Automating Re-Amp

Challenge: Nomadic Residency Adventure #1 |

By: Kyle

Automating Re-Amp


This is more of an idea generated from the concepts in the Hark CBC Radio suggested material while I was participating in the sound walk. So it’s just idea jamming and might not go anywhere so I’m using this as my public sketchbook. Sorry if it has a bit of a talking out loud feel.

Building upon the idea that the soundscape within a site (obviously) changes through time, I thought about recording a space within a frame (i.e., the duration of a recording), playing it back and playing it back while re-recording, and repeating the process many times (this is called re-amping). By successively

Did a bit of research a famous piece that incorporated this effect (although this is effect is common in recording studios…but not in this way) was Alvin Lucier’s “I’m Sitting in a Room” where he played back a recording of himself many times until the sound becomes reduced to the natural resonant frequencies of the room. This is inevitably a process of re-recording many times onto a physical medium.

However, we can automate this process, and by doing so, can make a space open for interaction and the public can create sounds in conjunction with the sounds captured in the past. So, I created a program that:

1) At a specific time in the day (e.g., 12:00 PM although this is arbitrary) starts recording for x amount of time (so far about an hour) capturing the sound within a specific space. Then it stops recording. The room has multiple microphones and speakers to keep the depth and spatialization of sound within a space, so its less about the recording and more re-visualizing various perspectives within a space that temporally overlap.

2) The next day, the recording plays back at exactly 12:00 PM. Participants in the space will be re-recorded, and thus their sounds with the played back sounds will both be captured.

3) The day after that, the recording from the previous day will play back, etc. etc.

I’ve done a quick sketch of the program but it has a couple bugs / nice features aren’t there yet, so I’ll post the code for anyone who has Max/MSP to play with (if anyone knows Max, there’s potentially a couple things I’d like to bounce off your regarding sfplay~’s stability with multichannel recordings).



Ideally I would like a day to day, but I think it’s unrealistic to expect consistent turn outs of people. Furthermore, because the interaction is less direct, people may/may not know that they can interact with it. So there’s some sort of temporal framing to figure out. Too short of a frame feels just like a delay. Too long makes people unaware of the interaction. Perhaps some sort of sound making object in a room can help frame (i.e., a clock, but that might be too literal).

2) We’re suppose to think of outdoor stuff right. 


I wanna try this just with silence / room tone. I wonder what the 60 Hz cycle sounds like repeatedly re-amped. Probably just like howling…but still fun!



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