Webhamster Henry's Top 10 Imaginary Sound Events of 2023

  1. The sound of the Screwniverse Ujiji Tool R&D (2023)
    As Machine Learning apps branch out into new areas that have never been considered for optimization, the Ujiji Tool company turned its attention to simpler tools like wrenches, hammers and screwdrivers. Maybe there's a better way to make a hammer than the traditional way? Perhaps one that doesn't make everything seem like a nail!
    They especially turned their attention to the screwdriver. To train the algorithm, thousands of hours were videoed and captured as motion data on how people screw in screws. All kinds of screws: self tapping screws, lag bolts, stripped head screws, reverse thread screws, tiny watch-work screws, security screws, explosive bolts, and many more! The act of screwing in things by hand is especially fascinating because it progresses in a rhythm, which is bound by how far a wrist can turn. The periodic pulses of turning also put out a tiny squeak from the medium being screwed into. There's even a similar rhythm from electric screwdrivers and drills, with bursts of drilling to ensure a snug but not overly tight fit.
    The turn of the screw implies a feedback loop on depth, angle, and tightness, checking for split wood, stripping, etc. and all these factors inform the decision for how much pressure to put on the screw head, and whether to proceed, stop, or back the screw out.
    These multidimensional data are then analyzed into clusters and there are distinct, separated groups which correspond to screwing techniques, which can be ranked by efficiency. That's all well and good, but the training set contains a great store of screwy noises, which have been extracted and ordered by an abstract embedding of that multi dimensional screwniverse space into something called "screwiness", and output in order here for your enjoyment.
  2. The Rinse Saga Richard Wäschermann, Suds Deutsche Rundfunk (2023)
    A Radio Play (Hörspiel) that concentrates on reconceiving the Ring Cycle as a machine wash cycle.
  3. Ink cartridge synth demo Haa-haa Industries (2023)
    As you may know, the predatory economic practices of printer companies have put a computer chip in practically every ink cartridge so they can force you to buy more. As their marketing practices have grown more sophisticated, the carts have gained brains to go from simple ink use tracking to more sophisticated internet enabled upselling. But those tiny carts can be hacked, and when inserted into a late model Epson, it becomes an "Epsonic synthesizer" that uses the printer's built in Bluetooth connection to stream audio of, well, an 8-bit version of "Never Gonna Give You Up".
  4. Listening Longitude Sound Round (2023)
    Contrary to popular belief, the Earth is roughly spherical. Measuring where you are on the Spherical Earth generally results in a latitude and longitude coordinate. In honor of Longitude Day, July 8th, 1714 (O.S.) the date the law was passed establishing the Prime Meridian, precisely at noon UTC, an audio event occurs where audio streams from each longitude are available to be mixed as you please: a bit of the eastern and western hemispheres.
  5. Song of the Sun Ensemble C0 (2023)
    There are several factors governing string pluck or bowing frequency: the length of the string, the tension on the string, the material of the string, the mass of the string, and also the temperature of the string. Ensemble C0 has set up a quartet of aeolian harps, and each morning tunes them together so they are justly in tune with each other. That pitch is agreed on after a morning chant conference. In their corner of the world, in the shadow of the Alps, there's a wind called the Foehn is disturbing to humans, but also is strong and predictable. That can be used as a carbon free excitation force for the harps!
    But the twist is that a set of Fresnel lenses are also set up and adjusted daily to heat or not heat specific banks of the quartet's strings, and over the day, the pitches drift in synch with the sun. If they are lazy, they can set it up and leave it for a few days and it will play by itself, sounding like a tree falling in the forest, but continuously.
  6. K'nerimbau As cordas da boca (2023)
    Multiculturalism means that formerly isolated musical techniques can combine to provide a blending of artistic expression. "As cordas da boca" - the Mouth Strings - is a São Paulo based rotating group of Vietnamese expats and Brazilian locals playing new compositions and covers on berimbau and K'ni. Both of these instruments manipulate the timbre of a monochord in their own ways. A Berimbau is usually a string on a bow whacked with a stick that is modulated by covering the opening of the resonating gourd with one's belly. A K'ni is a similar monochord, possibly augmented by a drone string or two, with the resonator being placed in the player's mouth, facilitated by a membrane connected to the K'ni's bridge by a thin silk (or nylon) line. The two drone like monochords complement each other, and in a band setting, with a half dozen or so players on each instrument, with caxixi, cuica, and cabasa percussion on the Brazilian side blending with Sênh tiền coin clappers on the Vietnamese side. Covers include salsified Phương Tâm and Phạm Duy tunes. Sometimes melodies are played on an electrified Đàn Bầu because: Đàn Bầu.
  7. The B-Side of Dorian Gray Halley Basilard, MFA thesis Columbia U, "His Belated Master's Voice" (2023)
    B-sides came into existence with the Columbia Double Disk records in 1908, promising "Double value for your money plain as daylight" and "The music of Columbia Double Disc Records is the music itself, not merely our idea of what we can make the people think music ought to be!"
    However, researcher Halley Basilard has analyzed wear patterns in surviving examples of certain British recordings from the first three years of these two-sided discs. What she found will amaze you! Obsessive - even damaging - wear on the A sides of these recording had no audible effect, while the unplayed B sides grew worn, scratchy, and eventually started flaking. Indeed, scanned under an electron microscope, the A sides seemed to lose signs of telltale wear completely and even, when compared with earlier digital copies, showed signs of additional orchestration, in fact turning into "our idea of what we can make the people think music ought to be". This was at a cost. It's as if all the flaws of side A were manifesting on side B.
    Details of this research as well as other superstitious early recording mysteries are detailed in Basilard's master's thesis.
  8. Liquorish The Twizzlers, "Candytone Recordings" (2023)
    There is a fun old name for LPs, "Licorice Pizza", which was the source of the name of a 2021 cinematic farce by P. T. Anderson.
    But if you melt enough strands of licorice together and form them into a platter, you can actually play that on a turntable. The Twizzlers helped dissolve the stuff using comestible alcohol. A new perspective on tasty licks!
  9. The Listening Room Невидимый шум (Nevidimyj Shoom "Invisible Noise"), installation (2023)
    Good ol' Lev Termen was kidnapped at one point and forced to make spy tech for Stalinist-era Soviets. One of his brilliant inventions was a passive listening device installed in a nice wooden gift of the Great Seal of the USA that hung on the wall in the US ambassador's residence in Moscow. [Read way too much about that tech here]
    Anyway, Basil Yegorovitch Zhukov and his tech penpals in post-Soviet Russia took over an abandoned embassy building and put a passive listening device on every wall. Throwing pop up parties there, the building was swept with radio waves, and the interference from the devices' cavity resonances were demodulated into a multitrack eavesdropping mix, which was piped into an identical mansion across the street, with speakers where the mics were in the other house.
  10. Go.Fish Mastodon server, (2023)
    While we were all sitting at home playing Jenga with used COVID home tests, we all rediscovered the entertainment value of old board games. Our clouded brains perhaps were only able to enjoy chess second hand by binge watching QUEEN'S GAMBIT, so it was back to the simple stuff. Parcheesi. Chutes & Ladders. Old Maid. Go Fish. It's clearly the 2020s, so the Go.Fish Mastadon server was spun up on https://➡️.🐟, one of the first emoji based domain names, and by just monitoring the server's feed, you could play Go Fish all day.
    So what's the audio part? It has to do with the innovative Mastodon accessibility client TootSuite, which uses machine learning (what else) combined with its bespoke text to speech to provide an all audio interface to the system. For some reason, it was trained by Sri Lankans, so it has kind of a strong accent.