Radio~Sound~Art

RADIO SOUND ART
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Listen to “Radio Sound Art”

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.

Featured Artists:

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.

Tech Notes

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.

Joan Schuman

About
Joan Schuman

Joan Schuman has been making radio since 1986 and audio art since 1992, exploring such themes as gender, ambiguity, violence, language, and silence. She helped launch Outright Radio and produces features and sound art for national radio programs. She's been involved in community broadcasting on both coasts (WXPN in Philadelphia; KUSP in Santa Cruz) and now works independently in the Tucson desert. Her radio and sound works have appeared on the air, online, in galleries, and performance spaces throughout the US and parts of Europe.

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  • REPOST

    3.26.01

    Reply
    Radio~Sound~Art

    Author : jay allison
    Date : 03-20-2001 on 21:27

    Sound art, audio art, radio art… it’s probably old stuff to the crowd reading this discussion board, but to most Americans, it’s pure arcana.
    Joan Schuman made this short feature piece celebrating and bemoaning the state of Sound Art. Does public radio have a role to play in bringing this work forward? Is our hearing unchallenged by what the radio gives us? Does it matter? What do you think? Did this piece change what you think?

    (Is there a national program on public radio that would logically air this piece, never mind the art itself?)

  • REPOST

    3.26.01

    Reply
    Re:Radio~Sound~Art

    Author : carol
    Date : 03-22-2001 on 00:55

    jay (03-20-2001 21:27):
    Sound art, audio art, radio art… it’s probably old stuff to the crowd reading this discussion board, but to most Americans, it’s pure arcana.

    Arcana is unsettling. Americans do not enjoy the feeling of being in unfamiliar territory. Of not knowing the language. Not knowing the conventions of behavior or response.

    I am curious about the process of constructing a piece of non-linear work: how does one balance the need to be accessible with the possibly more insistent need to be challenging and clean?

  • REPOST

    3.26.01

    Reply
    Re:Radio~Sound~Art

    Author : jonathan
    Date : 03-22-2001 on 10:02

    jay (03-20-2001 21:27):
    Did this piece change what you think?
    (Is there a national program on public radio that would logically air this piece, never mind the art itself?)

    This piece is fantastic. I love a good narrative, but this made me realize that it’s not a necessity. Normally it’s the story that keeps me hooked, but here, it was the actual sound…something that it seems should happen in radio. It was like listening to a brand new record from your favorite band, headphones on, anxiously waiting to be surprised and moved by new sound. And then really being shocked when you are surprised and having to share it with your friends. "Oh my god, did you hear that!? Here listen."

    I can imagine Studio 360 airing this piece ABOUT audio art. But as far as place for the art itself, I don’t know.

  • REPOST

    3.26.01

    Reply
    Re:Radio~Sound~Art

    Author : Joan (producer)
    Date : 03-23-2001 on 08:51

    Carol’s comment about producing non-linear work made me think about the recent movie about Jackson Pollack. His quip responding to an interviewer’s question about how he knows when a painting is finished ("How do you know when you’re done making love?" he asks back) resonated with me. Carol’s question about the process and tensions inherent in non-linear sound work seem to be asking a similar question.
    The challenge of making non-linear work accessible to audiences unfamiliar to radio art is something show producers ask me often. Some are more open to this work than others. If there’s a thin thread woven through the piece, something to grasp onto, they’re more inclined to hear the work. I guage who’s listening. I run along the continuum of paid vs. gratis offerings. The goal is to get heard.

  • Joshua Barlow

    3.28.01

    Reply
    Accessability

    As a composer, I have always found the question of accessabilty quite intriguing.

    When it comes to radio, I think listeners have become conditioned to having narrative anchors and familiar structures to keep their attention. A greater portion of the radio audience will be listening while they are involved with some other activity: Driving a car, operating a computer at work, housework, etc… It is, unfortunately, a sign of the times. It is seldom that you will find a listener that will shut the door and the world behind it, sit down, and give the radio his/her complete attention.

    When a piece airs that actually requires the listener give a "DIFFERENT" and more involved kind of attention, I think Carol is right in that they feel a bit unsettled, and either tune it out – or switch to something more familiar.

    It’s not a reflection on the art itself. I had a girlfriend (believe it or not), who just shrieked every time I put on my CDs of the Stockhausen tape pieces, Hafler Trio, etc… She just though of it as grating and confusing noise. One day, I tricked her into going to recital of Berio’s "Visage." She left the hall in a trance – it was like some sort of religious experience in that venue. And that was the whole point – certain forms of art lend themselves more readily to certain venues.

    Radio (public or not) is a venue for the masses, and that is one of the greatest challenges to overcome for people such as Joan who are vanguarding more abstract and less predictable forms of audio work.

  • Joan Schuman

    3.29.01

    Reply
    on distraction

    I’ve had my sound work aired in various venues: radio broadcast, gallery installations, live performances in theaters. I like working in all these areas as not every piece works evenly in all three. Joshua’s girlfriend’s different responses to abstract sounds makes sense: in the theater, she was a captive audience with no external distractions.

    I’m in control when I put my work in a theater setting, audience members "seat-belted" in for the duration. But, I also love knowing that someone, somewhere, in their car, dusting their furniture, taking a bath, stops what they’re doing and focuses on the work. A friend recently heard a piece of mine and stayed in her car in the Office Depot parking lot until it was done (20 minutes later) because she was so captivated.

    People are not all predicatable in their listening habits. The random nature of listening is akin to the surprise visual experience of grafitti art, political postering, public, site-specific installation.

    What I wanted to do with this piece was make the form of the piece mirror its content: a sound collage about sound collage; or sound art about sound art. It was great fun talking with all the artists as we gathered for the Outer Ear festival in Chicago last year. It seemed we eliminated the need to translate our ideas to one another. Hopefully those not familiar with this art understand a little better what we do and why we do it.

  • Rich Halten

    4.04.01

    Reply
    How about the new satellite radio networks?

    Joan: Have you or any other audio artists approached Sirius or XM, the two new satellite radio companies? They seem dedicated to returning radio to a true entertainment experience again, and will certainly have the channels to experiment (they are promoting 50 to 100 each).

  • Joan Schuman

    4.05.01

    Reply
    satellite radio

    Rich:

    No, I haven’t approached Sirius or XM although via AIR, the Association of Independents in Radio, of which I’m a member, approached Sirius with questions about their purchasing programming. As I recall from notes posted to the AIR Listserve, Sirius was willing to pay a pretty minimal amount (say, $50 for previously broadcast and/or finished pieces). AIR did not want to accept such a small producer fee.
    It’s interesting what public radio, and now satellite offshoots are willing to pay for content. If these offshoots claim they’re going to have many more channels, you’d think they would be willing to pay for content.
    That said, I’m still curious about them, but I don’t want to give my work away to a place that seemingly has the money to pay for content.
    Oh, and will I ever be able to listen to all these channels? Not in my car, that’s for sure.
    If you find out anything, please pass it along. I’m sure we’d all benefit from it.

  • Andy Knight

    4.05.01

    Reply
    What about cable/satellite services?

    What about existing direct radio services like musicchoice (provided over directTV systems)? I don’t know about the other services, but musicchoice has 2 variety stations that feature everything from live (well, taped-live actually) concerts, special interviews, and topic-specific shows (like a gay news show and an international-pop show called ‘pop goes the world'(which is the
    i most horrible
    show I have
    i ever
    heard!)).

  • Steve Peters

    4.05.01

    Reply

    I can only say that it is incredibly sad that nobody seems to have any idea where a piece like this could be heard on the radio, let alone the actual work it is about. Sad because radio has become a creative wasteland when it has the potential to be one of the most creative media forms out there. Sad because people who control radio still insist on worrying about the great bugaboo of "accessibility" – if even one person won’t like it, it has no place on the air. Many of the people who make such decisions are people who should know better. I found that a good way to get this stuff on the air is to bypass the usual control channels – release it on CD and send it out as promos, then the DJs will play it and it flies in under the radar of Program Directors and other enlightened authorities. Anyway, good work Joan, thanks for trying to give some of us weirdos a voice. Nice to know there’s another desert rat doing this stuff.

    Steve Peters (composer, sound artist, producer, volunteer programmer at KUNM Albuquerque)

  • Andy Knight

    4.06.01

    Reply
    What?

    Sad because radio has become a creative wasteland when it has the potential to be one of the most creative media forms out there.

    Creative wasteland? What station are you listening to? Just because a station doesn’t play ‘radio art’ it’s considered a wasteland? Ridiculous! I don’t know about your public radio stations, but my local NPR/PRI affiliate makes room for local programming that can be pitched by any Joe off the street. Maybe a local ‘sound art’ show wouldn’t air until 3am on Tuesdays after the BBC world news, but if your dedication to the art is so intense, a crappy timeslot or an un-enlightened authority won’t hold you back. My local meager-city is lucky enough to have 3 public radio stations, one of which has nothing but local programming (and one all classical). You could get a show on a completely indy public radio station with relative ease (if the guy who has M.S. and uses a computer to speak for him can get his 2 hour long all-German-Techno show (or whatever), you should be able to get an hour for ‘radio art’). Not enough freedom? Set up your own internet station.

    Sad because people who control radio still insist on worrying about the great bugaboo of "accessibility" – if even one person won’t like it, it has no place on the air.

    You’re fooling yourself if you think it’s a matter of a few people who don’t like ‘Sound Art’ who keep it off the air. It’s a matter of the very few who
    i do
    like sound art. Public Radio survives on shows like Car Talk, Whad’ya Know, Wait Wait…, TAL, Fresh Air, etc… Stations have bills to pay, and if a national sound art show can’t bring in enough pledges to support itself, it winds up hurting the local station’s budget (specifically the budget for local programming and staff). Wouldn’t it be irresponsible of any station to put itself at risk for so few people, no matter how noble the effort? For lack of local support, our local classical station will no longer be broadcasting the local symphony. Is it a loss? Sure… But the station is barely able to pay the utilities and it would be insane to lose the entire station to keep the few people who pledged during the show happy.

    Why is it so unacceptable that so many people don’t want to listen to it anyway?

  • cw

    4.06.01

    Reply
    why is it so unacceptable that so many people don’t want to listen to it anyway?

    because possibly listeners don’t want to listen to sound art because they’ve never had an OPPORTUNITY to hear it. maybe listeners would like it if they had the opportunity to listen to it– which in my town they don’t often get to do and in even smaller towns near here they NEVER get to do. maybe producers who make decisions are deciding for listeners that they don’t like it ahead of time.

    my mother recently saw her first foreign movie with subtitles. my mother is 63. prior to this experience of mainstream video stores in the south starting to stock these things, she had never seen one. she would prob. have gone so far as to say she didn’t "like" them. well she saw one and she liked it. surprise.

    in new orleans during the recent on and on public radio fund drive (yes I gave/mom gave, and we’re both lower middle class/or would that be working class/I forget)– they kept threatening to do away with klik and flak. now I for one have nothing against klik and flak, but in new orleans it took us YEARS to get This American Life, and This American Life is not an entirely RADICAL show.

    now the station here assumes that people here value klik and klak above all. this is obvious by how they are targeting their fund drive ("Wouldn’t want to lose klik and klak and their uncanny observations on everything from life to fanbelts, would you?" they threaten).

    now i have heard people around say they like This American Life, which previously,not having had the OPPORTUNITY to hear it, they would not have known they liked it. i heard still more supposedly conservative types talking around town about enjoying the lost and found sounds program that played here on fridays around the turn of the millenium.

    that is the closest to sound art that wwno has aired. lost and found sounds. and people liked it. and there hasn’t been any (or much more) aired here since then. why?

    i think there is just a much a place for non-linear sound art on npr as there is a place for terry gross to interview visual artists about abstract art that radio listeners can’t even see. more a space, actually. i also think it is simplistic and rude to tell someone to go make their own radio station on the internet or ham radio or whatever.

    everyone doesn’t have that kind of time, money, or resources. esp. writers and artists who have to hold (sometimes several) other jobs to support themselves. it’s not like we live in a country w/ heavy metal musician stipends or artist doles or anything. thus public radio, being public, should consider the non-linear and stop assuming that the listener is too stupid to "get" anything. it’s dumbing down the whole country based on presumptions (or poss. fact, but if it’s facts, what are these facts? i’m curious. that some people change the channel? oh well. i change the channel during the business show and during thistle and shamrock but they’re still on the radio.)

    the college radio station here does sound art at times. sometimes people call in and holler TURN THAT DOG BARKING EUTHANASIA HIP HOP TRANCE CRAP OFF. sometimes they call in and say they like it. that’s life.

    but npr here in louisiana is so rigid, as i’m sure it is in many other underfunded stations in the country. or conservatively/classical gas run stations. i’m not sure what’s the chicken and what’s the egg.

    talk in circles!
    cw

  • cw

    4.06.01

    Reply
    and one more thing

    To quote one of the Kitchen Sisters and switch folders here just in case you people in big cities or vineyards don’t believe accessibility to public radio Programming and not just classical music is an issue:

    "We had never heard PR before – no one in our region aired it and no one around us was doing produced pieces."

  • Carol Wasserman

    4.06.01

    Reply
    Accessibility

    1. Public radio MUST be made available to everyone, everywhere. Period.

    2. The democratizing of public broadcasting implies a democratization of content. So that there is room for the didactic and the humorless and the earnest, as well as programming which is innovative. Or stolid and middlebrow. Or even silly and meant to do nothing more than entertain.

    As long as the mix is one which remains fresh and yeasty.

  • Andy Knight

    4.06.01

    Reply

    >because possibly listeners don’t want to listen to sound art because they’ve never had an OPPORTUNITY to hear it.

    Then why don’t you make sound art available? Are you waiting for someone else to do it for you? If this is your thing and you believe that it should be made available then suck it up, build a presentation, march into a PR station and pitch away. Tell them you want to produce a show for national nighttime distribution to compete with an hour of BBC world news or latenight jazz-o-rama or whatever. Tell them how you believe that there is an untapped audience out there and how you plan to make the show self sustaining. If they turn you down, get in your car and head to the next station, city, or state.

    i If you don’t do it, who will?
    It isn’t because of those who don’t like radio art that it isn’t available on a national level… it’s because those who do like it aren’t taking it upon themselves to make it work. Do you expect to raise awareness and demand for radio art with the expectation that this will get Station Managers chomping at the bit to make a radio art show? It has to go the other way around. Ira Glass had to make his show and make it available before the demand for his show could ever exist.

    i Nothing worth doing is ever easy.

  • auntclo

    4.07.01

    Reply
    sound art must go out and DIY it but other many other a crappy writer can just send an essay in and read it on npr?

    Ira Glass perhaps had a career in mind. I don’t presume to know. Not all sound artists, I imagine, want to have to remake a wheel that already exists and that they are paying for with donations and tax dollars. Equal access is the only issue I’m questioning. I am saying that it doesn’t currently exist and asking why. Editorial control or really the will of the public to be protected from sound art? For you to keep saying over and over ad nauseum that one type of content must build its own wheel and "suck it up" but other types of content can be ushered in with fanfare is ridiculous. Aren’t there existing formats this type of work would fit into? How can it be that that horrendous fake Cowboy Veterinarian Poet I hear during the news doing his 2 bit and continue his ride between stories but sound art needs to buckle down and put its nose to the grindstone and make its own way like a good hard worker bee and get an advocate who wants to make it his/her life mission to do an entire sound art show?

  • Andy Knight

    4.07.01

    Reply

    Sure, go ahead and blame existing shows that do just fine without sound art. No doubt, you’re right… you are
    i entitled
    to air time during Morning Edition, All Things Considered or any other show that is currently successful without sound art. The producers are
    i ignorant
    to ignore your right to have your work replace the work of others. Obviously sound art is superior to all other forms of commentary! Why, it even has the word ‘Art’ right in it! You shouldn’t be expected to create your own vehicle. Painters don’t come together to make their own galleries, performance artists and actors don’t make their own theaters… oh, wait… yes they do… they do it all the time! But sound art is different… it
    i deserves
    to have others promote it.

  • Steve Peters

    4.07.01

    Reply
    Steve Peters – Kaboom!!!

    Whoa, I seem to have dropped a little bomb here. I can’t speak for the folks who have picked it up and run with it, but only try to make clearer my original intention, which was not so much about attacking anyone as bemoaning the overall lack of creative vision being brought to the medium.

    I do not believe that there needs to be a regular avant garde segment on All Things Considered or Morning Edition, as someone has implied. And I don’t think it’s a matter of artsy fartsy sour grapes on my part. Obviously experimental sound art is not everyone’s cuppa tea, and I don’t expect it to be or believe that it ever will be, nor do I think it should be jammed inappropriately into mainstream contexts where it will almost certainly be met with hostility. Nor is it my desire to attack more mainstream programs. They have their place.

    My point is simply this: radio has great potential as a creative, artistic medium. Sometimes that potential is exploited, but only rarely, especially in the USA. I believe that in the past it was exploited more (think radio theater, for starters), but in recent decades radio has become increasingly a source of unthreatening entertainment, background noise, and a system for delivering consumers to record companies, advertisers and underwriters. We seem to have forgotten that radio was ever a creative medium.

    In certain other countries there is a tradition of radio as an artistic medium. Such work is not loved by everyone in those countries, but it IS seen as valid, and there is room made for it both financially and in air time. Artists are commissioned by radio stations to create innovative work which falls outside of the usual production categories. Granted that this situation is not as robust as it once was, as other countries have their own economic problems and cultural debates to contend with. But it does exist, and is common enough to be recognized as a distinct genre, separate from avant garde music, radio theater, or documentary.

    In this country, most PR stations do not even have decent multitrack production facilities, and what equipment they do have is often the domain of news and public affairs programming. Very few volunteers seem to gravitate towards production of any kind, preferring instead to be DJs, and this is not discouraged. There is no syndicated program in this country for adventurous radio art (New American Radio, R.I.P.), and it’s pretty hard to hear even basic radio theater – not because it isn’t being made, but because not many stations are willing to program it. PR prides itself on being a home for marginalized voices, ideas, etc. Yet this type of programming is an example of where it consistently falls short of that premise.

    Since the NEA/CPB funding debates of a few years ago, PR has generally fallen all over itself to be viewed as "accessible" rather than "elitist." True, this is a response to genuine economic hard times. But I would argue that dumbing down programming and protecting potential listeners from hearing anything that might be a tiny bit unfamiliar to them is not really serving anyone in the long run. Keeping challenging programming off the air or ghettoizing it in 3 AM slots does not offer listeners the opportunity to have new artistic experiences and decide for themselves if they like them. More than that, it limits the chances of anyone producing anything adventurous or experimental because they don’t have any frame of reference for it. I’ll bet if you asked all the volunteer and paid staff at any given PR station to name one radio artist (other than Joe Frank), or one work of radio art that they liked, you’d get a lot of blank stares. To some extent this is because they have not had the opportunity to hear such work. We sound artists can crank out thousands of pieces, but if they don’t get on the air, or are only heard when everyone is asleep, it doesn’t go far towards sparking creative ideas in other potential producers by expanding their idea of w

  • Steve Peters

    4.07.01

    Reply
    Kaboom!!! continued

    …We sound artists can crank out thousands of pieces, but if they don’t get on the air, or are only heard when everyone is asleep, it doesn’t go far towards sparking creative ideas in other potential producers by expanding their idea of what is possible to do with the radio medium – or building an audience. If nobody makes it, nobody hears it, and vice versa.

    Since the primary excuse given for keeping experimental radio art off the air is framed in terms of finances and economic Darwinism, it seems most productive to address the issue there. If distributors like NPR or PRI don’t feel it is financially viable for them to distribute such programs, and if the people who run PR stations don’t think they can afford to carry them (a vicious circle if ever there was one…), then we artists need to figure out how to get around that. The idea I mentioned previously of disguising radio art in the form of promo CDs is one strategy I consider viable, especially in this age of the CD-R. And there is the extra advantage that the work then sticks around in the station’s record library and can be aired at any time by any programmer who wants to do so, as opposed to being beamed down off the satellite and heard only once during an officially designated time slot.

    It also helps to develop a relationship with the station in your town. The university/NPR station here in Albuquerque doesn’t produce experimental work (they DO have a radio theater dept.), nor will they pay for it, but they are open to it if approached, and there are several DJs who I know will play this stuff if it gets to them. So it’s just a matter of bypassing the naysayers and getting the work directly to those who do the shows. And yes, it’d be great if lots of people who care about this kind of work would take it upon themselves to host a radio art program on their local station (do not settle for 3 AM if you can help it…) and network with the artists who make it. I’m sure they’d find the artists happy to send work free of charge if asked for it. An easy way to do this if you can’t get your own air slot is to make friends with someone who does an experimental/electronic/contempo classical music show, and be an occasional sub or guest programmer on their slot. Those audiences are most likely to be sympathetic to challenging work, and are used to tuning in at a certain time for it.

    Ok, I’ve gone on long enough. But hopefully this clarifies my original (apparently inflammatory) statement.

    SP

  • K Washington

    4.08.01

    Reply
    What’s The Hubbub, Bub?

    I truly enjoyed listening to the piece on sound art and found myself very excited about the possibility of creating my own pieces. Then I came to the message board – Gloom, doom and no real conversation about the joy and discovery of the creative process. Nor do I see any creative problem-solving on the issue of getting things heard. No one thought photography was worthy of being shown in a gallery until Alfred Stieglitz created his own space. Looking to radio stations to solve the problem may not be the answer.

    I think from now on I’ll let the work on this site inspire me while staying away from the message boards. For a new producer such as myself it’s depressing.

  • cw

    4.09.01

    Reply
    message boards- depressing?

    I apologize if I depressed anyone.
    I apologize if I dampened anyone’s creative flow.
    I apologize if I hurt anyone’s feelings.
    I apologize if I sound hostile. as those who know me know, I’m not hostile– just argumentative.
    I don’t believe discussion/critique kills creativity.

    i like the idea of going directly to the source/cd-rom suggestion person. going directly to smaller sources is what i and many others i know have done in the past. it works. usually larger sources look to the smaller sources and pick up bits and pieces.

    i however AM arguing for a place at the table for sound art right on morning edition. i have a good laugh when people write in to the radio to say some story "ruined their breakfast." i do not think it is the obligation of public radio to make everyone’s oatmeal delicious and the kitchen warm fuzzy. that is what installing kitchen islands (TM) and kathy lee (R.I.P.) and regis are for.

  • cw

    4.09.01

    Reply
    p.s. everyone has a right to have their car fixed in a funny way on the radio

    they also have a right to some good old fashioned sexism in that mix.
    wife, girlfriend, female driver and mother-in-law jokes? still funny after all these years. there’s just not enough good old fashioned sexism in media right now. esp. towards women.

  • Joan Schuman

    4.10.01

    Reply
    Sound Art Kabooms

    Well. the discussions have certainly turned bitter, vitriolic AND lovely.

    Perhaps some of my own experiences can shed some light on the issues being discussed here.

    I have little problem getting my work on the air. I send it out via CD as someone suggested earlier. I follow up (ad nauseum) to producers and eventually, they air it (I think). Whether it airs at 3 AM or not really isn’t my concern. They air it. Someone hears it. Someone is challenged to listen in a new/different way. The only "payment" I get is satisfaction knowing the work is being aired. Recognition. An email here or there. A request for an interview. That’s about it.

    I have plenty of debt.I have my own editing equipment, purchased way before you could download the free ProTools software. Radio producing and sound art work is becoming much more accessible (as is evident with the current featured pieces on Transom). I’m an artist and I happen to also be a radio producer. I’m lucky, in some ways, to have a marketable skill (digital editing, etc.), but I’ve decided to spend much of it making radio and sound art rather than conventional radio (it bores me, but I do it sometimes for the money; I’ve done it, won awards for it). I’d rather be paid for my art, if I can. Can I?

    What I have been trying to do recently is get my work PURCHASED by national programs with bigger bugdets than a local community/college radio station who may already be airing the work. I’ve had some nibbles. Transom, of course, being one of the few places. The very first radio art piece of mine aired on New American Radio in ’93. Other risk-takers have included "Beyond Computers" (they aired weekly short pieces for 3 months before the Exec. Producer "accidently" heard one of those things at the end of the show (as he described it) and cancelled the sound art segments. I got paid to produce sound art for a few months. Wow.) "The Next Big Thing" airing on WNYC is trying to incorporate quasi-sound art pieces into their show, too.
    And of course, there’s Experimental Sound Studio in Chicago who put on a sound art festival — a three-week event featuring radio art, installation and live performance. I got paid a little stipend and went to Chicago (where I met all those radio artists featured in the piece). So that’s another way to get paid, get access, get heard.

    These nibbles were preceded by a couple of experiments at my then-local station. In ’98, I walked into KUSP in Santa Cruz and pitched a (free) series of short pieces that would air randomly in the schedule. The Program Director backed my idea up entirely and the pieces aired for 6 of the 13 planned weeks. The opposition was not from the listening audience, but from the volunteer programmers at this highly progressive public radio station. They didn’t like their 2 or 3 precious hours of programming interrupted by a two-minute sound piece.

    The listeners responded enormously however: I got over 20 emails (in 6 weeks) saying they liked what they heard. In years of doing radio, I’d never gotten that kind of feedback. It was great.

    Later I produced (again, for free) a 13-part audio art series (15-minute pieces) that featured other artists. People loved it, but only those that heard it at midnight on a Tuesday– mostly my friends who I made stay up and listen. So, clearly time of airing matters, despite my saying I don’t care if it airs at 3 am.

    Like I’ve said in earlier posts, I work the continuum of paid and non-paid gigs. Sure, we’d all love to be paid (and paid well) for our art. But most artists work this way, whether it’s radio, a gallery, a theater. We don’t let go of our day jobs. Some of us work in radio, administratively (I have done so, on and off). I’m trying to shift into a different realm by sneaking in the door of somewhat conventional public radio programs and getting sound art featured there.

    I think it’s preposterous to suggest that one single producer try to make

  • Joan Schuman

    4.10.01

    Reply
    Kabooms continued

    Hey, my screed didn’t come through completely. And I was just getting worked up.

    What I was trying to say was this: Radio is a great medium. Don’t waste the airwaves. Getting heard on the radio is of utmost importance to me…not just getting heard online or on satellite. Radio is free. This is an important factor. I think it’s preposterous to expect a single producer to make a national sound art program. in my dreams, i’d love to be that producer, but i’ve got to eat, too.

    That’s my screed.

  • Andy Knight

    4.10.01

    Reply

    Joan, are you going to participate in the Third Coarst Festival?

  • Joan Schuman

    4.10.01

    Reply
    third coast fest

    Yes, I’m planning on participating at the Third Coast Festival. As a matter of fact, a sound piece of mine is being featured on the website (http://www.thirdcoastfestival.org) the week of May 8th (it’s called, "Speech Acts"). i forgot to mention the brave folks at Third Coast who I think are really trying to incorporate all kinds of audio into this first-time audio festival.

    check out their site.

  • Carol Wasserman

    4.12.01

    Reply
    Explaining the Cowboy Veterinarian Poet

    auntclo April 7, 2001 06:32am
    How can it be that that horrendous fake Cowboy Veterinarian Poet I hear during the news doing his 2 bit (can) continue his ride between stories but sound art needs to buckle down and put its nose to the grindstone…

    I am not in a position to explain the mysteries of funding for the arts. And am even less qualified to make judgements on popular taste. Nevertheless, Baxter Black, the Cowboy Poet in question, is part of an energetic folk tradition which enjoys the support of an unlikely demographic.

    Exhibit A – the following article from the conservative Weekly Standard:
    http://www.weeklystandard.com/magazine/mag_6_28_01/croke_bkart_6_28_01.asp

  • Andy Knight

    4.12.01

    Reply

    That link didn’t work for me, I had to walk my way to the right article. Start with http://www.weeklystandard.com/magazine/ then click "archives" (you want the archive for February 2001 – present), then "April 2, 2001" (Jesse Jackson on the cover), then "The Cowboy Poet and the End of the West — A trip to Elko, Nevada" under "Books & Arts".

  • Carol Wasserman

    4.12.01

    Reply
    Corrections Welcome

    Thank you, Mr. Knight.

  • Jay Allison

    4.12.01

    Reply
    kharma

    Carol’s link worked fine for me, but then, I’ve been good today.

  • Andy Knight

    4.12.01

    Reply

    What are you trying to say, Jay? Are you implying something about my karma? Look, I made my blood sacrifice to the .asp gods today, I fed the kids I keep in my closet (except for Bobby, the lil’ whiner), I even stole less money than usual from the quadropelegic (sp?) beggar who hangs out near the parking garage. Good Karma abounds! I also know that it has nothing to do with my connection or browser settings… I waxed my LAN card today to improve download speeds and I have my security levels set on "Only Hardcore Smut and Sites Dedicated to Spreading Evil." Oh, that’s the problem… the
    i Weekly Standard
    doesn’t spread evil, it only festers and cultivates evil.

  • cw

    4.23.01

    Reply
    Interesting Essay on NPR About the Forced Dumbing Down of America

    Some guy this weekend, I only caught the essay half-way through, was arguing that the problem with National Poetry Week was what he characterized as its rabid fixation on "accessibility" versus "quality." of course quality is subjective and I don’t know who this guy was or what the first half of his essay agenda was/ but I thought he made some interesting points about producers of national poetry week assuming the numbness of the American public thus ensuring it (by continuing the "numbing down"/which he argued was also paternalistic) via the airing of poetry that wasn’t the best out there. it struck me that this was applicable to this discussion somehow.

    c.
    p.. it’s turn off your iv week everybody. hint, hint

  • Carol Wasserman

    4.23.01

    Reply
    National Poetry Month

    This article may also be relevant – it made at least one old poet cringe.

    http://www.citypaper.com/2001-04-11/books.html

  • cw

    6.12.01

    Reply
    spellcheck strikes again

    i didn’t say it was national "turn your IV off week" or speak of the "numbness of the american public"

    but i too am beginning to enjoy spellcheck dada/daddy

  • Jay Allison

    6.21.01

    Reply
    Program Note…

    This piece of Joan’s found a happy home on NPR and will be airing this weekend on Scott’s show:

    "Radio~Sound~Art" airs this Saturday (6/23) on Weekend Edition at 10 minutes to the hour, i think towards the end of the show (maybe 8:50 am EST).

  • Patty

    6.23.01

    Reply
    Re: Radio~Sound~Art

    American adults may be uncomfortable with the non-linear, but their children are not. I teach theatre grades 6-12 in an independent school in Richmond,VA (commonly referred to as "a hot bed of social rest". I use "sound art" as warm-up and exploratory material for high school students, but grades 6-8 simply love making sound art for art’s sake alone. We call them "sound-scapes."

    Where can I locate DC’s from Jan and the other artists to help inspire my students?

  • Stan Reed

    6.24.01

    Reply
    Sound Art / Sound Sculptures/ Sound Scapes/ Experimental/ Noise…

    Very interesting to hear a piece on the experimental scene on NPR! I have been involved in the "industrial, experimental, noise" scene since the mid 80’s, mostly of European origin (Nurse With Wound / Current 93, Organum, MB, Zoviet France, Hafler Trio, Mirror, DDAA, Nocturnal Emissions, NON…) and also the Japanese scene as well (Merzbow, Ruins, Boredoms, Hanatarash,Fushitsusha, Slomania…).

    I have my own experimental/noise project called PLETHORA. It is based on found sounds, electronic noise, tribal trance beats and manipulated vocal work as well. Basicly…if it makes a sound…I can use it to create a peice. I call them sound sculptures. (for information and cd sales contact stanarchy93@hotmail.com)

    I am interested in meeting and collaborating with other experimental artist of all types (paint, sculpture, photo, performance, sound, silence…). So please contact me or send me contact info for others interested in the same. I am living in Seatle Wa now, but with the technical age that we live in collaboration is a breeze!

    Thanks for the segment on the show yesterday!

    stanarchy93@hotmail.com

  • Joshua Barlow

    6.24.01

    Reply
    Sound Art on Weekend Edition

    For those who found it here first, it might be interesting to hear this piece as it was broadcast on Weekend Edition with Scott Simon. Here’s the audio link:

    http://www.npr.org/ramfiles/wesat/20010623.wesat.08.rmm

  • Joan Schuman

    6.26.01

    Reply
    something to listen to

    I want to offer a couple of URLs for the woman who’s teaching her students to listen and make sounds/art (a wonderful thing you’re doing!):

    The Chicago artists and I met at the Outer Ear Festival sponsored by the Experimental Sound Studio: http://www.expsoundstudio.org/

    You can get ideas (and order CDs) through:

    Harvestworks: http://www.harvestworks.org
    CDE Music: http://www.cdemusic.org/

    Some more radio/sound art-oriented links:

    Hearing Voices: http://www.hearingvoices.com/
    Darren Copeland’s site: http://www.interlog.com/~darcope/home.html
    Art@radio: http://media.umbc.edu/~artradio/

    Many of these sites will have links pages.

    Thanks for listening and thanks for teaching a new generation to hear things and make art out of sound.

  • JakeShapiro

    6.27.01

    Reply
    the Sonic Sculpture

    Earlier these year when I was a producer for The Connection with Christopher Lydon we did an interesting show on sound art with Ron Kuivila, focusing on "sonic sculpture" and inspired by an exhibit at the Museum School in Boston. Here’s a link to a page with the RealAudio archive:

    Sonic Sculpture

    Cheers,

    Jake Shapiro

    jake@christopherlydon.org
    http://www.ChristopherLydon.org

  • Stan Reed

    6.27.01

    Reply
    Joan, I am having problems emailing you…

    Hey Joan, thanks for your reply. I tried to reply to your reply but kept getting "Delivery Status Notification (Failure)" in return. Would love to communicate more! Need a different contact mode!

    -Stan

  • Esposito Rob

    8.06.01

    Reply
    Where’s Joan’s CD?

    To Joan Schuman: I loved the piece on NPR a couple of months ago. So evocative–everything music could be, should be, and is. After a long career as an independent artist touring internationally, I’m now a professor of dance in Washinington DC and have made my own soundscores over the years. (My mentor, Alwin Nikolais, used Bob Moog’s early synthesizer and often used ‘sound concret’ and tape techniques to create an environment for dance theatre.) My MFA thesis linked theories of dance and linguistics. I am particularly interested in hearing your "Speech Acts" but am having a devilish time finding it. Where, oh where, can I obtain a CD of what sounds like a fascinating work of art? Also, there’s so much I’d love to talk about re: modernism, abstraction, narrative, literalism,voice, fragmentation, deconstruction, reconstruction, etc.

    Have you done any collaborations with choreographers? Would you be interested?
    Rob E. < worldance@yahoo.com >

  • Michael Joly

    11.17.01

    Reply
    Transition Sound For Transom.org?

    I’m looking for feedback.

    What does the transom community think of the idea of composers/musicians/sound artists creating short "transition" compositions for the site? There are several composers in residence here, it would add to the richness of the space to hear from them.

    I’m hearing :10, :20, :30 second compositions that would be in rotation among the discussion board threads and shows. Visitors could click on bits of transition sound between shows or perhaps a longer form compilation while reading discussion boards.

    I’d suggest that the range of sound and compositional techniques be left wide open – the only caveat being the pieces submitted are original and recently recorded short form works specifically prepared for Transom.

    Transom Editorial & Production Staff – Does this sound like it would add a lot of overhead to your maintenance of the site?

    I know there are lots of places to showcase sound on the web, but my desire is place sound in the context of this particular community of active radio listeners.

    Thoughts?

  • Joshua Barlow

    11.17.01

    Reply
    Hmm…

    That’s an interesting idea. The trick is, as you said, to put it in context of what we are doing here. We should brainstorm on this a bit. I’m in Cambridge, if you r interested.

  • cw

    12.21.01

    Reply
    i like the idea of sound compositions on transom

    but that is just me, a reader

    cw

  • Michael Joly

    12.21.01

    Reply
    terrific, now there would be at least one listener!

    If we get two more we can start a movement, then a manifesto gets published. Who’ll bring the absinthe?

    At the rate this discussion is progressing I’ll plan on doing a piece using rocking chair creaks as source material.

    Happy Solstice to all readers present and future!

  • cw

    3.12.02

    Reply
    I like crickets

    I think it would be great to turn on NPR in the evening in the summer and get about an hour of river crickets. Any takers? Jay?

  • Michael Joly

    3.12.02

    Reply
    Crickets and other location sound

    One of my favorite cricket sound variations happens when the crickets in a field are separated by a dirt road. So there’s a left/right stereo spread.

    The thing about crickets is that they’re listening. Walk down this dirt road in between two fields of crickets and snap a twig, the crickets will stop. Totally messes with their rhythm.

    After a while they start to chirp again and I enjoy the moment when they reestablish their back and forth pulsing dialog across the road.

  • Joan Schuman

    3.16.02

    Reply
    cricket music

    Hi. I like the idea of sound interludes, too.

    Talking about crickets, it reminded me of two sound artists/musicians:
    Hildegard Westerkamp’s "Cricket Voice," and David Dunn’s "Chaos and the Emergent Mind of the Pond." Both are on the now-defunct CD series, "The Aerial," put out in the 90s by Nonsequitur. They both take ambient/insect singing and make music. Loevely stuff.
    Goes with CW’s idea of hearing crickets on NPR in the summer evening.

  • beedge

    3.16.02

    Reply
    On Crickets and Desire

    Scott Carrier: One Pure Thing
    http://www.openletters.net/000710/carrier000713.html

    "…but a cricket chirp or a telephone ring comes as one pure thing…."

    "For the Chinese the cricket is a symbol of enlightenment. I think this is because of the paradoxical nature of the chirp – it seems to fill space, and yet it seems to have no location – a natural koan."

  • Michael Joly

    3.17.02

    Reply
    Crickets, Desire and Cicadas

    beedge,

    thanks for the SC link, can’t wait to check it out. I’m inspired to find an old piece of tape and post a link of a cab ride I took from the Beijing airport into the city in ’91.

    The radio in the cab is on – two female voices hosting a call-in program, the cab is rattling and squeaking and the windows are down to let in the sound of a 10km Cicada blur.

  • cw

    3.24.02

    Reply
    there’s a terrible like 5 hours of plaintive barking at the aspca cd out there

    a friend of mine used to play it on his college radio show.
    anyone heard it? it was a benefit cd, i think, for, the aspca– which is kind of inverted now that i think about it.

    i’m going to send that cricket info to my bugman/entymologist friend and see what he has to contribute about the stereo L/R affect. that is truly weird. he says some crickets and bugs in south america are so loud they sound like a foghorn

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