Futuresonic 2006

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17th May 2006

Hi Drew,

In a previous post you mention a potential crossover between ‘instrument’ and ‘collaborative cultures’. Approaching the DJ turntable as an instrument, combined with a vinyl tool made from public domain and copyleft sound, and incorporating a network of DJs, mixes the two strands.

The vinyl tool that we want to make - a 12 inch record featuring snippets cut out from the archive - is specifically designed to be used on a turntable, used as an instrument. Without the context of scratch DJs sampling and using the records, and without the combination of the vinyl record, turntable and scratch DJ, there wouldn’t be a context in which to make this project.

Our initial idea is to present the record on a turntable alongside video documentation of scratch DJs using the record to produce new music. We plan to give two copies of the record to a number of DJs, visit and film them scratching/beat juggling/etc with the record wherever they would normally practice (at home, in the studio, in their bedroom, etc), and assemble a fast cut video of the vinyl tool in action.

The collaborative aspect of music – played out through the DJ battle – is something that we are keen to explore through the project.

The context of scratch DJs in relation to the idea of ‘instrument’ is very appropriate. Although our vinyl tool is not strictly a device for producing musical sounds in itself (it is unplayable without a turntable), it is to be used as a tool or instrument – intended to function to insert public domain and copyleft material into a existing cultural format usually reserved for cheeky samples lifted on the sly.

Hope this gives you a bit more of an idea of what we’re thinking and how it might fit into the two strands of the festival.

We’ll try post some audio snippets soon – so you can get an idea of the kinds of things that will be on the record.

Let us know what you think.


B & E

7th May 2006


Perhaps the answer to my question then is "no".

As I understand your project, you are more interested in the out-of-copyright music and the vinyl itself, rather than the turntable. And on your definition you are not thinking of this as an instrument.

Still, I think we should look at the practicalities before we make this call.

Would it be possible to flesh out your initial ideas into something more concrete? Can you give more of a sense of the shape the project will take, where it could be presented, the way an audience could interact with it, etc.

Even if the ideas are not all fully formed, it always helps ideas take shape to consider the audience and the context.



3rd May 2006

Hi Drew

Yes, we would definitely say that in the hands of a turntablist, the record player is revealed as a hardware instrument – one that needs vinyl software to operate. Much like computer hardware, which requires an operating system and a suite of software tools, the DJ’s hardware instrument can only be activated with a set of vinyl tools. Our project will use the form and structure of scratch/battle records to distribute open vinyl code – which, like free/libre and open source software (FLOSS), is distributed freely.

The exhibition sounds interesting and we have some initial ideas of how the project might be represented. We are keen, however, to think of the vinyl as a starting point for new creation – an active agent as opposed to an end point. Therefore a live element would also seem appropriate.

Eileen & Ben

28th April 2006

Dear Eileen and Ben

Thanks for this information.

There is another strand of the festival that this might be relevant to. We are planning a small exhibition of artist-made instruments, called - funnily enough - 'Instrument'.

So it is interesting to hear you talk about your project as a "vinyl tool". In hip hop people would say that it is the turntable that is the instrument. Would you view what you are producing as in any sense an instrument?

I like the idea of a project that crosses over between the 'instrument' and 'collaborative culture' strands of the festival, in fact there may be one or two others that do the same. So if you think this context would be interesting, and that it is not imprecise to talk about your project as an instrument, we could consider this possibility further.

Give me your initial reaction, as it could shape where the conversation heads. Aside from anything else, 'Instrument' is planned as an exhibition, so we would need to consider how it could be presented as a gallery installation rather than (or, as well as) live.

I look forward to your response.


14th April 2006

Dear Drew,

It was great to finally meet up and talk in Manchester at our event. We’d love to participate in Futuresonic 2006 and we’re enthusiastic about contributing to the festival’s theme of collaborative cultures.

As you know, our project Open Music Archive is a collaborative initiative to source, digitise and distribute out-of-copyright sound recordings. We are independent artists and see our project as a response to the closing down of creativity that is imposed by copyright.

It was always our intention for the Open Music Archive to provide a resource of recordings to be shared and sampled in a space outside of a royalty-generating economy. As we discussed at the event we were thinking about this idea of making a vinyl tool: a 12 inch record featuring material generated from the archive (rare original recordings, new remix tracks, short vocal snippets, percussive noises, sounds, samples, breaks and beats) to be used/performed in some way at the festival. All the material would be in the public domain or copyleft licensed.

At the moment we’re researching scratch tools, breaks compilations and battle records: Q-Bert - Breaktionary (Dirtstyles) DJ Swamp - Never Ending Drum & Bass Loops (Decadent) Five Deez - Table Noise Vol 3 (Traffic)

We’re also looking at compilations like Strictly Breaks and the short tracks of J Dilla AKA Jay Dee - Donuts (Stones Throw)

Obviously, all records are potentially material for new creative work – battle records however are tools explicitly designed to enable new production. In contrast to our approach - the breaks, beats and samples collected on battle records are created from tracks that are not officially licensed [1].

We’re keen to explore this idea of a vinyl tool here on the wiki – let us know what you think.

Eileen and Ben

9th April 2006

Dear Eileen and Ben,

Good to meet you at your event the other day!

It is great to see a project like Open Music Archive happening in Manchester, and I thought the live element was really well done.

The Futuresonic festival is coming round again, scheduled for 20-23 July. Alongside the music gigs we stage a lot of media art exhibitions and workshops, and much of that world revolves around open source, grass-roots, collaborative culture.

As it is our 10th year we have decided to take Collaborative Cultures as the main festival theme - so there is a lot of overlap with your project!

Our funds are as ever limited, so not in a position to propose a commission as such right now. But if we could find a way to involve Open Music Archive in the festival I would be very keen to explore.