Dear Annie Dillard

Who introduced us? One of the loveliest, dearest people I have known. Reading Pilgrim at Tinker Creek in my early 30s, I was swept up into the way you see The World, so I devoted myself to reading all of your writings. (You lost me with The Living, I must admit). In youth, I loved your passionate witnessing of spirit writ large in nature, how easily you are astonished by the details and the vastness of creation, and your aloof, succinct judgements of other beings. You are unapologetic, yet aware of the economic privilege of your life, but seem mostly oblivious to the subjugations suffered by many female voices seeking publication. (Aristotle wrote us off as “birth defects” and Ari’s influence is proving tough to shake!)

Now, coming into my seventh decade, I am rereading you with less reverence and more astonished laughter – you crack me up over and over again. I appreciate our synchronous presence on the planet. You were dismissed by your elders as a “girl of the Twentieth Century”, which acknowledges you as a Voice of Our Time. I feel you as a sister and twin flame: much of what reverberates you, reverberates me as well. You are very like an older sister in that I don’t think you would like me as a companion, while I would adore you as one. Lucky me – you are there in your writings, and I only have to suffer your disdain when it clearly applies to me.

You see, I go easy, light, effortless and you go hard, dense and high-minded! So.

I have an interesting relationship to your book For the Time Being. I read it four times, and each time I picked it up I thought I had not finished it. Which, given what you write about in that book, makes me laugh. In the summer of 2021, I paid attention and realized when I finished For the Time Being.

The tree with the lights on it! I see lights on trees all the time, but not as enflamed as the ones the girl with her new eyes saw! And the robin dropping straight down off the roof- just stepping off and dropping. The clothes spread out and drying way up on huge trees! The frog slowly dropping its form like a cloak on the water. On and on- you just WoW me!!

So I carry these amazing and inspirational experiences with me from you and your lived experience. Terwiliger bunts one! I say it all the time, it is so fun and slips off the tongue. Your adventures growing up resonated deeply with me, although my parents were not wealthy or quite as adventurous as yours. But they were very lovely and caring. I, too, dissected frogs and worms in the basement. Occasionally I would try to gather a group to explore and create, but it was hard to really engage with others, so working alone suits me alright (to this day).

Holy the Firm is a prose poem with its vivid yet obscure descriptions of the vast beauty and horrific tragedies that make up The World exemplified in one burnt little girl. You rail at and commisserate with God as you wander a small corner of the world where you find yourself at a particular point in its time. I, too, am a burnt little girl. An accident (caused by me, which has always seemed so mysterious), I was about four: I was playing in the kitchen while Mom was making dinner. I pulled open the door of a freestanding cabinet, leaned over the top and lifted my feet to swing on the door. The cabinet tipped, and the french fryer grease came raining down on me and my brother. I didn’t know much about physics then! My Dad put vaseline on me, and they rushed us to the hospital. Interestingly, putting vaseline on a severe burn was NOT the correct procedure at the time, but is now seen as an appropriate healing move. So glad my Dad followed his instincts and not the medical party line of the day.

The burns all healed well. I had a skin graft to my face when I was seven, but the graft location left a bad scar. Seems I scar easily. Only recently have I thought about what it must have been like for my family. They probably had to be questioned by some authority from a government institution. I am sure they felt incredible chagrin, pain and remorse. We rarely talked about it. I found the french fryer in the basement of the last house my parents lived in. It was a bit jarring and curious that it had traveled with us all these years. I do not remember it being used again.So your Holy the Firm brings me face to face with a forgotten part of myself, which is some of your point here.

When I reread An American Childhood last year, it triggered that strange and oh so familiar spark of limerence. Your vividly bold descriptions of how it feels to be a child opened up a place of longing and recognition. Longing and recognition seem to be the roots of limerence. Limerence fueled my lived experience, made life exciting and miserable, and comodified love for me. You understand the giddy rush when meeting a limerent object. You edify the experience so well! My current situation is one of limited limerence and loads of awareness. I have traded highs and lows/ups and downs for expanding/contracting into a vast and singular Presence. You, too, indicate “enough said” on your website contact information page with a picture of yourself with two bandaids over your mouth!!

Thank you for doing the incredibly difficult work of illuminating The World with a delighted reverence and acerbic whimsy. You are a most wondrous traveling companion!

Full Moon Broadcast May 15 11pm-1am

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:

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

As Waves of Gratitude 2022 Evolves…

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 ibodgwave@gmail.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!

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

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 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:

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!

Waves of Gratitude Broadcast via Radio iBoD

Watercolor by Trudie Kiliru

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 ibodgwave@gmail.com.

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 Kaposis-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.

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.