On Sound

Music leads culture, the development of new musical instruments have a substantial role in the morphology & evolution of culture. 

Music is attention. The sensing of the audio spectrum is its shaping. We are, as bio secretions — sound is one of the signals of our passing.

Hearing tones is hearing mathematical certainties.

"In the natural science of ancient Greece, music formed the meeting place between numbers and perception; for the next two millennia, Pesic tells us in Music and the Making of Modern Science, "liberal education" connected music with arithmetic, geometry, and astronomy within a fourfold study, the quadrivium."

Read: Music and the Making of Modern Science  —Pesci

Listen to This Alex Ross

A Million Years of Music: The Emergence of Human Modernity

Audio Culture: Christopher Cox

Reason And Resonance: A History of Modern Aurality

Keywords in Sound — Novak


I am interested in exploring the relationship between sound and sound technology, sound technology and culture, culture and information theory — and reality—(the reality of our social so full of militarism, violence, competition, war —and the reality of the electro magnetic spectrum)— that is the bases of the research and production.

All my films from my earliest works to today have been sound designed by myself (often  in collaboration). Examples of extended sequences of musique concrete using tape recorders—in 1988 (way before digital became standard) was incorporated in DETERMINATIONS and the entire computer music soundtrack of EVO was done by me.  I also did a 30 minute film (admittedly probably my most conventional film!)that reflected on symphonic composition for the Banff Centre for the Arts that went on to be broadcast on the Bravo! network.  

 Important—I will be recording much natural sounds and using sonograms of the landscape and of plants and of clouds etc to use as a database of sound elements to work with. All sounds in the piece will be recorded and/or generated/synthesized and molded by me. See as well:   

— I do intend on building this device, documenting the building of it and 'playing' it in the valley for the animals — ravens, cows, pigs, chickens, eagles, deer, numerous species of birds, frogs, etc...the process of construction and implementation, it's documentation will form the visual spine of the piece. The sketch you see above is from the original own device will no doubt look different but the principles used will be the same.

The contradictory play of these methodologies— 

Acousmatic music  + spectromorphology

  1. some images of the warm light of the Glenora valley (in the Cowichan)

outside studio 1

glenora 2


  • 2. fragmenting an existing composition into tropes & strophes & swirls

I have been interested in Schoenberg's work for quite along time...and remain intrigued by the musical architecture in Verklärte Nacht.  I have another research/production I'd like to explore: that is—to have the stems of such a full composition...separate out tracks of instruments and clauses, sentences and moments as a database, as a bag of distinct audio clips — time-lined to the original composition — graphically? {but once separated out they will be used as a palate for further music creation.} (software to reference: scalegen, melodyne? (another form of polyphonic note separation)


Explorations in the theory of the Machine music of the Soviet artist(s):

‘Graphical Soundtrack’ Arseney Avraamov, Russia, 1930

and the ANS classical

Exploring relationship of the occult, politics, music, technology, war, revolutions, everlasting peace and prosperity. Lions and lambs. 

Key — we need to have a READING of the understand at least with some amount of conceptualization — where we are, what we hear, what we are capable  of hearing and of making.


bcHave been in dialogue with regarding possible collaborative intrigues. Met up with them at ISEA 2015 Vancouver.

Song/sonogram of a rare Hawaiian bird I recorded in January 2016Song of the rare Iiwi Hawaiian bird


 There is also some work being done translating landscape into sonograms—this would require further explorations.2015-11-09 19.27.21Phonopaper print [A sonogram] of my voice (oh) singing about my love.

See —


January 16, 2016 created at honoka'a —

Thanks principle to the extraordinary Russian inventor of the unique Russian synthesizer ANS. ANS photoelectronic microtonal/spectral musical instrument created by Russian engineer Evgeny Murzin from 1938 to 1958. Murzin named his invention in honour of the composer Alexander Nikolayevich Scriabin.
The instrument was used by Stanislav Kreichi, Alfred Schnittke, Edison Denisov, Sofia Gubaidulina, Edward Artemiev and other Soviet composers.
You can hear the sound of the ANS in Andrei Tarkovsky's movies Solaris, The Mirror, Stalker.
In 2004, the British experimental group Coil released CoilANS, a boxed set of experimental drone music performed on the ANS.



  • 3.  I'll be weaving in a “My Dinner With Derek” — which will be a collapsing of numerous recorded conversations that I will have with my close friend Canadian philosopher/programmer/ artist/futurist Derek Robinson. The soundcloud clips below is a rough and early sample


This Day of Electricity: First Derek Robinson on transcranial pulsed ultrasound and technological psychic transparency followed by a speech by Thomas Edison given in 1908 at an electrical exhibition, Edison reflects upon the rapid progress made in technological development in the late turn of the century — especially the revolutionary potential of electricity.

Derek is an original cyberpunk. (Link to an interview published in “Spring, A Journal of Archetype & Culture, Vol. 80" “Technology, Cyberspace, and Psyche"____

“Derek taught Photo Electric Arts in the Integrated Media Department of the University of Ontario and researched technology for a “voice puppet” interface for people with severe motor deficits at the University of Toronto’s Adaptive Technology Research Centre. He has engaged in extensive research in bioinformatics, an interdisciplinary approach to biology through applied mathematics, biochemistry, artificial intelligence, computer science, and statistics to make complex life sciences data more understandable, known most broadly through the Human Genome Project. His bioinformatics research was presented at the International Joint Congress of Artificial Intelligence in 1993, and the “coincidence sets” algorithm developed through that research was utilized as a core component of the bioinformatics software suite developed by Molecular Mining Corporation. With web luminaries Jason Classon, Stewart Butterfield and Caterina Fake, Robinson helped develop Game Neverending, which morphed into the popular photo-sharing site, Flickr. He imagined early versions of “reciprocal syndication” — automated, live hyperlinks that connect web pages together, such as those found in social networking sites like Facebook, while a simple browser-based rich text editing demo he wrote helped define Web 2.0 as a more democratic, two-way “read-write” medium, where the users are also the content creators

"Using the EEG, the words were translated into binary and then sent to France to the CBI, in which was then transmitted into the receivers’ brains through non-invasive stimulation, whereby flashes of light appeared as numerical sequences in their peripheral vision and decoded. These are known as phosphenes.

“Here we demonstrate the conscious transmission of information between human brains through the intact scalp and without intervention of motor or peripheral sensory systems. Pseudo-random binary streams encoding words were transmitted between the minds of emitter and receiver subjects separated by great distances, representing the realization of the first human brain-to-brain interface.” (PLOS, “Conscious Brain-to-Brain Communication in Humans Using Non-Invasive Technologies“)

Music created by brainwaves...

though the idea is not quite as subtle as my old world briefing project 

sample recording

 & draft production of Victoria based singer —to work with for the proposal I gave you —"Oscillation" — I recorded this in ceremony in 2012 and used in From Neurons to Nirvana...I have often uses singers as an element in my work with soundscapes/poetry



DRAFT (pigs are from Glenora Valley in the Cowichan, in the Independent State of Vancouver Island)


Further sample audio drafts/experiments

synthetic pigs #3: 





Listening to music is to receive a message {NASA has released for public use their sound data banks.}




learning instrumental gestures:


simple minded ambience understanding time

.  Also see:






Music is inscribed between noise and silence, in the space of the social codification it reveals.

Every code of music is rooted in the ideologies and technologies of its age, and at the same time produces them.______________________________________________________________________________________________________________


The cardinal importance of music in announcing a vision of the world is nothing new. For Marx, music is the "mirror of reality"; for Nietzsche, the "expression oftruth";2 for Freud, a "text to decipher." It is all of that, for it is one of the sites where mutations first arise and where science is secreted: "If you close your eyes, you lose the power of abstraction" (Michel Serres). It is all of that, even if it is only a detour on the way to addressing man about the works of man, to hearing and making audible his alienation, to sensing the unacceptable immensity of his future silence and the wide expanse of his fallowed creativity. Listening to music is listening to all noise, realizing that its appropriation and control is a reflection of power, that it is essentially political.


Women in Electronic Music — 1938-onwards


Lord Rayleigh's The Theory of Sound

Crazily Fascinating!: Thaddeus Cahill's Teleharmonium!

Thaddeus Cahill's Teleharmonium 1906



Humans process sounds in bytes about 1/20 of a second long whereas birds discriminate up to 1/200 of a second. This means where we hear one sound only, a bird may hear as many as ten separate notes.

Anything that produces a continuous vibration is called an oscillator...

What if Beethoven's deafness was an act on his part?


Noise: The Political Economy of Music is a non-fiction book by French economist and scholar, Jacques Attali.

From one perspective, autosurveillance marks the penetration of information technology within the body and the psyche of the individual subject: it implies a diffusion of computers on a generalized scale and a kind of passive replication of their programs by the individual, most visibly in the areas of education and medicine. Under auto surveillance, capital and the state no longer have to do anything to you, because you have learned to do it to yourself.

But "doing it to yourself' also implies knowing how to "do it for yourself," and the new technology is at least neutral to the degree that it could also, conceivably, be used for a collective political project of emancipation.

Yet if the question of musical value seems quite unavoidable when this line of inquiry is prolonged, the dramatic reversal we associate with the Russian Formalists is always possible: content of that kind (a new kind of passion, a new universal revolutionary ideology and enthusiasm, etc.) is itself the result of formal innovation. It is because the music of a given period is able to express new kinds of content that this last begins to emerge-a position which, translated back into linguistics, would yield a peculiar version of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis.

It is because language happens historically and culturally to be expanded in certain ways that we are able to think (and speak) this or that new thought

What is even more suggestive, however, in our current social, political, and historical confusion-in which the older strategies for radical social transformation and the older roads to some radically distinct utopian future have come to seem outmoded or unconvincing-is the prospective nature of his analysis, which stimulates us to search out the future in the present itself and to see the current situation not merely as a bundle of static and agonizing contradictions, but also as the place of emergence of new realities of which we are as yet only dimly aware. Jacques Attali's conception of music as prophetic of the emergent social, political, and economic forms of a radically different society can thus be an energizing one, whatever our judgment on the detail of his own analysis. In this work, we find, exceptionally in contemporary thought, a new model of the relations between culture and society that valorizes production in the present at the same time that it reinvigorates an enfeebled utopian though

In music, the instrument often predates the expression it authorizes, which explains why a new invention has the nature of noise; a "realized theory" (Lyotard), it contributes, through the possibilities it offers, to the birth of a new music, a renewed syntax. It makes possible a new system of combination, creating an open field for a whole new exploration of the possible expressions of musical usage. Thus Beethoven's Sonata no. 106, the first piece written for the piano, would have been unthinkable on any other instrument. Likewise, the work of Jimi Hendrix is meaningless without the electric guitar, the use of which he perfected. But a new instrument does not always have the impact of opening a field of combination. The glass harmonica, invented by Benjamin Franklin and used by Mozart, and the arpeggione, used once by Schubert, have disappeared.

This double process of the rupture of codes (by internal and external noise) has destroyed, network by network, the socializing function of music. Music has not remained an "archipelago of the human" in the ocean of artifice that commercial society has become. The sound object itself has become artifice, independent of the listener and composer, represented, then repeated. Music used to cadence birth, labor, life, and death; it used to organize the social order.

Today, it is too often nothing more than the consumption of past culture or a structure of universal mathematical invariants, a reflection of the general crisis of meaning. Communication has disappeared. We have gone from the rich priest's clothing of the musician in ritual to the somber uniform ofthe orchestra musician and the tawdry costume of the star, from the ever-recomposed work to the rapidly obsolescent object.

The Advent of Simultaneity Can it then be said that the way music makes money determines the evolution of the aesthetic code? That music depends on the economic status of musicians?


Marx wisely set the problem aside. (" As regards art, it is well known that some of its peaks by no means correspond to the general development of society; nor do they therefore to the material substructure, the skeleton as it were of its organization. ")45 However, the convergence we noted above, between the evolution of networks and the evolution of modes of production, in which music plays a prophetic role, obliges us to make a more thorough analysis.

Adorno, a musician and pessimist aristocrat, took Marxism as far as it could go on this question. For him, the evolution of music is a reflection of the decline of the bourgeoisie, whose most characteristic medium it is. 46 The interdependence between code and value, between musical style and economic status, is organized, he says, according to three fundamental principles. First: the relations of production set the limits of music; for example, the economic organization of capitalism was able, until Schoenberg, to hold back dissonances, the expression of the suffering of the exploited. Second: the composition, performance, and technique of music are forces of production. Finally, the relations of production and the forces of production are interdependent.

He deduces from this that the productive forces have less and less impact on the relations of production, and, in particular, that music has become increasingly separated from society. "Radical" music unmasks false musical consciousness and can transform the infrastructure, the relations of production outside the "sphere of music." Thus Wagner and Schoenberg are autonomous negations, outside the dictated rules. "It is only in dissonance, which destroys the faith of those who believe in harmony, that the power of seduction of the rousing character of music survives. "

"I’m getting bored with the bog-standard hacker approach of taking some fancy system, designed and built for purpose A, and shoving the slider-bars to 11 so that it does allegedly-amazing, trangressive thing B. When you’ve seen that done for decades on end, a hundred times with a hundred different digital compositional systems, it’s just not all that amazing, fulfilling or thrilling. It gets quite same-y. Worse yet, it’s like sleeping in the back seat of the rich guy’s used car.

(((You don’t own the means of production, you didn’t build it, you don’t understand it; you’re appropriating it, then re-branding it as the product of some niche cyber-counterculture. I entirely understand the joy of that — really, believe me, I do — but why did you stop there? It’s like you scratched your initials into a Formica tabletop, while waiting for some factory mogul to scrap it and bring you another one. If that’s all you can do, how will you ever get out of your retromania trap?" Bruce Sterling


"When we listen to music, we hear melody only because we remember the sequence. We hear the intervals between the tones, but more than that, we remember the tones that led up to the one we are now hearing. We are trained musically to anticipate certain consequences, and to the extent that we get the consequences, we anticipate it, we feel that we understand the music. But to the extent that the composer does not adhere to the rules---and gives us unexpected consequences---we feel that we don't understand the music. If he gives us harmonic relationships that we are trained not to accept, or expect, we say, "Well this man is just writing garbage." Of course, it becomes apparent that the perception of music and the ability to hear melody will depend upon a relationship between past, present, and future sounds. You might Say, "Well, you're talking about a way of living that would be equivalent to listening to music with a tone-deaf mind so that you would eliminate the melody and have only noise. In your Taoist way of life, you would eliminate all meaning and have only senseless present Moments." Up to a point that is true; that is, in a way, what Buddhists also mean by seeing things in their suchness." Alan Watts


Conlon Noncarrow wasn’t trying to hack player pianos. It wasn’t some act of hacker-aggression where he was trying to become known as Mr Piano Hacker; Noncarrow had all the political issues he wanted because he was an ardent Communist in Mexican exile. Noncarrow was trying to do something coherent and thought-through, with piano rolls as a system of composition.


Telepathy is a very real concept which need be aided by our own innovations – the creation of techno-telepathy.

Could you imagine what our world will transform into when our predominant means of communication is via thought? Everything will change fundamentally, from our markets to our governance. Technically we already do this with the internet acting as our medium – emails, texts, PMs, etc. Our thoughts unravel in code and translated into millions of other peoples’ monitors. Our next challenge is achieving a similar feat without the aid of monitors and coded words, but rather by pure thought.

With this comes the creation of what is known as the digital hive mind. The digital hive is a concept where “the individual is rejected” and “freed from the burdens of maintaining the needs of the individual self.” E pluribus unum – out of many, we are one!


Audio Biblio Notes

References—Audio & Sound Theory

The Sound Studies Reader — ed Jonathan Ster

Extremely Loud: Sound as a Weapon – June 4, 2013

Post Modern Thought Post Modern Music — Judy Lochhead + Joseph Praeger

See the Sound — ed Dieter Daniels, Sandra Nauman

Listening — Jean-Luc Nancy

Treatise on Musical Objects

Haunted Weather — David Toop

Listening to Noise and Silence: Towards a Philosophy of Sound Art — Salome Voegelin

The Audible Past — Jonathan Sterne

The Language of Electroacoustic Music

Noise: The Political Economy of Music — Jacques Attali

Reason and Resonance: A History of Modern Aurality — Veit Erlmann

Capturing Sound: How Technology Has Changed Music — Mark Katz

Keywords in Sound
by David Novak, Matt Sakakeeny

Sound Unbound: Sampling Digital Music and Culture
by Paul D. Miller, Steve Reich

Music, Cognition, and Computerized Sound: An Introduction to Psychoacoustics
by Perry R. Cook

The Fifth Hammer: Pythagoras and the Disharmony of the World
by Daniel Heller-Roazen

Music and the Making of Modern Science
by Peter Pesic

A Million Years of Music: The Emergence of Human Modernity
by Gary Tomlinson

Listen to This
by Alex Ross

Audio Culture: Readings in Modern Music
by Christoph Cox, Daniel Warner

Reason and Resonance: A History of Modern Aurality
by Veit Erlmann

Sonic Warfare: Sound, Affect, and the Ecology of Fear (Technologies of Lived Abstraction)
by Steve Goodman

The Soundscape
R. Murray Schafer

The Audible Past: Cultural Origins of Sound Reproduction
Jonathan Sterne

Silence: Lectures and Writings
John Cage

Audio Culture: Readings in Modern Music
Christoph Cox

Ubiquitous Listening: Affect, Attention, and Distributed Subjectivity
Anahid Kassabian

Sound and Sentiment: Birds, Weeping, Poetics, and Song in Kaluli Expression, 3rd edition…
Steven Feld

Noise: A Human History of Sound and Listening
David Hendy

Hearing History: A Reader
Mark Smith

Making Noise: From Babel to the Big Bang and Beyond Hardcover
by Hillel Schwartz

Village Bells Hardcover –
by Alain Corbin

Sound, Music, Affect: Theorizing Sonic Experience
Marie Thompson

Listening and Voice: Phenomenologies of Sound
Don Ihde

The Universal Sense: How Hearing Shapes the Mind
Seth S. Horowitz

The Sound Book: The Science of the Sonic Wonders of the World
Trevor Cox

Auditory Neuroscience: Making Sense of Sound by Jan Schnupp

The Sonic Boom: How Sound Transforms the Way We Think, Feel, and Buy
Joel Beckerman

Listening, Thinking, Being: Toward an Ethics of Attunement
Lisbeth Lipari

Phenomenology of Perception
Maurice Merleau-Ponty


Electronic music since 1980 has splintered into a dizzying assortment of genres and subgenres, communities and subcultures. Given the ideological differences among academic, popular, and avant-garde electronic musicians, is it possible to derive an aesthetic theory that accounts for this variety? And is there even a place for aesthetics in twenty-first-century culture? From techno to electroacoustic music, from glitch to drone music, and from dub to drones —culturally and historically informed aesthetic theory is not only possible but indispensable for understanding electronic music.

The abilities of electronic music to use preexisting sounds and to create new sounds are widely known. Electronic music changes the way we listen not only to music, but to sound itself. The common trait in recent experimental electronic music is a concern with whether sound, in itself, bears meaning. The use of previously undesirable materials like noise, field recordings, and extremely quiet sounds has contributed to electronic music's destruction of the "musical frame", the conventions that used to set apart music from the outside world. In the void created by the disappearance of the musical frame, different philosophies for listening have emerged. Some electronic music genres insist upon the inscrutability and abstraction of sound. Others maintain that sound functions as a sign pointing to concepts or places beyond the work. But all share an approach towards listening that departs fundamentally from the expectations that have governed music listening in the West for the previous five centuries

1958!  Else Marie Pade

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BENT: A Showcase of Circuit Bending at VIVO

Saturday, November 7th . Doors at 7pm.

Featuring over 15 artists/hackers and musicians, this evening is a showcase of Vancouver artists and makers exploring the art of circuit bending.

There will be a circuit playground, a “Show and Tell” of different projects, and performances throughout the evening.

If you’re remotely interested in electronics, experimental music, hacking, or just want to get transported to another dimension, this event is worth visiting. Suggested donation is $10. No one turned away for lack of funds. All donations go towards making this and other events like it, possible.


Have to say that the music in GRAVITY was extraordinarily good.  That layered ambience...

Recalled this section in STALKER — music Eduard Artemiev:


Japanese sound in their classic scifi movies..the whole world unites to defend the earth...IN MUSIC THE MACHINE IS NEVER FAR AWAY...




and Bird Songs through a particle effects generator


Musica incognita: seven impractical arguments

Götterdämmerung: Suicide Music and the National Self as Enemy

by Panayiotis Demopoulos


Here's a further sampling of style that is evocative of some aspects of the sonic intent— long sonorous stream changes...:  The full album is 8 hours —Max Richter, SLEEP, Deutsche Grammophon—2015. 


Beyond Fela: A Guide To Early African Electronic Music