Thursday, May 25, 2006

Stephen Whittington

So today we listened to Stephen talk about Stephen and this is what I learnt.

He has an interest in globalisation and sees views it as a process whereby human consciousness expands outside of its normal geopolitical boundaries (which are at the same time geographic and cultural - no disagreement here) and becomes" integrated on a global scale" (24/05/06).

I too view globalisation as the same process, however, when I think about it, i can't help but view it in a less celebratory frame. It's not so much the integrations of consciousness on a global scale, but the enforced implementation of a white, male, technological hegemony through capital and self interest. The positive of spin of globalisation is that it brings down borders, the negative is that it allows the powerful to take advantage of the weak on a global scale. I find it hard to hold on to a utopic vision of globalisation.

Next, Stephen discussed his appreciation of sound poetry and all the things in between. Its perhaps not a strict music technology area, but certainly the technology helps to realise it. I too like poetry, so thumbs up here. Here's something useful: an utterance is something which comes out of your mouth on a scale in between intelligible and non-intelligible (ibid). An interesting area, i think some of Karl Schwitter's work would have been an appropriate aid here, Ursonata is it called? (it certainly would have woken people up).

Distributed performance is another area of Stephen's interest. It involves performance where the performers are not in close proximity to each other, where they are distributed through space. Obviously this area of interest ties in neatly with the idea of globalisation. Another approach might be the sound of factories and sweatshops all over Asia, simultaneously sounding the triumphant toot, whurr and buzz of exploitation. Now that is true synchronicity, which, according to Karl Jung via Stephen is "how things are related to each other simply by occupying the same moment in time".

Synchronicity is another area of interest for Stephen. Once he recorded 21 minutes of improvisation at the same time as two other people. One was in Perth and the other was is Sydney. It must have felt strange. As I type, so too do a good few other people in the world. Unfortunately though, we have not contacted each other yet. One possibility may be to surf the web looking for things with the same time/date stamp - maybe that's my ticket!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Walking the legal line - abstraction, obstruction or protection?

Talking to a lawyer about an area you feel passionate about is a terrible, terrible thing. At least it is if he/she's telling you the ins and outs of your field. Trust me, most of it is about the outs and the ways that other people can screw you.

It's not really their fault, its just their job. Hopefully if you get into a spot you'll be able to afford one. So, today we listened to Robert Chalmers, former lawyer and current commercial development manager for adelaide.

Copyright law for music is a strange thing. The main thing in Australia is that whatever you do, you own the creative copyright to anything you produce unless you are employed or commissioned by someone to do that work. In that case, the person behind the commissioning owns that right (the right to reproduce the work).

There are also these things called moral rights, which are attached to works automatically. They're not us tough as copyright laws, but they do offer some bargaining power. Hypothetically, you may play piano for a peice of comissioned film music. Technically you get what you're paid, full stop.

If someone wants to release the soundtrack on CD, you'll have no controll over what happens. However, you do have some moral rights attached to the work and you may be able to say "hey, give me money damn it or you'll have a dirty conscience. I could wave my Moral rights for a sum and then we cold also avoid going to court which will be costly for both of us. Its cheaper to pay me and keep me quiet"

At the time it all seemed very scary, and then the lawyer said something like "its easy to get around this law. The way to do it is not use bits of other people's music in your music". It does sound easy, but then i thought, "actually, now you mention it buddy, i actually feel like playing with sounds other people have produced/recorded/whatever, or i don't want to be restricted to by this.

If you copy someone's material, you'll get what you deserve. This rates somewhere inbetween nothing (you get no credit and nobody cares) or you get lots (you where so smart, you hoodwinked the system and now you can wear a tracksuit all day!).

Just think about Danger Mouse, he's that guy who helped Gorillaz make the really cool music that helps to sell ipods. Anyway, you look for on Wikipedia (, he's practically made a career out of stealing music and i kind of think that for being so clever he gets what he deserves. As if the Beatles of Jay Z care?

By the way, I found an interesting site when i was looking for an article on Danger Mouse - it looks like it's interesting but i haven't had the chance to check it out proper-like yet. Or even, which is funny.

In fact the more i look, the internet is rife with stuff about freeness etc, try this one too if you're in the mood

It's funny, i couldn't have written this without looking at things other people have done already. Its okay for the world of words to be acknowledged and distrubeted freely on the internet, it's interesting that it's different for art.

Chalmers, Robert. "Copywrite: your rights and music". Forum. EMU, University of Adelaide.

Your Music on Radio

Want to get your music played on radio?

Counter Canon is Radio Adelaide's very own local and experimental music show and we're just dying to play your music!

Do you have tunes just lying around? Send them in! It will liberate you.

The best part is the show is run by yours truly and a good friend, Matt L, and anything goes so don't be shy.

We go to air every second Friday at midnight (101.5 FM)...

Contact us at - we're doin' it for the funnies, not the moneys : D

Monday, May 22, 2006

Cheaper MIDI Physical Interfacing & Healing with Sound

Healing with Sound

I can't help but associate the whole "healing with sound thing" with whacked out hippie alternative medicines. A kind of pseudo science that shares as much as it does with spirituality and incense as it does with physical science.

Atleast this talk by Darren Curtis challanged some of my views on this area. One interesting point to make is that a lot of proper "scientific" research in this area is unavailable to most, being tied up in patents and greedy corporate secrecy. That the corporates have snapped it up may indicate one of two things: either there's money in it and it works, or there's simply money in it regardless.

But then again, whose to say that incense and spirituality aren't good for you? I shouldn't be so closed minded, which is easy to do in this day and age....

Darren Curtis has embarked on an honours thesis with the aim of showing/finding evidence of psychological benefit from sound therapies (11/5/06). He begins by telling us that the ear is connected to everything, an example of this might include the way motion sickness is in part due to fluids within the ear.

Obviously everything resonates at a certain frequency, and I'm lead to believe that it is both popular for crackpot and scientific theories in sound. The lady above is playing quartz bowls which are made to resonate at certain frequencies. Darren tells us that 3kHz is the frequency which seems to effect thinking, although he didn't say how.

He aims oneday to compose special healing music or perhaps even create a software package.

Curtis, Darren. "Frequency Medicine", EMU, University of Adelaide Forum. 11/05/06

Physical MIDI Interfaces, cheap!

Seb Tomczak is a wonderful wonderful person. Would you like to know why? For his honours project, Seb has decided to research how to make cheap midi controllers or a gestural physical
MIDI interface to be more precise.

Seb Tomczak is a wonderful, wonderful person. Would you like to know why? For his honours project, Seb has decided to research how to make cheap midi controllers or a gestural physical MIDI interface to be more precise. His aim is to build (and document the process online) one of these controllers and use it in a performance. Currently there are two products which perform the same function made by Teleo and I-Cube X which cost $205 and $385 respectively.

Seb hopes to be able to make a comparable product for only $20! There is much more that i could say about this product, but it's probably best to get it straight from the horse's mouth, as it were. You can keep tabs on Seb and view some entries around his honours thesis at

The reason why I like this idea so much, is that it delivers on a key area of rhetoric used to promote music technology/electronic music in general - Its CHEAP! For years people have spurted how cheap electronic music production can be, how it democratises music and so on. I have never found this the actual case. New technology's are still costly, and the knowledge required to effectively use new technologies is often exclusive. Developers ruthlessly protect their property, as they perhaps should, but i get tired hearing about how cheap and easy new technologies are making music production when comparitivaely the investment required is considerable. It is still hard to make things sound good and cost is prohibitive.

One of Seb's aims is to make his idea accessible to anybody who has an interest, i s'pose the theory is that if you're interested enough, you can learn yourself. I like this. It feels like your getting new knowledge and a gadget for a fraction of the cost. Of course some people are in a hurry and an extra couple of hundred of bucks might be worth the time saved...

Tomzcak, Seb. "Cheeper MIDI Interfacing", Forum. EMU, University of Adelaide. 11/05/06

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Tim Swalling and Jasmin Ward

Tim Swalling

Tim Swalling was up first in this week's forum presentation. Where do you start with this line of work? At times during this talk I found my self understanding on some abstract level, but for most of it I was at sea.

It's probably best to start with the bare facts. Tim's honours project is about Artificial Life in music. He begins by providing us with a mental image of a composer/genius type slumped over a piano with a muse wispering into his/her ear. This was how, the western Christian tradition in particular, have viewed the creative process. Coming down from god (whoever that is), inspirational music comes, or is channelled, from the creator via the human subject. This view, as Tim pointed out, quite clearly devalues of the role of human creativity by giving god the artistic credit (2006).

Darwin had another take on things and his view didn't involve god. Things evolve you see and that's how things get to be the way they are. It takes time too, but eventually life adjusts to its surroundings and the things best suited to those surroundings do the best.

Swallings honours thesis looks at artificial life from a compositional perspective. This in two ways:

1. Through genetic algorithms and selective evolution

2. Through cellular automata

I can't really elaborate on these save to say that they involve the replication of biological processes with mathematics. This involves complex inter-related structures that change and evolve not unlike Gordon Munroe's EVOCHORD (evolving chord) which attempts to evolve into harmony.

It was good to recieve a some information on this talk on a piece of paper. It has helped no end in writing this entry!

Jasmine Ward

Jasmine Ward's project begins with an action of collaborative design intervention (sounds a lot like divine intervention, doesn't it?) which is attempting to address the issue of waste production in and by cities.

The solution that Jasmine's group are pursuing focuses on creating a sustainable alternative to dumping rubbish. They have chosen to try and build a wetland environment to deal with rubbish for a number of reasons which i won't go into here.

My main interest in this project was seeing what role someone like Jasmine could play. I have often wondered what sort of work or jobs are available to sound artists/technicians/composers so it was very interesting to listen to Jasmine. Her role was to try and promote the idea of this action through sound. This is just the type of stuff i like, art with a political end! Jasmine's mission is to penetrate the popular conciousness and create awareness at the same time - no small task!

So far Jasmine has canvassed a number of ideas. From a music concrete work representative of the process, to an interactive Maxmsp application, to some other sort of "functional sound application". I enjoyed the talk, especially being privy to an ongoing thought process.

My only suggestion would be that a soundwork such as a musique concrete one would be ideal for radio - which is still a really good way to reach people.

Swalling, Tim. "Honours Presentation", Electronic Music Unit, University of Adelaide.

Ward, Jasmine. "Honours Presentation", Electronic Music Unit, University of Adelaide.

Friday, May 05, 2006

; )

Okay kids, if you're stuck with music theory or need to get a 12 tone row generated for dear Davids's composition class, peruse your eyes linkward and find the bounty within!

-Thank Jodie!

Seb Tomzcak

Being a certificate IV student in music technology, I occupy a pretty lowly rung at University. Above me are consecutive years of degree students and after that, as if 3 years were not enough, there are the honours students.

The last entry into this blog documented what I considered a mild freak out for us poor C4 students. It was a group forum based very loosely around the idea of “what is music technology”. Simultaneously the replies came back that it was everything and nothing that you thought it was, it was hard to teach, rah rah rah, oh my god, what am I doing here?

On the back of this, Seb Tomscak, an honours student, was able to sooth some of my fears when he presented himself at the next seesion. “After much soul searching and introspection, I have come to realise the common element which links my work together. It’s taking things outside of context and putting it into music, usually through music technology” (Tomzcak 2006). At least they were words to that effect.

I like it because it’s a practical way to work with, and thus study, music technology. It has a goal: To make music from things previously unmusical. From here it begins. Surely, there is a due amount of ‘process’ involved in achieving the result but overall, the process is goal orientated. Gommog’s approach with Evochord comes off rather differently. He was more like, “I’m a wicked mathematician, which allows me to conjure up fantastic processes – lets see what happens!” Don’t get me wrong, experimentation is and must be an integral part of music technology. Maybe it’s just my slant on things. I like to be heading towards something. When I spoke to Gommog informally a little later, he said that he could pretty much do anything, but he was just waiting for an idea. It pained me to comprehend such potential sitting in the dark wondering what to do with himself.

So what does Seb do? The Milk crate project is probably the most obvious idea to start with. You take people and make them produce sounds continuously for 24 hours with non musical instruments. The aim is to leave after 24 hours with completed sound works/songs that you have produced during the time frame.

The idea is to harness creativity by putting constraints (space, time, materials, efficiency) in place with the added bonus of sleep deprivation. Thus new creative outlets are explored (ibid) and my thirst for something to do with all this technology is satiated.

For more info on milkcrate, visit:


Tomzcak, Sebastian. “Forum Discussion”, EMU space, University of Adelaide