Week 7: sound art

Dr Charles Martin

Semester 2, 2020

art theory: sound art

can sound be used as a material in art?

wait… isn’t that music?

how can we do this in p5?

synthesisers

Éliane Radigue (b. 1932)

Éliane Radigue in her studio, Paris

c. 1970s

📷 Yves Arman

listen: Trilogie de la Mort

tape

Musique Concrete Research Group (GRM)

François Bayle, Pierre Schaeffer and Bernard Parmegiani at GRM

1972

listen: Études de bruits (1948)

sounds of silence

John Cage (1912-1992)

4’33”

1952

Piano score, three movements

John Cage (1912-1992)

4’33’

1973

watch: Performance in Harvard Square, Cambridge, Massachusetts

sounds around us

John Cage (1912-1992)

Water Walk

1959

Various objects, microphone

watch: performed on US Television show I’ve got a secret (1960)

silent spaces

John Cage (1912-1992)

John Cage in the anechoic chamber

1951

anechoic chamber

sound of art

Michael Asher (b. 1953)

A view of Michael Asher’s installation at Pomona College, looking out toward the street

1970

Pomona College of Art

La Mont Young & Marian Zazeela: _Dream House_ (1969-)

Sound is spatial…

Working with Sound Files

Let’s make some musique concrète.

Take sound files as a raw material

and create an interactive music work.

Let’s look at p5.SoundFile

// assign p5.SoundFile object to variable
shimmer = loadSound("assets/shimmer.wav");

Playback control:

  • .pause() stop playing (and resume later)
  • .resume() un-pause
  • .stop() stop playing.

Composing with SoundFiles

Use the parameters for play to create “notes”:

.play([startTime], [rate], [amp], [cueStart], [duration])

Change parameters:

  • .rate() speed, pitch
  • .jump() change playback position
  • .setLoop() start/stop looping

userStartAudio()

Browsers don’t like tabs to “autoplay” music. If you’re only using sound files, and .play()ing them in setup, some browsers won’t make any sound at all.

p5.sound has a built-in trick to help, a function that starts audio that you can use after an interaction (e.g., clicking in the window):

function mousePressed() {
  userStartAudio();
}

SoundFiles and Envelopes

We can make “notes” out of soundfiles as well…

// in setup...
env = new p5.Envelope();
synthSample.amp(0);
synthSample.setLoop(true);
synthSample.play();
env.setInput(synthSample);
// somewhere else...
env.play();

Recording audio with p5.AudioIn

You can use p5.AudioIn and p5.SoundRecorder to access a microphone.

\\ setup
mic = new p5.AudioIn();
mic.start();
recorder = new p5.SoundRecorder();
recorder.setInput(mic);
soundFile = new p5.SoundFile();
\\ somewhere else...
recorder.record(soundFile);
recorder.stop();

Be very careful with this technique: feedback and unpredictable input are very annoying!

manage the sonic experience for your user

record, generate, project

Janet Cardiff's Audio Walks

Runar Magnusson and Thor Magnusson

SameSameButDifferent v0.2

Custom software

(link)

Brian Eno

Ambient 1: Music for Airports

1978

link

Strike on Stage

Chi-Hsia Lai and Charles Martin

2010

Computer video, graphics, vision, audio

(link), (paper), (performance)

Hélène Vogelsinger

Hélène Vogelsinger

2021

Modular synthesisers

patch notes video

Remember

  • Sound creates atmosphere
  • Sound is spatial
  • Sound drives interaction
  • Sound enhances experience

p5.js can do (almost) everything you could want with sound

To do more look at tone.js or gibber

Dos and Don’ts

  • Do use sound!
  • Don’t just play back mp3 files from the internet.
  • Do think about enhancing the experience.
  • Don’t annoy the user.

further reading/watching

SYNTHESIZE ME: Sasha Frere-Jones on Éliane Radigue

🎥 Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller, Night Walk for Edinburgh (2019)

🎥 Pierre Schaeffer: “etude aux chemins de fer”

🎥 Physicist of Sound | Carsten Nicolai

questions?