Sunday, 24 July 2016

Post-Electronic Music and Electromagnetic Force Fields at Hackoustic 2016

Yesterday I had the unexpected honour of giving the first presentation at the first ever Hackoustic Festival at the Machines Room, Hackney.  Prestigious as it sounds, this scheduling was a rather a chance outcome of other performers dropping out at the last-minute.  Nevertheless, it was a privilege to present an overview of my work there and it seemed to resonate perfectly with the Hackoustic theme.  I spoke about post-electronic music - something I've been steeped in since an epiphanic acoustic experience on a train in 2004.  Post-electronic music has its pros and cons: miraculous agitations are possible (that is, emergent sonic effects), but the instrumentation is often cumbersome and difficult to transport.  Inspiringly, some other Hackoustic performers had collapsible instruments: a very useful feature indeed, and something that should always be factored into apparatus-building at the planning stage (but which is easier said than done when working with found objects).

My presentation was prefaced with a preamble on the value of electromagnetic feedback force-fields in the resonating of objects.  Through the use of electromagnetic relay coils (akin to large EBows), it is possible to establish the elusive element of sustain in the Attack-Decay-Sustain-Release post-electronic system.  Attack, decay and release are all qualities achievable physically, but the sustain parameter - achievable with electromagnetism - completes the electronic / acoustic envelope control analogy.  Crucially, it allows physical waveshaping operations to be performed.  The summation of many years of these electromagnetic post-electronic experiments can be heard on the upcoming Oscillatorial Binnage album Oscillations: Post-Electronic Music (which should finally be released this year), featuring myself, Fari Bradley, Toby Clarkson and Chris Weaver performing on post-electronic electromagnetic assemblies (which actually tended to couple acoustically through the table to become a single super-instrument).

A multi-player instrument from our Oscillatorial Binnage post-electronic recordings
Somebody asked where further information on post-electronic music can be found, so the main purpose of this blogpost is to provide links to these two newly-uploaded papers: 'Miraculous Agitations: On the Uses of Chaotic, Non-Linear and Emergent Behaviour in Acoustic Vibrating Physical Systems' and the shorter 'Dumpster Diving and Post-Electronic Soundmaking' (originally published in the 2012 and 2014 Leonardo Music Journal respectively).  The former may serve as a primer or manifesto on the technique.  Both were written at a time when access to workbenches came easily - alas, it is all too easy to take such spaces for granted, as I'm currently in more cramped conditions.  Space is the major issue in the construction and recording of physical instruments.  Most of the aforementioned Oscillatorial Binnage album material was recorded at the wonderful Borde Basse studio in Southern France where we were spoilt for choice with vastnesses of space (hauling the stuff there was our necessary endurance for this luxury).  And so spaces such as the Music Hackspace (to which the Hackoustic Festival is attached) and its satellite workshops must be cherished.  Such spaces are the stronghold for acoustic experimentation in a digital world...

Post-electronic preparations at Hackoustic 2016

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Further remarks on synchronicity and coincidence...

One of my research interests is in old anonymous literature and how digital archives may be used to uncover the names of those long-unknown authors.  A few years ago Fortean Times published my exposé of the 1935 book Crook Frightfulness (written by an apparently delusional man pursued by evil ventriloquists).  As mentioned in the previous blogpost, this month, the Fortean Times #341 (June 2016) contains the fruits of my latest research - unmasking the identity of the author behind a strange book called Atomic-Consciousness published in 1892 - written by John Palfrey.

I found Atomic-Consciousness a few years ago at a junk shop, and considered it unusual enough to merit further investigation.  It turned out that the book was pseudonymously authored by a man who continually experienced (and instigated) coincidences.  He tried to turn this to his advantage with his attempts to force wished-for thoughts to recur as real events.  Coincidentally, this month's Fortean Times also contains Jenny Randles regular column which happens to be about coincidences too, or rather, Jungian synchronicity.  Randles observes first-hand that talking about coincidences causes them to happen.  This rings very true, because during my research into Atomic-Consciousness I decided to keep a detailed synchronicity diary of my own, just like its author did - full of events and dream-fragments - and every few weeks a few convergences of thought were noted.  But whether this was simply selective-perception or not, I don't know.  Most were recurring frames of inner thought rather than appreciable coincidences.

I'm not a natural diary-keeper and I've stopped maintaining the diary now, but my final synchronicity entry is a worthwhile example...  In the Fortean Times' 'Atomic-Consciousness' article, I cursorily cited Noel Edmonds' 2006 book Positively Happy.  In many ways Edmonds' book is similar to Atomic-Consciousness - it's full of semi-autobiographical anecdotes supporting the idea of willpower as a force to actualise wants.  The main difference is that Edmonds focussed on upbeat positivity, but Atomic-Consciousness is laced with profound negativity.  Its down-at-heel author was prone to ranting, particularly in later abridged editions where he raged at the lack of recognition of his genius - the publication of Atomic-Consciousness was said to be "a thunderbolt falling from Jovian sky".  Palfrey writes with great grandiosity (and weirdness): "Atomic Consciousness at first aroused, on account of originality in avalanching concept of thought, revelation and teaching: and by contravening established customs and opinions, with engrafted beliefs, counterblast of cyclonic furore in all classes..."

On the day I received the Fortean Times, I observed the 'Atomic-Consciousness' article and noted my mention of Edmonds' book, briefly wondering whether the jump between 1892's Atomic-Consciousness and 2006's Positively Happy was a too-surreal juxtaposition.  Then... synchronicity struck!  Half-an-hour later, I read on a news website that Noel Edmonds "blasts the BBC in YouTube video" where he dressed as a character named "Priscilla Prim", a nominally comedic video that some commentators interpreted as a "bizarre" and "bitter" rant at the BBC with reference to his own previous TV work.  This instantly conjured to mind John Palfrey's bitter Atomic-Consciousness effusions, but also the fact that John Palfrey wrote under the pseudonym "James Bathurst", just as Edmonds adopted the guise of "Priscilla Prim".
It seemed a very strange coincidence.  Mystery can be enjoyable, but to be frank I'm glad I'm no longer keeping a synchronicity diary, as expending energy in merely noticing these things can be distracting.

Saturday, 28 May 2016

Fortean Times - June 2016 - John Palfrey aka "James Bathurst" - Founder of Modernism?

June's Fortean Times (#341) contains my feature that unmasks the self-proclaimed Founder of Modernism "James Bathurst" - now identified as John Palfrey (1846-1921) - visionary author of Atomic-Consciousness (1892) (and two smaller editions: Atomic Consciousness Reviewed [1902] and Atomic Consciousness Abridgement [1909] published with the help of his brother-in-law William Hurrell Popplestone).  The odd title is listed in the 1926 Dictionary of Anonymous and Pseudonymous English Literature, and it's only now that the author can be positively identified (which was no mean feat - but I'll save the investigative ins-and-outs for another blogpost). John Palfrey was a working man plagued by coincidences (or synchronicity, as Jung would later term it) which he often initiated himself through contemplative thought.  Atomic consciousness can be seen as analogous to Jung's collective unconscious, except that it actualises thoughts as events.  Atomic-Consciousness has too many dimensions of oddness to summarise here.

Atomic-Consciousness (1892)
The details of Palfrey's life and work appear in Fortean Times #341 (out now - and jam-packed with many other interestingnesses!).  This blogpost will offer another perspective.  What I find striking about Atomic-Consciousness is the seething resentment of its downtrodden author, particularly in the two later editions.  Under the guise of "James Bathurst", Palfrey later wrote that "gradually the theses propounded [in the 1892 book] became verified in all countries, regenerating conformably thereto, the field of science, and formulating the New Psychology.  Then a host of plagiarists voraciously consumed the fruits of my wisdom and labour".   There is a grain of truth that Atomic-Consciousness was rather ahead-of-its-time in its synthesis of science and the occult, but it was an obscure self-published book, and unknown to most people.  What was happening, Palfrey claimed, was that his thoughts were being intercepted: "my ideas taking flight as they come, the lesser or greater in resuscitation or origination, to sickening repetition of continuance by thrice hated parasite pests in profusion abounding".  He believed that the moment he conceived any novel phrases, they would be immediately stolen, later to reappear in print.  The only remedy was "deeper abstraction" (whatever that means).  'Abstract' would certainly be a suitable description for Palfrey's prose in the two abridged editions.

The original 1892 Atomic-Consciousness began with a humble apology asking the reader to bear in mind that its author was an unschooled working man.  By contrast, in the 1903 and 1909 abridged editions he furiously ranted in purple prose about the brilliance of his original work.  He titled himself as "Founder of New Psychology, the New Age [...], the New Mysticism, and Modernism".  Embittered by the lack of recognition, he blustered: "My sciento-philosophical work was the last and greatest accessible within finite apprehension; subsequent chance discoveries of manipulative wireless telegraphy, and the X rays, though of practical importance, were insignificant beside the profound problems expounded in my book".

Perhaps Palfrey is, in fact, the Founder of Modernism?  The anxious coveting of originality and the abhorrence toward plagiarism is a symptom of the modernist condition.  Indeed, he seems to have experienced the upheavals of modernity first-hand, both mentally, and as a physical confessed "human wreck" hailing from the Devon village of Whimple, "compelled to labour" in industrial towns, wishing himself to be maimed or injured during his railway employments simply to be freed from work.  His 1892 masterwork starkly articulates the plight of the thoughtful Victorian worker - suicide seemed attractive to him.  However, Palfrey was too self-regarding to champion any workers' causes: describing himself, he writes that "a man of thoughtful expression incurs from the lower ranks scoff and ridicule; so great is their ignorance" (Palfrey was, after all, gifted with an ability to intuit things most people fail to notice).  Experiencing the horrors of industry first-hand, the super-cantankerous Palfrey bemoaned civilisation, and once, when observing from a hillside a squalid townscape blotting the natural landscape, he nihilistically pondered with sneaking optimism "as to whether a few thousands of particularly developed minds, with strong will, may not cause some plague or fire to devastate 'civilised' countries".  As "James Bathurst", Palfrey was able to elevate and reinvent himself as a grandiloquent philosopher-seer with anarchist tendencies, critiquing everything, obsessed by the concept of transmissible thought energies, viewing mental processes in terms of electromagnetism...

Palfrey described how the etheric agency of atomic-consciousness causes any single thought to recur - "duality" is the law.  This means that coincidences occur in pairs, but Palfrey remarked that further repetitions may follow ad infinitum "if one bestows on a second or successive occurrence that thoughtful contemplation accompanying the first".  To frustrate and complicate things, atoms have polar (+ / -) properties, and since everything is comprised of atoms (including the human mind) one must therefore be "positive" or "repellant" to bring about any desired occurrences (which is a self-confident state of mind devoid of any wishfulness), and not "negative" (anxious, timid or wishful) otherwise adverse influences may take effect, creating an opposite outcome.  Because Palfrey was very emotional and downtrodden, he had difficulty maintaining the correct state of mind so conducive to bringing about his wants.

William Burroughs cruelly illustrates in The Western Lands (1987) how, when a mysterious "Wish Machine" is introduced that operates on occult principles, there is the warning: "Feed a whiny wish through the Machine, and you will soon have ample cause to whine".  On the mean streets of Victorian west-country towns, Palfrey illustrated that same unforgiving principle at work...

For more on Atomic-Consciousness, see this month's Fortean Times #341...

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Rose Keen and the Futurists

In June last year, myself and Ed Baxter produced the 'Art of Noises Centenary Souvenir Supplement' to accompany two concerts commemorating the Futurist Art of Noises at London's Coliseum in June 1914.  It contained all the most interesting newspaper cuttings relating to the original performances, Harvey Grace's essay, a pull-out colour poster of Russolo's 'Music' (1911), and a short essay I wrote...

During the course of the research for this little essay (which was rather hurried), I discovered one of those Jungian synchronicities that often crop up and cause momentary bogglement.  The Futurists had rather been pipped to the post, as a 'noise concert' of sorts had already taken place just five months earlier in Surrey.  It was the brainchild of Rose Keen (1884-1972), a classically trained musician.  The coincidence is that her birthday happened to be 15th June - the same day that the Futurists commenced their week at the Coliseum!  We may use caution in dubbing Rose Keen Britain's first Futurist, as subsequent research has revealed she did not pursue this particular radical musical approach (becoming a music teacher and concert pianist) but her concert remains an extraordinary feat.  She does not have any living relatives or children, therefore much about her remains unknown.  One possible lead was her former student Katharine Mowll, a pianist and teacher I wrote to earlier this year, only to discover she sadly passed away in July 2014.

What follows below is the full text from the 2014 concert supplement (some parts taken from an older blog posting here).  A much more comprehensive referenced account can be read in my 'Magnetic Music of the Spiritual World' from earlier this year.
In Godalming, Surrey, on the 15th June 1884, a girl named Rose Keen was born.  The daughter of a baker father and a confectioner mother, she became a student of the Royal Academy of Music.  At the age of 29, in late December 1913 she organised a daring concert where twenty performers, dressed smartly as servants, played upon pots, pans, kettles, saucers, cups, jugs and other kitchenware.  It was performed on a stage resembling a kitchen, and seems to have met with a positive reception in local newspapers: "the music, though distinctly futurist in idea, was by no means so inharmonious as that which futurist concerts are generally supposed to furnish".  Keen's concert may derive some influence from 'rough music' - the rustic noisemaking tradition of yore - but almost certainly drew upon her culinarily-geared home life.  One can only guess at the challenges she may have faced in pursuing, however briefly it may have been, that particular extramusical avenue.  There are scant reports on Keen's concert, but the few mentions of her "servants' kitchen" appear as a peculiar instance of osmosis: of fractious Italian Futurist sensibilities filtering through the press into light Edwardian cheer.

Keen's concert preceded that of the Futurists by five months, and her deletion to posterity owes much to her not producing enough of the other sort of noise: hype.  The 15th June (coincidentally Rose Keen's birthday) marks the date that the Italian Futurists first brought their Art of Noises to the UK stage in 1914.  F. T. Marinetti - the loudmouth instigator of Futurism - had visited the UK on previous occasions for artistic and poetic emissions, but in the summer of 1914 he brought with him Luigi Russolo, creator of the Art of Noises, and Ugo Piatti, the engineer who helped Russolo build his infamous noise intoners, or, as they were more literally translated from intonarumori at the time, "noise tuners".  The Italians arrived on the wave of Marinetti's thrillingly hyperbolic ventings, which, when played out, seemed to evaporate into guff on exposure to cool English air.  This becomes most apparent in Harvey Grace's 1914 review of the Futurists' Art of Noises at the London Coliseum - published here for the first time in print since 1914.  Reading Grace's remarks, there is a sense of cultures colliding, but not with a bang - incendiary Futurist statements appear instead defused, becoming mere whimsy.

In November 1913, Marinetti had enthused to the UK press: "in a few months, we shall have a full Futurist orchestra ready, composed of innumerable new instruments.  With wood and string and bell and wire we shall at last be able to reproduce the sounds of the modern world."   One single noise intoner had a low-key exhibition in London, January 1914 and was said to sound "like a lion roaring".  As can be seen from the selection of reports collected here, the press was mostly critical of these affronts to traditional music.  The Birmingham Gazette wrote thus: "Those Futurists who find matter for idealism in 'poverty, hunger and dirt' [referencing Thomas Hood's 1843 poem 'The Song of the Shirt' evoking the sounds of arduous toil and its dismal paraphernalia] should be made to save their symphonies for the future when, it is to be hoped, changed conditions will at least lend to their art an archaeological interest".

A rare photo of the innards of an original noise intoner - one of the larger upright varieties
The Art of Noises was first presented in Milan, then Genoa, in the early months of 1914.  The basic model of a noise intoner featured a string held taut by a movable lever.  The string was attached to a drum membrane that acoustically amplified the sound, which was then directionalised by a funnel.  Like a monstrous hurdy-gurdy, a wheel would spin against the string - vibrating it - when a handle was turned.  Other variations were developments upon this, but are less certain, as designs were never fully disclosed (one report, possibly erroneously, alludes to a bellow-based mechanism).  When the instruments finally arrived in London, some electrical versions had been developed.  The electric varieties were wired in trembling-bell style arrangements, in which a beater would electrically ricochet rapidly back and forth against the string or the drum membrane.

According to painter C. R. W. Nevinson, Marinetti was able to induce Oswald Stoll - manager of the Coliseum variety hall - to play host to the Art of Noises.  "Nobody else could've done it," exclaims Nevinson.  However, Arthur Croxton, the general manager under Stoll, suggests that it was actually he who first drew Stoll's attention to Marinetti, but nevertheless, Croxton was surprised when Stoll decided to engage him.  Croxton alludes to the booking of the Art of Noises as one of the few "mistakes"; the planned second week at the Coliseum was quietly dropped.  In this light of this, it is questionable whether - if the outbreak of war hadn't thrown everything into disarray - the Futurists would have still continued as planned across the UK (there were plans to tour to Liverpool, Dublin, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Vienna  - then Moscow, Berlin and Paris).

The view from the stage of the Coliseum
Such a new and unusual idea as noise-as-music would have benefitted from a more intimate venue.  Marinetti, staying at the Savoy, had previously given poetry readings at London's Doré Galleries whilst C. R. W. Nevinson banged a drum - these emissions were generally well-received in this cosier environment.  But the choice of the Coliseum for the Art of Noises was a characteristic Marinetti overstatement of grandiosity.  The London Coliseum was one of the finest variety halls in existence - a giant cavernous space.  The comic actor George Graves (who billed alongside the Futurists) described his own performances at the Coliseum as "barking into the chasm".  The overwhelming acoustic depth of the venue contributed to the weakening of the noise intoners' voices, and compelled the music-hall audience to rival, and even surpass, the noise of the instruments in what proved to be rambunctious scenes.

Noise and music had been combined long before the Futurists - it is seen in the 'descriptive' music of the 19th century, where storms, military battles and railways were imitated with special apparatus.  This was given an ultra-modern spin by the electro-musical entertainments of the late 19th century music hall, pioneered by J. B. Schalkenbach.  Such acts featured thematic noise effects electrically triggered, with the effects often placed within the audience space.  These antecedents had the noises ensconced within musical arrangements, and thus made palatable.  Russolo, on the other hand, radically forced unmusical sound into musical frameworks, modulating noise to musical ends using new instruments.  Russolo's Art of Noises went beyond simple imitations of real-world sounds; his notes reveal an advanced mode of listening: "my noise spirals are not mere impressionist reproductions of the surrounding life, but synthetically-treated noise emotions.  In listening to the combined and harmonized notes of the Exploders, the Whistlers, and the Gurglers, one scarcely thinks of motor cars, engines, or moving waters, but experiences a great Futurist absolutely unforeseen artistic emotion which resembles nothing but itself".

The players of the noise intoners were drawn from the Coliseum's own in-house pit orchestra who were initially reluctant to cooperate.  There was a perceived ridiculousness to the endeavour, and only when this comic aspect dawned on them, according to Arthur Croxton, did they become more open to the idea.  The players performed scores Russolo had prepared: 'Awakening of a Great City' and 'A Meeting of Motor Cars and Aeroplanes', notated using drum scores, but according to Croxton, the players did not pay any attention to the score, acting instead upon Russolo's conducting gestures, thus adding an (unwarranted) element of improvisation that, with hindsight, serves to heighten the revolutionary aspect.

The Art of Noises' week commenced on the 15th June, billed with comedians, vocalists, actors, acrobats, and short films.  The Futurists' turn was met with heckling, booing, hissing, animal noises and indelicate commentary, until one night Oswald Stoll persuaded Marinetti and Russolo to incorporate a gramophone record by Elgar into the act, which quietened the audience a little.  It is reported that Marinetti gave a rambling speech in broken English on the first night, whereas other sources - presumably referring to subsequent performances - say that Marinetti had discoursed in Italian and was apparently cut short.  The Manchester Guardian appears to refer to the second night, reporting that Marinetti was absent, leaving Russolo in charge.

On the 24th June, the Futurists' noise intoners were played at the annual Printer's Pie dinner at the Savoy Hotel, with the noise functioning as a punchline for Hugh Spottiswoode's long, rambling dinner speech (alluding to Marinetti's own rambling introduction to the Art of Noises).  Printer's Pie was a magazine published to raise money for a printers' charity.  The conductor of the Printer's Pie Futurist performance was supposed to be Sir Henry Wood (who had conducted Schoenberg performances earlier in 1914), but he was unable to attend, so Arthur Croxton took his role, and was made-up to look like him by the famous master of disguises Willy Clarkson.  It was a raucous evening with practical jokes, a baby elephant's indiscretion, intonarumori punctuating the speeches, and a boxing match between two characters who were revealed to be illustrators John Hassall and Tony Sarg.   It is not known if Russolo, Marinetti or Piatti were present, but it is said that the instruments were pelted off-stage after just a couple of minutes by the tipsy, raucous audience.   The Printer's Pie noise intoner performance places the noise intoners in a comedic context, and also gives much food for thought on the diverse dimensions of The Art of Noises.   A hundred years later, introducing two special concerts marking the events of 1914, Resonance 104.4FM's Ed Baxter identifies some of them: "an unparalleled iconoclastic act, an elaborately tedious joke, a reactionary act of cultural vandalism, a classic 20th century avant-garde gambit, a myopic aesthetic dead end, the last word in Italian organ grinding, the irrefutable foundation stone of contemporary sonic art, the worst variety act in history... or perhaps the most important concert of all time".

Thursday, 30 April 2015

Fortean Times - May 2015 - Early Electronic Soundmaking (Trolling in the 1920s)

The BBC's anti-oscillation pamphlet
It's not generally known that early valve radios were capable of producing electronic tones through the overuse of the volume dial (or 'reaction' dial).  From the 1920s onwards, valve radios could be pushed into radio-frequency feedback states, and audible sinewave tones could be produced by heterodyning against a radio station's frequency.  Problematically, these tones re-radiated through the home radio's aerial, causing 'howling' interference in every other set in the surrounding area tuned to the same radio station.

Fortean Times #327
May's issue of Fortean Times #327 contains my article Rogue Oscillators - the fullest study yet published on radio oscillation.  Anybody interested in early electronic music is advised to peruse it!  Particularly interesting is the evidence that some people oscillated deliberately, and in the light of modern noisemaking culture - exampled by tomes such as Nic Collins' Handmade Electronic Music - it may be reappraised as a rustic, unrecognised form of rogue pre-electronic music performed by anonymous rascals.

To coincide with the article, here I present a slice of oscillation: Song of the R33 (based on a runaway airship that allegedly had its radio communications interfered with by people oscillating their radios).  The only sound sources are oscillating radio valves, and it gives a rather exaggerated flavour of the kind of sounds that polluted the airwaves of the 1920s and 30s.

Leon Theremin c.1927
An oscillating radio's pitch couldn't be really controlled accurately - the tuning dial wasn't delicate enough to produce true melodies (and nearby radios wouldn't necessarily hear the same pitch as the oscillating radio), but putting one's hand near the radio could slightly affect the tone's pitch too.  This effect was seized upon by Leon Theremin, who took the oscillation principle and upscaled the capacitive body effect to produce his hands-free electronic instrument, the Theremin.

So, if you want to read about this curious pre-history of the Theremin sound, check out this month's Fortean Times #327.

To end this blogpost here's a poem about oscillation from a magazine called The Ironmonger, Universal Engineer and Metal Trades' Advertiser from December 1924:

The Knob-Twiddler

This is the story of Plantagenet,
Who fiddled about with his wireless set;
He plugged in the coils and he turned all the knobs;
He twiddled about with the thingummybobs.
The one thing Plantagenet never would do,
Was to sit down and listen to gentlemen who
Were doing their best to divert and delight
This ineffably curious twiddlesome wight.
Each time he picked up a melodious air
He knew he could tune in much better elsewhere.
Reaction was tightened; then let loose again,
His aerial howls made the neighbours complain.
Whenever the set was performing its best,
Plantagenet thought he would try out a test:
And caterwauls, mingled with groans and with squeals,
Disturbed all his family and ruined his meals.
But was he depressed? Not a bit! He would sit
Picking up funny noises that learners transmit.
For hours he would sit there in rapture sublime,
With knobs and plug-in coils agog all the time:

Perhaps you have heard the unfortunate fate
Of that knob-turning fellow, Plantagenet (late).
One night he was seized by a transmission wave,
Which transported him rapidly, on past the grave,
Into the limbo where knob-twiddlers end -
The place from which night-oscillations ascend.

So all the good people who twiddle the knobs,
Who will mess about with the thingummybobs,
Whenever they hear diabolic howls -
Should remember the army of Radio Ghouls
All ready and anxious to clap down the lid
On all men who do what Plantagenet did.

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Using Radionics Radio - Sending in your Frequencies, and Avoiding 'Zero Readings'

The Radionics Radio website began asking for your thought-frequencies in May.  As documented previously, the project is a development of the groundbreaking electronic sound experiments of Delawarr Laboratories in the mid-20th century.  Through the art of radionics (where the mind is said to tune in to unknown energies), it was proposed that any thought can be converted into chords of frequencies.

The idea that concepts can be rendered as clusters of frequencies is an avenue of radionic thought that's still adhered to in some quarters - see The Electroherbalism Frequency Lists, for instance (based on the work of Dr. Rife).  The idea resonates with homeopathic medicine which is based on infinitely subtle 'essences'.  So, when a thing or a concept is intuitively linked to a set of frequencies, it is said by some that the combined waveform possesses this same 'essence' of the original concept.

If you haven't tried Radionics Radio already, I urge you to have a go.  If anything, it's a good crash course for radionics newcomers.   However, care must be taken to avoid 'zero readings'.

Since it's launch, there have now been 100 blank submissions to Radionics Radio.  These are not usable.  These submissions contain the thought - but not the frequencies.  Obviously, without the frequencies there is nothing Radionics Radio can practically do with the thought.

An example of an unusable 'zero reading' submission.  Has the user missed out on $10,000?
The Thought Box
To remedy any confusion, a simplified step-by-step guide to using the website can be found on the Radionics Radio blog.   It's essential that the list is populated with your frequencies.  The most important thing to know about the Radionics Radio app is the use of the '1' and '2' keys on the keyboard to switch between modes.   The cursor must also be rotated close to, or inside, the circle that appears around the Thought Box (to avoid accidentally clicking on other dials and buttons).

So...  what happens to the thought-frequencies?  Well... they are mathematically analysed for patterns, and also thought-coupling harmony experiments are taking place (more reports on this will appear soon).   But basically, the thoughts are broadcast acoustically and electromagnetically: modulated over ~104.4MHz via Resonance FM, London, from the aerial on the roof of Guy's Hospital.

There have only been a limited number of broadcasts so far due to insufficient thought-frequencies to fill half-hour slots.  So, please continue using the website.   Early experiments indicate that when the same thought (e.g. 'compassion', 'win lotto', etc.) with different frequencies from different people are all mixed, there is possibly a strengthened manifesting effect.

Whilst on the subject of non-physical phenomena, I should also explain that Resonance FM's outbound transmission room containing the feed to the aerial is permanently acoustically irradiated with each thought in sequence.  This is a room nobody generally goes in - it contains the active equipment to feed the aerial relay.  See the photo below:

The Radionics Radio 'secret' sonic irradiation in the inner sanctum of Resonance 104.4FM's studios.
This is how it works: a vintage loudspeaker box receives an audio feed from the Radionics Radio computer.  The quiet sound of each thought being played is constantly droning in this secret little room.  Every submitted thought is cycled through in 60-second segments.   What does this actually do?   Nothing physically.  It's not picked up by any microphones.  Nobody can hear it unless they put their ear to the door.  However, this is a form of acoustic homeopathy.  All the live feed equipment is acoustically exposed to the thought-frequencies.  This is in keeping with radionic philosophy (specifically the practical interventions of Delawarr).  The 'essence' of the thoughts are thus supposedly conveyed into the transmission - during every single Resonance show - unheard!

This unusual 'under-the-radar' 24/7 diffusion is another way to maximise any potential radionic effects.  It is merely a supplement to the actual Radionics Radio broadcasts, and the live irradiation events, but this constant 'non-physical' broadcast aims to satisfy anybody more ensconced in radionic philosophy who is considering higher level use Radionics Radio (such as submitting manifestations, wishes, etc. rather than abstract concepts [which are also very welcome of course!])

More thought-frequencies submissions are needed.   More data increases chances of discovering curious patterns or harmonisations.  Please visit and view the help video.

Submitted thought-frequencies are all played in sequence inside Resonance FM's transmission room.

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Radionics Radio at the Science Gallery: Thought Diffusion Experiments

This coming Tuesday - 7th October - there will take place a diffusion of 'thought frequencies' at the Science Gallery Pop-Up in Boland House, London Bridge.  It forms part of the Radionics Radio project, which is an extension of the groundbreaking acoustic radionic experiments conducted by George and Marjorie de la Warr at their Delawarr Laboratories beginning in the late 1940s.

Radionics is a fringe science that, through Delawarr Laboratories, led to the first long-durational electronic sound experiments of the 20th century.  Delawarr was particularly concerned with the way electronic tones interact acoustically in the air - at the first International Congress of Radionics in London, May 1950, George de la Warr demonstrated interference patterns produced by multiple loudspeakers, each respectively playing single tones that radionically related to the body (for instance, the larynx mucous membrane: 133Hz, 264Hz and 455Hz).  The lively interaction of these frequencies in the air (as opposed to being mixed together into a single loudspeaker) was said to contribute to the 'acoustic therapy' process.

The classic Delawarr finger-stick rubber detector pad
Delawarr's acoustic frequency diffusion set-up c.1947
The clusters of frequencies were originally identified by concentrating on a thought whilst turning an electronic oscillator and rubbing a 'detector pad'.   Whenever the finger encountered a 'stick' - or some friction - on the pad, the frequency was noted down.  In this way, frequency combinations relating to thoughts were obtained.

Delawarr Laboratories never regarded their radionic research as music, but one of the first people to discern the correspondences between radionics and sound art was the electronic composer Daphne Oram.  Oram had an interest in Delawarr's sonic experiments, but her research in this direction remains unpublished.  However, there is a radionics undercurrent in her 1972 book An Individual Note of Music..., where she muses that objects and concepts possess wavepatterns that, through perception, intermodulate with our own individualised mental wavepatterns (hence the 'individual note' of the title).

"In every human being there will surely be tremendous chords of wavepatterns 'sounding out their notes'"  Daphne Oram, An Individual Note of Music, Sound and Electronics, 1972.

Anybody remotely interested in electronic music and its origins will find interest in these experiments, and the Radionics Radio irradiations at the Science Gallery are quite noteworthy in that such experiments have never been trialled before on this magnitude.   The audience will be privy to combinations of 'thought frequencies' harvested from the Radionics Radio web application (the latest version v2, enhanced by Jonny Stutters, offers more accuracy and wider compatibility).  The irradiations will also be broadcast on Resonance 104.4FM at a later date.  Delawarr applied for a radio broadcasting license in the late 1960s to similarly broadcast audio radionic tones, but were refused permission by the GPO who stated "we are unable to agree to the use of radio in the way you propose."  Only now is this vision becoming reality with the help of Sound and Music.

Please visit to convert your thoughts into frequencies.

Additional thanks to Jonny Stutters, Dr. Ed Baxter, Peter Lanceley for assistance with the diffusion experiments, and John Dignan for the generous donation of audio equipment.