The Alan Sondheim Mail Archive

Analog Instrumentation

Alpine zither. Relationships with ch'in and taksim. With VLF (very low 
frequency) radio "events" which are deeply random, but often possess wave 
trains. With the touch/caress of the resonant body which metaphorically relates 
to elementary physics and the world at large. With elements of air, metal, 
wood. Is theory ever final.

ii Take up: Exchange value: Digital. bit(n)|bit(m) Use value: Analog. bite(n,m) 
once again.

Analog: the bite of the instrument, bight of the shore. Metal pegs tend to 
slip, strings unwind or break, wood cracks, the body expands or contracts 
dependent on humidity, soundboard warps, frets go out of true. The analog is a 
tending. Analog noise: Finger noise, body-tapping, wolf notes, string and nail 
contact positions, nail roughness, breath sounds, string squeak, fret sound, 
fingerboard sound with bending, player's body movements against the soundbox. 
The frequencies are inexact: no frets are ever true, string pressure sharpens 
the pitch, there are a-harmonics and a-harmonic resonances, the instrument 
couples to its support, the fingerboard and body warp slightly with finger 
pressure, oxidations and dirt tender the string further out of true, there is 
always peg slippage with pressure, vibrato and bending stretch imperfect metal 
memory. A tending or movement back towards pitch, pitching as catastrophic 
memory, sudden halting of sound for retuning. The mapping is always imperfect. 
Labor: the labor of the arms, wrists, fingers, body leaning slightly towards 
the fingerboard, careful breathing somewhat isolated from vibrato, muscle 
tensions and memories paralleling dance. Warping: unequal expansion or 
contraction of upper or lower soundboards or instrument sides, twisting of one 
or another surface, unequal expansion or contraction of different woods or 
metals, finger-pressure on one or another surface, expansion or contraction due 
to cracking, humidity, pressure, wood curing, oiling and waxing, physical 

Digital: Of this at a later date. Electronic noise and noise floors. 
Human-instrument interface. Switch noise. Acoustic coupling of transducers 
including microphones, earphones, speakers. Analog sound 'falling through the 
cracks' depending on bandwidth. Data corruption and technological obsolescence 
of computers and storage media. Problematic power supplies. Problematic of 
analog noise. Problematic of acoustic space-mapping. Standing-waves, speaker 
placement and cone inertia, line losses, failed checksums, bandwidth 
limitations. Digital and digital reproduction.

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