S((•))undays at the Prelinger Library in San Francisco

Sound environments, sonifications, audio animations, and live improvised soundscapes course through the stacks of the Prelinger Library for visitors on (most) Sundays in 2023 from 1:30 to 4:00 PM.

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“Micro festival” of Fixed Media Works

This Sunday, April 30, 2023, The San Francisco Tape Music Collective presents a “micro-festival” of fixed media works projected live over a multichannel sound system. This is one in a running series of concerts at Mosswood Chapel in Oakland, California, run by sfSound’s founder and director Matt Ingalls.

The program for this concert will be as follows:

STEVE REICH – It’s Gonna Rain (1965)
MAGGI PAYNE – Through Space and Time (2022)
PAULINE OLIVEROS – Bye Bye Butterfly (1965)
KRISTIN MILTNER – Meditation on a Rainy Afternoon in January (2023)
MATT INGALLS – poem number two (2023)
CLIFF CARUTHERS – Chorale for Ola and Tomek (2016)
THOM BLUM – Reset (tabula rasa) (2018)

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Interview on KPFA’s “Let’s Talk Music”

On April 16, 2023 I was interviewed by D-Minor for his Sunday night show “Let’s Talk Music” on KPFA. The program is archived (for now) and can be heard on demand.

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FMRL.com Reveals Prelinger Library Ephemera

Kary Hess, an author for FMRL.com, published an insightful review of the very unique Prelinger Library in San Francisco. The first part of the article explores the Library’s mission and organization, as explained by cofounder Megan Prelinger. The second part of the article delves into the “permanent” sound installation/instrument that I created for, and installed in, the Library last year. It continues evolving and can be experienced on any Sunday, from 1:30 to 4:00 PM. (See the Library’s home page. It will post exceptions.)

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It’s Back — San Francisco Tape Music Festival 2023

Nagra with loop

After a very unwelcomed two year absence, due to COVID-19, the San Francisco Tape Music Festival is returning, January 13, 14, and 15 2023 to the Victoria Theater in the Mission district. The sfSound organization and the San Francisco Tape Music Collective (of which I am a member) will present four distinct curated concerts over the three-night Festival. 

As always there will be the featured headliners, from Robert Fripp to Ennio Morricone, as well many other international and local composers. And, as always the pieces will be dynamically diffused, live, through a pristine web of 24 loudspeakers. Thank you, CCRMA.

On the “late” (9:30 PM) Saturday concert, I’ll be playing my newest set of three short pieces. I’m looking forward to projecting them and shaping the space in real time, controlling the mixer that’s set up in the theater’s sweet spot. 

Here are all the details. Go to Eventbrite for advance ticket purchases for both individual concerts (using a pull-down menu to select the date) and the festival pass.  

Here’s a preview published in December in Stephen Smoliar’s The Rehearsal Studio

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November 29 – Guest speaker at UCSB-CREATE seminar series

On November 29, 2022, at the Center for Research in Electronic Art Technology of the University of California, Santa Barbara, I presented a 45-minute talk about my approach to music-making. This was an event in the CREATE seminar series, hosted by Curtis Roads, Professor and Chair of Media Arts and Technology. Below is the abstract for the talk.

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November 19 – Guest speaker at “Art-talk Salon”

In his light-filled Sculpture Studio, Artist Brian Goggin
The latest Project Artaud and Developing Environments Art-talk Salon

When: Saturday November 19, 2022, 2-5pm
(Note: If it rains we will reschedule for December 3)
Where: Project Artaud
401 Alabama Street
The Sculpture Studio #123
San Francisco, CA

2-3 p.m. – Art-talk (part 1): Thom Blum – Making Music with Found Sound,  with piano music played by Hadley McCarroll
3-4 p.m. – Art-talk (part 2): Improvisation with the environmental soundscape outside Brian’s studio
4-5 p.m. – Gramophone music and mingle

The PDF contains the details about this past event, including information about the sponsors of the Art-talk Salon series, details about the presenters Thom Blum and Hadley McCarroll, as well as the performance script that guided their two-hour presentation.

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Sound Sundays in July at the Prelinger Library

Continuing to stock and mine the sound-stacks on Sundays in July, when printed matter in the stacks of the Prelinger Library mingles and merges with its sound counterpart.

Come in, browse the unique collections a while, and experience the Library in a different way replete with vocalizations and sonifications.

Sundays from 2:00 to 4:00 PM
July 3, 10, 17, 24, and 31
Prelinger Library
301 8th Street (corner of Folsom Street)
Suite 215
San Francisco, CA 94103
(415) 252-8166

I’m looking forward to seeing you there.

For more information about the sound installation, You Are Here You Are You Here, and brief video walkthroughs recorded in binaural sound, check this out.

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Sundays in May — Sound Installments in Prelinger Library

On Sundays in May Prelinger Library visitors will find themselves urged into the stacks by an unusual sound environment that sometimes pipes up. A couple hours a week I power up, softly play, and occasionally improvise on a twelve channel spatially distributed sound system that I’ve created for the Library.

I hope you’ll stop by, browse the stacks a while and enjoy a unique almost synesthetic blend of printed and sonic matter. Come and check it out during any of these times:

Sundays from 2:00 to 4:00 PM
May 1, 8, 15, 22 and 29

Prelinger Library
301 8th Street (corner of Folsom)
Suite #215
San Francisco, CA 94103
(415) 252-8166

For more information and brief video walkthroughs of the sound installation, click me now.

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A “sonified library” in San Francisco

A couple hours a week I power up, play, and occasionally improvise with the sound installation that I’ve created here in San Francisco for Prelinger Library. These hours occur within the Library’s public hours, making it possible for visitors to browse the stacks with the unusual added dimension of sound — a parallel, library-like environment whose stacks contain sounds rather than books.

For the most part the sounds are fleeting and sporadic, sparse and quiet, and they are meant to enhance your browsing and exploratory experience in the Library; to enhance not dominate. Some of sound categories reflect specific topics in the Library, while other sounds are not representative at all. There are also distinct motifs that occur from time to time, like the sounds of doors opening and footsteps and nature. And there are occasionally longer fragments of composed musical sounds (“undulating beds”) that I scooped up from my sources or created specifically for this installation.

Prelinger Library Nature Walkthrough by Thom Blum

Friends from afar asked me to try and capture the experience of being in the Library while the sounds are running. I explained it’s a little difficult because of the spatial distribution and movement of the sounds. Depending on your location the sounds may appear to be mostly up close and coming from your right, or perhaps they’re more distant and behind you. But, armed (or “eared”) with binaural mics (SoundProfessionals Inc.) and my video camera (an iPhone), I started recording walkthroughs of the stacks while the installation was sounding. I would often go towards and into sections of the library where distinct sounds were calling out; topical sounds, for example of radio or protests. Sure enough I was lead to the expected subjects in the stacks.

Prelinger Library Civil Liberties Walkthrough by Thom Blum

In this way I have so far edited and stitched together three 1-minute “trailers” with binaural soundtracks (best heard with head/ear phones). My goal being to offer a rough approximation of the experience you could have while roaming the stacks at Prelinger Library at just the right time.

Prelinger Library Radio Walkthrough by Thom Blum

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