What is this all about?

I love music and listen to loads of it, I also like other audio phenomena that are not as easily categorized. I build instruments, both acoustic and electronic, and make music in various forms. This is a place for me to post music and sounds, both my own and others and my thoughts about them.

47 Responses to “What is this all about?”

  1. Rudy Carrera Says:

    Hello;

    You’ve a new reader here. I’m pretty fond of experimental and electronic music, so I’m curious to see what you dig up!

  2. howsthatsound Says:

    Hi Rudy. Welcome!

  3. Fabian Sax Says:

    Hi, this is Fabian from Berlin, Germany.

    I just stumbled across your blog while searching for tips and tricks to create tape loops. I recently started with some small DIY sound projects, like CMOS sounds, old guitar effect pedals and stuff. Heck, i even managed to solder a contact mic! I’m the greatest! ;-)

    Anyway, i just wanted to say that i really enjoy your writings and hope, that you’ll keep on experimenting. Orphane technology bears a lot of inspiration in times when it’s easier to set up a whole recording studio in your mac than to focus on what’s really important – your sound ideas.

    Thanks!

  4. howsthatsound Says:

    Thanks Fabian. I’m glad you enjoy the blog. I have no plans on stopping, and tons more to post when time permits. :) Keep on listening, ‘ll keep making noise!

  5. daniel fishkin Says:

    hey,
    i love reading this blog. i find the experiments you do very inspiring, particularly anything about magnetic tape. i love magnetic tape. are you from philadelphia? i grew up just outside philly, in bala cynwyd. we should collaborate sometime, or just share gear stories. i have built a lot of stuff, too. if you so choose, you can look at my website for descriptions, or my myspace page for new sounds.

    http://myspace.com/dandelionfiction

    sincerely,
    daniel fishkin.

  6. howsthatsound Says:

    daniel, thanks for the kind words. i’ll write you an email and we can talk some shop.

  7. Michael Says:

    I was browsing about and stumbled upon your blog. I think it’s fantastic! I haven’t explored the whole thing yet but you definitely provide some useful information. You must be a very analytical person because your insights are very interesting. I enjoyed your bit on appealing to people who are unfamiliar with “different” music. I completely agree with you that is has to be presented in a certain way.

    It seems to especially make sense, with your friend being interested in circuit bent toys. I’ve found that a person into mainstream music considers experimental music a novelty. I believe that they refuse to accept that the creator of the music was not serious about it and that his only goal is to sort-of “amuse” the listeners. With that said, I believe that your friend has not accepted what he previously hated. I think this because he experimented with toys—toys being objects to play with for sheer amusement and nothing else. Maybe he wouldn’t have done it if it we’re a Casio SK-1. He had no desire to actually record it either so that shows that he could not imagine anyone listening to sound created through such a method as circuit bending. Maybe? Anyways, my coffee got the best of me. If you read this, I apologize because I won’t be able to give you back the time you just lost!

    Anyways, I’ve been making tape loops and I was wondering if you’ve ever tried any other methods of looping aside from the standard tape loop, the chandler, and the mobius. I’ve also been thinking about the possibility of making a tape delay by salvaging old walkmens. What do you think?

  8. Michael Says:

    edit, third line: *”I believe that they refuse to accept that the creator of the music WAS serious about it…”

  9. howsthatsound Says:

    Michael, Good thoughts there. You may be right about my friend, but I’m not certain. He’s selectively open minded for sure.

    I have tried a lot of different forms of tape loops. I even had one that was a long loop between two cassette tapes. It was my first attempt at a tape echo unit. I have some sounds from it posted in one of the tape loop posts (can’t remember which).

    I actually just built a sort of tape delay, I have been waiting to write about it for when I have some audio to share. One mistake I made with mine though was removing the erase head. After a couple passes the input isn’t strong enough to hear over the din. I may try again, but it’s a pretty tedious thing to assemble. we’ll see.

    Good luck with you experiments!

  10. ashley Says:

    Made it here while searching for info for homemade tape echo makin, stayed and read everything from start to finish. This is a wonderful place and I’m pleased to’ve found it. Please don’t stop rappin’.

  11. howsthatsound Says:

    thank you ashley. glad you have enjoyed it so far. i may get busy from time to time, but there are no plans for stopping. in fact i’m backed up about 4 posts right now… will catch up soon. thanks for reading.

  12. geoffrey Says:

    hey buddy,

    man, i can’t even remember how i found this site…i think it had something to do with me doing a search on four-track cassette recorders or something…dude, i gotta tell ya, i’ve been into experimental recording for awhile and thought i was doing some interesting stuff but shit man, i gotta hand it to ya, your imagination and sense of experiment is awesome…i have downloaded your music and am enjoying every minute of it…you have given me new ideas to try out and have fun with…i salute you…you are fearless…keep up the blog man…i enjoy reading and re-reading it while i am at work…
    geoffrey

  13. ET Says:

    thanks a lot for the kind words geoffrey! i am glad you are enjoying it.

  14. Mr. Random Says:

    Hey there,
    I found your blog via a search on 4-track cassette recording, too. I’ve been playing with sounds (‘music’ & ‘noise’) and chance/improv and recording for a number of years, solo & collaborative. Anyway, I love your site and just slapped a link up on my Blog of Randomness.
    cheers,
    Mr. Random
    Eugene, OR

  15. inertia Says:

    I am really enjoying reading your blog.
    I discovered it the other day.
    I particularly enjoyed the homemade instruments and the drone article.
    You touched on something that got me going many years ago, although i have not been back to continue it. It was at a time when I really didn’t know much about music, not that I do now. I took a physics of music course and the prof talked about the fundamental or resonante freqency and that all things had it. He showed us the bridge in Washington that was destroyed by wind blowing over it at a certain speed, that excited the resonant frequency to the point to destruction. That led me to bowing on pieces of metal, beating sticks together etc and observing the not only the fundamental but the rich harmonics. When I walk places I love taping on hand rails for stairs etc…
    I also found, not that it is anything new, that beating on drums in different places on the heads make for different harmonic content. If you listen closely you can hear a drum start to sing that same harmonic way. It is almost a trance state where you listen beyond the fundamental, it made me think that perhaps this is the vehicle to induce such states. This is hard to explain in words and I don’t have posted material on it.

    Thanks for writing you blog. It reminds me to keep going with my own experiments.

    Honestly, I am looking for a way to bring people together who do “this” kind of music.
    My motivation is selfish, in that I need other people to collaborate with on projects like these, otherwise I feel isolated. I get stagnated. With little outlet for the work it seems a bit hedonistic to me. Not what you are doing, what I am doing.
    I find over the years, that I want the interaction with others.
    I would like to find others to work distance collaboration projects.
    So my reply here is twofold. 1, to praise you on your work and thank you for the idea generation. 2, as a call to you or your readers to organize in some way to create projects together. Really – a kind of “can I play too?” sort of thing.
    I think there is room with the idea of distance collaboration to bring in some other wonderful experiments to investigate. I think of the blind track concept you mentioned.
    That would/could be very interesting with others, sending material back and forth.
    Perhaps pre agreeing on some minimal structure.
    Are you interested, or are others interested? Please email me.
    I don’t want to post it here…
    Go to my website if you would like, it is not about this kind of thing but my email is there, there is a link to a few of my pieces on sectionZ. The link is at the bottom. The website is for a free software that I developed.
    Frogive me, I am not trying to self promote that, however, some readers may find it useful, if they use a midi controller to control their daw software. It is also a way to keep my email a little more removed to avoid spam.
    Thanks for all you are doing here, keep it up and let me know if you are interested.
    inertia
    Virginia

  16. howsthatsound Says:

    thanks inertia! glad you like the blog.
    what you say about finding interesting sonic phenomena in everyday objects is dead on. i had been doing that for years, and it actually took me a while to admit to myself that i found that many sounds musical and that i could appreciate (and would like to make) a “music of sounds” that was far different than what most people think of as music.
    one of the things that inspired me to write this blog was my reading of “music, sound and sensation: a modern exposition” by fritz winckel. (you will notice if you ever find the original american edition of the book where i nicked my masthead from) it’s an exhaustive scientific exposition of the acoustic properties that exist with in the physical world and within our ears and minds, and is full of loads really interesting information. i bought it on a whim, and it got me completely obsessed with sounds.
    i know what you mean about the drums. that sweet spot you mention is when the dominant partial of your tapping is the resonant frequency (or a multiple) of the drum shell itself. i love finding that sweet spot (vibrational anti-node for the fundamental mode) in things and hearing all the harmonics come out to play. sometimes i think the difference between people who do and don’t like drone is that the people who don’t, can’t hear overtones… and i find most people don’t actually listen to music (or sound) they only listen for the assembly of recognizable musical themes, so that drone is the absence of “music”.

    as far as collaboration is concerned, i do collaborate quite a bit with my partner in latralmagog. previous to that i did a million projects that went nowhere, until i started this blog. the reason i started, was that i needed an outlet. no record label would ever sign me to do this stuff (you have to go to conservatory and be taught that the truth is imaginary first) and aside from that i had no way to get people to hear it. i also had lots of ideas. not that they were original or groundbreaking, but they were mine and i wanted to talk about them. problem was, no one i knew cared about this stuff… at all. so hence the blog… an instant audience of likeminded folks. for a while posting here was my only motivation to make music, but soon i got so into it, the blog could not keep up with all of my projects.

    i’d encourage you to start your own. it’s not hard. you could have it up and your first post done in a saturday depending how in depth you want to get technologically. i think you’ll be surprised after a while how many likeminded folks come your way.

    the blind recording thing is actually something i have been meaning to do in various forms for a long time. if you started it up, i’d definitely contribute a track. aside from that i personally don’t have a lot of time to organize an online music project. it sounds like fun, i just can’t be the one to do it. maybe if you start your blog it could be about setting up these kinds of loosely composed, mostly improvised, online sound projects! that could actually be really cool.

    i hope something i’ve said here, can help you get to the point where you can stay motivated and start producing some work. remember 1) there’s no reason not to 2) doing something like this for yourself is better than any other leisure activity (tv, games, etc.) 3) once you start a project it is infinitely easier to stay motivated.

    definitely let me know if you start anything up!

    be well

    ps- i don’t mind you putting a link to your site, it is music related and looks damned useful too.

  17. David Morneau Says:

    Nice blog. I found it searching for experimental music blogs. I will definitely be back regularly.

    You may be interested in my blogging/podcast project: http://60×365.com

    Every day for a year I will be composing and posting a new one-minute composition. I began last July and will conclude June 30, 2008…

    I’m posting a link to your blog at my site.

    Good luck
    David

  18. Robert Laszcz Says:

    I hope you don’t mind that I have downloaded “Until I Am Asleep”. I am currently listening to it a second time.

    It’s fabulous.

  19. howsthatsound Says:

    robert, thanks for the kind words. i’m very happy you like it.
    i have no problem with you downloading it. all the things i post are meant to be downloaded and enjoyed as much as you see fit.

  20. james schidlowsky Says:

    Nice idea for a blog! I can’t remember how I stumbled upon it, but anyway, there is definitely plenty of thought-provoking stuff. Over the years, I’ve done my share of radio sounds/interference, prepared guitar, cracked electronics and stuff, and kindof stopped for a while. But lately I have felt the need to create and experiment again, try building some instruments. Lots to explore in the music of sound!

  21. james schidlowsky Says:

    Oh yeah… and I recognized the masthead of this blog right away… the cover of that book caught my eye in a second-hand bookstore a couple of years ago and I bought it.

  22. howsthatsound Says:

    Thanks, I’m glad you like it. It was sort of born out of the feeling that the sounds I was interested in making, would be sounds no one would be interested in releasing. So it’s sort of a way to take my musical life and “publish” it myself, with no regard for style, format, promotion, or economics. It’s been great for me, and it seems some other appreciate it too, which is always cool.

    Yeah, the book cover is what caught my eye initially. I thought anyone who would do an op-art book cover is thinking my way haha. When I actually saw what the book was, my feelings were totally validated. It’s a great book as well, I mean to read it again some time. It’s so detailed, I for sure missed some stuff I’ll benefit from with another read.

  23. shadows Says:

    I love this blog. I completely forgot how I found this but I have loved it ever since. I was reading one of your later articles and on it you mentioned that you added pitch control to your walkman and that you could do a demo. If you could that would be awesome. I hope it’s not to much. Thanks!

  24. howsthatsound Says:

    hey shadows, thanks for the compliments. i’m glad you’re enjoying the blog. i can certainly do a demo on pitch modding walkmen. i can’t guarantee when i will be able to get it together, but i will make an effort to get it done by next week. i have been wanting to do it for a while, and i think it could be useful to many experimental sound makers and improvisors, especially if they also happen to have a four-track recorder. :)

  25. Given Willingly Says:

    Hey there, I found your page through a lot of links and I really dig your stuff. I’m an experimental musician and would love to sample some of your sounds. Would be cool if you could somehow let me know if that’s okay.

    Contact:
    myspace.com/Givenwillingly
    tofuhead@gmx.de

  26. howsthatsound Says:

    Thanks! Glad you are enjoying the blog.
    I put all this audio up here, knowing full well, that anyone who wanted to could just take what I’ve done, use it right out, or modify it, and claim it as their own. I’d rather people were honest about their sampling practices for sure, so thank you for being up-front and asking permission.
    If you (or anyone) would like to use some of the sounds, feel free. I just ask that you ask first (thanks again) and if you distribute anything based samples of my work, that you give me credit, and a link to this blog. And I’d really appreciate if you would let me hear/see what you do, if you do so, as it would be fun for me personally to see what you create. If you have any more questions, feel free to contact me: ethantripp{AT}gmail{DOT}com

    Thanks again for visiting and be well.

  27. Lemon Mahler Says:

    Despite all I’ve written about music
    All my theorising and rationalisation
    My disgust of redundancy
    Born from listening to an unnatural
    Amount of music in my insignificant lifetime:
    It still moves me to the core
    When I hear an artist
    As Inventive as you.

    Thanks.

  28. howsthatsound Says:

    wow! thanks for the kind words lemon.

  29. Dalton Says:

    Hey, Ive really been meaning to contact you.
    Everyone does things without asking and I just can’t.
    Is it possible for me to use any of your sound bits as samples / loops and rework them?
    if not I totally understand.
    Anything I make would be released on creative commons and credit will be given.
    I have no intention of taking any major sounds just background greatness.

    Much love! great work!
    Dalton

  30. howsthatsound Says:

    Dalton, glad you enjoy the sounds! You are free to use them as you outline above.
    Thanks for the kind words.

  31. Donovan Says:

    Hi–

    I’m getting really interested in tape myself. I am pre-amateur when it comes to electronic things, but I think music is a good gateway to learning. What I’m really interested in is modding my tape deck with variable speed. I see that you have done this and wonder if you have any how-to instructions or tips–anyplace you might have me reference?

  32. Geordie Haley Says:

    wonderful sounds and ideas promoted in a most sharing way ! thanks .if you have time please check out earthshiop and dkastruckshin on me myspace page,two examples of my prepared tele ! all the best yers geo

  33. coldstreamonline Says:

    hi,
    really likeing the stuff on your blog. you may be interested in my blog

    http://www.coldstreammusic.wordpress.com

    includes a regular podcast – a mix of experimental music mixed with field recordings and music created by myself

  34. erm Says:

    hi,
    just now finally getting around to checking out your blog. i got caught up for a while reading the comments in this thread and am now going to read some of the recent posts. hope you’re well.
    ~erm

  35. Louigi Verona Says:

    Hey!
    Stumbled upon your blog when looking for a pic of a tape loop…

    Seeing that you are interested in all sorts of acoustic and electronic instruments, I would like to interest you in a software instrument I am developing. It is already very well made and can be used to compose music.

    The app takes a simple and wonderful concept of tape loops, letting you play a sound either in a loop or once. By firing up several instances of the app, you are able to produce a complex piece of music on the fly. While it was started as a tool for a live performance, I find it to be extremely inspiring for composing and experimenting with sound.

    However, I would love to share this with someone who might also be interested and such people are difficult to find. See if you are interested! The software and demos of how it works are on my site here:

    http://www.louigiverona.ru/?page=projects&s=software&t=tapeloops

  36. MIKE HANSEN Says:

    thank you for a really interesting sight. Other people think I am crazy when I tell them stuff like this exists. I love your stuff. Just a few observations.

    Ever notice sometimes when you find any old reel-to-reel tape recorders. they were usually used to record house parties of grown ups, business meetings in a house, or a grown up social gathering’s?

    Here is something that caught my eye that I would like to explore: I live in San Jose California. There are 2 cable tv stations devoted to educational programming, usually to the 2 junior colleges. You cant get a schedule, nor can you get a comprehensive one on the college webpages.

    For some reason, they broadcast a lot of NASA footage from Florida. it goes on for a long time. In Florida, when they are not sending crews into space and reporting it, they seem to do a lot of things…not sure if it is an official lift off, but you see footage of people inside the shuttle floating around, doing things, fixing things, but…

    Usually the scenes that you see are long one camera shots of (Stationary camera) of the people at there computers, looking out for the shuttle and what is happening (far away), maybe the inside of the shuttle with hardly anything moving, and sometimes the outside of the ship.

    Sometimes there is transmissions. For long periods of time, there is much silence. When there is transmission, the fidelity of the voices are different. Sometimes there like the “APOLLO 11″ static, sometimes they are very clear, sometimes 2 different transmissions at once, different sound quality, sometimes there is very interesting extrainious noises.

    This can be interesting. So on a lark, one night, I grabbed a recording tape, my battery powered voice activated taperecorder, a headphone jack on each end radio shack type thing (you know), and hooked it up to the headphone jack on my television, set the levels, and whenever somebody spoke, the tape would turn on.

    Very Interesting stuff.

  37. howsthatsound Says:

    thanks for the kind words mike!
    that’s a great story. i love stuff like that. i used to use a voice activated recorder to record sounds in my house and in my backyard when i wasn’t home. mostly i would get passing airplanes, but occasionally i would get completely inexplicable sounds. once i got a voice very near my recorder and some shuffling around. my back yeard at the time had a seven foot tall fence around it. that freaked me out a bit, but it was very exciting to listen to.

    i have been meaning to do some recordings of silences and incidental sounds from films. i’m always noticing these amazing clusters of unintentional sounds when i’m watching tv. ha.

  38. arraymusic Says:

    That iPhone noise study is fascinating, many thanks!

    I will link to your blog

    Take a look around mine if you’ve got a bit of time:

    http://arraymusic.wordpress.com

    thanks,

    Massimo

  39. arraymusic Says:

    I should also say hello from Brisbane, Australia, by the way

  40. howsthatsound Says:

    Massimo, thanks for stopping by. Glad you enjoyed the iPhone study.
    I have been meaning to check out what you’ve been up to, as I’ve seen interesting reviews here and there.

    I will have a look when I have some time. You’ve got a lot of music on your site! :)

  41. yannis Says:

    Hi there, i do have some helping questions for walkman bending -tele- what’s your email ?
    Keep it up / great site

    Yannis

  42. jez stevens Says:

    hi howsthatsound

    I’m looking forward to reading more of your experiments and listening to your snippets. I put on a DIY/noise/electronics night in Portsmouth UK – I’m sure colleagues will be very pleased to read of your exploits. Keep up the good work!

    Jez

  43. drawastraightline Says:

    Hello,

    I read your blog with great interest. You have a pleasant style to share your thoughts through writing.

    I´m student of sound design in germany. At the moment I´m working on my Bachelor-Project which is a sketch for a book about experimental music. My goal is to present ideas in a simplified form and to animate the reader to try things out on their own. Some of the topics are for example: Free Improvisation, working with contact mics, live looping, preparations on instruments ect…

    I wondered if you would like to answer me a few questions via mail. This would then be integrated as a little interview in my book. If you have interest, please write me a mail.

    Best regards
    Claudius

  44. Lewis Says:

    I found this site while researching the “Phin” As I have lived in thailand for many years and do speak Thai, my reading and writing skills need a lot of work.
    I am also desperate to make my own Phin. I am not able to go to thailand for some time, but, like you I love to make things (like this) and am quite talented if I do say so myself.

    BTW I do know the proper tuning of all 3 strings (open position). but I’m lost as to fret placement. The picture of the phin in the page you want translated is very unclear. There are measurements there.
    I would love to collaborate with you on this if you would allow me. I am a classically trained musician including all the conservatory theory exams. I have branched out in recent years to keyboards (MIDI) and guitar. So I do have some knowledge to offer. Thanks, that’s about it except to say you have a terrific blog.

  45. Kristian Day Says:

    Hello, I just had an album released on microcassette through the dicta fawn label. I would like to submit for review. I can send the actual tape or I have it up at my band camp page: http://kristianday.bandcamp.com . Its called Greenwood Park. Mastered in mono :)

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