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

You cannot fold a Flood- And put it in a Drawer

bottom over top                                                                                                                                    reaching for the other side                                                                                                                              a fold will occur

the fold will happen                                                                                                                                          the containment – unlikely                                                                                                                    Emily, you know!

Glenna Batson put forth this idea of exploring the fold as it pertains to moving bodies. I was intrigued by the various qualities of a fold and how these qualities could be rendered in sound. Sound is a wave, which has the movement of folding, the curving back toward self that starts a fold. The rising and falling in an arc, that is the trajectory of a fold, can be rendered in the rising and falling of pitches. Voices and phrases can overlap just as half the sheet lays over the other half when folding laundry. This can be sonically rendered with staggered phrases or long reverb tails. Then there are types of audio filters that pull frequencies out of the spectra, creating folds. And the acoustics of the room create patterns of sound wave reflections that interfer with each other to create “comb filtering” – literal, periodic folds in the frequency spectra. I explored all of these sound folding techniques during the first three Human Origami workshops that Glenna and I offered.

This is what I have learned so far.

While “comb filtering” is considered less desirable by audio engineers, as a sound folding technique, it works. I measured the effect in the first workshop at The Carrack Modern Art Gallery. Positioning a speaker directly at the windows created strong early reflections, which generated visible comb-filtering in the recording. The workshop participants might not identify the phenomenon, but they did come in contact with it. Given the behavior of sound waves, I trust that comb-filtering will happen and do not worry about creating it.

Rising and falling, overlapping, and reaching back (all actions associated with folds) can be orchestrated musically. One technique used to create “reaching back” is to feature overtone harmonics. By this I mean, playing the interval notes to a fundamental tone in the octave in which they naturally occur in the harmonic overtone series for that tone. For example, the first harmonic in a series is the octave above the fundamental, now we are in the second octave above the fundamental where we hear a fifth then the next octave tone. In the third octave we hear the third, fifth and flatted seventh. The fourth octave layers in the second and the raised fourth and the sixth. Normally when these intervals are played over one or two octaves they are heard as chords. Articulating them in their natural harmonic series “home” octave creates a harmonic reach over multiple octaves, and a fold back in reference to the fundamental tone. An example of this technique from the Folding/Unfolding Soundscape:

Here is an illustration of the harmonic series for the fundamental tone C – you can follow the notes up to see that the familiar intervals of the Solfege scale mostly play out over the four octaves above the fundamental note.

image

As you can hear in the example, stretching across multiple octaves creates a spacious reach into very high frequencies which refer back to the fundamental tone, thus creating a sonic fold.

Rising and falling is orchestrated through pitch relationships moving up and down a scale. To my ear, the feeling of the fold is greater in less resolved intervals – thus using the fourth or sixth interval as the turn around note in the rising and falling line has a stronger sense of folding. Duration of tones in the run and their rhythmic relationships allow for a vast pool of material to be used in a folding soundscape. Stagger these lines in relation to each other and you have overlap – another aspect of a fold. Using these orchestration concepts, the folding soundscape was born.

After creating and playing folds in a soundscape for many months, I noticed two fold forms emerging from the mix. One was an echo, where the sound comes back on itself like two halves of a folded sheet. (The echo is heard in both audio examples in this post) Another fold form is the spiral, where the feeling of the sonic movement is this perpetual reaching towards the fold, but never completing it. This fold is clearly illustrated in the TRIC* samples used in the last Human Origami workshop. You will hear a spinning quality in the music that comes from a pulse rather than a downbeat. Here is an example with many layers of spiral folds. This is rather long (nearly nine minutes), and I think you will benefit from listening to the entire movement. Be sure to listen from 7:30 to the end. Great example of the spiral fold:


As we’ve continued on this investigative journey into Human and Audio Origami, each workshop participant has engaged with the soundscape, with Glenna’s keen guidance, with paper/fabric, with the cells of their own bodies in wholly different ways. All our relations are brought to the table, as bodies wrest back control from the mind in order to create space for being. Folding requires an inward turning that is a missing link in the lives of many. I invite you all to join us. I will keep you posted as to our next offering.

*Here I am using Terry Riley’s In C as a package of notated samples with the composer’s permission.

the idiosyncratic beats of dejacusse@ Open Eye Cafe, Saturday, Feb 7

I am excited about an opportunity to play soundscape in a coffee shop in Carrboro NC next Saturday night. TJ Goode and empty sound were scheduled to play at the Open Eye Cafe on February 7th, and I was going! Then TJ said they couldn’t do it and did I want to? And I said “yes” because Rob Brezsny’s Leo horoscope said to “do things before you are ready”. I let the day seize me! Once I committed, I am up at 4 am working on ideas in Ableton Live. I have three hours to play, so I want to do something languid and calming with an underlying energy. I am really thinking about a sound painting that will evolve over time. And I know exactly what I want to play.

In the early 1980s one album, one sound held me rapt in wonder and that was the album Caverna Magica. Andreas Vollenweider’s whimsical, sensual, joyful journey deep into a magic cave was a whole world to me. Furtive and fun, Caverna Magica
begins with two people whispering and laughing as they enter a sea cave where you hear the bloup, bloup, bloup of water. This is a moist place. I want to play with a soundscape reminiscent of Vollenweider and Caverna Magica.

Luckliy, I have started a Live Set of Vollenweider sounds, including two mallets, one percussion, two chimes, some absolutely beautiful strings, and that plucked samisen that I love so much. There is alot to play with here. I have some simple themes in D Dorian mode and I can vocalize and play the bowed psaltry as well. I have written several solos for the mallets and strings that I am finding very heart-wrending. The pleasure of longing returns. Here is a sample of the strings and the samisen with a little bass and tweaked high-hat:

Suzanne Romey is going to play flute and toy piano with me. She has a new Balinese flute that she is wanting to try. So if you are in Carrboro Saturday night, stop by and give us a listen. We will be painting the room with sound.

8 pm to 11 pm

Open Eye Cafe
openeyecafe.com/
Carrboro, NC

New Year, New Sounds, New Ideas

2015 ushers in a burst of creative energy with many potential collaborations hang-gliding out there, and lots of time and space in the studio. Trudie gave me an Ableton Live upgrade, so I am now using Ableton 9. Excited to explore all the new features and hear how much more expansive the audio field is in the latest upgrade. I have only upgraded twice, but each time the Ableton Team has improved the functionality and expressiveness of the software by building on the strengths of previous versions. Upgrading always makes me nervous especially when I am perfectly happy with what I am using, so it was very satisfying to jump right into Ableton 9 and be delighted with the sound immediately. The upgrade includes new instruments and samples. (I don’t use the loop libraries as I prefer to make my own loops.) Much to explore and learn as I convert all my projects over to the new platform. Plus I am taking a Coursera course on Ableton Basics through Berkeley School of Music in February. That will be helpful as the instruction will be based in the new version. It will be like a four week tutorial!

Trudie and I are committing to spending time in our studios everyday. We identified “home” as a topic we both want to explore in our art. We have had several hours of discussion about different ways of relating the idea of “home”. I keep wanting to cover home up, obscure it so that everything that home contains is set free. I started with trying to cut the fundamental tone out of the recorded wave form leaving only shimmering harmonics. (“real” sound engineers would be laughing very hard right now) I thought,”If I can cut off the attack, I can erase the fundamental tone.” But, no! Where EVER the sound begins is the attack, so a fundamental tone is always present. The tone is like an earthworm in reverse, you cut off it’s front and it makes a new front.

So I decided to back into exploring “home” by working on “New Music 4Trude” since she is a big part of what is “home” to me.This piece came about because we have seen two really fine versions of the musical, Ragtime, and Trudie loves the song “New Music”, which is about how the new music of ragtime touched and connected people. When I think of ragtime, I think of a one-two rocking feel and a simple, cheerful melody. Yesterday we listened to the song and I asked her what she liked about it. She said it made her feel like dancing. I can’t really feel a dance beat in it except for gentle rocking. I will study this song more deeply.

Right now there is SO MUCH information coming to us from the Universe/the Divine WoW/ God. Everyday I receive a new understanding about myself and my beliefs/perceptions and how we shape the world together. In meditation the challenge has been identified as feeling warm and loving heart connection with people who I do not feel love me back. You know how easy it is to love someone who is looking at you, seeing you, loving you. The heady out-of-this-world feeling of a deep and special connection with another. The kind of feeling that makes you feel impatient, bored and disdainful of having to spend time with those who are NOT the beloved. After years of chasing this felt ideal and withholding myself from anything (I perceived to be) less, I have woken up to the here and now. I WANT to be FULLY present to love in this space and time. I WANT to deeply connect with and SEE others as much as I want to be seen and connected with.

I believe this may be the path toward home.