Suggested reading



this just arrived, will report back…


cool. will be checking him out at unsound krakow this year. should be good!


laraaji has been in heavy rotation at the monome workshop lately. opens this mix:


the unicorns in paradise cassette has been on loop in my van for the last month. essence/universe gets played almost daily.




I’ve been reading Curtis Roads’ “Composing Electronic Music: A New Aesthetic” for the last while

I think it’s pretty great. It’s basically an opinionated survey of almost everything to do with electronic music composition and techniques. I’ve never really seriously studied music composition or electronic music so it’s probably stuff a lot of people who have would already know, but I feel like I’m learning something new and interesting every chapter.


“On The Way To The Peak Of Modular: Bobby Barry On Synth Overload”


I’ll definitely have a look at this. I’m a big fan Of Roads’ Microsound book

Really got me to think about sound in a different way.


That one is next on my list. I’ve never really dabbled in any microsound or sampling of any kind, only synthesis.


Something tells me they got the description wrong here…


Laurie Spiegel. That was then, this is now. CMJ 1996


Commonly Assumed Then:

The user and toolmaker are usually the same person. If not, they almost certainly know and work closely with each other.

Diversity and individuality are essential to the methods as well as the results of artistic processes.

These technologies consist of hand-created tools bearing the creative stamps of their makers’ individual personalities, identities, values, methods, and goals.

It is normal to experience adverse reactions from others not involved in this work, and for one’s work to be controversial, often engendering much discussion and thought.

Creative arts require tools designed with awareness that the primary need of most users is to be able to create completely unique works in completely personal ways. The most standard practice is that every user must do things differently from every other.

It’s amazing that we’ve been able to get computers to do this and how rapidly the technology is evolving.

Computer music people are typically not just multispecialists but generalists, seeking knowledge and understanding as well as new capabilities and materials.

Tools, techniques, and information for doing music with computers should be available to everyone who wants to try.

Figuring out how my computer can do music, technically, is how I can do music the way I want to.


I adore the NIME proceedings. I lost spent months this summer reading paper after paper after paper from this website.


susan sontag on silence:


[Academic music] is music that you can explain, and I find that my music is not always explainable, or “makes sense.” It is more playful


Just got around reading the Spiegel article. That “Commonly Assumed Then” bit is pure gold.


Cracked Media is a nice overview of how the sound of malfunction has been incorporated as something desired, from prepared instruments to glitching cds. A nice read.


I can vouch for this too. Some of it is a bit dry/academic, but other parts are really good.

(though I wish it was shaped more like a regular book instead of a hard to read square hardback nugget)


Really comprehensive summary/introduction to DSP with nice visualizations. Very helpful in grad school at the moment :slight_smile:


A New York Times article: “Dear Architects: Sound Matters.” It concerns the qualitative information and emotional sway architectural sound has on us all.

"Nearly half a century ago, the critic Reyner Banham wrote “Architecture of the Well-Tempered Environment,” in which he meditated on how heat, air, light and materials create habitats that variously influence our experience of buildings. He stressed the fact that such environmental considerations should be “naturally subsumed into the normal working methods of the architect.”

To Banham’s list can be added sound. We talk admiringly about green or energy-efficient buildings, with roof gardens, cross-ventilation and stairways that encourage residents to walk, because good design can aspire to improve public health. But we don’t talk nearly enough about how sound in these buildings, and in all the other spaces we design, make us feel.

Acoustics can act in deep, visceral ways, not unlike music (think of the sound of an empty house). And while it’s sometimes hard to pin down exactly how, there is often a correlation between the function of a place or an object and the sound we expect it to make.

So an expensive, solid wood door sounds better than an inexpensive hollow one, partly because its heavy clunk reassures us that the door is a true barrier, corresponding to the task it serves."

It’s also highly relevant to our instruments. Our sound makers also make sounds not separate from but in unison with those they’re intended to make. The sounds they make can reinforce qualitative merits and strengthen our affection for them: the satisfying muted click of the Push 2 buttons; the warm, muffled physicality of a piano’s wood, felt and tempered steel in an interplay hidden from view. The sounds they make can also further highlight unconsidered, poor design and mar our affection for them: the comically resonant (and cheap) buttons and keybed on Elektrons and the Moog Sub 37, respectively, turning them into a new sort of drum machine.

It’s worth contrasting how attentive to sound Apple is. When designing their mouse, they didn’t like the frictional sound it created when moved across the table. So they reconsidered materials and geometry to create a frictional timbre that embodied the qualitative traits and emotional meaning they desired.

Perhaps not coincidentally, the instrument makers most manifestly embracing and exalting design, Ableton, Teenage Engineering and Monome, also make instruments that sound palpably great for the player, not just the audience. These sounds don’t make it onto recordings, but they are an inherent part of our relationship with the instrument. We always hear it even if no one else does.


On how disruption, frustration and the unfamiliar can be a powerful stimulus to creativity. Both videos are the same—the former can link you to the TED page and the latter plays in HTML5 instead of Flash.