Across the Transom: September 2023

Laurie Spiegel, Music Tech Colonialism, Benjolin Charm

Gahlord Dewald :: 9/30/23 :: Mānoa


Laurie Spiegel’s body of work, as evidenced by the assets made available on her website, are a good case study for the inherent issues digital materials face in the early Internet age.

Danielle Calle's paper "Disentangling the Retiary: A Laurie Spiegel Software Preservation and Web Archiving Project" for NYU's CINE-GT 1807


To sharpen that image, imagine what it would be like if the values of r/musictheory supplanted those of the academic field. In some respects, real upheavals would result: classical music would no longer monopolize textbooks and curricula, while seminars on George Russell, not Heinrich Schenker, would undoubtedly form the backbone for any graduate education in theory. At the same time, however, this field would perhaps be far more preoccupied with pitch structure, more prone to exoticism, and even less receptive to antiracist critique than the current academic discipline.

Noiseman433 in "Notating Ottoman Music and Music Tech Colonialism" on r/GlobalMusicTheory.


It seems to me like this is a visual trope we’re going to see more and more? It’s the paranoia and glitching in A Scanner Darkly (2006), the visual glitch when your trust in subjective reality is shaken loose. I’m looking forward to this being a commonplace shorthand for doubt; a quick glitch in a romcom when somebody is acting out of character, say.

Matt Webb's "Old wards and new against fake humans," in Interconnected.


The magic spell to get a video file encoded so that Erogenous Tones Structure can read it:ffmpeg -i input.mp4 vcodec=mjpeg -q:v 3 -an -vf scale=640:480,yadif=3:1

Best to get it into the right aspect ratio in video editing software before running ffmpeg. Also, at the 640x480 size you'll only get 400 frames worth of video clips to load. You can also do 320x240 and get 1600 frames.

Finally, use the system settings to configure which resolution you're using otherwise Structure won't be able to play the files.


Monk’s idiom was for crooked passages and tricky time signatures, punctuated by strange silences and negative spaces, as if he had stripped the songs down to only essential elements. Essential for Monk, that is.

Jeffrey St. Clair's "The Night the Cops Tried To Break Thelonious Monk" in Portside


Times coverage did not always correlate with larger crowds. Rather, the daily coverage of the scene had a cumulative effect. 'Over time it makes a difference. It provides credibility and tangibility.”'

Brian Drye quoted in Max Cea's 2017 piece "Welcome to the Jazzless Age: Change in New York Times coverage spells trouble for a scene," Salon


That’s what a benjolin sounds like. It’s part of the charm.

When it’s bumming me out I run a tap from the pulse output, invert it, and blend it back in. Doesn’t truly “fix” it and sometimes sounds less fun. But it’s something I try now and then.

It doesn’t fully or accurately work, it just helps minimize the issue sometimes. It works because the undesired sound is the pulse. Copying and inverting the pulse will result in phase cancellation and make it quieter. If a person wants to get intense with it, they might want to be able to delay that pulse or the output signal to get a better match. It isn’t a perfect method and sometimes results in sounds that are less fun/phasey/hollow. But sometimes it results in fun sounds. YMMV.

You can see the trace that connects that pulse to the outputs on your board. I considered cutting mine but I don’t know enough about what I’m doing so I stopped worrying and learned to love the pulse.


A subtitled version of Kwaidan is viewable at the Internet Archive.


Intro to modular series by Nicole Strobach.

  1. Introduction to Modular
  2. Audio Modifiers, Control Voltages and Passive Modules
  3. Patching, Audio Connectivity, Tips

This series is clear and covers the basics well. A perfect introduction for anyone trying to wrap their head around modular synthesis.


An opsec video.


Great introduction video to modular synthesis focusing on just a handful of basic modules (VCF, VCO, S&H, Gate/CV sequencer) presented by Václav Peloušek.


Feedback mixing with drums

You've probably seen/heard it before. This is a technique primarily for filthy filthy drums. It's derived from no-input. On a simple mixer (say, Bastl Dude or something like that), run your drums into the mixer, leave one input channel free with the gain all the way down. Mult the mixer output. Send one of the signals to your recorder/monitor/headphones and the other back into the mixer.

Very very slowly increase the gain on the feedback channel until wierd shit starts to happen. Keep tweaking with all the gain knobs until you have a sound you like.

Experimentation: put effects/filters/etc on the feedback loop, test out mutes to see what happens when sounds are removed because it can sometimes be very dramatic, try including a low pitch drone (in tune with your song, if you like) or an empty feedback-only channel in your mix along with your drums.

For anyone new to no-input mixing, here's a nice tutorial.

The Casper/Bastl Dark Matter is a eurorack module designed around the concept with a focus on percussion. Here's Peter Edwards explaining how it works.


Mark Steiner using a resonant filter on pulse wave to create a resonant body for the tone.


"Kim Deal told me that Albini’s wife, the filmmaker Heather Whinna, whom he met in the 1990s, was a crucial influence. 'She told him specifically: "I don’t think you know the power that you have when you just dismiss people. They really respect you, Steve, and why would you do that to them?" I don’t think he understood that people were actually listening to him.'"

From Jeremy Gordon's "The evolution of Steve Albini: ‘If the dumbest person is on your side, you’re on the wrong side’"