Across the Transom: December 2022

I and We, Pandemic Touring, Saturation

Gahlord Dewald :: 12/28/22 :: New York City


[The] record company called me and said "We've been emailing you are you not interested?" And I said "Let me meet this artist one on one. I just want to make sure it's a true connection." Because everyone I worked with before was someone I knew or we had mutual respect. ... I had to meet someone face to face and they had to feel comfortable.

Jennifer Juniper Stratford in "Video Explorers: Jennifer Juniper Stratford," by LZX Industries


Mesney was an artist; his medium the corporate slideshow. Today, product launches and corporate conferences tend towards the austere, echoing Steve Jobs’ minimalist Apple Keynotes. But for twenty glorious years, slides were king. They were bigger, crisper, and less expensive to produce than 16mm film; more colorful and higher-res than video.

Claire L. Evans in "Dirt: Big Pictures," Dirt


The Courtanvaux-Elmhirst Hours (here re-baptised as the De Roucy Hours) is used as a demonstration of the "WayBack Recovery Method (henceforth WBRM)", which "envisages working with a particular type of fragments: namely the digital ones", to reconstruct dismembered manuscripts. This is presented as a new and innovative approach, but seems to be a lot like what other people have already been doing for two decades, either as plain web-pages, e.g. by the late Erik Drigsdahl here (he collected thousands of images of leaves of Books of Hours from eBay, although for copyright and bandwidth reasons put very few of these images on his website); or, more recently, using tools such as Omeka, of which Lisa Fagin Davis's reconstruction of the Beauvais Missal

Peter Kidd in "Nobody cares about your blog!," Medieval Manuscripts Provenance, a blog post outlining the apparent intellectual dishonesty in a recent publication by RECEPTIO


This process creates lawsuit-proof samples that could be used by Spotify to create its own music or be sold by the Swedish company to record labels, producers, etc. Considering all the data Spotify has on its users and how they respond to its music library, the potential for AI-generated bangers is limitless.

J. Fergus in "Spotify could soon replace real artists with AI music," Input


Today I saw the Pinnochio exhibit at the MoMA and it was fantastic. All that craft, art, and technology in one place. It's a fantastic film and it was great to get a chance to pop in and see the artifacts in person. We were among very few people wearing masks but that's how the world is now.


When you imagine time on a line, each point is fixed so that two points of time cannot swap places – there's a strict arrow. But in a container, points of time are floating around – and potentially capable of swapping places.

Miriam Frankel and Matt Warren in "The weird way language affects our sense of time and space," BBC


The ever-growing economic and ecological crisis in the contemporary world marks the dominance of a technological rationality whose major goal is valorization of everything in order to feed the accumulation of capital. In response, we invest in forms and networks of praxis that invert the contemporary enframing of technological systems and their underlying colonial, racial, and patriarchal epistemologies. To this end, we dig into forgotten and suppressed past futures and speculative nows to envision, encounter, and enact alternative modes of computing – informing, scaling, modeling, mapping, speculating, rhythming, networking, communalizing and (…).

COUNTER-N is a web-based publishing, exchange, and research collection curated by Shintaro Miyazaki and Özgün Eylül İşcen.

COUNTER-N manifesto


Norns script: Gemini

Tried out a useful granulation script called Gemini. Load up the sample and then freeze it/move it for interesting texture. Pulling from the same sample is a great way of keeping things in a similar sound world. The two channel nature of it is great fun. Beautifully performance-minded with the arc encoders.


The justification of efficiency has overwhelmed the whole basic premise of broad education, which is like diversity and access in any number of places. Of course it'll be efficient, there's no question, much more efficient in terms of money. But it's not more efficient in terms of human and cultural resilience, right? It's like death.

Denise Gallant: UCSC Video Art Documentary


Microphone selection

A friend of mine asked me to listen to a musical recording for a video. The friend was unsatisfied with the sound and hoping to get a better result through better technology. The following is my response:

The recording, to my ears, is clear and clean: the noise floor is low, we can hear the notes. There's a little blurriness from the room reflections interacting with the sounds coming from the instrument, but it's a natural sound. Overall feels a little bit brittle; I prefer a little more warmth/darkness in tone but I play bass haha.

These things are highly personal and what I think it sounds like doesn't truly matter. What matters is what you like. It's a taste thing and your own taste is a good guide.

Before buying anything I would recommend the following:

  1. To work on the blurriness, experiment with getting the microphone as close to the performer as possible. This might mean adjusting your camera angle or framing so the microphone can get closer. Or perhaps allowing a small amount of microphone to be visible on camera.

    Another worthwhile approach is to get a heavy/sturdy/weighted microphone stand and place the microphone above the instrument pointing down towards it. A high quality stand is important for this as you do not want it to collapse into the instrument or performer. This is how many professional recordings are made, especially with video, as this is an unobtrusive way to get very close to the instrument. Again, experiment with camera framing to allow the mic to get as close as possible to the instrument. The mic will be off-camera above the picture frame.
  2. The least expensive thing that will improve things is to use some EQ. I know you aren't as interested in these things but please humor me. There are usually two parts to using EQ:

    a) corrective adjustments and

    b) sound sweetening.

    Corrective adjustments are applied to every recording ever released. What is being "corrected" is the technical nature of how microphones work and how the other technology in music recordings work, not the performer/performance/instrument.

    It consists of removing tones below 40Hz and above 20kHz and also correcting for how microphones "hear" sound. Sometimes the cutoff points are a little different. With a higher instrument like the violin we can remove tones from a larger swath of the lower audio spectrum in solo recordings.

    Removing these low tones and very high tones makes the recording clearer because things like air conditioning hum and room noise (which are very apparent on occasion in that hall) are reduced.

    Every microphone has an audio pickup pattern that is unique. This is why corrective EQ adjustments are useful. Below is a graphic that shows the pattern of the AT8022. The dotted line is in effect when the HPF filter switch on the microphone is engaged.

    AT8022 frequency response
    Chart of AT8022 frequency response

    The technical goal in microphones is to have that line be flat. Only very rarely is a microphone truly flat.

    In addition to general corrective adjustments of cutting below about 40Hz and above about 20kHz, in order to correct for how the AT8022 gathers audio I would put a small (maybe -3db) high shelf cut beginning at 2kHz. I wouldn't bother with boosting the high end between 10kHz and 20kHz unless the recording sounded too dull.

    If I was recording a high pitched instrument without piano I would engage the HPF switch on the microphone.

    Sound sweetening I won't describe because you've noted you're not interested in enhancements. I will say, however, there are no professional recordings made without it.

Once those two things (or just the one if I haven't been convincing enough in the need for corrective eq) have been tried, I would shed a tear for my bank account and...

  1. With your budget I would try very hard to save a little bit more and purchase a single Schoeps Colette CMC6 Microphone Amp and MK4 Cardioid Condenser Capsule. While expensive, this is among the finest microphones available for a clear, clean, modern sound. I would get a very sturdy stand and possibly sandbags/weights (or save more and get the entire thing as a package known as the "RC Set Violin") so that I could place the microphone above the violin pointing straight down at it from just off camera (above the picture), as close as possible to the performer.

    For comparison, this is the frequency response chart for the Schoeps MK2 capsule:
    Schoeps microphone response plot
    Schoeps MK2 capsule frequency response

    Ironically, a frequency response this flat may result in more corrective EQ being necessary as the room noise may be much more apparent. But the theory here is that is it's much easier to cut what is too much than it is to boost what isn't there.
  2. I would get a 4 channel interface so I could record with the AT8022 (and Cloudlifter) and the Schoeps at the same time. These things come up on the 2nd hand market all the time and I wouldn't worry too much about getting one used.
  3. I would mix so that the Schoeps is the most prominent sound and the AT8022 is quieter, just providing enough sound to give the reverb of the hall and create the stereo image. Both microphones would get corrective EQ applied. One benefit of this way of recording is that the sound of the instrument can be much more focused and the room mic (in this case the AT8022) can be placed much further away for a more open reverb/hall and then mixed to taste.
  4. I would experiment with microphone placement for the Schoeps. Different placements will result in brighter or darker sound.

That's what I'd do. I realize that the entirety of these things is not cheap and the end result would be a more complicated recording setup and process. However it's the best quality upgrade and keeps your existing 8022 in service usefully.

Something that does fit your budget and current process would be:

Replace your AT8022 & Cloudlifter with Austrian Audio CC8 Stereo Set Small-Diaphragm Condenser Microphone (Matched Pair). You will want to get these microphones as close to the performer as possible. I have not used this set of microphones but the manufacturers are very well regarded and I expect this mic to perform well. Here is the frequency plot (it has 2 settings for the high pass filter, the 120Hz is what I'd use for higher pitched instruments):

austrian audio microphone plot
Austrian Audio CC8plot


Tyler Etters has made an exceptionally useful video about setting up a development environment for working with norns (a very handy small music computer). The key items are: connect to norns in such a way that it behaves just like a hard drive, use a text editor that integrates a Terminal window, use Github to backup/remote access/share with others for feedback, use ssh so you're not constantly logging in with passwords etc.


Whatever we today identify as Afrofuturism and Afrosurrealism is already evident in the mystical, sensual and transcendentalist lyrics and dark mood music of Lucille Bogan, Bessie Smith, Son House, Skip James, Robert Johnson, Blind Willie McTell who croons “My baby got a bed it shines like a morning star. When I crawl up in the middle it rides me like a Cadillac car.’’ The Bessie Smith who wails of how, in violently Seussical space and time known as “Black Mountain, / a child will smack your face, / the babies will cry for liquor and the birds sing bass.’’

Greg Tate in the liner notes to A. R. Kane's Americana on Luaka Bop


Gave an artist talkGahlord Dewald presenting at Bogliasco Photo: Sondra Lapage at Bogliasco Foundation today, a review of my work in relation to material culture, physical culture, and social culture. Plus a tour of some of the solo, duo, and electronic music I make with a preview of some of the things I'm working on with the the Timbre of Starlight project.


“Filtering out noise requires a definition of signal. Whose definition that is - which signal is chosen for isolation, which noise for elimination - is not an engineering problem but a political question. The power to define signal may well be a fundamental struggle in the digital age. So too the power to control signal, once it has been isolated.”

Damon Krukowski in The New Analog


Prepping for an artist talk for Bogliasco Foundation guests and fellows.


Video about programing that leads towards live-code. Gets especially good at the Program Representation point. Jack Rusher, "Stop Writing Dead Programs," from Strange Loops 2022.


They sell you the surveillance but what you need is the connection.


For example, the top-performing creative individuals resisted their natural inclination to create bridging relationships with new contacts from other groups and, rather, immersed themselves within a dense network of strong pre-existing relationships. Such cohesive networks were powerful performance boosters for creatives because they helped them execute plans and convert their ingenious ideas into concrete, implementable solutions.

Jennifer Reo in "Why we build networks that hurt our performance, and what we can do about it," in


Of course, there was no market for the right to buy a book but not the right to loan that book to someone else. Instead, giving sellers the power to unilaterally confiscate the value that we would otherwise get with our purchases led them to do so, selling us less for more.

Cory Doctorow in "The urinary tract infection business-model," Pluralistic


Following prides at night—the animals are largely nocturnal—he sometimes thought he would go mad. “I read Tolstoy, I read Proust,” he says. “All the Russians.” Packer and Pusey wrote in one article that “to the list of inert noble gases, including krypton, argon and neon, we would add lion.”

Abigail Tucker in "The Truth About Lions," Smithsonian Magazine


“The computer science department was able to organize quickly because almost everybody is a union member, has signed a card, and are all networked together via the union. As soon as this happened, we communicated over union channels. We met personally and spoke in person about the problem, came up with a set of concrete actions we could take, and we took those actions. Removing the sensors, hacking the sensors, having people write up meetings and share them online, and tweeting or writing about it together."

This sort of rapid response is key, especially as more and more systems adopt sensors for increasingly spurious or concerning reasons.

Edward Ongweso Jr in "‘NO’: Grad Students Analyze, Hack, and Remove Under-Desk Surveillance Devices Designed to Track Them," Vice


To build a zine is a labor of love, and little else. It is a physical practice, complete with paper cuts, glue residue lining fingertips, and the hauling of copies from the print shop back to wherever you housed them.

Hanif Abdurraqib in "Shotgun Seamstress," 4 Columns


Making CDs, for me, at this point is entirely for the reviewers/press who still prefer them. The leftovers come along to live shows to sell and (more likely) give to other performers/organizers. I do love the opportunity they give for lengthy liner notes and text context though.

But in the free improv/noise/experimental scene there is still an appetite for them.


“The terminology itself makes being a composer seem inaccessible because we still call producers producers and composers composers at the very least in the academic setting. But what is the difference in 2022 if everybody both in PhD programs and EDM clubs are all using fucking Ableton? Why are we making these distinctions, right?"

Max Alper quoted in Angela Brussel's "The Future of Composition," NewMusicBox

I can't help but consider how the above quote is simultaneously incredibly myopic and also relatively true. The tools we use to create are not tremendously relevant to the ways in which we think and document our work. If we replaced "EDM" with "Concert Hall" and "Ableton" with "violins" the myopia becomes more obvious.

The rhetorical construction of "we're all using the same tools in these two different places therefore we must be doing the same thing" fails to take into account the meaning, structure, and placemaking that occurs in two different places. While I wholeheartedly agree that people and activities occurring in EDM clubs and PhD programs are equal in terms of intrinsic human value, the idea that what is happening in both of these very different contexts becoming equivalent simply because the same tools are used in both is, to me anyway, kind of absurd.

There are differences of network, longevity, and productive output that the different institutions of the EDM club and the PhD program leverage. There are contexts in which that leverage results in continued ability to produce creative work. The PhD program doesn't qualify someone to headline an EDM festival. The EDM club doesn't qualify someone to teach semester long undergraduate courses in music.

Equating the tools and ignoring the institutional context is a mistake and I'm not sure why someone would promote that way of thinking, especially since context and place are probably more important in terms of continuing to make creative work.


Photographing and making more Bogliasco covers for the cassette mail art project.


In the longer term, YouTube and other platforms’ search-engine algorithms factor in fresh content, prioritizing channels that post regularly. The continuous stream of videos from these accounts contributes to the filtering-out of dissenting Uyghurs and other ethnic groups, ensuring that credible — but stale — content gets swamped by a parallel litany of Xinjiang’s beautiful scenery and delicious food.

Daria Impiombato in "How Chinese influencers are dodging YouTube’s anti-propaganda rules," Rest of the Word


Photographing covers and making recordings for Bogliasco Vol 1 & 2 mail art tapes.


Saturation in audio recordings, a starter

I saw a question today by someone looking to get into adding saturation to their audio recordings. It's a wide and deep topic but I think a good way to learn about it is to dig in and try it.

One of the best ways to explore saturation is to run audio through different transformers and different circuits, hitting things just a little harder than necessary (see Ramping through mic pres below). I find that the DIYRE Colour format is great for exploring this: many low-cost options, simple controls.

Making a system that is inexpensive and responsive encourages more sound explorations. Once you find some transformers or circuits that you tend to like then you can look for pricier gear that includes those transformers or similar circuits.


Different technologies for recording music, paper with pencil, paper with ink, notation software, using a microphone or MIDI recorder - different technologies give us different ratios of time when we are capturing data and time when we are thinking of what that data will be.

Laurie Spiegel


As self-employed gig workers, artists absorb all the risks of live performance – unexpected cost increases, cancellations, travel changes, illness, etc. And obviously there are currently many more risks, with more of them more likely to occur, than before the pandemic.

Damon Krukowski in "Working Wherever We May," Dada Drummer Almanach


A Twitter thread/discussion on using "I" vs "We" in writing, touching on clarity, intent, collaboration (and who is doing the collaborating).