Across the Transom: January 2024

Ground Loops, Haiti Led the Way to Freedom, Demoscene

Gahlord Dewald :: 02/19/24 :: Mānoa

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Though Nairobi is home, it’s difficult finding purposefully created spaces that facilitate musical and cultural expression. “In African cities this is kind of the biggest barrier, a physical space in order to gather, to meet, to exchange ideas, to perform. Space is something that we don’t have so much of when it comes to the arts.”

Hana Seifelnasr's "Nyokabi Kariũki: an experimental sound practice rooted in Kenya," Pan African Music


The self-abasing degrading shame of being a critic doesn’t paralyse, it frees you up to write what the fuck you want rather than what you feel the ‘job’ demands, disconnects you from anything approaching favours, but keeps your overarching pomposity (for if you don’t have this what the fuck are you doing being a writer anyhoo?) in check.

Neil Kulkarni in "The Neil Kulkarni 10 Point Guide to Being a Music Critic," Kaptain Kulk


And if you want to get heavy about it, you can say that every magic show is an exploration of how we determine what’s true.

Penn Jillette interviewed by Tim Grierson in Cracked.


Re: Ground loops and studio noise

I’ve gone through power/grounding noise issues in several of my locations over the years. For me, step 1 is to re-read and follow the advice from this PDF. It’s lengthy, it’s a little bit technical but not full on crazy technical. And I know it’s well within your ability to understand everything in it.

These are the best practices re: connecting things one power supply, balanced/unbalanced connections etc. 9 times out of ten once I’ve realigned my system based on this information my noise floor is effectively gone. If that doesn’t solve it, then I would suspect the possibility of a bad component in the speaker itself. Like a cap or something.

If your location has experienced blackouts/brownouts or has weather events that effect power, I would absolutely get something with a very serious fuse. I once thought regular old power strip fuses would work. Then a transformer station down the road blew and I lost a very expensive computer. I was lucky that the computer took the hit for everything else in the studio.

The power strip I use now (everything of value in my life goes through one of these) is the Furman PST 8 8.


Ode to the SMRF

The ol’ 4ms Spectral Multiband Resonant Filter (which they foolishly acronym-ed to SMR instead of SMRF) has been a go-to for me for years. 6 bands that can be assigned scales, shifted up/down via CV, frequency nudge/pitch bend via CV etc, splits into 2 ch of 3 bands if you like, each ch amplitude cv controllable (with a switch for making square gates/triggers respond like a vactrol if you like).

It’s big and, the panel is ugly, it does a bunch of things and wrapping one’s head around the scale patterns/selections takes a bit of research. But it is fantastic for pulling tones from field recordings or other material etc. With 2 of em and a spring reverb you could make yourself a cv controllable Fjaerlet.


It takes semesters of working with them (if they give me that much before decamping to something more “relevant”) to activate the idea of drawing as an exercise in observation, embodied knowledge building, and visual communication instead of a means of virtuosic rendering.

Tanja Softić in "The Visual Claptrap," n+1


Some beautiful design for television.


it was found that the SDs of roughness, mean and period entropy of MFCC3 exhibited the desired attributes as they were not impacted by genre, differed between healing pieces and regular pieces within the same genre, and were consistent across various Healing Music Databases

Many authors (research paper) "Uncovering potential distinctive acoustic features of healing music" BMJ Journal

Mel-Frequency Cepstral Coefficients Explained Easily (not sure how easily or how explained but it's a start)


To make this work this is sort of the point: How engaged can I be with the material? Whether it's notated, or a graphic score, or a text score. How much can I engage with that material itself? And in this case, with the Wa‘ahila Series, I'm trying to engage as deeply as possible with that landscape.

Gahlord Dewald interviewed by Sharene Keliʻipunilei Lum Taba in "Gahlord Dewald on Classical Pacific," Hawai‘i Public Radio


In their own day, long before any white abolitionists or European lawmakers came on the scene, native American and African men, women, and children—victims of white European violence—very clearly denounced, resisted, and ended slavery and colonialism for themselves.

Marlene L. Daut in "How Haiti Destroyed Slavery and Led the Way to Freedom throughout the Atlantic World," Public Books


to require people to repeatedly visit your website of their own volition, and in the process for them to recall precisely where they left off reading the last time they were there, is simply too much to ask of a reader. It was too much to ask in the late 1990s, and in our cellphone-mediated, notification-riddled present, it is all the more so. RSS brings the writing to the reader, and in some ways isn’t that distinct from email.

Marc Weidenbaum makes the case for contemporary RSS in "New Year, New Blogs,' Disquiet


The Demoscene. Also Teach Yourself Demoscene in 14 Days.