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.

The Pink Lady Apple House release Junk Tape Vol 2/UFO Mix Tape is Quantum Joy!

If you follow @thepinkladyapplehouse on Instagram, you know that Justin Holt plays many instruments, lays down bucket loads of recorded sounds each day, and can shape these sounds into incredible cascading sonic impressions. In the picture above, you see him taking spaceship Earth out for a spin last summer! In his latest release, Junk Tape Vol 2/UFO Mixtape, The Pink Lady Apple House beams cosmic light and stirs quantum fluctuations into satisfying sonic landscapes.

My favorite track, Delighted, features a conversation between electric guitar in the right ear and Moog Grandmother in the left over a lumbering drum and bass with lots of fun percussive frills. Fashion is constructed of layers of blips, bloops, twitters braided together with a driving drum and bass that gradually lose their clarity as more harmonic content is added to the mix till all finally gurgles away. Listen to Star Map and you will know all the places he went on those summer cosmic explorations.

The Pink Lady Apple House sound draws some comparisons to the free jazz of Medeski, Martin and Woods and Sun Ra Arkestra. His process plays off of Brian Eno’s “The Studio as a Compositional Tool “as he works with reel-to-reel tapes and often plays the mixing board in real time. Justin’s playing of the Roland SP 404 is phenomenal and figures prominently on this album, along with the Moog Grandmother. TPLAH creates soundscapes of layered, lo-fi sounds that dance in/out of tune and time while merging and modulating each other in surprising and delightful ways. They sound full and interesting through headphones, iphone speakers and full sound systems.

Listening to Junk Tape Vol 2/UFO Mix Tape reminded me of a Tom Wait’s music video where he was herky jerky dancing and singing a raggedy melody, and it was so fascinating and beautiful in an off-kilter way, a realization of awkward grace! You will hear that same level of energetic, animated, awkward grace on The Pink Lady Apple House’ Junk Tape Vol 2/UFO Mix Tape available now on Bandcamp: thepinkladyapplehouse.bandcamp.com/album/junk-tape-vol-2-the-ufo-mixtape

Recommended for deep listeners, resonant advisors, and all explorers of the timbral Universe!

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!

Radio iBoD/dejacusse Broadcast July 30, 2020

Here is a 8 minute excerpt from dejacusse’ hour long broadcast on Thursday afternoon July 30 from 2:48 pm to 3:45 pm. (cause I eschew ideas of “perfection”, and all her followers and gatekeepers.) Today we featured Theta Waves (frequencies divisible by 5 and 8) at 200hz and under at 108 bpm. These Sine waves were then set off in relation to each other, and filtered through flangers, resonators, delays, reverbs and frequency filters within Ableton Live. The idea is to unfold harmonics from these interactions, and enfold them back on themselves. Some pretty cool stuff emerges- not for everyone, but if you feel the resonance, that is the best! Thanks for listening if you do!

Theta Waves Unfolded

One Knob Wonders in Ableton

Once again I find myself back with Ableton Live. A couple of posts ago, my sounding board was set and I was starting to put some things together in Elektron: Model Samples along with Ableton and the Neutron. Then a couple of the trigger keys on the Model Samples started sticking. This is comparable to a sticking piano key. At first, I was OK with having this be another random possibility within my workflow, but more triggers got in on the act, and I couldn’t tell which keys were sticking, and that random possibility became a more fixed probability. So for now the Model Samples is boxed up waiting to go to the technicians at Sweetwater whenever they get Elektron techs back at the shop. This is my last purchase from Sweetwater! I am miffed that this is taking months to resolve and I am left with several ideas in early development within the Model Samples that are now on hold. Instead of wasting energy being miffed, I am turning to some new ways to play in Ableton.

Under the Audio Effects subfolder DJ and Performance within Ableton Live, there are One Knob effects racks capable of creating dramatic changes to any sound when the One Knob is turned. The changes are achieved by placing several different audio effects in a rack and then using midi map to attach a variety of parameter changes from each effect onto the One Knob. The parameter ranges can even be adjusted as to how big a change the knob sweep brings. After working with Audio Animation Clips/Envelope Generators, this seems like a promising new direction to explore.

My favorite One Knob Rack is Fade to Gray, which houses a three band EQ and a Ping Pong Delay. Here are pictures of each of these effects:

Turning the One Knob lowers the mid frequency band of the EQ Three by 6dB while the low frequency and high frequencies sweep toward the midrange as the wet signal and feedback swoop up to 95%. Now a tiny slice of mid-range frequencies feeding back on itself goes into the Ping Pong Delay, where the signal and feedback go to 95%. All of these changes are happening over time and in relation to each other. While the end result is a thin and distant decaying echo of the completely subdued orginal signal, every stop along the One Knob sweep renders new sonic terrain. So cool!

Now I am inspired! What sorts of changes can be wrought in this environment? I want to make One Knob Racks that sculpt the sound in interesting ways! Start simple: made a few changes in the Fade to Gray letting in some lower range frequencies on the EQ3 and bringing the crossing frequencies together at a lower bandwidth. So this Fades to Throb rather than Gray. I suppose I should have picked a color- it would be Blue, Fade to Blue. Throb describes the end result more clearly, so that is the name!

For several weeks now, I have been making, testing, throwing away and saving One Knob Racks. My project contains an audio track with sound samples from Ableton and from Library dejacusse. That track is routed into another audio track which contains the One Knob Racks and is routed to the Master output track. With this setup, the original audio track signal goes directly to the One Knob track, so the original audio is heard through that track. When I close all the One Knob Racks (there are seven so far but I forsee hundreds) no sound comes out the Master track. All the frequencies have been gathered and are being held within the racks. One type of improvisation might be to slowly unveil the original audio by opening the One Knob Racks a bit at a time. When they are all completely at 0, the original signal and all its frequencies are now sounding through the One Knob track and out to the Master. So much potential here!

But wait, there is more! There are a couple of tracks hanging around over beside the Master Track. These are Return Tracks. The original audio track and the One Knob track both have two Sends knobs that send signal to the return tracks. This is another way to add some effects processing to a signal and also have it be available for all the tracks. As it turns out, the send knob on the original audio track can bring that signal forward through the return track even when all the One Knob racks are closed! This is sooooo cool, because as the One Knobs are opening, some of the original sound can be brought up into the mix to give listening ears some direction and excitation. The return tracks can also have effects on them. WoW!

This is exciting for me because it aligns with everything I am creating right now. I seek methods for including all frequencies in the sonic pallette, for rendering frequencies in as many dimensions as I can tune into, for conveying information/data/quanta via sound, and for creating diffuse, diverse sonic delights. I tune into joy and delight in many strange waveforms.

I am drawn to the idea of unFolding, uncovering, and revealing which this method opens up to. Also, the idea of integration and disintegration, which I started exploring over 10 years ago with Unhinged Melody (which later became Circuslocution with iBoD). The idea was an 8 bar upbeat riff that started as individual random sounding notes and slowly came together. Every note has its place and it eventually gets there with some extra notes for good measure! Each One Knob Rack will shape the sound into particular forms, then as one Rack feeds into another, the various level settings create new sonic relationships within the original audio.

Creating these One Knob Racks is teaching me so much about each audio effect in Ableton and what it does. The other part of this will be the sounds that pass through the Racks, what will they be? And then there is the order that the Racks are placed in to maximize the interplay of the Racks as they pass the sound around and through themselves.

Here is a quick journey through some of the sonic territory these knobs can uncover! The original audio is Eleanor Mills playing harmonica and me talking and playing uke. Listen for those times when the original sound is hard to distinguish.

Today I worked with a 8 second clip of Jim Kellough’s digital horn and here is the result:

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

National Water Dance 2020

TODAY, April 18th, iBoD is taking Durham to the National Water Dance! At 4 pm today, Jody Cassell will dance with the trees, the breeze, the sunlight and the water to iBoD’s Carnatic Water Music. The original plan was to create a watery container of sound, projections and flora through which Jody Cassell would lead the movement. Several other dancers including some of Jody’s young dance students were excited to perform this event at PS 137 in downtown Durham. Well, you know what happened! With so many cancellations, NWD leaders decided to go ahead with the dance as a streaming event. We will have Jody dancing to iBoD’s Carnatic Water Music at 4 pm this Saturday on Instagram Live from the safety of her home.

Here is some background on National Water Dance drom their website:

National Water Dance is a catalyst that encourages ongoing engagement between dance and the environment. Beginning in 2011 as a statewide project in Florida, it now boasts 65 locations across the United States—in 2018 including Puerto Rico for the first time. With each event National Water Dance recommits itself to the effort of increasing purposeful awareness to drive action on environmental issues, specifically climate change. Supporting the work of participants beyond our bi-annual event, National Water Dance spreads the word on the environmental issues they are tackling through monthly newsletters and social media. Our goal is to realize the power of dance as an engine of social change.

In the spirit of this mission, Jody suggests, through her movement choices, elements of this “engine” that are not as visible as issues. Stillness, slowness, wonder, and (dare we say it!) JOY in being right here and right now and moving! The soundscape Carnatic Water Music articulates and ensounds a few of the ways that water can move! To hear the entire piece go to Bandcamp/dejacusse.

As this large group of dancers in 65 locations across the country create a wave of healing energy directed toward Earth and Water, your attention will amplify the energy beyond all possibilities.

Join us for a five minute healing prayer on Instagram (@movinggrace) or through the National Water Dance Website. If you cannot join us at 4, please bear witness to the dance on Instagram TV. Now, more than ever, it is important to mind what we ourselves are giving our precious time and attention to!

Amplify the healing wave!