Commission Music

Commission Music
Get Noise in November

Friday, 19 December 2014

Auto complete poetry experiment

With the first time is the first time to see what you are. By the way to the way you can do some of the way to do. As a little more than happy to be great. Day of this email. Each other than the next weekend. Of my resume. Get a few days. His own understanding of the way. In a great news. Just wanted to be. King of the whole. Life is the first time. Me know when you are you can you are you are you are you. In the first place. Once you've been a chance. Part of the first time. Quiet day and they are you. Run into your email. Us immediately by the most beautiful. The way you would like a great weekend so much more time. Used when the way you are you. Value of the new. Was not sure if we can do something about the first time. A few days and may need to the first time. By a great to be used for your help. Zone of my mom said he said he said that they want to go down the rest is the first time.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

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

Monday, 8 December 2014


I decided this weekend that what would really be a good idea would be a photo of my puppy wearing a Holiday jumper and headphones. It turns out that it's really difficult to put things on puppies and then get them to sit still. Especially if they're teething. My pinkie got caught in a futile attempt to prevent the jumper from being shredded and the headphone cables now need to be re-soldered. I hope that professional photographers that work with puppies are well-paid, because they certainly deserve to be.


I got one photo that came out more or less ok, and adding to my frustration, graphic design is also really hard. Really, my creative skills are almost entirely musical in nature.

Finally, I decided to give up and instead give my dog a nice long walk, as a thanks for (sort of) putting up with being made to wear strange things. As we went by Hackney's medieval tower, I noticed they had a 'Santa's Grotto'. Aha!

Noise Advert!

My graphic design skills are still rubbish, but it helps to start out with a really good photo.

Sonia's dad is involved with the Hackney Historic Buildings Trust, which runs open days at the Tower and both her and I have volunteered there, so we chatted with the elves and gave mulled apple juice to queuing families, until finally there was a lull and no children were waiting. Father Christmas turned out, fortunately, to love dogs and was happy to pose for a photo. (It also helped that he didn't notice that the puppy was actually chewing on his beard at the moment this was snapped.)

If even adorable puppies want noise music, maybe your friends and family do too!

I have an idea for some puppy themed, music, actually. He likes to race around my living room for a bit, and while doing proper tracking on a webcam is somewhat difficult, detecting pixels that have changed massively from frame to frame is kind of trivial. So I could have a sound process controlled by the paths chosen by an excite-able puppy. It would be fun to do and make his excesses of energy something other than distracting - at least for one piece!

Do you want to give a gift of puppy-generated music this Christmas or Hanukkah? Order now to beat the rush!

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

Saturday, 6 December 2014

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

Monday, 1 December 2014

What is a commission?

When you commission me to write a piece, of music, you essentially pay me to write one minute of noise music. After I write it, you get to come up with the title. You are then a patron of the arts, causing new art works to come into being!

Afterwards, you get a copy of the music, which you are free to share with friends (under the terms of a Share Music License). I retain copyright of the work.

This makes a great gift - you can title the work to honour the recipient, or have a dedication attached. Your friend gets a copy of the piece of music and has their name tied to the music. So If you title the piece, say, 'Happy Birthday to Susan Jones', that would be attached to the music as the title, whenever anybody listened to it. (If Susan Jones feels overwhelmed by this, it can be re-titled.)

And I will do my best to try to make sure that people do listen, by posting it to my website and eventually compiling all the commissions into an album and publishing it.

Let's say you decide to do this, how would it work?

The Process

  1. If your delivery date is less than two weeks away, please contact me before ordering. Depending on my schedule, etc, I will probably be able to accommodate you, but it's a good idea to make sure!
  2. You would then order the commission and I would get to work making it. Do you want a physical CD posted to you or not? When you order, check that you've picked the right item in the shop. One comes with a CD. The other doesn't.
  3. Within a few days, I will send you via email a link to a high quality audio file.
  4. After you listen to the file and decide on a tile, you would send me back the title and dedication.
  5. If you ordered a physical CD, I would then post it to you via first or second class post.
  6. If you would like an MP3 with the correct metadata (including title, etc), I can send that to you via email.
  7. I normally would then post the MP3 online to my website. However, if this is a gift, I'm happy to hold off until after you give the person a file or disk. Or post it right away so you can link them to the site. Whichever works best for you!

Who might this make a good gift for?

Do people really like this?

All my customers have been happy so far!

Will it arrive in time for Christmas or Hanukkah?

Yes, if you order soon!

Music commissions make great gifts. Order now for this holiday season!

Glitching Sound: how to data bend with imagemagick

Inspired by Antonio Roberts's excellent tutorial on how to databend with Audacity, and following on from my previous tutorial on how to data bend audio, this post explores how to glitch audio using image software. Many of the required tools use the command line. This will work with linux, unix and mac. If you want to use windows, you will need to edit the bash script so that it does not use the /tmp directory.

You will need

  • The script
  • Imagemagick (You probably already have this if you use linux.)
  • BASH (you already have this if you use linux or if you have a terminal on your mac)
  • A utility to convert between audio formats that supports the .au format. I use sox, which is cross-platform and available via apt-get.
  • Audacity

Why these formats?

.au and .bmp are both uncompressed formats, so every sample of audio becomes the R, G or B value of a pixel. AIFF and WAV files are also uncompressed, but the files have more structure to them that is not sound data, so .au seems easier.

Getting Started

10 seconds of a sawtooth wave

Using sox to convert between uncompressed audio formats is really easy. To convert a file called foo.wav to an au file, you would just type: sox foo.wav  It looks at the extension and does the right thing.

Put the script in a directory in your path, OR just put it in your current working directory.

Once you've got, to convert it to a bmp, you'd type: ./ foo.bmp  This will give you a file called foo.bmp, which is the bmp image of your audio.

Let's say, you've done a bunch of transformations and now have a file called bar.bmp. To turn that back into audio, you would type: convert -depth 16 bar.bmp rgb:bar.pcm  It is now back in an audio format, but the header has gotten slightly tweaked, so we're not done. Open Audacity, and under the File mean, select, 'import' and then 'raw audio'. Pick bar.pcm in the file chooser. On the popup window, tell it that the file is '16-bit linear' and 'little endian'. There will be a few samples of crap at the beginning of the imported audio. That's what's left of your old .au header. you can delete it if you want. there will also be a bit of silence at the end of the file. This was padding added to make the image rectangular. To convert this into AIFF or WAV or MP3 or whatever, select 'Export' from the file menu.

If you have ended up with a different image format, such as jpeg or whatever, you don't need to first convert back to bmp. To get from baz.jpeg back to audio, use convert directly and carry on as above. convert -depth 16 baz.jpeg rgb:baz.pcm

What to do while it's a graphics file?

This is the creative bit! Converting to a lossy graphics format, such as jpeg adds some noise, so that might be fun. If you do that, you can glitch the jpeg by opening it in a text editor and doing a bit of typing at various points in the file. This causes weird visual distortions, which will become audio distortions when you convert back.

You can also try opening the graphics file in a graphics program. Some of the graphics effects may make interesting sound changes, although many won't. Experimentation is needed. You can also try drawing on the image. Wide lines of a solid colour will create weird DC offsets, so if you want to avoid that, consider either using very thin lines or else setting an opacity of under 100%.

Have fun!

Music commissions make great gifts. Order now for this holiday season!

Working bmp converter

This is fun you can try at home, if you are on a unix or linux system or on OS X. You must have imagemagick installed, as well as the bash shell. For best results, install sox also.

This script has just been shown to work and prints out too many debugging statements and deals with a weird bug in bash on my system. Cut and paste the code at the bottom and save to a file called

  1. Open your favourite audio tool, such as audacity and generate a sawtooth wave.
  2. Save it in the same directory as the script as a wav file: saw.wav
  3. Open a terminal, and cd to the directory you saved your wav file in
  4. Type sox saw.wav
  5. Type
  6. Open in an image viewer. Isn't it amazing?
  7. Type convert saw.jpg
  8. Open saw.jpg in a text editor, like emacs
  9. Scroll down to random points in the file and type a few characters. Do this a few times.
  10. Save the file as glitch.jpg
  11. Open glitch.jpb in an image viewer. Isn't it amazing?
  12. Type convert glitch.jpg -depth 16
  13. Open audacity (or your favourite robust audio editor) and tell it to import raw data (under the File menu in audacity)
  14. Treat the data as 16 bit little endian
  15. Play it back. Isn't it amazing?

You get a little glitch at the start of the file, whenever you import an au file as raw data. That's the au header. You can delete the glitch and re-save. There is probably an automated fix for this, but there aren't enough hours in the day. You'll also get a little bit of silence appended to the end of the file. This is so the number of samples makes a square image size for the bmp.

Try out other ways of messing with the image, such as drawing on it, especially with less than full opacity or otherwise transforming it. Have fun times! The script is below the sales pitch.

I figured out how to do this and posted it here because I was commissioned to write a noise piece. When you commission music, you not only cause a new piece of music to exist, but you might cause some new tools to become available to other composers. Music commissions make great gifts for birthdays or other holidays. Order now to make sure your commission arrives in time for Christmas or Hanukkah.



size=`wc -c $1 | cut -f 1 -d ' '`
ints=`expr $size / 6`
root=`echo "sqrt($ints)" | bc`

echo "$x x $y"
squared=`echo "$x * $y" | bc`
    echo "squared is $squared"

while [ $squared -lt $ints ];do
    x=`expr $x + 1`
    squared=`echo "$x * $y" | bc`
    echo "squared is $squared"

echo "expr $squared - $ints"
diff=`expr $squared - $ints`
diff=`echo "$diff * 6" |bc`

echo "diff is $diff"

base=`basename $file`
temp=`echo "/tmp/$base"`
cp $file $temp

truncate -s +$diff $temp


echo $size
command=`echo "convert -size $size -depth 16 rgb:$temp $file.bmp"`
echo $command