Bitsphere's Weblog

… a bitart weblog


Leave a comment

Rule based live music

note_symbol“Audible/Inaudible 2012 -2014”

During the last two years Bitsphere performed an anonymous rule based live piece at a local bar which lies at the entry of the inner city when coming from the Bitsphere office. The piece for piano consists of some rules which will be listed in the next paragraph. The piece described here originated in a spontaneous idea and is an example of artistic intervention in everyday live. With the description of this peace and possible impacts Bitsphere likes to invite others to accoustic involvement in shared living spaces.

The rule set

  1. Every day the player passes the bar he has to enter and play the next tone on a chromatic scale beginning at the lowest note if all the rules apply
  2. The player should play only if he passes alone
  3. The player should be in a proper state for working according to governmental working rules
  4. The Piano shall be unoccupied
  5. No other musician shall play in the bar at the time
  6. Nothing should be purchased when entered to play a tone

Performance

By applying this rules it was possible to play all the keys of the grand piano within two years. The bar is usually closed Sunday and Monday but opens early in the morning and does not close before midnight. In the summer time sometimes they close in the afternoon to move to an outdoor location some paths away. Bitsphere only once had the chance to play the tone there (this tone was doubled) when some band installed a keyboard over there.

Observations

After a while some of the frequenter where aware that Bitsphere had a certain regulatory and they started to interact after the tone was played. One occasionally applauded and it is quite sure he sort of realized what was going on though Bitsphere tried to hide which means a visitor who only heard one of the tones should have thought there is someone just hitting a key for whatever reason. In general the relation to the waiters was relaxed randomly they tried to sell a beer to Bitsphere after the tone had gone. But this did not apply to rule #6.

Due to rule #2 the piece passed relatively anonymously there were no one told what was going on. It was just like entering – acting – listening – leaving and this kind of loneliness when inserting a sound to the daily noises with a melody only aware to one person in the beginning let to certain reflections about music which may not come easy in other ways. The difference in the player – the spectators – and even the tuning of the piano over the time is observed.

The player in his inner state – sometimes resisting to play though the rules do all apply – sometimes wanting to advance even if one ore more rule is not fulfilled has to remember over the whole span which note has to played at the next occasion which sometimes takes a little longer to come. The spectators were divided in two groups: Some not aware that this is a piece of music as just another one presses one of the keys of the piano, some aware there is someone who comes back regularly to play just one note on the piano which was at least tuned one time over the two years.

What is next?

After this piece Bitsphere wants to do more live events and perhaps faster rule based performances. Please drop some words in the comment box if you have experience in rule based live music or any other thing to say! You may also name some rules here and Bitsphere will try to perform them!

 

Advertisements


1 Comment

Soundmapping: Appeareance, Technology and Shortcomes

neuchatel_mapHere are some news from the soundmap project which Bitsphere promised to keep you up to date with: Things are going on. The initial idea of recording some nice sounds and put them on a map let to some difficulties and interesting insights.

it turned out field recording is not plug and play. There are some issues a newbie is not aware and gets to learn:

  1. Get good equipment as soon as possible. If not the precious time you spent is lost apart from some research value.
  2. Car noises are ubiquitous: Best time to do recordings of environmental sound in a township seems to be at night when you may have the chance of not getting disturbed by cars.
  3. There are good news: If ever you start doing field recording and even if it is on a very basic level your listening abilities will grow and your mind will get insights in different qualities of noises like:
  • There are a lot of sounds around which may be called dynamic: building sites, cries, car breaks, thunder. This sounds enrich the soundscape but are only of partial interest for soundmapping since even when put on a map they may not be found again.
  • On the other hand there are dynamic sounds which appear and reappear regularly, typically church bells or trains passing in a regular interval.
  • Finally there are more static sounds which may be put on a map for they are long-lasting or eternal: Waves on the seaside, highways, rivers, echoes and many more. This sounds are what seems most valuable in soundmapping where people are invited to do soundwalks with a map constructed in another time.

Considering this it seems easier to go on by defining interesting sounds on a map and record them afterwards with a proper equipment which has to be evaluated, set up, tested and properly handled. The main work is about finding the right sounds by walking with aware ears. Once they are mapped there are several ways to transmit the places to an audience: Handling over a copy of the map, publish it on google maps, mark the places as audibly interesting or even make recordings and put them on a disk. If you know any others please let me know in the comment section!


Leave a comment

Listening to two radios

I would like to add a new listening post to the others filed in the category listening. The exercise is simple but it may enhance your ability to distinguish different sounds. It is inspired by John Cages Imaginary Landscape 4.

To start you will have to organize two or more sources of broadcast or playback-media. Best is playback so when in doubt you may reset your setting.

The exercise asks you to play all the sources you gathered at the same time and and while listening take notes on a sheet on what you hear either in quality of sounds or in musical terms. That is all you have got to do.

The longer you do it the more you will be aware of your inner ability to “mute” one sound and focus on the other and to strengthen your force not to do so.

If you have comments on the exercise or own exercises to propose please use the section below this post!


1 Comment

Developing a Neuchâtel Sound Map

neuchatel_mapCurrently Bitsphere is working on a sound map of the town Neuchâtel in Switzerland. This is inspired by the Canadian composer, R. Murray Schafer, who wrote several books covering the topic of sound environment. The Neuchâtel sound map will be opened for the public as soon as there are enough sound snippets to expose.

The recordings are made with a cell phone and uploaded to evernote.com. In the Evernote notebook the exact location is set via the inbuilt google map. The planning goes to open the notebook to the public and link to the sound from google maps. Maybe there is a simpler solution so if anyone knows about it please leave a comment. Bitsphere is by now not sure whether this is a proper solution to avoid people deleting content. If not, the map will be copied to another website.

The bad news about recording with the mobile phone into Evernote is the fact that one cannot choose the sound quality and the media format. So the sounds are always recorded in the file format the cell phone provides. The good news is that the cell phone is almost any time at hand and one can enjoy the sound mapping as an ongoing side project.

So if you do not want to create your own sound map, but you still want to take part by telling which typical sounds of a city you would like to hear in a Neuchâtel way, just post your comment!


Leave a comment

Listening to the most quiet sound

For November, Bitsphere is describing another listening exercise. Bitsphere advises to begin with the other exercises you find under the category “listening” ( https://bitsphere.wordpress.com/category/listening/ ) but you can start straight away with this one if you like.

The description of this exercise is rather simple but it enables you to listen to surprising many sounds if you get in the habit of doing this for a couple of days or weeks. There are more possibilities to do so than you might think.

This listening exercise goes like this: Listen to what you hear! Notice that sound and then try to listen to a different sound or noise which surrounds you! Whenever you have found something to listen to, mark it “heard” in your inner register and try to find something new to listen to. Search for silence and you will find many subtle sounds!

This is it all. For sure you can do this in many situation in your daily life. As you go ahead with this exercise you will develop an ability to listen to many hidden sounds in your noise environment. Enjoy!

If you would like to share your experience with this exercise or even propose your own one you are welcome to use the comment section!


Leave a comment

How to embed sound in noise

Our normal sound environment is an ongoing noise from big bang to paradise. Adding music or sound to this world can only change a small bit of this sounds surrounding us. One of the challenge to put music into the world is the shift from every day sounds to another tune. In a classical context this could be a rather standardized procedure like: you go into the opera house, keep quiet, nod to one or the other person, maybe say hello, take your seat, and so on.

In our daily sound environment exists many variations to begin a sound and let the audience out again and there are different approaches to deal with different situations. Four of them you’ll find in the following list. The list is far from finished but it might be a good starting point to get into the habit of distinguishing everyday sounds and interventions:

  1. to insert a sound like this into the noise                 --- < sound > ---
  2. to sum up the noise and tranquillize the sonic environment === sound > ----
  3. to mix up a clear aural situation to bring live into       --- < sound ===
  4. to add a completely different sound                        --- sound ::: sound ---

This thoughts seems not very clear but if someone is interested in this kind of theory, please drop a line in the comment box and we might go on there!


Leave a comment

Guerrilla Web Sounds – Part III

Towards the end of last year Bitsphere published two posts about Guerrilla Web Sounds: part I which is about the concept and part II about the implementation on bitsphere.ch. This post is the third part of this series.

To give other people the possibility to enhance their website with tunes Bitsphere has uploaded six sounds to http://soundcloud.com/bitsphere-sounds. The set consists of sounds from the office environment so it perfect fits the purpose to come merely unrecognized by people apart from those calling your web site. The names of the sounds almost speak for themself:

  • Dropping key – recorded from an old keyboard key dropping on a table
  • Keyboard scratching desk – the sound of a keyboard scratching on a desk when moved like unintended
  • Key pressed – a record of pressing a key on a keyboard
  • Mouse click – the sound of pressing a mouse button
  • Opening pen – the recording of the sound of someone opening a pen
  • Sheets rustling – sheets rustling on desk

Unfortunately wordpress.com does not allow to publish javascript excerpts. So Bitsphere uploaded a sample javascript which enables a HTML4 site to play sound. You find the required files on https://sourceforge.net/projects/guerillawebsnds/files.

The lines relevant to play sound in the html file are  the span-tag which acts as a container for the sound file which is empty in the beginning and the onMouseOver – trigger assigned to a link, but you may use any tag you like. It makes the html call the playSound.js when the mouse passes the element.

The playSound.js script fills the empty span in the .html with the sound file and play this according to the settings. In the example over at sourceforge there is a mp3 in use but if you prefer you could use any other web compliant format.

So with this code you are able to to play the sounds at soundcloud mentioned above or even your own files.

If you have questions about the code, remarks on the sound files or ideas about bringing sound to the web just use the comment section!