The Alan Sondheim Mail Archive

January 18, 2017


(rough final cutting-in-process for upcoming album!
apologies if you've seen this before) (sample)

Luke Damrosch, programming, mastering, madal
Azure Carter, songs, voice
Alan Sondheim, instruments, mastering, concept

Reverse reverberation in real time is an impossibility; the
physics of space-time doesn't permit it. That said, Luke
Damrosch has developed programs that approach the impossible;
the result is a new form of music dynamics. The general idea is
that you can reverse shorter and shorter segments 'almost' as if
they were real time in reverse, but you're really dealing with
fundamental limits of spacetime; only on a quantum level is
reversibility possible (for example a positron as an electron
moving temporally backwards in Feynmann diagrams -
retrocausality in Wikipedia), and that's up for grabs. In any
case, I've been interested in processes that operate at the edge
of this sort of dynamics, where physics, acoustics, and
philosophy meet. And here is a resulting cd, using acoustic
instruments, where this is a guiding principle.

A second example involves the use of dynamics processing (I'm
using Adobe Audition), in which the louder something is, the
quieter the output - reversing the usual dynamics. I've been
doing this in post-processing, but with voltage-controlled
amplifiers, it's easy to do as analog in real time. The result
is fascinating - if I'm playing shakuhachi or guqin for example,
the sounds of breathing, of the body, of string slip, etc., come
to the foreground and the traditional musical 'content' recedes.
The body becomes a fundamental source of sound, almost as if it
were playing itself.

Again there are a lot of contradictions here; since a slow
sinewave, for example, varies in amplitude, it might disappear
or become increasingly dominant itself, depending on the
settings (frequency ranges employed) for the dynamics

I'm also working with pitch reversal, so that, for example, a
frequency F is transformed into 1/F; the basis of F can be set
so that the range as a whole is inverted. You can see how this
is almost the same as dynamics processing; the two are deeply
related. (This hasn't been implemented yet.)

All of this connects to my interest in philosophy and the
foundations of mathematics. Most acoustic transformations are
'surface' transformation, as if the physical acoustic
environment were itself changing (larger or smaller room, etc.),
or as if parameters were changing holistically (raising or
lowering pitch, etc.). There are exceptions, but this is done,
for the most part, in terms of musical or other aesthetics. I'm
interested in something fundamental in a different way.

Traditional foundations of mathematics begins with such things
as logic, set theory, etc. - as you know, anomalies appear all
over the place (Godel's theorem is the most obvious example).
But the tendency now is to look at dynamics based on things like
category theory - in which there are objects and arrows, or
objects and morphisms and rules and structures emerging from
these. Arrows are also objects, objects can be morphisms, etc.
etc. I understand very little of this, but it's really relevant
to the kinds of global transforms that revrev or inversions
represent; I tend to think of dynamics applied through acoustic
spaces for example - at least that's where I'd like to go...

additional notes

music swallowing itself
== temporally / dynamically
determined w/ unexpected buffering
broad calculable frequency range
-- live performance, playing into the past and future -

Inverse dynamics: _fundamentally_ dependent on quality - human
decision making - the waveform treated as a material substance,
broken into independent parcels? (Think of this as a literal
granularity of the real, via several levels of abstraction: the
recording of the waveform in its initial configuration; its
banding; the alterations of the bandings; the reassembling of
the bands.)

The fragility and dirtiness of the waveform (taken as an
entirety): no 'clean and proper body,' but a body dissasembled,
a surgical body, a body of potential _incisions._)

The 'human project/ion' - simultaneous playing into past and
future: with revrev always a capitulation (double meaning of
word?) - temporal 'smearing' on the part of the player (as if
playing a song for example, but in this case the song resonates,
comes back as a haunting) -- Kristeva, p. 44: In this sense
_there exists only one signification,_ that of the thetic phrase
which contains the object as well as the proposition and the
complicity between then." In _this_ case, the complicity is also
a temporal unfolding/smearing, the memory of _what has not yet

There is also a memory of the program itself and its attributes,
an underlying structure that is always already a _process_ -
here is another accountable inherence of the world. One plays
within and without the program: one plays the world, within the
fragile boundaries of a temporary domain that is always
(vis-a-vis the program) bootstrapped.

Text of Borrowera (Azure Carter / Alan Sondheim; may or may not
be included with liner notes):


On borrowed space/Im making and making
I will lose this space/I will take my tiny house with me
Where will my tiny house go/where will my tiny house go
I am a snail in a shell/my shell is memory
My shell goes/where my memory follows
It was never my land/it was never my time

Im making on borrowed time
Im living on borrowed time
Im making on borrowed time
Im living on borrowed time

In my wandering/I have some tiny things
A form of capital/in a borrowed world
A political economy/to be sure
With borrowing/and small return
Oh where will/I set my tiny things
Oh where will/I set my tiny things

Im making on borrowed time
Im living on borrowed time
Im making on borrowed time
Im living on borrowed time

I shall walk/among my things
And my things/shall walk among me
May I be a thing/among things
And may things/be among me
A carapace/of things
New Jerusalems/and Shangri-las

Im making on borrowed time
Im living on borrowed time
Im making on borrowed time
Im living on borrowed time

Who will/preserve them now
Who will/keep them forever
Soon/I will lose this space
I will take/my tiny house with me
Where will/my tiny house go
Oh where will/my tiny house go

Im making on borrowed time
Im living on borrowed time
Im making on borrowed time
Im living on borrowed time

Im making and making
Im living and living
Im making and making
Im living and living


The pieces (more or less final):

01/17/2017  11:26 PM        31,456,378 acb.wav
01/17/2017  11:33 PM        74,095,784 afghaninvdynb.wav
10/07/2016  11:15 PM        78,973,000 borrowers.wav
01/17/2017  11:43 PM        31,325,620 clarabb.wav
01/17/2017  11:47 PM        15,073,798 composb.wav
01/18/2017  01:38 AM        46,132,712 danmoib.wav
03/26/2016  10:26 PM        25,265,492 exp3.wav
01/07/2017  12:31 AM        69,067,426 harbinger.wav
11/11/2016  09:11 PM        56,086,328 hegelmadalmod.wav
01/17/2017  10:32 PM        22,648,246 holelessb.wav
10/13/2016  10:18 PM        23,819,232 kala.wav
01/17/2017  10:41 PM        52,926,854 longsazb.wav
01/17/2017  10:43 PM        21,174,162 movement4b.wav
01/17/2017  10:50 PM        32,403,090 movement5b.wav
01/17/2017  10:51 PM        80,569,480 preludeb.wav
01/17/2017  10:59 PM        46,257,710 rab1b.wav
01/17/2017  11:03 PM       225,798,444 symphonyb.wav
01/17/2017  11:05 PM       103,392,308 thecriesb.wav
01/17/2017  11:14 PM        47,635,756 topquark2b.wav
01/17/2017  11:22 PM        32,029,866 violexb.wav
                21 File(s)  1,116,131,686 bytes

('b' indicates post-production)

Generated by Mnemosyne 0.12.