↬ Twenty-one – 12: Positive

Hi, I’m Rudiger Meyer and this is my monthly newsletter covering what I’ve been up to and what’s been catching my attention.

The FutureStops organ podcast continues to supply a stream of goodies – this time an interview with Sandra Boss who recently did the sound and music for Syv lag, a Poetisk Podcast based on Julie Sten-Knudsen’s (Danish) poetry collection of the same name. Sandra wrote about the process (in Danish) for Poetisk Podcast’s newsletter – which is archived here.

Ellen Arkbro put together a beautifully crafted playlist for NTS. Ranging from David Bowie to Stina Nordenstam (of course) and including a fine song of her own. There’s a (Norwegian) review of a recent performance of hers, and a thread of screenshots of the English version on Ellen’s twitter.

Ellen and Kali also participated in the performative Modular Organ installation at the CTM festival.

Existing in the liminal space between installation, environment, performance and concert, »Modular Organ System« is a multi-part instrument built from numerous sound generating objects that can be controlled by computer.

As much a sculptural installation as it is an instrument, the heterogeneous structure’s openly visible components reveal the intricacy and adaptability of its design – pipes, wind chests, air hoses, electromechanical components are laid bare in their striking physicality.

And moving to something more easily portable here’s the Striso board, something a little closer to the Sensel Morph experiments I’ve been making. A project with perhaps the most delightful Kickstarter video I’ve ever come across. Really brought a smile to my face. It has MPE and comes with a number of tunings, including pythagorean and ¼ meantone, pre-installed.

* * *

Each year I revisit the Pinboard bookmarks I’ve collected during the course of the year, and pick out 24 of them as a kind of advent calendar – one for each fortnight, moving through the year chronologically.

The first for this year was Robin Rendle’s visual essay on Newsletters:

It bothers me that writers can’t create audiences on their own websites, with their own archives, and their own formats. And they certainly can’t get paid in the process. (Although yes, there are exceptions).

That got me thinking about an article on micropayments that I’d read on Jeremy Keith’s website a while back.

The problem is with how you then actually get hold of any money that is owed to you from micropayments. Coil doesn’t handle this directly. You have to set up a “wallet” with a third-party service and therein lies the problem.

They are all terrible.

I’m not talking about the hoops you have to jump through to set up an account. I get it. This is scary financial stuff so of course I’ll need to scan my passport and hand over loads of information (more than is needed to open an actual bank account with, say, Monzo).

No, the problem is the stench of crypto.

And if there was any doubt here’s an article that doesn’t hold back on The Case Against Crypto:

The underlying technology of cryptocurrency is based on a world without trust. Its most ardent proponents want to demolish institutions and abolish regulation, reducing the world to a numbers game which they believe they can win. If the wildest fantasies of cryptocurrency enthusiasts were to come true, if all the environmental and technical objections were to fall away, the result would be financial capitalism with all the brakes taken off.

As Jeremy points out: “I’m all for web monetisation and micropayments …but without the stench of crypto, please”.

Endlesss is some cool software for online jamming/improvisation in real time. Peter Kirn has an article covering it on CDM. Endlesss recently made their apps free, but with that came a shift to a crypto model with payments and even NFTs built into their system. In their blog post on the transition they’re quick to point out that:

We’re partnering with the Near Foundation to build on the next-generation Near Protocol. Near Protocol uses a verification method called Proof of Stake which is as energy-efficient as traditional internet server technology.

But to return to The Case Against Crypto article one might argue that:

The promotion of cryptocurrencies is at best irresponsible, an advertisement for an unregulated casino. At worst it is an environmental disaster, a predatory pyramid scheme, and a commitment to an ideology of greed and distrust. I believe the only ethical response is to reject it in all its forms.

This is very much part of the current Web3 craze, on which Robin Sloan has collected some notes.

And to return to Robin Rendle, Jeremy links to a post of his – Who is web3 for?

Who is the web for? Everyone, everywhere, and not only the few with a financial stake in it. It’s still this enormously beautiful thing that has so much potential.

But web3? That’s just not it, man.

To which Jeremy comments:

Exactly! The blinkered web3 viewpoint is a classic example of this fallacious logic:

Something must be done!
This (terrible idea) is something.
Something has been done.

* * *

It’s been a bit of a challenge to peck out this newsletter as I’ve been struggling with the first day and a half of a covid fever. So if my writing’s not quite up to scratch, that’s why. Stimming, whose working methods I took a look at a few newsletters ago has an album out in collaboration with the pianist Lambert: Stimming × Lambert: Positive. As he points out “positive is the new negative”.

In a way having caught the virus feels like a relief. Finally facing that opponent. What kind of conversation are we going to have? I’ve been thinking back to Kenneth Krabat’s META that we put out as a Poetisk Podcast earlier this year. It grew out of him dealing with a bout of cancer, a dramatic piece (in Danish) about how we tend to want to push these illnesses away instead of engaging with them. But I don’t want this to sound too dramatic – it certainly doesn’t feel like my fever is going to be all that intense in the long run!

* * *

And so we come to the close of ↬ Twenty-one and 2021. I’m not quite sure what I’m going to do with the newsletter next year. Most probably it’ll simply morph into ↬ Twenty-two. As much as I very much enjoy the writing process, and the casual style that the format lends itself to, it’s quite time consuming, so I might consider a more compact format in the future. If you’d like to follow along in 2022 there’s nothing that needs to be done. On the other hand if you’d like to unsubscribe you can do that with one click via the link below.

All the best

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Hi, I’m <a rel="me" class="p-name u-url" href="https://rudigermeyer.com">Rudiger Meyer</a>, a composer interested in the play between music, sound, and&nbsp;media.