Persisting Industrial Person
Sure, you are unique, it's true. But, you are also one of nearly 8 billion people.
I recently had a surprising debate on social media, in which my assertion that people want to be unique was contradicted by several folks, each suggesting in their own way(s) that uniqueness causes problems. What we need they said, is to fit in, to be accepted.
If we want to fit in, that should be easy enough, There are many invitations to do so. I, for one, live in a big city, and it's not tough to get lost in it, or, at least, to seem as a nonentity living behind yet another street sign.
This morning, I took my phone camera and went downtown, and took some pictures. I noticed how large many of the buildings are. I was not sure if that was a comforting feeling or oppressive. They certainly dwarfed me in scale.
After awhile, I felt my energy wane. My shots got broader, longer. My eyes started to droop, my feet to ache. Maybe that is what those folks meant by no longer wanting to be unique?
Even so, something spurns the call to fit in-- something persists.
Here is a video showcasing these and some other recent photographs. The music was recorded live, using one of my live mixing consoles. Some sounds were furnished at an earlier date by Daniel Barbiero.
I hope that you enjoy: "Persisting Industrial Person."
Radio As Art
In 2017, I created a series of blog entries concerning mental health. As I struggle with paranoid schizophrenia, I wrote about some of my biggest obstacles. One of these obstacles involves the disjointed nature of modernity.
It is characteristic of modern life that a person moves quickly between environments, and that some of these are quite different from others. One may, for example, have a home environment, a work environment, vacation, bars, restaurants, the doctor’s office, and so forth.
Improvements in communication and transportation technology, among other factors, tend to speed movement between different environments. In a virtual sense, cell phones and similar devices bring us into contact with more and more switches, more settings.
My paranoia never jibed well with all of the sudden shifts, and it’s taken a lot of faith and patience to calm down, and to convince myself that I am still consistently myself, no matter where I am. Modernity can be painful and confusing to even the healthy-minded, and possibly even less pleasant for the mentally ill.
In 2018, I dreamt of creating a radio station. I wanted it to resemble a college freeform show I used to host at WNUR-FM, Evanston. In this show, radically different genres were played back to back. Sometimes the effect was seamless-- often it was jarring.
Perhaps one track would be from Einstürzende Neubauten, with huge pipes smashing into a floor and chainsaws slicing. The next might be a Brahms-ian lullaby.
“Life”, as a (sane) friend of mine once said, “is often a dream, and occasionally a nightmare.”
The conceived-of new radio station was to use internet technology to help to gather and combine songs from playlists of disparate genres. The disconnection between tracks, as playlists were changed randomly, was their connection. A more unpredictable radio station was a true radio station-- true to the life it represents-- that of modernity.
The current realization of this dream takes the form of a free web application I call the “Thomas Park Audio Explorer”: http://www.thomasparksolutions3.com/ . Users can surf into the explorer and spend second or hours listening, hitting the “Load Track” button when it’s time for a new track.
The nature of that track depends on many things, including what playlist is chosen randomly by the python code. Will it be a gritty rip from an old 78 rpm jazz instrumental? A 3-minute shortwave broadcast from a control tower to an Air Force pilot? An experimental loop track using cassette loops? A boot-kicking track of minimal techno?
That is not for the listener to decide, but rather for them to cope with, and hopefully-- to enjoy.
4 Free Web Apps For Open Culture
Folks, I have been busy creating web applications to help people to explore some of the free, open culture available here online-- as well as some of the resources you can use to create your own works.
For playlists of cc-licensed music, try the Internet Archive Playlist Generator:
For cc-licensed audio news reports by topic, rather than political orientation, and to avoid spammy 'Fake News' sites, try Real News:
To watch playlists of cc-licensed videos and images, try the Internet Archive Visual Aggregator:
For an embedded player presenting any of a large quantity of original cc-licensed audio works, try the Thomas Park Audio Explorer:
I hope that you will enjoy these complimentary apps, and that you find them to be useful, as well.
A Disclaimer: I don’t own Encyclotronic-- my friend Jack Hertz runs the website. I have nothing material to gain from promoting it. In fact, when it first came out, I was a little dubious about the capacity of the site to replace Facebook for artists. Now, I admit to having been converted. The workability is definitely there-- it just has to be utilized.
The Whys: Facebook is increasingly failing artists, in terms of publicity, as the site reduces the number of views of content, to the point that there is little or no return for most posts. When you release a new song, album, video, or other project, you need to be able to add that to a feed that people actually see. At Encyclotronic, that’s all totally free and quite easy. Facebook is really not designed for Electronic music and its fans, but Encyclotronic is-- in part, in that Encyclotronic puts musicians in a timeline with music from similar genres of the past, providing context. Artists who post prominent information can be highlighted quickly, and without discrimination. And, Encyclotronic does not have the privacy issues we have seen elsewhere..
The How: First, you have to join Encyclotronic, costs nothing and takes about 5 minutes. Here is my profile (and note that I can easily share this link):
Now, try posting something on your feed. I would like you to notice that a link is generated, right away, that you can share-- which contains all of the material you have posted. For me, that is:
Here’s where Encyclotronic could really help, if enough of us got on board: creating and sharing topical searches.
Just include terms in your post that will come up in a topical search. If you like drone music, make a post with the word “drone” in it. If you like musique concrete, include that term in your post. Then, join me in investigating topical streams, and creating new ones that interest you. Once created-- share and promote the streams. They are better than Facebook groups, and can actually get results, instead of resulting in dummy posts that no-one sees.
Here Are Some Topical searches: (These are to replace Facebook Groups)
Note that you can also search for your topic just being just in the title
Create your own feeds under the “More” tab, with “My Activity Streams”-- here is one I did that shows unread content involving album releases on the site:
The Main Point: So, head on over to Encyclotronic, then join, post, search, and share. Let’s work with a site that was created for people like us, instead of sticking with Facebook, which has turned its back on independent artists.
Playlists, The Man, And You
You may be aware of the amazing music format, the .mp3. Did you know about its cousin, the .m3u? An .m3u file is essentially a playlist of mp3s. It can be very short to very long-- I once created an .m3u containing over 53000 tracks.
Many common media players play .m3us. Windows Media Player and Itunes, for example, are compatible.
They are very easy to create-- an .m3u can be made just by pasting file locations of .mp3s, as text, into a text file and saving it as an .m3u. Don’t believe me? Give it a try!
The thing about an .m3u is-- I believe it could essentially revolutionize the music industry.
Nowadays, the remains of older paradigms for music are being kicked around by a privileged few. Many musicians are making little to no money. Some report that the big streaming services give them tiny returns for large amounts of plays.
Sure, there are a select group of artists, mostly who still tour, who are making some money.
Frankly, most are not, or not as much as they would have 10 or 20 years ago.
The music industry represents a model that is outdated-- it does not reflect newer technologies. I am sorry to suggest that it is my opinion that the old model of cutting an album, having it mastered and released on vinyl, cassette or cd, is going out of fashion.
Streaming is more and more the most feasible option, with releases being digital. Digital releases can be made available more quickly, They can be of nearly any length. They can easily be distributed-- since there is no physical product, files are immediately transferred and prepared for streaming.
So. . . what about the .m3u? The .mp3’s cousin is even more ahead of the game. With an .m3u, and all of the free, cc-licensed music available, it is possible to create playlists that are very large and are genre- or theme- specific. For example, you can make an .m3u of techno tracks, or experimental loop tracks. Right now, I am listening to a playlist I made I call “Total Electronic Beats”. It has over 150000 track links. I created the .m3u using a piece of code I wrote called, “The Internet Archive Playlist Generator”.
What I realized while writing the playlist generator is that we’ve been somewhat blocked from creating and using them. The .m3u is like the electric car someone invented in the 1980’s-- that never got released thanks to big oil and coal.
I noticed that embedded players in html pages don’t play .m3us. I noticed that a person, though they can encue a series of .m3us in most media players, can’t move from one playlist to the other in shuffle mode. Further, to create .m3us-- you generally have to drop a list of tracks into your media player. In other words, you have to have the tracks in your console already. Why is this, when .m3us can easily be made using online file locations (where files are made public-- like at The Internet Archive)?
I believe, and I am not alone, that the music industry giants would rather we not know about .m3us, or their friends the .wpl, or similar playlist files. They can unlock the potential of free music to supply listeners with more media than they would ever need-- without a penny being spent.
That is why available media players have not fully implemented playlists, and why their creation is still left to more manual means.
If this makes you curious, why not try out my playlist generator? It’s a free, public domain web application. All you have to do is to go here
and enter a collection name and a few search terms, to generate your own themed playlist.
Once you have your list, open it in your media player, hit shuffle, and listen to a selection of music that fits your needs-- that you probably have never heard before.
This online version of my program can yield a list of as many as 800 or so tracks. I have an offline version that has no size limits-- with it I have created operating playlists with over 50000 tracks.
If people could have a 5 mb file that had links to more music than they would ever need-- in a genre they enjoyed-- is it any mystery that you are being kept in the dark about playlists, and their potential to provide hours of entertainment?
Listener? Fellow artist? Why not enjoy something free and new-- Thomas Park offers, for starters, his track, “Don’t Fear The Fog”. This ambient drone work was recorded in real time using a brand new live mixing console, called “4-Track Station”. You can get the piece, the mixing console, and the sound used in the track and console, all for free, in the public domain, here:
A brief documentary covering a short career of live looping performances in the MidWest USA.
Tape Loop Mixer
This is a track called "Tape Loop Mixer". It was performed in real time using a live mixing console. The recording was created at a live performance by Thomas Park at the Kismet Creative Center on 6/23/2018. One good thing about a live looping set is that you can get up and have a drink of water while you jam!
Thomas Park reads an original essay, in which he tells the REAL story of his music career.
'An Artist's Toolkit' Video
Multi-disciplinary artist Thomas Park talks about some free, public-domain resources available to other artists, to help them with their career(s).
is a prolific electronic artist,