, during the festival Musique Action.
During Reciprocal Scores, Lotus moves in space, moves lights, and plays the violin; Jean-Luc plays electric organs, alto sax, çiftelia, mixing board, uses a synthetic voice to read phrases he wrote and sometimes moves in space.
For this piece, I created a foundation – or “backing track” – that can be used for a variety of playback scenarios. It incorporates on-site recordings and excerpts of cassettes and audio files from my personal archive, including: crowd noise (date and time unknown), guitar and tape recordings (2006 or 2007), synthesizer and electronics (2008), percussion / loop cassettes (2007), and recordings of live noise shows (artists unknown, circa 2008).
Preference was given to sounds of an unknown or barely remembered origin.
These audio clips were mixed with recorded ambiences from a visit to Vox Populi Gallery in Philadelphia on the afternoon of April 14, 2017, in addition to the audio from a solo performance at Vox on the evening of April 15. The ambient material recorded on the 14th includes sounds from the art exhibit that was installed at the time, as well as my own footsteps, the sound of folding chairs, and the occasional interjection of my infant son. The performance on the 15th was recorded by a microphone placed by an open window in an adjacent gallery facing N. 11th Street.
Silence and artificial ambience were added where necessary.
It was my intention to create music out of things that already exist – to not generate more recordings – and to constantly change the perspective for the listener, whether they were listening to this as a stand-alone audio track (as presented here) or in a live performance. Having recently moved from Providence to Philadelphia, it also served as a practical exercise in the unpacking of physical possessions.
Presently, this piece has been performed twice. In addition to the gig at Vox Populi, this current version was used for a performance at the Silent Barn in Brooklyn, NY on April 29, 2017, as part of the Ende Tymes VII festival. Each version was quite different, and included additional materials dictated by the situation.
Timeline of Events:
00:00 – 00:10: crowd noise (date and time unknown)
00:10 – 00:15: silence
00:15 – 00:24: crowd noise
00:24 – 00:26: synthesizer and electronics (2008)
00:26 – 00:40: vox performance (4.15.17)
00:40 – 01:07: vox gallery (4.14.17)
01:07 – 01:10: guitar and tape (2006-2007)
01:10 – 01:21: silence
01:02 – 02:03: vox gallery
02:03 – 02:07: outside window of vox gallery
02:07 – 02:09: guitar and tape
02:09 – 02:10: silence
02:10 – 02:33: vox gallery
02:33 – 02:40: ambience
02:40 – 03:03: vox gallery
03:03 – 03:05: synthesizer and electronics
03:05 – 03:11: vox performance
03:11 – 03:30: guitar tape
03:30 – 03:52: vox performance
03:52 – 03:53: vox gallery (in the black box performance space)
03:53 – 04:05: noise tape (date and time unknown)
04:05 – 04:20: vox black box
04:20 – 04:22: ambience
04:22 – 04:23: silence
04:23 – 04:24: synthesizer and electronics
04:24 – 04:31: silence
04:31 – 04:57: vox gallery
04:57 – 05:01: silence
05:01 – 05:45: vox performance
05:45 – 05:53: vox gallery
05:53 – 06:09: vox performance
06:09 – 06:25: vox gallery
06:25 – 06:27: synthesizer and electronics
06:27 – 06:33: ambience
06:33 – 06:37: silence
06:37 – 07:38: vox gallery
07:38 – 07:40: silence
07:40 – 07:52: vox gallery
07:52 – 07:58: guitar tape
07:58 – 08:00: synthesizer and electronics
08:00 – 08:39: black box
08:39 – 09:13: guitar tape
09:13 – 09:22: vox performance
09:22 – 09:26: vox gallery
09:26 – 09:28: silence
09:28 – 09:32: ambience
09:32 – 09:40: silence
09:40 – 09:56: vox gallery
09:56 – 10:36: guitar tape
10:36 – 11:15: vox performance
11:15 – 11:22: vox gallery
11:22 – 11:28: percussion / loop tapes (2007)
11:28 – 11:32: synth and electronics
11:32 – 11:38: noise show (circa 2008)
11:38 – 11:47: silence
11:47 – 12:25: leaving vox populi, afternoon of April 14
“A framework of understanding.”
The pitch is a playing field. Four players
trying to pitch something, an idea, a sound.
A tone of definite frequency.
The Pitch is a co-sharing of musical space,
of certain parameters, limitations and an instrumental
awkwardness collectively carried into brightness.
Working out simple ideas to see how far
we can take them. How long we can play them.
How often we can handle them.
Modes of interaction, rules of engagement,
aesthetic agreements, instrumental limitations.
Reducing material until we’ve reached the core.
Initiative, shared intuition, collective composition, instrumentation.
Bass harmonics doubling the clarinet,
vibraphone rounding out the harmona,
sine tones combining instrumental forces.
The harmona is missing pitches. Playing such an archaic,
flawed instrument is a deliberate limitation.
We discovered how to sound together. What to play
and when to play it. Every small decision having
huge consequences for the outcome of the whole.
It seems like we’ve just gotten started. / “It’s actually getting quite good now.”
—- —- —- —-
The Pitch was founded in Berlin in the year 2009 by BB, KN, MJO and MT with the aim to create a common musical language to be used to play structured improvisations; together and with guests. The peculiar instrumentation was a deliberate attempt to create an ensemble which would rather focus on pitch constellations and the creation of a group sound and group strategies than on the development of individual improvisational languages or elaborate extended instrumental techniques played at the same time.
They have an upcoming concert with legendary Viennese ensemble Polwechsel, for which a new piece has been collectively composed by the two ensembles combining materials and strategies in real time.
More sounds and information about The Pitch:
—- —- —- —-
Subatomic Motion (i7 / sine tones / tape)
Boris Baltschun – pump organ, function generators
Koen Nutters – upright bass
Morten J Olsen – vibraphone
Michael Thieke – clarinet
Composed by The Pitch
Recorded and transferred by Morten J Olsen
Recorded in Berlin, April 2017
Text by Koen Nutters
*The first phrase of the writing was constructed late one night
with the assistance of Martijn Tellinga.
Last fall, I was touring and performing my piece “Falsetto” every night. It’s a strange, physically difficult, fumbling, deliberately incompetent (or maybe a different type of expert) performance played almost entirely with small bells found at thrift stores, purchased with the criteria that they must in some way sound unusual or broken or just “not nice,” and also that they cost less than $5 each.
The sound of the bells is great. When layered, it’s a complex, weird, and unpredictable sound made with exceedingly humble means – literally just jostling a bunch of crap around that I found at Goodwill. However, the content and performance of the piece may cause some feelings of uncertainty and confusion in the unassuming spectator. One unhappy concert reviewer went so far as to say, “I thought I didn’t understand percussive theory anymore. Hell, I thought I didn’t understand music anymore.”
Much to my delight, this is the exact feeling the piece aims to provoke and the reviewer had actually captured my performance perfectly. Why *am* I drawn to art that I expressly hope will cause me to think, “What the hell is happening?” It’s a feeling not unlike the experience of figuring out that you’re trans at the age of 34, having lived mostly cluelessly outside the worn-out, “ever since I was a little kid, I knew I was different” trope. In fact, even among my other trans and queer friends, I don’t know a single person whose experience resembles my own (which, as it turns out, is a common feeling among many trans people… that we can’t relate to anyone, including other trans people). We look for ourselves in other people’s art and it’s not too often that I find something I recognize in myself.
Martha – “St Paul’s (Westerberg Comprehensive)”
We are not worthy to receive you / We are the daughters and the sons / We are the second-hand trousers / Blazers and blouses / Irredeemable ones.
José Esteban Muñoz wrote eloquently about queer fascination with the mundane and the impulse to see expansive worlds within things that most people dismiss as commonplace. He cites Frank O’Hara’s famous poem “Having a Coke with You” as signifying, “a vast lifeworld of queer relationality, an encrypted sociality, and a utopian potentiality.” It’s a similar impulse to my own, having exposed conventional percussion instruments and their bizarre acoustic inner life – simply by playing them – to the point that I concluded that any object is potentially fascinating if you just play it the right way.
Certainly, the act of “saving” thrown out objects that nobody wants will likely resonate (no pun intended) with most queer people. The “thrown out little bell” and its Ugly Duckling-style “story” in my piece “Falsetto” as representation of discarded queer life is not exactly a brilliantly conceived or nuanced metaphor, but it’s one that stings and feels necessary nonetheless.
1 Corinthians 14:34
Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says.
Last year I took a class for trans women that aims to teach us how to speak in a way that sounds more like cisgender females than our “natural” voices. The purpose of the class is to find a new way of speaking for yourself that helps to decrease dysphoria and is less likely to unintentionally alert strangers that you’re a trans woman because, let’s face it, that doesn’t always turn out so great.
Most cis people don’t seem to know that when a transgender man takes testosterone, his vocal cords thicken and his voice lowers significantly. Trans women experience no such change. Our identities are quite literally betrayed by our own bodies and there is little we can do to change it, leaving us to grapple with a society that is actively trying to make us disappear.
When I’ve described “Falsetto” to friends and I say it involves, “small hand bells,” a common response is, “Oh, like in church?” Initially, I hadn’t thought about this at all and shrugged it off as an unintentional coincidence – “I just like the sound.” Then came the accidental discovery while researching singing styles that falsetto singing was invented with the express purpose of giving men the female voice parts in church choirs because women were not permitted. The place we most associate with the small hand bell – church – as it turns out, dictated the exclusion of women and now in the present day are dictating legislation that’s keeping trans women out of bathrooms with the unspoken ultimate goal that they’ll simply vanish from school, work, and society.
A six-year old girl asked Klaus Nomi, “Are you an alien?” and Nomi warmly replied, “Yes, little girl. I am.”
Klaus Nomi is one of the world’s most famous countertenors (or contralto, depending on gender) and his former vocal coach spoke at length about Klaus’s insistence on developing only his unusually high register capabilities. Klaus Nomi also created an elaborate persona for himself that involved him being an alien from another planet.
Was Klaus Nomi a closeted or repressed trans woman? Did he find it more plausible to exist in the world as “simply a gay man” who claimed to be an alien from another planet than to identify as a woman?
Even now, one of Klaus Nomi’s closest collaborators Joey Arias uses female pronouns and speaks openly having been drawn to dresses from a young age, but she can’t seem to say that she is transgender. Instead she has invented that she, “has the Z chromosome!” The repression and societal pressure against being transgender is so great, our policing of gender essentialist standards so aggressive, and sexism against women of all walks of life so intense and unmovable, that perhaps it subconsciously motivated Nomi and Arias to be unthinkable beings rather than just simply women.
This is, of course, all total speculation on my part but let’s call it an educated and familiar guess. Klaus Nomi’s most memorable performance of Henry Purcell’s “The Cold Song” when heard in a trans/queer context, coming from the mouth of a self-proclaimed extraterrestrial being, reads like a brutal tribute to chronic dysphoria (Nomi later died of complications from AIDS in 1983, one of the first prominent celebrities to do so). We do tend to recognize our own and the feeling is a familiar one as I set out again to bruise and blister my hands for another performance of “Falsetto.”
What power art thou, who from below
Hast made me rise, unwillingly and slow,
From beds of everlasting snow!
See’st thou not how stiff,
And wondrous old,
Far unfit to bear the bitter cold.
I can scarcely move,
Or draw my breath,
I can scarcely move,
Or draw my breath.
Let me, let me,
Let me, let me,
Let me, let me,
Freeze again to death!
i’ve been obsessed with chris tucker’s early work recently
the lines sound so much different in the present moment than they did to me in the past
they now are more like prescient articulations of a horrifying future or a gonzo present
each message opens up its own rift in time and space
i get caught in these little eddies, the accumulation of which has become pessimist rush hour