20200531

Muzak: On Functional Music and Power (1992) Simon C. Jones & Thomas G. Schumacher. A straight to the bones text on the ideology of functional music. The text offers a good overview on how Muzak is designed and how it effects people who are subjected to it. There are even some statistics on how it effects worker efficiency.

For Adorno, one of the functions of popular music was to distract workers from the monotony of increasingly rationalized and mechanized work. It treated the symptoms of alienation and subordination, alleviating boredom and fatigue but without removing their causes. Popular music was, in the end, little more than “social cement,” reinforcing existing social relations and power structures – entertainment as containment […] The stylistic regularity and harmonic simplicity of Muzak suggests a secure, private, domestic world that signifies the comfort and security of home in terms of a particular, bourgeois conception of domestic well-being. Its aim is precisely to make one “feel at home” whether in an office, factory or airplane.

I remember reading that Muzak is used in shopping-centers to make the violent experience of moving with an elevator from a level of where fur-hats are sold to the floor where butchered meat is sold more coherent. Muzak removes the post- from modern. A contemporary application of the text would be a critique of ambient-music and earphone-culture as processes were individual wellbeing is build by enforcing technologically segregated private spaces. With the emphasis on audio quality as a class signifier: Headphones which boost bass tones are deemed working class. Interestingly personalized ambient spaces are disseminated into public trough shared curated playlists.

A trajectory from Muzak, 90ties World Music, Vaporwave (which I recognize Skweee as) to Ambient would be interesting to explore. I think each genre responds to political detachement and cynicism. New march-music for the welfare state can be sought from: How to Kill a Zombie: Strategizing the End of Neoliberalism (2013) Mark Fisher.

Neoliberalism consolidated the discrediting of state socialism, establishing a vision of history in which it laid claim to the future and consigned the left to obsolescence. It captured the discontent with centralized bureacratic leftism, successfully absorbing and metabolizing the desires for freedom and autonomy that had emerged in the wake of the 60s. But – and this is a crucial point – this isn’t to say that those desires inevitably and necessarily led to the rise of neoliberalism. Rather, we can see the success of neoliberalism as a symptom of the leftist failure to adequately respond to these new desires.

Made a Manhattan style PCB for a FM transmitter. I used a LM7809 to stabilize the power input and even without an antenna the unit can cover our flat! The sound is really good and quirky. Bass tones etc. get broadcasted well and when I wave my hand over a receiver other FM broadcasts seep to the same channel. This emphasizes the pocket-like-folds the mini-FM makes to the radio space (which Kogawa’s texts underline). Interestingly when I broadcast simple waves in close proximity of a FM receiver and boost the volume of the transmission the sound feels like a wavefolder. Couldn’t get the Charles Kitchin FM receiver to work yet. It might be that the J113 is not a perfect replacement for the MPF102 or my coils are missaligned. Found a detailed tutorial on how to build the unit Radio Shack Special (2008) by braincambre500 and I’ll retry the build. Also sourced parts for The Simplest FM Receiver by Miomir Filipovic which uses two transistors and only one coil. Fitting the transmitter and received on the same PCB will be challenging as the Kogawa transmitter is so powerful. I might have to add a switch to the eurorack design to toggle the unit to work either as a transmitter or a receiver… I also think that the tuning capacitors should be lifted from the ground somehow. Cleared my workbench and I’ll try to build a working unit this summer.

ARRADIO by n³ is a CV controllable FM radio module, which works like I would like. I might be able to figure out the radio module (its build around a TDA7088). The CV input option is something I want to implement too.

gnsk has build a Radio Sender radio transmitter in Eurorack format assemblage. Nice and simple. The builder is using it for feedback loops.

RF Nomad by Evaton Technologies tunes to frequencies from approximately 9.6 to 10 MHz and decodes the audio as single sideband they also offer a AModulator SDIY companion module which can encode audio inputs into a amplitude modulated RF signal (implementing the send&receive dynamic I’m working towards).

ADDAC102 VC FM Radio (~300€) affords channel seek using CV and it can find channels automatically. I really like the stereo implementation! My FM received module could have stereo output too (and a summed output). I imagine this can great nice phaser-like sounds.

RADIO by ST modular is an analog FM RADIO with an automatic channel-search functionality. It is based on a BK1068 FM radio IC.

FM Radio vox is a clever add-on for the Polarix Extensible Modular Yabber which offers a good interface for radio (not sure how fast it’s for tuning channels thou).

BEATS FM is a FM radio built into an instrument by xaudiosystems. It has a filter and a delay effect for audio mangling and the receiver frequency is CV tunable.

While not a module (yet) a 74xx-defined radio (2021) a c i d b o u r b o n offers notes AMD schematics for the development of an oscillator controlled radio receiver.

20200509

Designing Winterbloom’s Big Honking Button (2020) theavalkyrie. A solid rundown on how to design eurorack modules. The text is informative and teaches how to read schematics, how microcontrollers work and what goes into designing a module. The honking button seems fun but a little gimmicky. Build a simplified USB +/-12v&5v power-supply based on this discussion. Opted for the Meanwell DKM10E-12 and the palm size board I assembled offers ~ +/-420mA! I’m now sourcing parts to make my own USB A-B cable (all of the cables I had caused power drop issues). Planning piezo-amp units and dreaming of a complex ramp generator or LFO/SLEW/ENV 1.1 by Kymatica.

Some links on the site don’t work but the protocol seems usefull for haptic devices: “Buttplug is an open-source standards and software project for controlling intimate hardware, including sex toys, fucking machines, electrostim hardware, and more.”

Sourced parts for radio transmitters & receivers and learning of the strange world of radio. Wide-band WebSDR is an interesting online radio project, the purpose of which I don’t understand (for testing transmissions?). Spectres of Shortwave a 2016 film by Amanda Dawn Christie seems interesting. Also listening and reading more Tetsuo Kogawa stuff. Found two great performances of his which use radio as a medium (radioart). In Looking for the Silent Interference (2018) the artist stacks transmitters which are broadcasting on the same frequency to produce audible ripples in radio waves (I think this is what he means by “folds” in radio space, referencing Adorno). In A Simple Way of Radioart (2019) he uses a pair of transmitters and receivers to produce a feedback loop which tone is depended on how he plays the transmitter antennas. In some of his texts he talks about hands as instruments and both examples are very good examples of this: The shape of his palm sets the sound. I cannot reach him using the email on his site, I’ll have to reach out to his colleges. Here is a quote from A Radioart Manifesto (2008)

When does radio become into radioart beyond being a medium? For newspaper, for instance, paper is a medium. […] How and when paper becomes an art? It is when the material of “paper” changes itself into a different material. Whatever you write and draw on a sheet of paper, it remains a medium. Therefore such attempts create not paperart but art on the paper. And when you crumple up it, it becomes a garbage. Adorno argued that “all post-Auschwitz culture, including its urgent critiques, is garbage”.

This “garbage” (Muell) is, however, not a worthless thing but a new material of art in Adorno’s critical perspective. In my interpretation, post-modern arts (arts after the modernism) starts with Adorno’s “garbage . His argument advocated “trash art”. But considering his critiques against the electronic mass medium such as radio and television we can argue that the most post-modern material as “garbage” would be airwaves.

Thinking about how airwaves as garbage become an art, the aforesaid example of paper might help us. When a sheet of paper is crumpled, it becomes garbage and at the same time it has many folds. They damage the material as a writing/drawing paper but change this material into another. Giles Deleuze provides an interesting understanding on fold although it is in relation to Leibniz’ monadology. A labyrinth is said, etymologically, to be multiple because it contains many folds. the multiple is not only what has many parts but also what is folded in many ways. [sic]