Music For Shuffle

Sketch #13

This one, er, combines a shakuhachi flute and a car alarm.

Download MP3s (7.4mb)

The “static, sensual present”

The other night, I found this nice piece about Debussy and Japan. It talks about the importance of negative space in Japanese visual culture (I didn’t know they have a specific term for it – Ma), Shakuhachi music, and how Debussy apparently “eschews forward-thrusting, teleological development in favour of a static, sensual present”. Good meat there.

Then I started watching clips of Shakuhachi music on YouTube.

Just as I was watching this one, a car alarm went off outside. I started listening to both sounds simultaneously. They blended together quite nicely! So I pressed record there and then, grabbing both the laptop’s microphone input and the sound from YouTube. It was a nice little moment, sort of like RJDJ colliding with the “Random Article” button on Wikipedia. After that, I chopped up the texture a bit, doing the similar bitcrushy, compression-artifacty stuff as in sketch #09, then made it modular, using the tempo of the car alarm as the structural scaffolding. I really like how the applause (which was at the end of the YouTube clip) now drifts in and out at random, adding little cadences and resting points.

Needs more real-time

There must be some sort of link between Debussy’s ‘static, sensual present’ and Bridle’s notion of Network Realism. I’ve only a vague notion of what that could mean, but right now it’s making me want to get away from sampling, Musique concrète and all that. It feels a bit antiquated today, now that everyone and their mother has a real-time API. I guess I should really be playing with networks and data the same way that Cage played with radios.

I also like the idea of building a piano equivalent to Sascha’s Blinks and Buttons camera: you know, just press a key and it’d play the most recently-uploaded sound on the web somewhere. Or something. That’d be awesome. Surely someone’s done that already. It’d be a good tool to make future sketches with. Hmm.