Change Ringing (FM)

Brian House

Writes House, "Striking clocks have been a part of the soundscape for centuries. By rendering audible the passage of time, the technology of the clock bell created a temporal body of the populace within range of its tone. Today, however, our networked culture has created communities marked not by a shared sonic environment, but by the exchange of data, as the vast amount of information produced by our activities online and in the physical world has rendered its own patterns of daily ebb and flow.

Conducted during a residency at the Wave Farm in upstate New York, Change Ringing (FM) invokes the spirit of a town striking clock for the electroacoustic community created by the local WGXC-FM transmission. Each hour, on the hour, a short musical piece is broadcast. The piece does not toll the hours — rather, it is the sonified data of physical and online phenomena experienced within the geographic broadcast area. This includes astronomical measurements (sun, tides of the Hudson estuary), weather phenomena (heat index, wind, visibility), and interaction on social media (Twitter and Foursquare). Additionally, a wireless network of sensor systems (utilizing Raspberry Pi mini-computers) report sound- and motion-triggered events produced by fauna on the Wave Farm property itself. Each piece is generated at a scale of 1-second to 1-minute from the data gathered in the hour prior.

The bell-like tones of the music are produced entirely via FM-synthesis. After an introductory chime, the fixed set of notes toll in a sequence inspired by the traditional practice of change-ringing — however, rather than permeating in succession, the bells play at variable tempos that follow the contour of their data sources. The result is varying micro-melodies that shift according to conditions and produce a indication of the temporal landscape that is recognizable, though unique, with repeat listenings.

Via the radio waves of WGXC's signal, Change Ringing (FM) produces a feedback loop between the physical geography and digital, electromagnetic, and musical encodings. It reflects on what is gained or lost in these translations and the implications of how we measure and communicate time.

More information:
Wave Farm / WGXC Acra Contact Info
Mailing: PO Box 13 Acra, NY 12405
Main Office / Acra Studio
(518) 622-2598
WGXC Office
(518) 697-7400
WGXC Hudson Studio
(518) 828-0290
WGXC Feedback
(518) 212-7509
Wave Farm / WGXC Acra Studio: 5662 Route 23 Acra, NY 12405
WGXC Hudson Studio: 369 Warren St. Hudson, NY 12534