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!

Where the Path Takes Me

Our Waking Lives sometimes flow and sometimes glitch with the main point being “don’t mind whatever happens”. My personal practice is to turn the “oh,no!” into a “aha, what’s this now?” Easy to do sometimes, other times not so much. Immersed in feelings of failure, I sometimes need a few weeks to make that turn-around.

And so it goes in the world of Jude’s Soundlings. Everything is in transition, some stuff is shiny and new, other is old and (semi)reliable! New like the Behringer Neutron with the Make Noise O-Control as sequencer modulator routed through good ole Ableton as harmonics flinger. I am learning so much: I made a filter sweep and some kind of Heinz 57/Swiss Army Knife rack I put together. Got both the FX racks midi mapped to my Novation Launch Control. This is soooo cool! The harmonics shatter, shimmer, echo, melt, propogate and obscure each other.

Sometimes the harmonics from source audio get caught within the Effects Channels. The source stops, but the soundscape lingers on. I was taken aback at first when this happened. Stopping the Source audio track did not stop the sound!? Sonic material continued pulsating in the active FX tracks, so I rerouted other FX Channels to pick up audio from the channel that was pulsating. This sound went on for one to two minutes, while I passed it around through different AAC tracks. Several times I couldn’t figure out how to stop it and had to turn it all down and close the project. I enjoy this mystery and remain curious: recently read something about midi feedback loops! Perhaps that was where we were caught! And they can definitely be played!!

After 8 years of creating electronic soundscapes in Ableton Live using electronic instruments, I have learned a lot about sculpting sound! I enjoy the process of creating the movement of sounds around and through space. Ableton is a wonderful mixing environment. Their plugins are maleable enough without getting into writing program. Now is the time for an expansion! I am hearing a lush carpet of sound in highly structured harmonic streams.

Currently the final analysis of the data for the Sourdough Project is poised to happen. Up to now, my approach to data sonification has involved pitch class to designate the presence of something and amplitude to demonstrate the magnitude of that something. Pretty basic, but it worked for the Baby Lemur Biome Song. (https://wp.me/p5yJTY-tD) The Sourdough data is more demanding, and may involve conceptual frameworks based on the data in contrast to using numerical data to specify the sound. Here is the link to work I did with some of the Sourdough Project data using my pitch/amplitude method. (https://wp.me/p5yJTY-yN) In this example, the yeast growth can be heard as a sequence of steps illustrating rapid or gradual growth during each 12 hour period. These two sonifications have captured presence, magnitude and growth within time frames. As I study the Sourdough data, these three methods for sonic capture need to be brought together as interactions that change/modulate/meld over time to create Sourdough ecology, which begins with water and flour and ends in smell/taste/feel of the bread itself.

Feeling a bit stuck here at the moment. Must be time to play!!

The Law of the Octave

To form an octave is to double or halve a given frequency.                                                                                                                             The Cosmic Octave    Cousto    

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When asked what one piece of information represented the most important knowledge humans possess, Richard Feynman, the remarkable mathemetician/physicist, replied:

Everything is made of atoms.

Indeed! What an amazing discovery! While the atomic structure and molecular composition vary from one object to the next, from one human to the next, from one star to the next, still – Everything is made of atoms!

But wait! There is more! Atoms are comprised of electrons that orbit a nucleus. And atoms are primarily “empty” space. Yet this moving, spacious world of Everything appears to human beings as material form. Even our earth suits have an animate integrity. What holds all of this together?  Within these “building blocks” lies a deeper cohesion, a durational measurement, a simple, but pervasive infrastructure for all of Creation – the oscillation.

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An initiating gesture, rising to a peak, falling past the midline to trough, and rising back to the midline beginning – motion across/around a central axis – a cycle, one complete oscillation.  (The actual measurement is from peak to peak = one cycle) Put a bunch of oscillations together in a periodic sequence, and you have frequency. Frequencies, along with resonance, consonance, dissonance, hold the world together AND move us through our experiences. While our reality appears solid and stable, it is actually in constant flux driven by frequency oscillations. Oscillations are the pervasive movement pattern that weaves together what we call “reality”. From the quantum, to the electromagnetic, to the world of form, all of existence is waving at and through us. If this is true, then frequency is a portal into and through all of existence. And this portal is accessible and useful due to the Law of the Octave.

A vibrational frequency is known through a measurement called hertz. Hertz expresses the number of oscillations per second. One oscillation per second is 1 Hz, twenty-five oscillations per second is 25 Hz, and so on. Vibrational frequencies reveal the world to us through our senses. Everything we hear, vibrates at 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz, which is the audible spectrum. Everything we see is vibrating between 400 Trillion Hz and 750 Trillion Hz, which is the visible spectrum of the electro-magnetic field.  The entire electro-magnetic field is a vibrational gift basket of frequency bandwidths that give us telegraph, radio, television, mobile phones, internet, and the electricity to power it all. And then when we go deep into the building blocks of matter, what do we get? – more oscillations.

According to the Law of the Octave – every frequency is entangled with its half and its double. Any known frequency can be calibrated as an audible frequency or visual frequency or x-ray frequency, simply by  dividing higher frequencies by 2 and multiplying lower frequencies by 2. In the book The Cosmic Octave, Hans Cousto argues that the octave is a unit of measurement that can be useful in understanding and working with our very existence.  Using a simple mathematical formula, Cousto converts all manner of measureable phenomenon to audible tones.

The audible frequency range demonstrates clearly how The Law of Octave works. A frequency of 440 Hz is the infamous Concert A- multiply 440 x 2 and 880 is also an A tone. The frequency is higher, denser, more oscillations per second, but it is the same expression as the 440 – it also is an A. Divide 440 by 2 and you have 220 Hz – also an expression of an A note. This suggests a repetitive pattern that is renewed each time it doubles or halves. This is a moment of return, an opportunity to begin again. I am wondering about The Law of the Octave as a jumping off point in the design of all kinds of fractals (mostly sound fractals).

And this is just the beginning, as there are other factors informing my fractal understanding, including Nature’s Chord, the Golden Mean, and Fibonacci numbers.

For now, The Law of the Octave and its relationship to the movements of the Universe are enough to ponder.