"Most films of nuclear explosions are dubbed. If they do contain an actual recording of the test blast itself.........it's almost always shifted in time so that the explosion and the sound of the blast wave are simultaneous. This is, of course, quite false: the speed of light is much faster than the speed of sound....." Unearthed recently from some Russian archive, this document of a nuclear detonation is one of the few films of its kind that includes a recording of the audio. The sound is not what you might expect.
Any parent of a young child will have experienced the ignominy of reaching a page in a picture-book featuring a giraffe and being ignorant of the appropriate sound with which to impersonate said animal. Here is that sound
Killing Them Softly - Trailer(Youtube) - is based on a 1978 novel by George V. Higgins (Boston's Balzac), set in Boston. The movie was filmed in New Orleans and set in 2008. [more inside]
'It's probably easy today to dismiss Negativland's activities as trifle, banal or plain stupid. They probably wouldn't be too uncomfortable with that, as they rarely claimed to go beyond the softest platitudes of the entertainment biz. No Other Possibility (1989, 58 mins, .avi d/l link), their first video work, showcases the band at a career threshold, before their U2ploitation move and just after their Christianity hoax. It typically explores the debris of American pop culture, dealing with automobile fetishism, televised preaching, halloween traditions, Marlboro masculinity, soft drinks and MTV.' [more inside]
Historically, archaeologists have largely ignored acoustical science as a tool for archaeological discovery. This is changing with the advent of acoustic archaeology. “Could the Maya have intentionally coded the sound of their sacred bird into the pyramid architecture? I think it is possible.” Hear it for yourself in this video. While this is a pretty astounding feat of architectural engineering, it’s by no means the only example of archaeoacoustics that can be found at Chichen Itza, amongst the mayan people, or throughout the many other cultures who’ve built structures that integrate unique auditory phenomenon to stimulate the senses. [previously]/[previously] [more inside]
Two elements: tempo and volume. Researchers at the Sundance Research Facility have finally discovered how to turn sound into matter.
Nick Cave's Soundsuits: Calling up echoes of wild beasts, Carnival dancers, maskers and shamans, the "soundsuits" made of a wild diversity of materials by visual artist and dancer Nick Cave have life beyond the gallery. They're designed to be used in performances and 'invasions,' creating a sense of mystery, playfulness and joyful moments of community.
Director and/or star of many of the greatest films ever made including The Great Dictator (2:05:16) [Globe scene and the eternally goosebump providing Final speech], The Immigrant (20:01), The Gold Rush (1:11:49), City Lights (1:22:40), Modern Times (1:27:01), and Monsieur Verdoux (1:59:03), Charlie Chaplin's movies have entered the public domain in most countries. Below the fold is an annotated list of all 82 of his official short and feature films in chronological order, as well as several more, with links to where you can watch them; it's not like you had work to do right? [more inside]
Exploring the audible world:
- How Music Works: Melody, Rhythm, Harmony and Bass. (3 hr. UK Channel 4 documentary).
- The Macaulay Library, the world's largest and oldest library of nature recordings.
- The creative process of industrial sound design and 11 sounds threatened with extinction. The technical challenges of broadcasting the sound of sport and the surprises of “real” sound.
- The woman behind the voice of 200 airports.
The Psychologically Ultimate Seashore was the first in the Environments series of records, an early entry in the field of white-noise nature sound albums. One interesting aspect of the albums was that most were designed to be played on a loop at any speed; another was that selections were included on the Voyager Golden Record as "Sounds of the Earth". [more inside]
A wall with large buttons that trigger voices, mellotron-style; An Indonesian gamelan xylophone orchestra played with a arcade game-like control panel; A leslie speaker that amplifies whatever a stethoscope touches. These are just a few of the instruments built into a unique New Orleans musical architecture installation called Dithyrambalina, or simply, The Music Box. [more inside]
Sound-Word Index — Emotions and their sound can invade our digital messages. Our words become flexible and vibrate according to the volume of our voices, transforming their written form into an expressive and resonating language. Without the help of body language, words can sometimes fall short in our digital conversations. However, sound, volume and rhythm can influence the spelling of our words, helping to translate our emotions hidden behind our screens.
A gamma-ray burst, the most energetic explosions in the universe, converted to music. What does the universe look like at high energies? Thanks to the Fermi Large Area Telescope (LAT), we can extend our sense of sight to "see" the universe in gamma rays. But humans not only have a sense of sight, we also have a sense of sound. If we could listen to the high-energy universe, what would we hear? What does the universe sound like?
Jack Foley was the first Foley Artist. A Foley Artist's job is to physically create the subtler sound effects for most of the action in a film — usually, everything but the dialogue. Sometimes that involves smearing peanut butter on someone's face and recording the sound of a cow licking it off. • Here's the split-screen classic short, Track Stars: The Unseen Heroes of Movie Sound, and its Doppleganger, plus a similar tribute, replacing the sounds on a 1962 public domain film. • A couple of Porn Foley parodies [NSFW of course] and a murder-filled parody • Here's the process in detail for marking, recording, and editing Foley for 35mm film: Part 1 (excerpted), Part 2 • Technically, Foley only covers sounds you can tailor-make in the recording studio; other sounds (engines, explosions, etc) are the domain of the Sound FX person. If you don't have your own means, though, Sounddogs.com has an extensive collection of samples.
How Video Game Sounds Are Made: a brief but fascinating look inside the world of video game sound production.
The Quietest Place on Planet Earth Measured at -9.4dB, this is the quietest place on earth. There is a standing bet that anyone lasting 45 minutes in the chamber, in the dark, earns a case of beer of their choice. No one has lasted more than a half hour.
NPR: "Folklorist Alan Lomax spent his career documenting folk music traditions from around the world." Now, nearly ten years after his death, thousands of the songs and interviews he recorded are available for free online, many for the first time. "It's part of what Lomax envisioned for [his] collection — long before the age of the Internet." (Mr. Lomax, Previously on MeFi) [more inside]
Beautiful HD video, with enhanced sound, of STS-117 and STS-127 booster rockets launching and returning to Earth . Previously.
What does a magnitude 9.0 earthquake sound like? Researchers sped up low-frequency ground waves recorded during the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake, bringing them within range of human hearing. Hear the mainshock from just off the coast of Japan. And how it "sounded" in California. [more inside]
Featuring nearly 300 penguins, San Diego's PenguinCam provides hours of entertainment during March and April.
Towards the end of the 1800s, there were three primary American groups competing to invent technology to record and play back audio. Alexander Graham Bell worked with with Charles Sumner Tainter and Chichester Bell in at their Volta Laboratory in Georgetown, Washington, D.C., while Thomas A. Edison worked from his Menlo Park facilities, and Emile Berliner worked in his independent laboratory in his home. To secure the rights to their inventions, the three groups sent samples of their work to the Smithsonian. These recordings became part of the permanent collections, now consisting of 400 of the earliest audio recordings ever made. But knowledge of their contents was limited to old, short descriptions, as the rubber, beeswax, glass, tin foil and brass recording media are fragile, and playback devices might damage the recordings, if such working devices are even available. That is, until a collaborative project with the Library of Congress and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory came together to make 2D and 3D optical scanners, capable of visually recording the patterns marked on discs and cylinders, respectively. [more inside]
78 78s - In Search Of Lost Time - is a streaming mix of beautiful 78s from around the world, collected and curated by Ian Nagoski. "I started sifting through boxes of junky old 78s that no one else wanted about 15 years ago, and almost right away, I made a rule: Anything that wasn't in English, buy it." [more inside]
Lancaster, CA employs an innovative method of crime fighting: bird noises.
Years by Bartholomäus Traubek: a record player that plays slices of wood.
All Together Now. Every Beatles tune, played together, sequenced in order of lengths, with the longest starting first and all 226 tunes ending together. This is a single link SoundCloud post.
It's a ring-tone! It's place-based community art! Well, you don't have to choose any more. In Locally Toned, artist T. Foley sources sound in the wild to create hundreds of unique ringtones.
In their 25 year career San Fransisco-based Kronos Quartet might be most famous for creating the go-to dramatic movie trailer music but they've recently courted controversy with their latest album, 9/11, with Steve Reich (NPR First Listen). The album is another in a long line of collaborations with composers such as Phillip Glass, Terry Riley, and Pēteris Vasks. And like any good instrumental ensemble, they've covered Hendrix, Sigur Ros, and Tom Waits. Oh, and they've been on Sesame Street. [more inside]
What is up with Noises? A fascinating explanation of why we hear sounds and music the way we do. It's a long video, but it's worth it!
The Soundworks Collection gives a behind-the-scenes look into the work of talented sound teams working on feature films, soundtrack scoring, and video games with a compilation of exclusive interviews, awards shows / event panel coverage and sound stage / studio room videos. Vimeo Channel. YouTube Channel. [more inside]
The bizarre musical instruments behind classic scifi movie sounds. Includes the Waterphone, Theremin and Blaster Beam.
Theta Music Trainer — Train your ear with fun music games. Sharpen your sense of pitch and tone. Unlock the hidden patterns in music. Strengthen your music theory skills.
Physics tricks could create one-way soundproofing. Materials that genuinely discriminate between the direction of light or sound might be possible, according to a new study. That could make for true one-way mirrors or for directional soundproofing—imagine, for instance, a wall through which sound can enter but not escape.
Nifty audio projects from Paris Smaragdis, including fascinating method of extracting individual audio samples (say a guitar solo) from a mix by humming the part. [6.4 mb mp4] [via AskMe]
Canadian horror flick Pontypool (trailer) is a modern zombie tale quite unlike any other. Loosely based on a dense, complicated novel by Tony Burgess and inspired by Orson Welles' War of the Worlds, it tells the story of Grant Mazzy, a grumbling yet likable radio host (played by veteran character actor Stephen McHattie) whose penchant for philosophical ramblings gets him booted from Toronto to the sleepy winter pastures of Pontypool, Ontario. One bleak morning, as the outspoken Mazzy chafes against no-nonsense producer Sydney Briar, disturbing news begins rolling in of a series of bizarre and violent incidents sweeping the town. Trapped in their church basement broadcasting booth, Mazzy, Briar, and intern Laurel-Ann Drummond struggle to understand the odd nature of the crisis and warn the wider world before it's too late. But this is no ordinary virus, and they find their efforts may be causing far more harm than good. You can watch the film on YouTube horror channel Dead By Dawn (1 2 3 4 5 6 7), but if you're pressed for time you can also experience it in its more logical form: as a one-hour BBC radio drama voiced by the original cast. And after the credits, make sure not to miss the film's playful non-sequitur coda.
This man really likes eating hamburgers. So much so that the hamburgers felt they had to stage an uprising. Or Olympic games. It all becomes a little confusing. (Music video for Rotten Sound's "Hollow")
Modern mainstream video games tend to be about framerates and millions of polygons per second. But it is possible to play games that have hardly any graphics at all: audio-only games like Papa Sangre, designed for iOS devices, being the most recent example of the genre (and with binaural audio, probably the most ambitious). There are others: In The Pit for Xbox 360 (or a PC with a 360 wired controller) [previously], the (sadly incomplete) Cadet 277 for PC and Mac, and SoundVoyager, released in 2006 for the Nintendo. More at the Experimental Gameplay Project.
radio k'bvh;b is on the air. A three day Internet radio experiment by Catalin Ilie and Letitia Calin, radio k'bvh;b presents field recordings, noise, experimental stuff, and live performances direct from Berlin. It only goes until Sunday midnight CET, so tune in to the odd noises while you still can.
While the self-appointed task of one creative act per day continues to exist, I present the sonic explorations of Clang Jingle Clang . Highlights of Kerrith Livengood's early morning posts include a Goomba attack, political musings, and a fable from Aesop.
Earlier this year, the BBC's Arena produced and aired an excellent documentary on Brian Eno entitled "Another Green World" containing "a series of conversations on science, art, systems analysis, producing and cybernetics". [more inside]
Vimeo Video School is a fun place for anyone to learn how to make better videos. Start by browsing the Vimeo Lessons, or find specific video tutorials created by other members.
10 things you didn't know about sound. Among them: "You are a chord." A TED talk by Julian Treasure and responses by him to some of the opinions about his talk.
The Books is a collaboration between musicians and found sound archivers Nick Zammuto and Paul de Jong. If you're not familiar with their music, allow me to recommend giving their newest album, The Way Out a listen over at NPR (where you can no longer stream the album in its entirety, but individual tracks are still available for your listening pleasure). Two videos are already available—the summer camp hit A Cold Freezin' Night and We Bought The Flood, which was 'directed' by archival image researcher Rich Remsberg. Since The Way Out's release Nick has been proceeding track by track through the album, explaining and annotating the techniques, instruments, and ideas used on each song—and resulting in a collage of thoughts as powerful and varied as The Books' collage of sound. [more inside]
Acousmata is a unique music blog devoted to "idiosyncratic research in electronic and experimental music, sound and acoustics, mysticism and technology" with special focus on the early history of electronic music.
"Tone-Quester" is generally a musician (more than likely a guitarist) who purchases/modifies amps/pedals/cabinets in search of a certain sound. They fiercely pride themselves on being able to distinquish the differences between pickups, tube amps vs. transistor amps. With this in mind, Wolfe McCloud, a pickup designer, decided to challenge My Les Paul forum members. [more inside]
Jonathan's Cochlear Implant Activation. An 8-month-old deaf baby has his cochlear implant turned on and hears sound for the first time (SLYT). [Via]
If an ad agency sent me this, I would be impressed.