Advertising Results

I recently ran an advert on Facebook. Ok, yes, Facebook is evil, but it was £7 for a week and the whole idea was so ludicrous that I gave it a go.

Originally, the advert was directed at US-based fans of Christian rock music, but they were so profoundly disinterested, that I started worrying a bit about wasting my money and so broadened out to also include Canadian fans of noise music.

My advertisement ‘reached’ 1,267 people. Which means, it was placed in the feeds of that number of people. Not that they saw it at all, just that it went into their feeds. Of those, 22 people interacted with it some way. 15 of them clicked ‘like’. One of them liked my page (more useful). One of them actually shared my promoted post!

So I went to his page. He shares everything he sees. Which is mostly about cars, guns and war. His 13 facebook friends probably have him muted.

Of the 15 people who liked the post, I ‘invited’ all of them to like my page. Two or three did.

Facebook does not tell me how many people clicked the link through to my shop. However, Etsy gives me statistics on views.

31 people found my shop via Facebook. I can’t say how many of them came from my advert, but I think having 17 views from Canada is possibly unusual.

I’ve also been promoting this round of commissions through blog posts (like this one), twitter and Diaspora. Etsy also is a traffic draw. Over the last 30 days, there have been 224 views of my shop, which may or may not mean it’s been seen by 224 people. 29 People came via twitter and 3 from my blog. Views peaked on Friday, when my shop had 60 views.

16 people actually got as far as looking at a listing. One person favourited the listing. Nobody commissioned me.

It’s worth noting that only nine of my facebook visitors came from the non-mobile website and the rest were mobile users. this may be a reflection of the growing importance or the mobile web. Or there is the tiniest possibility that it’s more strongly related to the facebook mobile UI. Users complain frequently that it’s impossible to use and they keep clicking on adverts accidentally. But, if it looks like clicks to advertisers, why would facebook fix it? It’s not like their users are their customers.

I think it’s clear that I just wasted £7, spending it on ineffective, annoying evil. It’s like selling your soul to the devil for a subway sandwich.

I started this project nearly 10 years ago. Before crowd funding sites and before patreon. Both of those models are potentially well-suited to this project. Indeed, in many ways, they’re both better suited than my model. If I had done crowd-funding, I could have made naming tracks rewards for sponsorship, which is more or less what I’m doing now, but with a model that makes a bit more sense and guarantees that people will actually end up with the album at the end. If I had gone with Patreon, I would not be wedded to the one-minute-of-noise format I’ve chosen, as subscribers would be supporting my output more generally. It would, however, create pressure to make and post tracks frequently enough that I didn’t feel guilty for taking people’s money. Through sponsorship and reliable posting, there’s a potential I could grow my listener base.

This is not a good time of year for doing this sort of project, which may have performed better before Christmas. Every time I do it, I worry I’ve exhausted my social capital. People who commission me are usually only one degree away. Once in a while, I’ll get somebody two degrees away. Alas, my original, foundational hope that people would hear their friend’s commissions and want one for themselves has not come to be.

On the other hand, I started this before my PhD, something which did force me to take along break from it. I do it when I feel like it and pause it when I don’t. I have a lot of control over when I’m not working on this project, which is something I needed towards the start.

I’ve got another advert about to run on a porn blog. Will anybody commission me from it? Probably not, but at least this one will result in a new piece of music, so I don’t care.

This is an advert right here. Have you noticed it? Have you ever clicked through? Have you ever wanted to commission short bursts of noise for the same amount of money I spent advertising that possibility? Go for it! Order now for this Valentines Day!

Send me your dick pics

Friends, Romans, countrymen, send me your dick pics! It’s for an art project.

You might want to encrypt them first. It turns out the UK’s government has the world’s largest of dick pics. Not because civil servants are extra-randy, but because they’ve intercepted them. From people’s private webcam conversations. Which is another way of saying they’re all stolen. Which is another way of saying: those dick pics are yours. You took them (or other intimate pictures involving your own anatomy) to share with someone special and now they’re in the mitts of Davey Cameron.

(Don’t worry about this too much unless you happen to resemble a ham. He’s probably not personally seen them. Anyway, if you haven’t done anything illegal, you’ve got nothing to hide. Aside from your dick pics, if you have some completely unreasonable notion that you should be able to control the distribution of these pictures and resent third parties taking copies of them mid-transit. Like a terrorist would think.)

If you would like to send me your dick pic, but prevent it from falling into the hands of spads, feel free to encrypt it. To be extra-secure, you need not send me your decryption keys. I will not decrypt your images because, despite me asking for photos, I don’t actually want to look at your knob.

I’ve been commissioned by one of Tumblr’s popular porn blogs to create a minute of noise. And what better to use than actual sexy images? Oh sure, some people might suggest using sexy sounds, but still images have a certain quiet grace to them.

There is a type of harsh noise practice called ‘data bending’, which is very easy to do. The image is played as if it were a sound file. This method of music make would allow me to turn your dick pic into something that’s completely unrecognisable. Especially if you send it encrypted!

This is conceptual, but it seems reasonable to make an ode to dick pics out of dick pics. And hopefully we can all learn about encryption in the process. One of the best ways to encrypt a single image is GNU Privacy guard. You can also use this to encrypt lots of your different forms of communications. There’s a brief introduction to it in this Lifehacker article.

So please send me your GPG-encrypted dick pic, but not any of your keys. Also, let me know how you would like to receive credit for your contribution.

You too can commission romantic or sexy music. Order now for this Valentines Day!

What is Noise Music Anyway?

The question I am most frequently asked about my commissions is, ‘What is noise music?’ An excellent question!
Noise music is incredibly diverse, from the lush drones of Éliane Radigue, to the aggressive edge of Elizabeth Veldon, to the quiet whispers of Maggi Payne, to the subversive raucous of Cosey Fanni Tutti to the glitchy digitalism of Shelly Knotts. There is also, of course, a specific context and history of the genre, starting with Russolo’s Futurist manifesto, The Art of Noise, up through early industrial and bands like Throbbing Gristle and then Japanese noise from people like Merzbow. But even though this is important, let’s talk about what sonically unifies these many different sounds of noise music, rather than the cultural bit.

Different kinds of music have different elements that are their primary focus. For example, Bach chorales are largely about harmony. Christmas carols are about melody. And a lot of current pop music is primarily about rhythm. Noise music is about timbre. That means the quality, or texture, of the sound. There can, of course, be all of these other elements in noise music, but a noise composer is very often trying to create a collage of sounds that are interesting based on texture.

Unlike other musical elements, there isn’t really a specialist vocabulary for timbre. Sounds might be described as ‘rough’ or ‘smooth’ or ‘glitchy’. Practitioners talk about this roughly the same way as listeners do. While noise music isn’t exactly new – the Art of Noises was published in 1913 – it’s still very much an area being explored, not fully codified in the way that other musics might be.

In fact, you can make noise music yourself! Although noise has not historically been given much consideration, any new parent can tell you that babies love noise. Humans are attracted to this kind of music from their youngest moments. We all are born with an attraction to these kinds of sounds. So you can experiment yourself at noise making and try recording some sounds that you think are nice. Your might use the microphone on your phone, your camera or your laptop (or a regular mic if you have one). Try dragging your mic along different surfaces, to record the sound of the physical texture. How does your sofa sound vs a wall? How do different kinds of bricks sound? Or try putting your mic next to something that makes interesting quiet sounds.
Pause for a moment and listen to the place you are at. What do you hear? Maybe your laptop fan? A refrigerator? A kettle? A copy machine? Passing cars? If you put the mic very close to the source of these sounds, sometimes the recordings can reveal hidden depth. Maybe your office copy machine has a quiet rhythmic clicking as it copies.
Now that you have all these recordings, you can try to arrange them. Audacity is a free program that might be useful for this. Or maybe you want to listen to them as they are. Play your collages or recordings for a friend. Now you’re a noise composer!
If you have a bunch of recordings you like and want to commission me, I can use them as source material. Commissioned music makes a great gift for babies or for Valentines Day! Order yours today!

The Holiday Rush Is On!

If you’re like me, you’ve barely started your Christmas shopping. I know it’s naughty to put it off so long, but sometimes it takes me a while to think of just the right gift. And sometimes I need deadlines for motivation. And, this is really a bit of a personality flaw. I was on a first name basis with the person responsible for assessing late fees at my uni when I was 20.
If you were thinking of getting a bespoke noise music for a Christmas gift this year, fear not, fellow procrastinator! I can deliver two more noise pieces in time for the holidays! If you want a physical disk, be warned I send them via first class post from London, so I can no longer guarantee arrivals of physical disks in time for Christmas for anyone overseas. It will probably get around England in time.
If you are ordering a digital delivery gift and aren’t sure how to give it, you could try burning your own disk or using other physical media such as a memory stick. Or I could generate a QR code you could put into a card.
Don’t delay too much longer, as I need a bit of time to make the piece and to do my own Christmas shopping!
Noise music doesn’t end with Christmas, so if you need to give a gift in January or for Valentines Day, I’ll be here to help. I’m working on some exciting plans for noise in 2015!
Bespoke noise music makes a great gift. There are only two order left in time for Christmas! Get yours in NOW!

Do you love noise music? Do you have fashion? Drop me an email if you’d like your image to be in forthcoming posts about noise and fashion

Noisy Week

I’ve posted TWO noise music commissions this week and sent a third to the patron who commissioned me. I’ll post it as soon as she gives me a title.
The first one was in honour of the birthday / retirement of Paul Berg from Sonology. One of his former students organised a large number of short commissions, which were compiled together in something they called ‘The AC Jukebox’, titled for the software that Paul developed. I talked a lot about the piece on my podcast, where you can read the notes of how it was assembled and some reminiscences on having Paul as a teacher.
The next piece I posted was commissioned by Lauren Redhead in honour of her friend, Caroline, who had a birthday. The party was last night and I have not yet heard how it went down as a gift, so here’s hoping it was well-received!
This was a digital piece and since it was my first digital piece in this series, I went a bit overboard with the processing. I wrote a SuperCollider script to generate 10 short source sounds and then used other scripts to manipulate the files as if there were images. I set up a lot of batch processing to go through them. I like this processing method a lot, and so will have more to say about my scripts shortly. I’m calling the suite of tools autoglitch!
Lauren told me that Caroline likes harsh noise, so this piece is a lot of glitching with no reverb. It’s dry digitalism! I did have to run it through a short SuperCollider script to remove DC bias, which was very helpful to make it speaker safe without changing the perceptual sound. You can give it a listen on my podcast.

Making that piece created a load of weird, glitchy images, which are also nice. The ideas that lead to this piece and this way of working are very much from talking to Antonio Roberts, who had lots of helpful suggestions and who posted his own tutorials on glitch art. His stuff is great.
As for the piece awaiting a title, I don’t want to say too much about it yet, but I will say that the commissioner had a bit of a poppy sensibility, so I used some compression and faux plate reverb.
If you’ve got a friend with an upcoming birthday or want to give something really original for the holidays, consider giving the gift of noise! If you order now, delivery is guaranteed in time for Hanukkah or Christmas!

Do you love noise music? Do you have fashion? Drop me an email if you’d like your image to be in forthcoming posts about noise and fashion

Acoustic Noise

I’ve just posted a new piece of noise to my podcast, which was commissioned and titled by David Jensenius.

Shorts #31: 1416343620

The title he gave me is the unix timecode (aka: the time expressed as milliseconds since Midnight 1 January 1970 GMT) that he received the commission.
I’ve always had a particularly hard time coming up with titles. Sometimes, it took me as long to title a piece as it took to write the piece in the first place! When I first started this commissioning project, I was somewhat thinking of Mark Twain.
In one of the Tom Sawyer stories, Tom has been told to paint a fence. Since he doesn’t enjoy the task, he starts thinking of ways to get somebody else to do it for him. He could pay them, but he doesn’t have much money. He decided to use psychology instead. He would convince other boys that painting was really fun and they would ask to do it. Then, he realises, if it’s such a joy, they might pay him for the chance to paint. All those pick-your-own strawberry fields are based on the same principle.
I hate picking titles, so therefore, other people should pay me to do it for me! Of course, there’s more to a commission than that! There’s the knowledge that you’ve caused a new work to exist, and a piece of music made just for you!
David wanted an acoustic piece, so I recorded a bunch of sounds around my house. The house is still being painted and the dog was still quarantined, so this combination limited my access to hard drives full of archived recordings (waiting for music to be put into) and made it hard to go out into the world and get new recordings. Fortunately, there’s a lot of fascinating little sounds in the home. I’ve been intending to record my tea kettle for some time, and this finally got me to do it, with my zoom recorder. (Surprisingly, the wider angle microphones got a much nicer recording than the close ones, so keep that in mind, should you decide to record your own kettle.)
I got one extra sound that just did not fit into David’s piece. I recorded myself growling into a microphone, which made a nice harsh noise sound, but the rest of this piece was not harsh. Fortunately, I found a good application for that sound: the Swift Noise Compilation.
A few weeks ago, Taylor Swift released 8 seconds of white noise to iTunes, which topped the charts in Canada. In dedication to her chart topping short noise single, a tribute album is being put together of 8 second long noise pieces. This is extremely short, even for me!
The brief said white noise, but I strayed from that. My growl was only about 4 seconds long, so I ran it through PaulStretch and then used sox to cut it to exactly the right length:

sox –norm stretch.wav trimmed.aiff fade 0 00:00:07.98 0.07 pad 0.02@7.98
This trimmed the sound to 7.98 seconds, with a 0.07 second fade out at the end and 0.02 seconds of silence after that. Then, I used Audacity to put a stereo plate reverb filter on it. I love plate reverb and if I lived some place quiet, I’d try to get a real one.

My next acoustic commission will have a wider world to draw from, as my puppy is now finally clear to walk anywhere I’d care to take him. Today he will have his first trip to a dog park!
I’ve got another commission in my queue and then after that, I’m free to work on yours! Commissions make great gifts. If you order in November, delivery is guaranteed in time for Hanukkah or Christmas!

Do you love noise music? Do you have fashion? Drop me an email if you’d like your image to be in forthcoming posts about noise and fashion

New Noise

I’ve just posted a new piece of noise to my podcast, which was commissioned and titled by Dan Stowell.

Shorts #30: A lazy afternoon in the shade

The title he gave me is a reference to the Philae comet landing. Dan asked for analogue noise, adding he wanted ‘undulations’, if possible. I made some sound that seemed fairly undulating to me, which I recorded in five tracks, all somewhat different from each other. They used my new Gravity Well module from Circuit Abbey, which does orbital modelling. Since I was checking for comet news in between recording, this seemed to fit with the feeling of the day. I decided to use the comet mission as a metaphor for how to mix the piece.

Synth patch for second commission

The first part has a slower undulation and a slowly looping cycle, which I imagined like orbiting the solar system. Then it goes to a much tighter, shorter loop, like orbiting the comet. Then it goes into a nice low rumble, like rocket engines. Finally, it ends with a very low clicky sound, like the comet might be making. Thinking of it in this way really helped me to organise the material, which had more variation than I would normally use for such a short piece.

Comet patch

However, a problem became apparent when I tried to listen on my laptop’s internal speakers. The nice low rumbles were too low for my speakers! However, in the meantime, an actual comet sonification was released by the ESA, which is striking for a few reasons, including how beautiful it is and how much it sounds like synthesis! I decided to emulate it, with a pulse wave and white noise going through a resonant bandpass filter, with (alas, digital) reverb added on in the mix. This filled up the top frequencies and also gave it a good cadence at the end. It definitely made it a stronger piece, but I think it overwhelmed the undulating
Normally, in such a short piece, I would have three closely related ideas. This piece, however, has enough ideas for a piece two or three times as long. However, if I were going to do one thing different, it would be to use a different reverb. I’ve been wishing I had spring reverb for more than 20 years now, so maybe it’s time to finally give in.
There are a lot of reasons you might pick to commission a piece of music, like just because you want to be a patron of the arts! Commissions also make great gifts. If you order in November, delivery is guaranteed in time for Hanukkah or Christmas!

Sounding Good

Last night, I decided to do the final mixdown of the latest piece while sat in my living room, through my internal speakers. I recorded a bunch of sounds that used my low pass filter, because it’s really got a very nice, Moog-y sound. What the sounds don’t have are high frequencies, because of the filtering. Which means when I went to mix them, there was nothing at all coming out of my speakers.
It happens to be the case that, as laptop speakers go, mine are particularly bad. But, judging from the statistics of people reading this blog, most of you aren’t on mac either. When I got this computer, I told myself that the terrible internal speakers didn’t matter, because I would never use them and would always plug into better speakers. That’s what I told myself, at least. The reality is that I sometimes listen to stuff, even noise and other non-pop music, through the internal speakers. And it’s not reasonable to make somebody a commission and then dictate that they have to use special speakers to listen to it. I’m going to have to record a bunch of new stuff, with higher frequencies in it.
This issue of mixing for laptop (or earbuds or internal phone speaker) was first brought up in popular music by Bjork in her 2001 album Vespertine, which was specifically mixed to sound good on a mac laptop. In the 13 years since, all of pop music has followed her. If you’ve ever wondered why bass lines seem to be missing from most top-40 dance-y singles, this is why. They don’t sound good coming out of an internal laptop speaker or internal phone speaker and a lot of ear buds distort them.
Of course, all of pop music is, on some level a response to technology. singles are the length that they are partly because of the durations of wax cylinders – the first recording medium. But as a bass player, a tuba player and a composer, I have some nostalgic feelings for low notes. I think the answer to the conundrum is to mix carefully – make sure the piece sounds good coming from just laptop speakers, but leave in the low tones, so when people put it through better equipment, they get a nice surprise.
If you or someone you know wants to make a commission and don’t care about laptop speakers, let me know, and I’ll subwoof it up! Otherwise, you’re getting music engineered to sound good no matter how you play it. Noise music commissions make great gifts for people, whether they’re low-fi or high-fi! If you order in November, delivery is guaranteed in time for Hanukkah or Christmas!

Do you love noise music? Do you have fashion? Drop me an email if you’d like your image to be in forthcoming posts about noise and fashion

Learning while making

I’ve just shipped off the first commission! I can’t say much about it yet, as it’s surprise birthday present for someone, but I’ll post a copy to my podcast shortly after their birthday arrives.

The patch for the piece I am sending off today

I learned a bit while making it, about how to better use a module I’ve had for a long time. Also, I think I set a personal record for most cables used in a single patch! It doesn’t look like much in the picture, but only because the black cables, are hard to see against the black synth and they outnumber the other colours. Details of what I learned and what all those cables were doing will go into the programme notes when I post the audio later.
I’m already hard at work on the next one, which I was making while updating on comet news. Probably all the sounds are recorded, so I’m just mixing it now. I thought it would be a good idea to do some more manual-sounding fades and pans, so I’m using some physical faders. The online documentation was a little bit spotty on how to get this work, so I’ll put some instructions at the bottom of this post.
Noise music commissions make great gifts, for birthdays, the holidays or just as a surprise! They are delivered not only as audio, but with a story of how it was made – including influences and even some instructions on how to recreate the sounds! This especially fun for people interested in music or sound design! If you order in November, delivery is guaranteed in time for Hanukkah or Christmas!

Using midifaders with Ardour on Linux

These instructions are for a NanoKontrol2, but will work for many other popular faders.

  1. The Ardour manual starts out very well, so follow it’s instructions to get going.
  2. Start Ardour.
  3. Go to qjackctl and click the connect button.
  4. Expand all to find the NanoKontrol2 in the list on the left.
  5. Draw a connection between the NanoKontrol2 on the left and Ardour on the right. (You will need to make this connection every time you start Jack and Ardour.)
  6. Go to Ardour and open preferences.
  7. Go to the Control Surfaces tab.
  8. Enable ‘Generic MIDI’.
  9. Then double click generic MIDI.
  10. A window will open listing a bunch of control surfaces.
  11. NanoKontrol2 is in the list twice. The one that mentions ‘Master’ maps the 8th fader to the master faders and has seven channels for tracks. The other one uses all faders for tracks.
  12. NanoKontrol2 does not support touch, so you will be able to use this on tracks when they are set to ‘Write’ or ‘Manual’, but not when set to ‘Play or ‘Touch’.
  13. Record enable will not behave correctly unless you run the NanoKontrol2 configuration software in WINE

Do you love noise music? Do you have fashion? Drop me an email if you’d like your image to be in forthcoming posts about noise and fashion

Gluten Free Noise!

All noise music compositions are 100% gluten free and contain no soya based fillers, and are suitable for vegetarians. One listener asks:

My friend is allergic to nuts and to noises made with nuts. For example, he cannot listen to the Nutcracker. Is your music processed in a facility that also processes nuts? Is it possible to commission a noise piece with no trace amounts of nut noises?

Yes, this is possible!
For people with such, ahem, severe nut allergies, any music recorded in or previous to 2006 may contain traces of nut sounds. An audit, undertaken this morning, indicates that all music from 2007 onwards is entirely nut-free. If you have any specific allergies, for example, to nut sounds or equal temperament, please make this clear when placing your order. (Some pieces on my podcast may contain traces of 12 tone equal temperament, but none of the past commissions do.)
Commissioned pieces of music make great gifts for hard-to-shop for people! Delivery is guaranteed in time for Hanukkah or Christmas. Order now! The introductory price of £5 will only last until Thursday.

Do you have any questions of your own? Let me know and I’ll answer them in a forthcoming post!

Do you love noise music? Do you have fashion? Drop me an email if you’d like your image to be in forthcoming posts about noise and fashion