Waves of Gratitude 2022

A year ago, I sent out a call to participate in Waves of Gratitude, a never-ending sound art project. The initial wave debuted as a popup installation for the SITES performance happening in February 2021. So many people responded, some whom I have not spoken to in decades, and now they are a permanent part of Waves of Gratitude 2021. In late December 2021, I recorded my friend, Marg Roesch, playing Bach Inventions on the piano in her co-housing community’s Common House. She goes there to play multiple times a week…just for the joy of it! So Marg and Bach end the first Wave. I am grateful to Marg and Gary, Kehoe, Jill, Lori, Francine, Bill, Susanne, Robert, Christopher, Matt, Shawn, Chelsea, Trudie, Ronnie, Jody, Stephanie, Jim, Eleanor, Holly, Kathy, Tembo and Sotar for jumping into the Waves with me.

In the beginning, I envisioned all my old friends and collaborators sending me their audio gratitudes. There is a special email box just for gratitudes -ibodgwave@gmail.com! Audio gratitudes can be instantly recorded on Messenger if we are friends on Facebook! Speak text to my phone! And there was an influx of lovely expressions of gratitude, but then it stopped and no more came. And many people who I hoped would contribute, did not. I felt like Puff the Magic Dragon for a while, but then my inner guru said “Hey, grrrl, this is about gratitude. Let’s go make Waves!!”

So Waves of Gratitude 2022 will kick off the year with the first monthly full moon radio broadcast! I remain hopeful that more folks will just spontaneously send a recording. If you jumped in last year’s Waves, jump in again. I know I am asking alot, and many people do not like their recorded voices. I will lovingly place your gratitude offering in the Waves with great care. Please listen to the 2021 version of Waves of Gratitude to experience the loveliness of human voices expressing gratitude. Listening may inspire participation.

The broadcasts will include revisits to the 2021 Waves, all contributions sent to the 2022 Waves, LIVE improvisations, iBoD recordings, maybe a few choice words, who knows? Broadcasts will occur one hour before and one hour after the full moon zenith!

January’s broadcast will happen this Monday, January 17th from 5:45 pm to 7:45 pm and you can stream it here-

https://www.radiomast.io/station/ffa9c47f-f6bd-4eb9-ad61-c2c636ca88ca/pwa/app

Just tap the play button on the player and you will be there!!

“Timebral Artifacts” Soundscape for Busker’s Day

Studying the effects of waveforms in a sonic environment and transmitting those waveforms to audio cortices is a mission of iBoD. To that end, we have partnered with three synthesizers to explore the ways of waveforms. First came the Behringer Nuetron, which is a puzzle and a playful soundshaper. My first challenge was (and continues to be) getting sound out of it (VCA Bias and Overdrive Level knobs need to be wide open.) Nuet has lots of internal routings and moveable parameters including blending between oscillator waveform shapes, and multiple LFOs and VCFs. Next came the Moog SubHarmonicon, which is extremely fun and responsive and more intuitive. These two are “tied” together by the Make Noise O-Control, which serves as a sequencer for Nuet, and receives clock from Moogie. So that is my crew for this event: Nuet, Moogie, OC and me.

Using internal and external routings, iBoD explores the shifts in timbre and rhythm presented by the synthesizers. These instruments make sound from oscillating frequencies shaped by waveforms and envelopes, which are the basic building blocks for timbre (and EVERYTHING, but THAT is another story, which can be read in the links below). All of the action is triggered, directed, and massaged by control voltages. Sparks of electricity drive the whole show, which makes for alot of unpredictability and maleability.

A friend asked me “What is timbre?” Yes, we are all familiar with rhythm, but timbre is a kind of behind the scenes aspect of musical sound which isn’t as easily apprehended because it is so essential. Timbre is the “dna” of sound presented in harmonic code. Our brains decipher these codes so we can discern a foghorn from a racing engine from a baby crying. Please read these previous posts where I offer my understanding of timbre:

The Law of the Octave

Nature’s Chord

So that is what I will be playing with on Saturday. Since my favorite part of symphony concerts is the settling in and tuning that the orchestra does before they start the program, Timebral Artifacts will begin with some tuning and retuning of parts, followed by propagation and meanderings until an undercurrent of structure appears. When this happens, I will play Native American flute in call and response play with the synths.

iBoD will play from 2-2:45 pm. See map of Sculpture Garden for exact location (2a)

I hope you will come and listen!

Art of a Scientist 2020/2021

Art of a Scientist is an annual offering from Duke Department of Science and Communication. The curators pair up artists and scientists in experimental collaborations to make science and data accessible to a wider audience. The 2021 exhibit was an online zine produced by The Power Company Gallery and ran through the month of March 2021. Some people had trouble accessing the piece via the Zine so Latent to Lytic is posted below.

This year brings another opportunity to stretch my understanding of scientific data and ideas by sounding them out! I worked with graduate student Elizabeth Goins from NCCU on her study of the effects of exogenous ethanol and acetate on Karposis-Sarcoma -associated Human Herpes Virus (KSHV). In addition, visual artist Heather Sanchez rendered the process through illustrations/animation!

KSHV enters the cell via glycoproteins on the surface of the host cell. The virus is carried through the cell by a special protein, and ends up in the nucleus. The virus remains latent in the nucleus until triggered into the lytic or active infection phase. Once triggered into lytic, there is a gene “cascade” that functions as a sort of assembly line of viral replication and is cytopathic to the cell. Goins found that both ethanol and acetate accelerate replication of the virus in human cells. Acetate, which is a biproduct of ethanol in the human body, not only accelerates viral replication but can actually trigger the change from latent to lytic.

The sonic illustration begins with the song phrase of a healthy cell replete with an active lipid bilayer! A rustling, rattling sound is the virus entering via the glycoproteins. Then a new voice enters and attaches to the song phrase of the healthy cell- this is the voice of the virus. The virus adds a new melodic aspect to the healthy cell song phrase, then works into and alters the nucleas, represented by percussion. Acetate burbles into the soundscape and triggers the lytic phase. The virus is now reactivated in its own song phrase with multiple replications resounding. Sanchez’s illustrations depict infected latent cells, the virus itself, with a 40 second animation of the entire process at the end of the sonic illustration.

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.

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…

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.

Tracks Music Library: A Sampling of Local Sounds

David Byrne’s record label Luaka Bop released one of my favorite albums – Cuisine Non-Stop – which featured popular local bands from all around the country of France. The album is a delightful pastiche of people lovingly creating their music wherever they find themselves! I felt a kinship with this merry band of troubadours, and thought it would be so wonderful to be included in such a sampling.

In January 2020, I saw an advertisement on Facebook from Chapel Hill Library and Community Arts and Culture seeking album submissions for a curated collection of music by local artists. The requirements for submission were residence in Orange and neighboring counties, and a published album. The submission process was pain free and user friendly. I submitted dejacusse’ album Audiorigami:Meditations on The Fold (released 11/11/18) and wished her the very best!

A month in Florida, a Coronavirus lockdown and a National Water Dance later, an email arrives telling me that Audiorigami would be included in the inaugural Tracks Music Library. I am thrilled and encouraged by this development! Although it may not be Luaka Bop, this fits my work perfectly! “The grass roots of the grass roots” as one friend said! Tracks Music Library was launched June 9, 2020 with 80 albums to stream and plans to grow the library by 25 albums a year. You can listen at tracksmusiclibrary.org.

Tracks Music Library is the result of Chapel Hill Library staff meeting the Rabble Musicat staff at a library conference several years ago. Rabble is a private company with a mission to equip libraries with the very best software for presenting media to the world, which is a primary mission of libraries. Rabble believes libraries are “forces for good” and wants them to have access to excellent media resources! (I think they are quite successful, and I will tell you why later.) Musicat is a facet of Rabble that focuses on curating local music into library collections. These local music libraries have been established in Nashville, Seattle, Salt Lake City and Austin to name a few, and now Chapel Hill. Here is a link to more on Rabble Musicat: https://musicat.co/libraries

Melissa Bartoletta, Communications Coordinator for Chapel Hill Community Arts and Culture, said of this first round:     

We received 176 submissions in our first open call for submissions. We were thrilled by that number as well as by the quality and diversity of the work submitted. Because our first year of this project was funded through a grant from the State Library, we were able to invite 80 artists into the collection.

Melissa emphasized that Chapel Hill Library and Community Arts and Culture have made a committment to grow the library with an annual call for submissions, continued funding and staying responsive to the ever-changing Triangle music scene. One of the ways they will stay responsive is by calling on folks from the local music scene to curate the collection. This year’s curators were Lois DeLoatch, Kevin “Kaze” Thomas, Elinor Walker, Bill Smith, Kat Harding, Glenn Boothe, Steve Weiss, and Steve Wright. The curators come to music from a wide range of perspectives, but all listen “with an ear for quality, diversity and connection” to the local music community.

While the on-line library is free for music listeners, all of the artists were paid a meaningful stipend for our work. I think of it as a kind of permanent license to stream purchased by the Chapel Hill Library. In addition, each artist has their own page with a PayPal donation button – if a listener is so moved they can donate to the artist. From my perspective it is a perfect platform. Part of this perfect platform is the media player created by Rabble. As I listened through each track on Audiorigami, I heard so much detail and depth, as if I was listening through headphones, but it was actually through iPad speakers at 75% amplitude. The quality of this listen really impressed me.

Go to Tracks Music Library and tune in. You can search by album, artist and genre. To get you started here is a playlist of Black and Brown artists featured in the Tracks Music Library: https://tracksmusiclibrary.org/featured/playlist-1591669567455

The Larger Oscillation

Periodically throughout the day, I focus awareness on the realization that one of the basic building blocks of the entire material world as we know it is– the oscillation. All of my personal and all of our shared experience is comprised of waveform oscillations modulating each other. This pattern driver of existence is active from the quantum to the cosmic scale and all stops in between, including the sliver we call “material reality”. Take a deep breath into THAT awareness! It has the capacity to expand “being” way beyond this mortal coil.

Signal sources, harmonics, filters, amplifiers, attenuaters, etc. all shape the place we call home. This is not a static activity, although we are obsessed with nailing it down and calling it stable. To be fair, our egoic phase needs the illusion of constancy cocreated by our corporeal senses + time. It is scary to allow in all the buzzy sensations of the multitudes of oscillations interacting within and through us moment to moment. It can shake and crack the hard linear shell of “Reality” we impose on this extremely fluid existence. But once, some cracks and crevices soften the shell, we can tune in and ride the dyhedrals of the great structured chaos out of which life arises, our true and only home. All the necessary tools are available to us:

Focused awareness in the now.

Deep listening (way deeper than ear listening).

Adaptability to a looser, less bound-up, more centered and flexible way of being in the world.

And, most importantly, forgiveness.

Sound, due to its oscillating nature, impacts the structure and movement of material reality. So do flapping butterfly wings. So do thoughts and emotions fully felt and released or shoved away and blamed on others. So do bombs and bullets. So do words of harm and ridicule. So do love and compassion. So does forgiveness. Each moment we choose a platform (or it chooses us) and then we actively modulate our consciousnesses into existence, as we ourselves are modulated by all the struck and jostling oscillations.

What a world! What a world!

Sounding Board

My curiosity about sound is completely engaged by exploring modular synthesis. So far my understanding is often inarticulate and mystified! But thanks to Suzanne Ciani, True Cuckoo, Andrew Huang, Ultrabillions, Hark Madley, Lisa Belladonna, Caterina Barbieri, Moogfest, Bram Bos, and Kim Bjorn’s book Patch and Tweak, I am evolving a different way of creating soundscapes and perceiving the world. This is the stuff of life! Waveforms modulating waveforms, waveforms shaping waveforms, waveforms reflecting, refracting and bouncing around and through us. Energetic matter begins and ends on a wave.

I am focusing my Artists Residency here at home on improving my mixing skills and building a sounding board. The mixing skills are put to the test making the recording of Carnatic Water Music that iBoD will release in the next week. As I mixed this recording I received helpful suggestions from tutorials by Jason Moss, HarkMadley, Mathew Weiss. These skills are a forever work in progress. As for the sounding board, there are currently three main ingredients: Elektron:Model Samples as main sequencer providing beats/patterns and midi triggers to the Behringer Neutron. Audio out from both of these units into Audio Tracks in Ableton Live. Ableton will provide drones, loops, and AAC/EG clips which can process audio from either unit. I can do Master recordings in Ableton as well.

Even though I want a modular system, I will work with what I have now, and learn, and be ready when my modular system appears. (Make Noise modules are the ones that I want- doo doo do do)

The Model Samples and I are getting on fairly well. I am learning the architecture of the menus, watching people perform with it to see what key combos they use, and setting up some patterns. The samples available “in the box” are very cool and I am curating my own samples as well. Every sound is potential material so it is daunting.

The past few days, I experimented with some patch ideas in the Behringer Neutron. I have gotten alot of growling out of the synth, but no sound that I liked. There is one simple patch I use: the Sample and Hold into Delay Time. When the Delay Mix knob is raised and the S&H knob is turned up, there are lots of odd, random pitch artifacts that I enjoy hearing. Today I patched the Osc Mix into a Mult, then ran Mult 1 to the OD(overdrive)IN, and Mult 2 to Pulse Width 2. Tuned the oscillators to consonant pitches. Slowly turning the Osc Mix Knob opens a whole realm of timbres. When the OM knob was all the way to one side the tone could be made clear and bell-like. With the Oscillator shapes in the square or tone mod shape, the Pulse Width knob seems to act as a filter.The Mod Depth and Envelope Depth can be brought in. This is where I am not sure what is happening – there are changes in the timbre of the tone from the synth. And what exactly is depth? There is alot to play with depending on where the Osc Mix dial is tuned in.

The third part of this is creating Audio Animation Clips/Envelope Generators within Ableton. Envelopes shape the amplitude and modulate the pitch of the sound. Audio Animation allows the Envelope parameters to move over time. Here is the post on how audio animation can be created in Ableton: https://wp.me/p5yJTY-vL I use filters to sculpt out harmonics and add texture to the sound of the Model Samples or the Neutron. So far, I am experimenting with banks of filters to sculpt out or boost particular harmonics then perform a finer tuning with some EQ. I am listening for a diverse sonic spread, then tuning it in, then spreading, and finally fine tuning.

The adventure continues!!