Tag Archives: sound

Hacked Sound In Hackney

Gutted I’m going to miss this.

On the 7th of February is running a salon focusing on instrument building in the 21st century:

‘The discussion, which will be moderated by The Wire‘s Deputy Editor Frances Morgan, will examine the aesthetic, political, economic and technological potentiality (and limits) of building or rewiring new sonic tools, as well as exploring the current scene’s links with hacker and DIY culture. As part of the discussion each panelist will demonstrate examples of their own custom built gear.’

Here’s the event’s website:


Definitely worth heading down if you can.


Mapping Sound

The problem of mapping sound is an interesting one.
These people have been thinking about it.

Concrete Noise: Kent sound mirrors etc.

These concrete sound mirrors were made in the 1920’s to ‘hear’ enemy planes approaching the UK.

Concrete Sound

In Kode9’s Sonic Warfare he mentions them:

“In the late 1920s, a series of strange structutres started appearing in Kent on the south coast of England. The plan of the British air force was to set up a chain of “concrete ears” along the coast that would peer out over teh channel of water theat separated the island from the Continent. It was a plan never completed. Looking like prehistoric satellite dishes and resembling the concrete styles catalogued in Virilo’s very Ballardian book of photography, Bunker Archeology, these structures were sound mirrors used as acoustic detection early-warning devices designed to  pick up sounds from approaching enemy aircraft. There were three types of sound mirror. With teh circular, concave 20- and 30- food-diameter concrete bowls, movable, cone-shaped metal sound collectors were used, connected by tubing to stethoscopes worn by the operators. The other type were strip mirrors, curved in elevation and plan of 26 by 200 feet. With these structures, microphones were placed on a concrete forecourt in front of the mirror and wired to a nearby control room. All the sound mirrors were located in positions that attempted silence. A 1924 report suggested that the sound mirrors were ten times more sensitive than the human ear, and they were tested by blind listeners in 1925. Yet operation problems due to noise from the sea, wind, local towns and ship propellers rendered the stuctures on to the sad scrap heap of twentieth-century dead media.”


Since checking out pictures of them – I’ve been thinking about acoustic architecture. Stuff like the Le Corbusier’s Philips Pavilion.

The Philips Pavilion: Home of the Poème Electronique

This structure was built as part of a sound installation at the Expo ’58 in Brussels. Varese used the same serialistic mathematical principles that Le Corbusier had used to design the building to create an electronic composition that was played out of over 300 speakers within the building.

Bringing it back to London… another interesting sound structure is the Scratch Cottage.

The House That Cardew Built

Cornelius Cardew’s Scratch Orchestra built this for the Art Spectrum London exhibition in Alexandra Palace in 1971.

“The Orchestra effectively came to an end in 1971 after a process of internal wrangling over the purpose of what we were doing. A group around John Tilbury and Keith Rowe, soon to be joined by Cardew, developed a Marxist-Leninist critique which castigated the open playfulness of the Scratch as at best flippant and at worst reactionary.

‘Recognition of the crisis was confirmed with the project to build a cottage as an environment for activity, designed by Stefan Szczelkun, for the contributions of the Scratch Orchestra to the Arts Spectrum Exhibition at Alexandra Palace, for two weeks in August.’ (Cardew 1974 p17)

This cottage was to have housed The Refuse Collection. This was a collection of Scratch members’ conventional (old) artworks. It was also a place for discussion. A series of ‘Discontent’ meetings led to a split between the Maoists faction led by Cardew, another group who were unlabeled but broadly anarchist, and a third group of mainly classically trained musicians who were non-political and bemused by the whole affair.”

If you know of an interesting building that is somehow connected to sound let me know.

New Sound Lab for London


The Milford Sound Fjord in New Zealand: something else entirely


SoundFjord is a new gallery soley deadicated to exhibiting sound art:

“This creative venture is a centre for experimentation and collaboration – with sound being central to all works  researched or exhibited: as inspiration, conduit for artistic expression, or simply, the resulting work.”

Sounds good.

It’s all kicking off this summer with a Sonic Exquisite Corpse, which should involve over 50 different artists.

They’re filling their exhibition calendar right now so if you’ve got a show on your mind and you’d like to exhibit in a space that’s specially set up for sound you should get in touch… info@soundfjord.org.uk

Sound, Architecture, Jelly…

When considering how a structure will effect sound architects often go though many processes.  Testing and modeling is essential.

eg. recording the sound of jelly wobbling…

This jelly was recorded at University College London last year as part of an architectural jelly competition held as part of the London Festival of Architecture.

As real jellies wobbled in one of UCL’s anechoic chambers – a special room in which the walls are lined with sound-absorbent material – the oscillations were recorded by sound artist Douglas Murphy.

He says: “It is refreshing to explore the sonority of a much neglected physical property: the wobble factor. Jelly entices us into a strange but compelling world of organic sounds. The sonic wobble is captured in two ways: by carefully recording the results of gentle coaxing and by expressing the wobble frequency as physically powerful base tones.”

Prof Jonathan Ashmore, UCL Ear Institute, adds: “Ear experts have been studying jelly for decades, for collagen – one of the starting ingredients of jelly – makes up the critical components of the inner ear. The way that collagen wobbles on a very small scale is what allows us to hear different notes.”

Loads of light sensors, no computers: Tonewheels

Derek Holzer’s Tonewheels @ Goldsmiths College 19/03/09 1800-2000
In the tone lab

In the tone lab

“TONEWHEELS is an experiment in converting graphical imagery to sound, inspired by some of the pioneering 20th Century electronic music instruments such as the Variophone [Evgeny Scholpo (USSR) 1930], the Welte Light-Tone Organ [Edwin Emil Welte (DE) 1936], the ANS Synthesizer [Evgeny Murzin (USSR) 1958], and the Oramics system [Daphne Oram (UK) 1959].”

An all analogue electronic set from field recordist and general sound fetishist, Derek Holzer.

In Tonewheels transparent wheels with repeating patterns are spun over light-sensitive electronic circuitry to produce sound and light pulsations and textures.

For a glimpse of what to expect…(mentalism)…  www.vimeo.com/2979698


Derek Holzer – “One of the central concepts of my work is that every object and space around us is a recorder. Each one has collected the resonances of its surroundings for as long as it has existed. You could call it an acoustic version of particle physics or genetics, because the idea remains the same–in the smallest details you will find a representation of the greater whole. My task as a sound artist is often just to listen, and to listen very closely, to the histories hidden inside our everyday world.”