ASAC Presents The Great Snowball Tour

The Albany Sonic Arts Collective (ASAC) is bringing Jack Wright (saxophones) and Andrea Neumann (innenklavier) to the Capital District on Saturday Feb. 16 at The Upstate Artists Guild, 247 Lark St. Local musician Michael Bullock (contrabass) will appear with Jack and Andrea. Also on the bill are locals Alex Chechile (guitar) and Jefferson Pitcher (guitar). Complete info here.

LEMUR ReSiDeNts for February Announced

I’m pleased to have been chosen for a residency at LEMUR in Brooklyn for the month of February. Other artists-in-residence include Zach Layton and Max Lord. We’ll be presenting our work at the end of the month. Look for more information soon. The official announcement is below.

February ReSiDeNts Announced

We are happy to announce our second group of ReSiDeNts, who will be creating new works at LEMUR in February:

Holland Hopson is a composer, improviser, and electronic artist. Holland will bring Old-Time Appalachia to the League of Electronic Musical Urban Robots by creating new pieces for the LEMURbots and Tru One, his clawhammer banjo/sensor interface.

Zach Layton is a composer, improviser, curator and new media artist based in new york with an interest in biofeedback, generative algorithms, experimental music, biomimicry and contemporary architectural practice. His work investigates complex relationships and topologies created through the interaction of simple core elements like sine waves, minimal surfaces and kinetic visual patterns. He is planning to create a new work for guitar, sax, drums plus robots. The piece will be composed using an open score format encouraging improvisation among the human players and neural network software to encourage improvisation among the robots.

Max Lord is a percussionist who will be writing a new piece for the LEMUR robots in collaboration with NYC-based choreographer Ellen Godena. The score will integrate a live performance on the Marimba Lumina with robot percussion and spontaneous robot-inspired movement.

Artists from all performing and installation disciplines are encouraged to apply to ReSiDeNt, including musicians, composers, dancers, choreographers, video artists, interactive installation artists, performance artists, multimedia artists and others. To learn about applying to ReSiDeNt, visit Deadlines are rolling, with March submissions accepted until February 18th.

Cotton-Eyed Joe

The Allmusic blog has an appreciation of sorts for the enduring fiddle-tune cotton-eyed joe. Read it here. The article states: “Legend has it that Cotton-Eyed Joe was a pre-Civil War slave musician whose tragic life turned his hair white and was famous for playing a fiddle made from the coffin of his diseased son.” Wow! Never heard that before, but it’s a darn good story. Somehow more plausible to me is the claim that “…Cotton-Eyed Joe isn’t a person at all but the name of a specific non-partner spoke-line dance and that one doesn’t meet Cotton-Eyed Joe, one does the Cotton-Eyed Joe.” In this case, the lines “Where did you come from / where did you go?” could quite literally refer to a dance partner.

Who do I think Cotton-Eyed Joe might have been/might still be?

  • a Joe with unusually white eyes, of course
  • a Joe with starry eyes
  • a Joe who had picked cotton so long that his hands were cut and his eyes were bleary
  • a Joe hardened from a hard-scrabble existence, yet nevertheless has soft, kind eyes

One aspect of the lyrics that I enjoy is the idea that Cotton-Eyed Joe steals your love away. And as in so many old-time tunes, stealing your love could either mean stealing your heart or it could mean stealing the person who you love or, somehow, both. “I’d a been married a long time ago if it hadn’t a been for Cotton-Eyed Joe.”

What I Did 20 Years Ago: Biodegradable

David Baird of Peer Pressure Productions has posted every issue of Biodegradable, a zine I helped publish 20 years ago. Get them here. Biodegradable is a window into skate punk culture of Huntsville AL circa 1988, with reports of the hottest skate spots and reviews of albums (that’s what they were back then) from iconic bands such as Jodie Foster’s Army, Suicidal Tendencies, Dead Milkmen, 7 Seconds, and Fugazi. But there’s more than late-80’s skate culture. There’s also plenty of teenage angst in the form of blood and gore drawings (vol. 1 iss. 3) and what was then a kick-ass literature section. I kid you not! Poetry was on everyone’s mind back then, it seems. We even managed to squeeze in a review of the Kronos Quartet! Other not-to-be-missed highlights include an interview with the Sex Clark Five (vol. 1 iss. 4) and the Mail Art sections in later issues. Twenty years from now I’ll be digging out posts from the Field Guide and waxing nostalgic…or blushing…

Max with a Lisp

Brad Garton has just released an updated Lisp interpreter that runs inside MaxMSP. More info here. Brad seems to be on a mission to make MaxMSP a veritable music operating system in its own right: Lisp, Chuck, RTcmix…

Checking out the Lisp object reminded me of my first forays into algorithmic composition and just how fun it can be to create work using simple processes. And how hard it can be to create compelling work that way!

Garton’s lisp object also gave me an excuse to pull out my copy of The Little LISPer. The book is an excellent example of learning by doing. After a brief introduction, the reader is asked to interpret LISP commands of increasing complexity and guided by a simple process of inquiry. There are no dry explanations only concrete examples. It’s made a lasting impression on my ideas of teaching and learning. Comparable to learning/teaching/performing Zorn’s Cobra–you do it, and then you know it.

Transformer di Robot…er?…er?…

I finally got around to posting audio examples for some bent electronics projects over on the main (static? abandoned?) site (find them here and here). And I thought I’d share this 2:50 hit single I uncovered in the process.



This is a single take from a circuit bent voice transformer. I’ve written catchier tunes, to be sure, but I doubt I’ll ever get more techno than this. I can’t wait for the extended dance mix, the mashup and the celebrity DJ remix!

Sub-Antarctic Audio

The Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research is now streaming the sounds of the underwater antarctic soundscape as captured by 4 hydrophones. I’ve tuned in and heard gorgeous swooping tones, shimmery drones, and staticky clicks. The stream seems a bit unstable at times, but definitely worth checking out.

Mp3 stream

Ogg stream – better quality

More info