I am creating a juicy ocean wave sound for Waves of Gratitude 2022. Yesterday the Behringer Nuetron gave up a sound like when a wave wumphs and then fades into a hiss. Pretty cool! And I got some gorgeous hissy wet ebb and flow from the Make Noise Strega (Thank you, Christopher Skully-Thurston for access to the Strega) In addition to sculpted sounds from The Field, the ocean wave soundscape for 2022 is a blend of sounds from numerous water sources including the Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, Eno River, several outdoor fountains, and our home indoor fountain along with the sound of running water. Now those are sources to be grateful for and I am!
The Waves of Gratitude Full Moon Broadcast for May will stream as the Zenith and a total lunar eclipse occur nearly simultaneously. There is so much love here for us all! This is one of those moments when it is flowing in! To celebrate and lend voice to the flow, the soundscape Shadow/Doubt will debut. This piece emerged from the sound pieces I created for Libby Lynn’s 250 Degree encaustic art show in the Fall of 2013. I worked on Shadow/Doubt over the years since then, and now it is complete. The soundscape evokes in me a deep longing, and a sad satisfaction with that longing. The voices argue with what is, they try to explain, they try to understand. Interwoven throughout is a voice of comfort. This is a place I am familiar with, but do not visit as often as I did in my youth.
My first version of Ableton Lite Digital Audio Workstation was purchased in 2009, so I have been soundscaping for over a decade. I have lots of soundscapes to share with you! In April’s Full Moon Broadcast, I released a 30 minute set of completed soundscapes. Most of these pieces were composed in the Ableton Live DAW with the intention that they would accompany something else – like a dance or a film. They are soundtrack soundscapes- each one contains a story, actually many stories just waiting to be brought out by the proper pairing. They all stand on their own as well.
And there will be LIVE IMPROVISATION from The Field. The Field is my modular synth configuration, which I am privileged to sculpt and play with. Feel free to play along with whatever instrument you have available! And remember to stay out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing – just listen and play!
Here is the link to the webplayer which will be live from 11pm May 15 to 1am May 16. The Zenith is at 12:14am and the eclipse is 12:11am:
Three rivers of sound are coming together to create Waves of Gratitude 2022. First, the living Control Voltages that trigger, modulate and end waveforms in vast timbral washes that display the harmonic patterns of the very life force which they embody. These building blocks of sound are available in modular and semi-modular synthesizers. Within this sound context of synthesizers interacting, iBoD practices “conversational interactions” which involve presence, deep listening and responsibility (intentionally exercising our innate ability for dialogic response). Second stream is the voices- people sharing gratitudes, sharings sounds they are grateful for, and in particular expressing what gratitude feels like. This is the question I am asking now in 2022: What does gratitude feel like to you? Take the question wherever you want! Third stream is the sound of Waves – I loved the ocean wave container from last year and want to take that sound and swell it up a bit. The Waves need more water! So I begin here!
And, at this point, I have much material in the “conversational interactions” context. Jim Kellough and Eleanor Mills come over every Tuesday and play within and around the synths. We have an array of sounds, from reedy melodica to bright sparkly recorders and Native American flutes to growling digital horn!! The synths set the table with rhythmic tones and unusual harmonic smears which can be maddeningly stable to giddily hither and yon. The smallest turn of a knob opens up whole new vistas of sonic relationships. Then the three of us engage with the synths and each other in an exchange that changes over time. A few weeks ago we played for an hour and 20 minutes. WoW!
Every Full Moon this year, 2022, Waves of Gratitude is transmitting vibrational appreciation via streaming radio broadcast. These vibrations are shared one hour before and one hour after the Zenith of the Full Moon. The Zenith is when the moon reaches its highest point in the sky above the observer. This time is like the sun at noon, and seems energetically auspicious to me. During the broadcast, we will listen to Waves of Gratitude 2021, to Waves of Gratitude 2022 as it evolves, and to live improvisations with Nuet, Moogie and OC! In addition to this, dejacusse and iBoD (idiosyncratic beats of dejacusse) have a back catalogue of soundscapes and other tunes which will be highlighted during the broadcast. Maybe the 2022 WoG will be an album!
As I have lamented in the recent posts, the voices speaking gratitude is not happening. I have not even recorded myself, so what can I expect of others. I am going to answer the question “How does gratitude feel to me?” and start the Wave! If you are inspired it is sooo easy to do. First, if you know how to record yourself on your phone or other device, record your answer to “How does gratitude feel to me?” and then send it via email to email@example.com! If we are friends on Facebook, you can send me an audio Messenger message. Go to the space where you would normally type your message, tap on the space. You should see a microphone icon, give it a tap and start talking, when you are done talking, tap the send arrow like you would if you had typed in text. I will have your audio gratitude for The Wave! Thank you for sharing yourself with me and with listeners all over the world.
Waves of Gratitude for April will broadcast from 2 pm to 4 pm Eastern Time Zone on Saturday April 16th. This Wave will begin with the first 15 minutes of WoG 2021. If you are curious as to how your audio gratitude might sound in The Wave, tune in at the top of each hour for WoG 2021. WoG 2022 will actually get started during this broadcast with a recent iBoD recording from our Sun Ra Room Sessions mixed in with this year’s Wave sculpture! There will also be live improvisations on the synthesizers! I hope you will join me!
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 -firstname.lastname@example.org! 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-
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 and melody, 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:
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)
On Saturday, the Ides of May 2021, the first broadcast of Waves of Gratitude over Radio iBoD happened! As I listen to the broadcast, there are dynamic sonic textures, human voicings, symphonic harmonics set within the ever-present Oceanic Wave! This is a 33 minute loop that begins with a cacophony of voices all expressing thanks for something, anything, everything, and then morphs into a cosmic river of sounds and verbal sound bites. The soundscape is a kind of bardo journey away from the prison of the human mind. Think of it as a gratitude cruise down the River Styx!
Waves of Gratitude is the largest and most ambitious collaboration I have ever attempted. Thus far, there are 21 collaborators from Raleigh-Durham, Costa Rica, California, NY, Hawaii; some family, some friends from decades ago, some people I do not know personally, and most have shared some form of creative collaboration with me over the years. These twenty-one responded to the inital call and for that I will be forever grateful! I love you all so dearly and uplift this vibration even if the timing might seem to suck!! It is a radical act to live with genuine appreciation and joy in a world addicted to judgment, fear and suffering!
Trudie Kiliru, Matt Casseday, Shawn and Chelsea Casseday, Lori Mathias-Thomas, Gary Balfantz, Ervin Dacoscos Malalis, Ronnie and Jody Cassell, Cathy Stanwyck, Holly Snyder, Tembo, Francine Farina, RT Skully, Christopher Skully-Thurston, Sotar Hoffman, Jim Kellough, Eleanor Mills, Stephanie Leathers, Jill Pavlak, Linda Carmichael, Bill and Susanne Romey.
The next Wave will break on June 1st, which is my Mother’s 91st birthday. I did not appreciate her wisdom until now and this project flows from what I understand from her being. One addition to the June 1st set of Waves will be a favorite e.e. cummings’ poem I set to music many years ago. I sing it everyday and will toss it into the Wave on this auspicious occasion!! Waves of Gratitude will broadcast for 12 hours on that day!!
As more of you send your gratitudes, the Wave will echo and amplifiy for years to come. What are you feeling joy about in this moment? Grab your phone, use the voice memo recorder to capture your gratitude, and send to email@example.com.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 email@example.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!
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.
Lisa bought a new guitar! A John Suhr limited edition commissioned electric guitar signed by the maker in a faux alligator hardshell case. The top of the guitar is quilted maple and looks like rippled water. Lisa bought the guitar because it’s voice eclipsed the sound she was carrying around in her mind. She said she had this jazzy sound in mind with rhythm (swingy, danceable) and a clean, clear tone when plucked (like George Benson). The Suhr guitar has a lovely tone with crisp, clean edges and bell-like shape. The sound the Suhr guitar planted in Lisa’s earbrain is more “New Agey”
A few weeks back, I sent Lisa a thumbdrive with recordings of our sessions since June. She reports that the recordings were not helpful to her as she couldn’t pick out her voice from the whole soundscape. This is good to know- the recordings give me a lot of information, but not so for Lisa. I know she listens to music by turning it up very loud in her home, so I asked if she did the same with the session recordings. She explained that she has sound reference files in her brain that pick up on familiar patterns associated with the song she is listening to. Without these references, Lisa is less able to make sonic sense of what she is hearing.
Our September 28 2019 session focused on the new guitar and what it brings to our pallette. And we played in a different relationship today. Instead of Lisa’s guitar through the Neutron, we played on separate channels. Lisa wanted to hear her new guitar clearly since she is just learning it, so I played the Ripplemaker through the Neutron. In this configuration, Lisa leads the way, while I bring interesting underpinnings into the mix.
Listening back to the recording, I think this is another way for us to play together. Our collaboration becomes more like intermingled solos, so the impact of our playing together is indirect rather than direct. Our voices are tandem rather than merged, and we can respond to each other. One question is how to create useful audio reference patterns for Lisa? She said that she couldn’t hear the recordings in the thumb drive because they were too removed from what we are doing currently. So it seems possible that if she listens to a recording from the most recent session, she could create new reference files. We will try this out.
The October 5 session is when things came together. Lisa brought another guitar – a 17″ wide arch-top Kay guitar which she describes as the kind of guitar you would find in the Sears catalogue in the 1950s. She played that and the Suhr while I created morphing streams of sound sequenced by Ripplemaker and modulated by Neutron through Abejusynth Station modules. The quality of the sounds of the sequence can be altered within the Ripplemaker, then in the Neutron. Then the audio signal from the Neutron goes through an Ableton audio track, which can then be sent through and altered by the Abejusynth Station AAC/EG modules. (For more info, go here: https://wp.me/p5yJTY-vL). Any of these Ableton tracks can go through delay send and a reverb send. So there is a whole lotta modulating going on!!
After our October 12 session, I am very excited about our playing as intermingled soloists at 919 Noise Showcase on October 30. We ran ourselves through my Roland Eurorack mixer (Thanks, Jim!) so I could balance the sound. Then I recorded into 2 H6n tracks and in the room. We decided to start with a wave of sound and then whittle it down. I was not sure this was working, but listening to the recording, I decided we need to just listen close and have faith that it IS working.
Here is a mix of the 2 H6n tracks AND the room recording. This seems like an interesting way to capture sound recordings in the SunRa Room. That said, this mix has too much synth and not enough guitar, and we will fix that so the blend is better in the future.
Following our first play date for All Data Lost, Lisa and I talked about what happened:
Lisa: I thought, “Oh, shit” when I first walked in [to The Wicked Witch] because its so dark I can’t see what I am doing, and then, you know, if someone is talking to me?!….but the energy there allowed it to be OK. You don’t have to interact, you can be alone in the dark with other people and not feel obligated to look at them, talk to them. Which is kind of freeing, actually, its freeing with the music too. Interacting with the audience effects my concentration on what I am doing with the music.
Jude: I really appreciated that aspect of the festival experience. The total focus on what is being created, on what is happening right now in this primal sonic moment! Most of the artists I heard during the afternoon performances could not be classified into any genre and each one was an engaging and unique experience.
Lisa: I also felt the audience was very attentive! They’re not looking at, or talking to, or doing anything else. They are standing there in the dark just listening to what you are doing! Its pretty neat! Even though some styles of music feed off of interacting directly with the audience, this is more experimentation, so I appreciated being able to focus on what we were doing.
When I listened to the recording, I was pleased with it, I thought it was pretty good. There was enough variety, without being too way out there. Here (in the SunRa Room) we are experimenting, then when we go and play somewhere, there needs to be more structure. I heard that. I liked the layers, and I think what I am hearing most are harmonics, and the harmonics allows the layers. The layers don’t let your brain get lazy or bored. The layering inspires curiosity!
Jude: Experimental sound art, which is what I feel like we are doing, is just one big surprise after another, and/or an evolving constancy built upon repetition and tiny changes. The layers of the soundscape are made up of harmonics, prolonged repetition, tiny and gigantic changes at a variety of tempos. Some folk’s hearing is limited by their thinking about genre classifications and performer virtuosity/charisma. Experimental sound can be too overwhelming to the codified earbrain.
Lisa: The brain is like that in other ways too. People who believe that everyone should behave a certain way and anything outside of their prescribed way of thinking causes anxiety and tension. The brain is like a muscle, if you don’t use it to the full potential, it is going to wear out and not be able to tolerate much. When you exercise it, it begins to be able to handle more and more and more. Music and math are ways to exercise the brain. Math is completely like that, its exhausting, frustrating. You don’t see it and one day the light bulb comes on, and you are a totally different person.
The biggest difference between playing here (the SunRa Room) and playing at The Wicked Witch was having other people involved in listening. You feel some responsibility to bring a nice experience to them. So I think I listened more! I am controlling this, what do I want to put out there? I am not that experienced in playing for an audience, so I have a small bag of tools. So, in some ways, this lightens my responsibility to a degree.
Jude: I like having a minimal bag of tools cause it makes me go deeper with them. Also, I get overwhelmed by all that can be done to a sound signal and routing the signal to the right places, midi and audio, etc. So minimal suits my style, which is one of constant learning and deep listening.
Lisa: As far as the sound quality, I thought it was great! It was easy for me to hear what I was doing. I knew where I was at, where we were at. Even though this was the first time I played with the spider capo and that extra layer of harmonics (Lisa had the harmonics for the bottom three strings of the guitar in addition to fingering notes.), I didn’t have to do anything extra or anything difficult. Pluck the string and it is there! The reason I would use ANY tool is because it makes things easier. I am allowing each guitar to talk by doing less. I really want to hear the voice of the guitar, each one is different. That is how I decide to buy a guitar is because of the voice.
After we talked through what we each heard in our playing, I realized that Lisa listens for new ways of playing whenever she explores her guitar’s sounds. We are both experimenters, and feel quite free in that arena. We find structure more challenging. I have lots of questions about structure – my interest in modular synthesis comes from the very clear structural forms that are present in waveforms and filters. These forms, coupled with various sound sources, make interaction the essential feature of every sonic moment. How do we structure interactions? What is included in these interactions? When do we apply structured, conceptual thinking and when do we shake it off and realize “it doesn’t matter!!”
The next phase of Playing by Ear, will include Lisa’s guitar into the Neutron routed through Ableton Live and the AAC/EG clip templates created in the Abeju Synth Station. (See https://wp.me/p5yJTY-vL for more info) Here is a sample:
Come hear us at 919 Noise Showcase in October at the Nightlight in Chapel Hill.