How Data Was Used in Sourdough Sketches

The data used in RISE: Sonic Sketches of Sourdough Cultures is depicted in the graph you see below. This is the Optical Density growth profile over a 48 hour period for the 8 most prevalent strains of yeasts and lactic acid bacteria (LAB) found in The Sourdough Project’s 500 starter samples. Using these data defined shapes was suggested by their similarity to the motifs of Terry Riley’s In C, a piece that continually shapes and sharpens my appreciation of timbre and harmonics.

This data set turned out to be less important in the great scheme of the final Sourdough Project paper, however by assigning chromatic pitches to the OD levels from the lowest measured amount (.0867) to the highest amount (.8816) among all 8 taxa, a unique motif emerges for each one. The intervals between sampling points/tones reveal the growth rate and expansiveness of each taxa. The notes at each sampling point when strung together create a pentatonic pattern spread out over four octaves that will be the sonic profile of each strain of yeast and LAB. Here is an example of the motif for L Sanfrancisensis, a lactic acid bacteria common to sourdough starters.

There were 40 density amounts over 4 octaves, so 10 notes were needed in each octave and two notes had to go. Leaving out C and F in a scale with G as the fundamental pushed the scale toward more dissonance, which helps to create the “sour” part of the sound. The chromatic scale runs from G0 to G5 (the scale runs from G0 to F#4, and then jumps to G5. G5 is heard only in W. Anomalus). Here is the piece that introduces the yeast voices and pattern profiles –  String of Yeasts

The LAB voices are horn, synth, brass and a plucked resonant instrument. LAB do not reach levels higher than .5 on the OD scale thus are lower in pitch class range overall. Several of the yeasts soar into the 4th octave, but the LAB all stay in the 0-3 octaves as they grow slower and less abundantly.

And then there are the Acetic Acid Bacteria that have not received much attention in previous research. One of the findings of the Sourdough Project is that highly variable abundances of AAB are a key driver of functional diversity across the 500 starters in the study. The AAB also contribute heavily to starter aroma. In the soundscape AAB will take the form of sculpted noise- mixing various shades of noise with audio of watery bubbling sounds. And since AAB are drivers, percussion will be used as well. The primary AAB, Acetobactor Malorum, is represented by a polyrythmic frame drum statement.

The Yeast and LAB sonification profiles are what I call “data-driven” in that specific data points have been used to depict each Yeast and LAB voice. The AAB sonification is “data-derived” in that the use of percussion as a driver, of burbling, watery sounds as fermentation, and of post-soundscape frequency artifacts as VOCs were all suggested by descriptions of AAB in the published paper.

Three individual starters were sonified for the album. SD_522 was chosen because it may demonstrate the impact of Acetobacter Malorum on functional diversity in starter microbiomes. This starter had 6 of the 8 articulated taxa in measurable amounts and Acetobacter Malorum as the primary AAB. SD_131 contained Acetobacter Malorum and hit 4 of the 6 aromatic notes, so the last 30 seconds of the soundscape are the audio artifacts representing volatile organic compounds (VOC). SD_299 was chosen because it is mostly LAB and DOES NOT have any S Cerevisiae and very little AAB. This allowed me to play with a very different sonic pallette from SD_522 and _131.

The album is available March 30, 2021 on Bandcamp, and within the month on all other music platforms! Thank you for your support!

Experiments in Human/Audio Origami: Entanglement

Glyph by Carol Vollmer

Glenna Batson and Susan Sentler have continued their exploration of the visual-somatic signifigance of The Fold through a number of intensives and workshops on-line during the last year. I attended a weekend intensive and found it to be an amazing healing experience which drew people from all over the world. I enjoyed participating in their Deep Dives. Since sound is so compromised on Zoom, sharing of sound explorations in The Fold has not been possible. Until Now!

About a month ago, a new sound folding idea was suggested by Cathy Moore, who has attended a number of Human Origami Jams over the years. Cathy is a retired lawyer, community activist, and dancer. She also lives with Parkinson’s Disease – actually she dances with PD. Cathy is interested in the science of Parkinson’s and some recent research suggests that one of the factors in PD is misfolded/clumped/entangled proteins at motor synaptic junctions. These alpha-synucleins are responsible in part for triggering and stopping movement, both of which are hallmark PD symptoms. So Cathy suggested we work with the idea of entanglement.

My own felt sense is that entangled folds might feel crowded and tight at first. We are enmeshed in a network of folds where beginnings and ends are less clear and accessible. There is some holding/resistance in entanglement that constrains the fluidity of The Fold. The dampening of movement creates more stability, perhaps? And while there is a sense of being caught up in entanglement, there are many nooks and crannies to be explored as well.

The soundscape begins from a place of deep muffled constraint around which arises a whispy buzzy drone. The journey of the soundscape is to explore and release/cut through constraints. Entangled strands of sequences evolve and emerge from the muffled sound. They dance and resolve or dissolve as the muffled sound is released.

On March 20, 2021, a group of us met on Zoom. Thanks to Zoom audio improvements and YouTube assists, the soundscape had fidelity and was mixed with Glenna’s voice in a way that carried our intention across the ethers. The participant feedback after the dive indicated that many people engaged with and allowed the sonic/imagistic landscape to enter their worlds and bodies. While each person articulated their own unique journey through the dive, the one common response from most everyone was experiencing “release” and “letting go”. WoW!

With Glenna’s permission, here is an excerpt from the recording of our dive into and through “entanglement”:

Carol Vollmer’s glyph above was in response to Glenna’s prompt to “doodle” after the dive. The discussion was rich and heartfull, and so much wisdom was shared. I was honored to explore sounding The Fold with this community of curious and insightful people.

Waves of Gratitude Pop-Up Sound Installation 2021

iBoD is producing a pop-up sound installation which will have its first expression as part of SITES: reset on Feb 27 2021 at The Accordion Club Durham. The soundscape for this installation will be recordings of people giving thanks in whatever language, in whatever tone of voice feels genuine and right. These voiced gratitudes will be mixed into a sound collage with ocean waves and played through many small speakers. As this wave has evolved, there is now room for recorded gratitudes of all kinds. People are sending songs, chants, electronica, field recordings. All deeply heartfelt expressions of gratitude are welcome!

We are gathering gratitudes from all over the world. No matter how difficult times are, there is always something to be grateful for. My Mother taught me this life lesson, but I resented hearing it as a child. I felt entitled to cling to and suffer all my disappointments and sadnesses. In recent months gratitude goggles have kept me alive and in the moment!! In addition, this time has helped me realize how often I have been ungrateful in my life, and I want to begin again with greater gratitude and love. Since I observe that oscillations/waveforms create reality, Waves of Gratitude is the vibrational reality I desire. I would love for your voice to be a part of it! Record your invocation of gratitude and email the audio file to ibodgwave@gmail.com.

Recording Instructions:

For best sound quality, record indoors in a quiet space with little to no background noise.

Use Voice Memo recorder on your smart phone, when finished tap the Share icon (the one that looks like a three-sided box with an arrow inside.) Choose email, and send to ibodgwave@gmail.com.

If we are friends on Facebook Messenger, you can send a recorded message. Message me, then tap the icon to the left of where you type the message, this will open a small window where there may be a + or a microphone icon, tap the + and you are recording, when finished, tap the large paper airplane arrow to the right of the message box and voila! your gratitude is delivered.

In addition to the installation, dejacusse will broadcast the waves over Radio iBoD/dejacusse at specified dates and times TBA.

Email me if you have questions and spread gratitude with us in 2021 and beyond!

String of Yeasts 2020

The Sourdough Project data is finally starting to sing!! The paper, The function and diversity of sourdough microbiomes, is on the verge of being published and I have completed 3 pieces for an album of soundscapes based on the data and findings of the paper.

A little over a year ago, I started working with the Optical Density growth patterns of the 8 most prominent taxa in the 500 starters. Here is a link to the blog post about this idea:

https://dejacusse.blog/2019/10/08/string-of-yeasts/

Recently I revised the scale to be a multi-octave expansive scale and aligned the 40 specific growth data points with notes on that scale. Each yeast and LAB (lactic acid bacteria) now is expressed as a multi-octave pentatonic pattern. Here is the final version of String of Yeasts which will introduce the four yeast voices on the album RISE:Sonic Sketches of Sourdough Cultures to be released in March 2021. This piece features K Servazzi, W Anomalus, K Humilis, and S Cerevisiae.

Strings of Yeast

Hear, Here: the Sounds of Ossabaw Island May, 2006

My interest in sounding the world was peaked when I attended Elise Witt’s weekend of song and exploration on Ossabaw Island off the coast of Georgia in 2004 or 2005. Time is a blur, but I vividly remember that weekend, carrying a hand held cassette tape recorder everywhere, and later creating a memory soundscape for each person who attended our glorious days of song and sun on Ossabaw Island GA. This was the very beginning of sound and soundscaping as my creative focus, awakened on this magical island.

The next trip to Ossabaw was as a creative artist with a desire to make a piece for the Annual Ossabaw Foundation Pig Roast and Art Auction, The field recording you will hear below was made standing underneath Sandy West’s tree on Ossabaw Island during a sunny afternoon in May 2006. From this recording, I created one of my first “soundscapes” and my partner, Trudie Kiliru, created the watercolor “Sandy’s Tree”. We felt they were a package and donated them to the auction. The recording presented here is an edited version of the original audio file and focuses on the natural and human-made sounds one might hear on Ossabaw on a Spring afternoon.

Sandy’s Tree Watercolor by Trudie Kiliru

The recording was made with a mini-disc recorder through two small microphones attached to a ball cap on my head. Occasionally you will hear my steps on the shelled path, but mostly I stood in one spot and looked around. Listening to the recording through headphones, you will hear the birds move across the tree canopy, a plane pass by overhead, and close encounters with mosquitos, angry squirrels and electric ciccadas. I hear at least a dozen different bird calls. What do you hear?

Now in 2020, Ossabaw Island’s protected status has come under threat of private development. The Ossabaw Foundation and their supporters have been able to fend off the threat so far, and hopefully they will continue to do so. Putting this news together with climate change and rising seas, I realized that these few moments by Sandy West’s tree are a record of something that I want to preserve.

For more information about Ossabaw Island, The Ossabaw Foundation and the amazing Sandy West and her special tree, visit https://ossabawisland.org/

The Modular Boat Has Sailed!!

Eight months ago, the Elektron Model: Samples became part of my sounding board. (Here is a blog post about some preliminary explorations- https://wp.me/p5yJTY-Ch) When the MS started having key sticking issues, and the Global Reset rendered repairs inaccessible, the sounding board landed in limbo land. During this dreamy time, I realized/remembered that I want to play Control Voltages. The MS is a audio/midi device that can sequence synths that accept digital signals. CVs are another realm entirely! Although many synths can be stimulated by both types of signals, the depth and breadth of CVs is unparallelled to my ear.

Thanks to the flexibility of Sweetwater Music and the take charge attitude of my Sweetwater Sales Agent, Paul Allen, the MS (and a little cash) was exchanged for a Make Noise O-Control!! FINALLY, I have a voltage controlled modular set up as I pair this sweet thing with the Behringer Neutron!! Here you have it:

Today is the fifth day of play with my mini-mod, and I am happily patching, playing, studying manuals and/or Patch and Tweak, and deeply listening. Here are some sound samples from my first week’s play.

Modular Sampler Wk 1

Imma gonna be here for a while…

Listen to Your Gut – October 14, 2020

Duke University Science and Society sponsors a number of programs to foster the interdisciplinary exchange of ideas. One of these programs, SciComm Lunch and Learn, will be the host for Listen to Your Gut, a presentation on baby Lemurs, gut microbiomes and the sonification of data. Dr. Erin McKenney will present her research on changes in the gut microbiomes of baby Lemurs from birth to wean. (Dr. McKenney’s research was done at the Duke Lemur Center!) I will present the Baby Lemur Gut Microbiome Song, which is a sonification of those changes, and talk about how to “listen” to the data.

The program, originally scheduled on campus last March, will happen over Zoom on October 14, 2020. This means that you can all come!!! Here is the link to RSVP- this is necessary in order to get the Zoom link:

https://scienceandsociety.duke.edu/events/scicomm-lunch-learn-listen-to-your-gut-engaging-the-public-with-science-sound-with-dr-erin-mckenney-and-jude-casseday/

 In addition, we will share about the Sourdough Project, which Dr. McKenney and I worked on through the Rob Dunn Lab at NC State. I hope to have a section of The Song of the Sourdough ready to present on October 14th. These two studies/sonifications illustrate different approaches to sounding out data. I am grateful to Dr. McKenney for sharing her research and being game for explorations in sound! Another big gratitude goes out to Dr. Ariana Eily and The Art of the Scientist for taking an interest in the idea of sounding data!

Listening to the Micro-Environment

Thanks to Nancy Lowe from AS IS Center near Penland School, I am “new best friends” with Mark Boyd. Mark is a sound artist who records and amplifies the “voices” of plants, ants and flowing water: the realm of the tiny vibratory world. Talk about deep listening! Mark has been using electrode sensors on plants into a Volca Synth to listen to the electrical life force within the plant! He sent me recordings of his “biologues” with Bleeding Heart and Fern, and Dogwood. The playback presents us with a lot of fast-paced random sounds. Mark is interested in transducing this data into something people might listen to. Here is an excerpt from Mark’s Bleeding Heart and Fern biologues:

Excerpt MB BiologueBHnF

Ableton Live contains numerous tools for transposing/transducing/converting sonic data. An audio clip, such as the one you just heard, can be converted into midi clips; one that renders melody information, and another that renders harmonic information. So now we have audio information rendered as 2 packets of midi information. Within Ableton, midi files can be collapsed or stretched across a timeline and still maintain the integrity of the rhythmic intervals. Midi data can be assigned to a “voice” that feels representative of the sound artist’s impressions of the particular plant that is speaking. Midi data can be fed back into a synth such as the Volca to complete the circle.

The scaling of the time frames of the midi clips is exactly what is needed to help us “hear” the biofeedback from the plants. Doubling the length of the midi clip slows the overall “tempo” and helps us to listen into a kind of river of sound emitted by the plants. Slowing down allows us to tune into a rhythmic cohesiveness that is obscured by the frantic pace of the plant’s raw electrical impulses. We inject spaciousness into the mix in just the right amount, and it sounds like something is being communicated.

After finishing the new rendering of the data, I sent this to Mark:

Excerpt Biologue BHnF Remix dejacusse

He was ecstatic, over the top about all the possibilities of Ableton. He downloaded the Lite version and took off with it. We had some great email exchanges and he sent me samplings of his tests and experiments with the flora around his mountain home. Here is a beautiful example with a plant in Mark’s home:

I look forward to Mark putting together an orchestra of local flora in concert in the near future. In the meantime, I am enjoying dialoguing with another human being who is listening as deeply as I am.