My latest project, Pour Your Own (musique) Concrète, has been a long time coming. Originally imagined as a gallery installation, the web-hosted version has been optimized for smart-phone use by the socially distanced. Has it really taken four months…a whole year…or maybe twelve years? I lose track.
The situation last year
This is one of those projects intended to be an oh-so-quick-and-easy example of the sort of work this web site encourages. I’d planned to simply set up an interactive environment with an assortment of touchpads and MIDI control surfaces stitched together using Max or Ableton Live (apologies for the manufacturer website product plugs) and featuring samples we’ve published here on the site. It was my go-to backup for wikiGong entries to soundpedro for several years–often proposed but never performed–and we’d teed it up for a live debut at Angels Gate for soundpedro2020.
Audience participation live and in person was just not a thing in 2020.
wikiGong.com was always intended to promote sharing and reuse of sound files for musical composition. Back in 2009, that was more complicated than I’d expected. Plug-ins for audio playback were needed in platforms like WordPress and MediaWiki, and this led to a mix of technology on the site and maintenance headaches that lasted several years. As HTML5 became ubiquitous, all those plug-ins and other stopgaps failed one by one as media hooks were added to the base platforms and developer support evaporated.
It also became clear during that first decade that source sharing following the creative commons model was a slow growth movement by web standards. It seems people are less uncomfortable copying and reposting copyrighted material than using stuff that’s free with attribution. Sites such as ccMixter persisted, but didn’t grow to rival freemium platforms like SoundCloud, itself only a small ripple through today’s music cloud.
Still, I wanted to make these collections easier for people to play with and soundpedro had plans for a virtual venue again this year. So I thought I’d give it another shot…
Self-improvement in 2021
It’s been a long slog since conception of the web-based version in the summer of 2020. I overhauled wikiGong.com late in the year: retiring old tools and consolidating content under WordPress; porting all the pages and articles and rewriting all the links with assistance from Jacob; preserving and reviewing all the sound files while porting them to established external sites like freesound for safekeeping. I managed to improve my HTML and CSS chops a little through the winter, then started coding the PYO(m)C application in February.
There is much to be improved–not least, to replace my glitch-heavy approach with some real up-to-date audio code–but for now…it works. Check out the project page for instructions or just go play at https://wikigong.com/pyomc/.