Sampling Is Sexy

March 30 2014

I would like to talk to you about sounds, and about how we can collaborate on a short, simple project. Don't be afraid; let me explain.Every day, I record at least one sound from my environment. Today it was a hollow floor board that stuttered like a faulty trumpet, yesterday was a jackhammer on the sidewalk, and a couple of weeks ago: a howler monkey asserting his territory. My idea is to collect these sounds once a day for 10 years. As of this week, I will have successfully completed one and a half years.

My intention is to sculpt the sounds into pieces of music. Sometimes I find the inherent shape of a recording and preserve it - for example, a squeaking ceiling fan might produce such an outrageously complex tone that I will map it to a keyboard and play it unaffected - while sometimes I might change the character of a sound into something completely unrecognizable. I have found that by forcing myself into this simple routine, my ears are more aware than they ever have been. Also, the pieces of music that I make are now imbued with specific geographical and temporal meaning. The song that I am currently writing would not be the same without the howler monkey.

Now for our collaboration - Please send me a sound from your world. It could be a voice memo on your phone; pristine audio quality is not the point. It could be the birds outside your window (for those of you living outside NYC), or your coffee grinder. Short and sweet (under one minute) will be ideal. I will make a piece of music utilizing all of the Listserve sounds that I receive and dedicate it to you. For proof of my work, you may refer to the blog that shares the name of my email address: Sampling Is Sexy.

In lieu of an inspirational quote, I will close with this:

Help kids make music. Everyone has something to learn from the awareness that young people bring to creating art. Whether practicing traditional instruments or using recording technology to manipulate sounds in the manner mentioned above, it is incredibly important that children be offered the opportunity to listen and make sounds of their own. Developing the discipline to listen closely to the world and then respond to it is an invaluable use of attention.

Thank you for reading.

Charlie Van Kirk
[email protected]
Brooklyn, NY

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