A Primer on Sound Art. Producer Joan Schuman talks to six audio artists about their work and why people listen, or don’t.
The “arts feature” is a rather common phenomenon on public radio, but this one has a non-customary blending of form and content, which may be one reason it has not yet found a broadcast home – and it’s why we were interested in it for Transom.org. Also because of its subject. Sound Art. You’d think it’d be a natural for public radio, wouldn’t you?
There is little tradition of Sound Art on the radio in the US. In the early days of NPR, you could hear it from time to time, and there were bastions like “New American Radio” that held out for a while. Most American practitioners found friendlier company, and audiences, overseas – Germany, The Netherlands, Australia, etc.
Why? Why not in America? Attention span? The tyranny of story? If not on public radio, then where? (as they say in public broadcasting’s fundraising promos)
Do our ears get stretched enough on public radio, exercised? Or do we prefer to have expectations met? Headlines, weather, a story with some music.
Does this piece make you think about any of that, change your mind? You can discuss it here.
Terry Kapsalis and John Corbett (collaborative duo) featuring Dead Level; Carol Genetti and Eric Leonardson (collaborative duo) featuring Animism; Joan Schuman, featuring Speech Acts; and Lisa Kucharski, featuring Liquid Snow.
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I like the mobility, affordability, size and quality of mini disc technology and have been using it exclusively for my field recording since 1997 (SONY MZ-R30 Walkman with a SONY ECM-MS907 hand-held microphone). Much of my recording feels “analog” despite the use of a digital machine; there are no automatic recording levels built-in to this early model. It keeps me aware that I’m always using potentially fallible equipment, whether old or new. I use my ears to inform me of the best recording possible.
As usual, I did the interviews as conversations — between two or more artists in comfortable locations over lunch, in an un-used studio, in a living room.
Once back home, I dubbed the sound through my analog equipment (MACKIE 1202-VLZ sound board; ALESIS RA-100 amplifier; Baby ADVENT monitors) and into my computer (Power Computing MAC – the one before the G3s!). I have my sound programs (editing and mixing using DECK and SoundEdit 16 and any processing using Hyperprism) on the internal drive and do the editing and mixing on the external hard drive. Once the piece was done, I mixed it down to my external hard drive (this compresses the file considerably) and then burned a CD using a Yamaha CRW6416SX writer.
My studio equipment is 5 years old (except for the CD writer which is 2 years old). For what I need it to do, the equipment has not become obsolete. My new G4 laptop will help jump the hurdles in communications — specifically to FTP my files rather than relying on the Post Office to deliver my CDs.