Most of the time (day or night, no matter what I’m doing) I have ideas or experiences related to music, sound and listening. They fly in and fly out, usually ending up in one of my notebooks or a published essay, a sound work, a lecture or a book. For years I’ve felt that a blog is the best interim site because it’s a more public way of sharing them in a raw state, with possibilities for combined media. Why did it take me so long to get started? Being busy, I guess, but also getting to the point of thinking that publishing, in the broadest sense, was back where it was for people like me in the 1970s, ie. if you don’t do it yourself in your own way then most opportunities are very limited, ineffective and nostalgic. So this is a blog about listening sensations in their various forms, with a focus on current projects and preoccupations.
In that sense it’s a forum for working out thoughts, bringing them into the light before they become the immovable object of a book or some other final device. But the main point for me is that all of my activities are interrelated. ‘Official’ media have a pull toward keeping apart what they perceive as incompatibilities, whereas I believe strongly in throwing together serious, abject, comic, stupid, mysterious, trivial, scholarly, disturbing, and what Warren ‘Baby’ Dodds described as spooky. All of that.
Came across my Oceans of Sound CD’s after many years – still sounding great, especially “Crooning on Venus” – provoked me into finding out what you are up to today.
I thoroughly enjoyed your book “Exotica,” and am looking forward to checking out your blog.
I wanted to let you know I wrote a song entitled “Mutual Misunderstanding” inspired in part by your introductory poem / definition. I haven’t recorded an album version yet, but here is a live one from The Tea Lounge in Brooklyn, NY performed by my band, Salo:
[audio src="http://www.salomusic.com/mp3s/MutualMisunderstanding.mp3" /]
Also, here is a link to the score in pdf form, if you have any interest in that:
Click to access Mutual%20Misunderstanding%20Score.pdf
Hope you enjoy.
Thanks, Ben. It’s nice to know that non-fiction (or allegedly non-fiction) can turn into music.
I’ve been reading “Ocean of Sound” over the past few weeks. Woke from a dream this morning that instantly made me think of the book. In the dream I was unable to sleep. Pacing the hallway and listening to my iPod. Went back to my bed, laid down and realized that, while I had taken the earbuds out of my ears, the iPod was still playing, lying next to me on the nightstand. Went to turn it off, but then realized that at that volume, and with that tinny, slightly distant sound, it was the perfect background sound to fall asleep to…… even though what was playing was Public Enemy’s “Brothers Gonna Work It Out”, never what I would have considered falling-asleep music! I woke up for real and immediately thought of Eno lying in his sickbed listening to barely audible harp music, or Satie and his furniture music. Connections I never would have made (and perhaps I never would have even had the dream at all) before reading your excellent work. Thanks for that.
thank you Mike.
i’d like to invite you for a master class and a live performance in rio de janeiro, brazil. could you please give me your contact?
This may already be obvious to you, and I may be unaware of other similar events, but in light of the current turkish protests I was reminded of a quote of yours in “Haunted Weather” (in the section titled “A Sense of Foreboding”):
“Audio atmospheres are mysterious… For the urban refugee, the desire for tranquility may be so neurotically pursued that any absurdity is worthwhile, even if it risks the possibility of revolution.”
I have no experiential knowledge of what it was like to walk, sit, or stroll through Taksim Gezi Park, but I assume that, like any piece of land separated from the drudge of city life, there can exist a sonic state that is truly substantial, as both you and Chris Watson point out in that same section. I thought I would bring this quote to your attention because of its poignance, and because the movement in Turkey may be just another proof of the importance in investigating the effect of sound on the modern being.
Your work has been a great guide to understanding what I once thought was ineffable.
I am a doctorate student in Brasil. If it is possible, I would like to talk about the research in soundscape with you.
Were you in Rio last week Claudia, when I was there? If you’d like to give me your email address I can contact you.
Yes, I was there. I tryed to talk directly with you, but you were talking with some other guys, then I was shy to introduce me. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks for your return.
Hello do you have a contact for Patricia Bates (photographer)
I’m sorry but I haven’t been in touch with Patricia for many years so I don’t know her current contact details.
Hello. I am a deep listener of your music for twenty years in Japan.
“Screen Ceremonies” and “Danger In Paradise” catch my ears for so long time, and I love your works very much. And I read your books and am very impressed by your ideas (but my English is too poor to understand all).
Hearing your music, searching your musical career, I want to know about more and more.
I publish a book about Polish movie director Jerzy Skolimowski in 2010, as the result of research of his movies and his career.
And for long time, I want to make a book of David Toop. About his career, his projects and many colorful albums.
I think many people want to know your footsteps, because to know you is to see the maps of experimental music, ambient and techno.
You write many texts about music, but I can’t find texts of your own works so much.
Please let me do you some mail interviews about your memories, your music, and your musical partners(Steve Beresford, David Cunningham and Derek Baily). It may be full of legend for us music lovers.
If you have some idea of making your book, please give me a reply.
I want to go detail
Hello Mr. Toop,
I have to admit right away I’m new to your work. Your album “Doll Creature” with Max Eastley is on heavy rotation for me right now. I love the work. I’ve also been reading your blog and it’s fascinating. I’ve followed up on quite a few of its references and you have a delightful sensibility. Thought I’d reach out to you.
I work with the Metabolic Studio Sonic Division. Last month I saw you at Cafe Oto playing some records you selected and I spoke to you briefly after your talk at the OCR conference at Goldsmiths. I was pretty jet lagged and sleep deprived so I gave an extremely poor and rushed explanation of our work out here in California. I’m pretty sure I was mostly incomprehensible.
I’d love the opportunity to send a more thought out email to what we are doing in a less public forum. We are interested in reaching out to the wider community of artists who work with sound to get their opinion. I think its really a quite fun and fairly accessible sound work.
To date, our web presence is just this link to our 24-hour live audio feed from the Owen’s Valley Dry Lake in California were our sound work is primarily based:
Its a durational piece, so if you don’t hear much at first (and if you don’t mind me being so bold to suggest) maybe leave it on in the background for a bit or try again later. Most of the time there’s quite a bit to listen to, but it’s still subject to the weather and general conditions on site.
Thanks for your time,
I was wondering if you could lend me some of your time to help point me in the right direction for some research.
I am in the process of writing my dissertation, the working title of which I have so far is ‘A review of listening and our search for sounds – and its influence on new acoustic instrument design.’
While I feel confident on the research I have done for many of the areas I shall talk about. There is a very speculative area I would like to address that I would like explore more.
When does something become a musical instrument?
I do realise that this can be a very speculative area, where there exists no clear boundaries. There is much scope I have gained through the works and writings of the Bachet Brothers from there own discovery of sound-scuplture and instrument design. I have also some insightful personal correspondence with instrument builder Bart Hopkin.
What I have come to so far is ‘A pallet of sounds that exist within an explorable vessel. To promote listening and evoke emotional responses, consciously or unconsciously, through musically perceived sounds.’ but i would like to look for other opinions exploring this area.
If there is anything you can point me towards? or have an any work exploring this yourself? I would love to hear it.
Also what is the best possible way to contact Max Eastley to ask him about this about this subject? I am fond of his soundsculture/instrument explorations and have various references so far in my dissertation. His website doesn’t seem to have a clear way to contact him.
Hope you are enjoying yourself in the holiday season.
Thanks for this Chase. I like your question: when does something become a musical instrument? There’s an essay I wrote for the catalogue of Fondazione Prada’s Art Or Sound exhibition which might be helpful. It’s an area I’ve been exploring in lectures and seminars over the past few years. If you’d like to send me your email I can put you in touch with Max and also say a bit more about both your question and the answer.
Cheers for that David, I shall search for the essay now.
My email is Chase.email@example.com
Thank you for your time
I sent you a request for writing an article in our new book on global music some days ago. Not sure, if you received that message? We would feel honored hearing from you. See here for our online-magazine on local and global music and media culture: http://www.norient.com and here for our current exhibition project: http://seismographic-sounds.norient.com. You can reach me via this address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
All best from Switzerland,
Sorry not to reply sooner but life has been very busy. I very much appreciate your invitation but unfortunately I’m not in a position to write anything. I’m just finishing the first volume of a new book on improvisation, then I have another book to write before beginning the second volume, plus I have a lot of university responsibilities, performing, etc.
Hi there, I’m making a film that I’d like you to consider being involved in. Could you email me and I can explain more? Thank you sir
I wonder if you can help me – a Russian friend recommended a book of yours, but only knows the Russian title is something like “The Art of Sound”. Which book does he mean, I wonder? Obviously, it’s a little easier for me to read in my native language than in a Russian translation!
All the Best,
I imagine it’s Ocean of Sound. I was in Moscow in the summer and people had Russian translations of Ocean of Sound. Seems like the best bet.
How are you?
Firts of all, let me introduce myself: my name is Joan Pons and I’m the head of contents of a the web magazine O, like the letter “O”. Take a look, if you want to:
We are a publication about art, culture, design, communication, image, music… And we’d love to interview you if it’s possible (maybe via email or Skype or… we will work it out if you agree). We absolutely love your work.
I’m not sure if this is a proper channel but… I have to try.
Looking forward to your reply
Thank you – will email you.
As a fan of your work, I am reaching out to you to see if you would be interested in reading through an excerpt of my forthcoming book with Zero Books entitled “Babbling Corpse: Vaporwave and the Commodification of Ghosts.” I’ve been working on it now for about a year, and much of it was inspired by your writings on phantom sound. I’m unsure as to how to properly ask this but if you like it, would you be willing to provide an endorsement for the back cover? I know you are busy, and I understand if you are unable to do so. I value your opinion, so any words of advice at all about the book would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you for taking the time to read this comment.
I’d be happy to have a look – thank you for asking. I’ll email you.
I’m undertaking some research for Sound and Music / The Google Cultural Institute on British composers who build/built their own instruments. I’m interested to have a read of your 1975 book New/Rediscovered Musical Instruments but I can’t find it anywhere! Would you by any chance know where I might be able to locate a copy?
Sorry, I don’t seem to have replied to this. The book is extraordinarily rare 🙂 It was re-published in a small edition about a year ago but I don’t know if any of those are left. I have a couple of copies myself of course. Best wishes, David
my name is Nicolás Carrasco, I’m a musician and translator from Santiago, Chile. I’m interested in doing a translation of your book Haunted Weather to spanish. In coming months there will be an application time for grants to make translations of foreing books to be published in Chile, so I need to know if you know if there’s a current translation of that work to spanish (after the publication of Sinister Resonance in Caja Negra), and if I need to buy the translation rights from Serpent’s Tail or just have your approval to do the work.
Thanks a lot in advance.
Thank you for your message. I’d be very happy to see a Spanish translation of Haunted Weather. Caja Negra are now doing a Spanish translation of Ocean of Sound (worldwide), so you would need to contact either Serpent’s Tail/Profile or the Spanish sub-agent, Andrew Nurnberg Associates at 20-23 Greville Street, London, EC1N 8SS. Thank you for your enthusiasm, best wishes, David.
thanks a lot. best, N.
I decided to listen to Flying Lizards’ cover of’ Money’ on Youtube this morning, then I checked Wiki, and was surprised to discover you and Vivienne Goldman were members of the group. Though I bought the single when it first came out, I don’t recall you were a member of this “chart-bursting” avant-garde group.
I know you more for your Rap Attack books – I think I slipped a piece on it in Billboard magazine, and in those pre-internet and CD days, I seem to recall receiving a tape of your collaborative work with an African musician.
BTW, this is what I’m up to:
Culture, Appropriation, Authorship And Copyright – The Story Of ‘The Lion Sleeps Tonight’ Mon Mar 7, 5.30-8.30pm @ University Of Westminster http://bit.ly/1SglSCM
Making Sense Of How The Music Industry Works @ Harrow Mencap Mon Mar 14 11am-5pm http://bit.ly/MusicIn
All the best,
Thanks Kwaku, funnily enough we’re just trying to work out and fix what happened with a Flying Lizards sample, used by The Roots years ago (legitimately, but something seems to have got lost in the convolutions of the music biz). re. your talk, the first time I met Brian Eno he was working on a cover of ‘The Lion Sleeps Tonight’. Best, David
Good to hear from you, and I do hope that FL sample is sorted out – so the Brits cover an American song, and an American hip hop act samples a Brit track – certainly underscores the globalness of hip hop articulated in your writings…
Dear David Toop,
on behalf of the Zan-A-Key Collective I want to invite you to lecture/perform at the Digital Arts Festival Battambang, Cambodia, July 19thy-24th 2016.. No budget so you will have to adventure.. Information and contact at:
Sorry I use this blog entry to contact you, thanks for reading!
Thanks for your invitation. I’d love to come to Cambodia and take part in your festival but unfortunately it’s a bit too short notice. I’ll already be away at that time. Please invite me again if you do another event – maybe we can work out a way for me to do it.
This is to put you in the British Black Music Month (BBMM) 2016 programme. We’ve got a few Talking Copyright events, including a Conference looking at Copyright from a left and global South perspective: http://www.BBM.eventbrite
awesome set at the Oto w/TM and TD!
Dear Mr Toop,
I am a third year Fine Art student currently writing my dissertation on the topic:
Where is the common ground between ‘sound art’ and contemporary popular/classical music?
I am using your practice to enable me answer the question and I was just wondering if I could get your opinion on the topic?
Sorry for the delay – I’ll email you, best, David
Sorry to contact you through this entry. We are two visual and dance artists working in a project commissioned by the Contemporary Art Museum of La Coruña, Spain. We would really like to invite you to write a text for the catalog of the exhibition (of course it would be a remunerated collaboration).
The project deals with the chants of the selk’nam people (the first inhabitants of Tierra del Fuego, nowadays Argentina and Chile). http://nave.io/programa/cantos-del-hain-jornadas-abiertas/
Please contact me by mail so we can give you more details and start a conversation.
Thank you in advance!
Pablo and Fede
Just wanted to say thank you for your work. I found you via Jeff Noon and your collab, and more recently I’ve been using your books as ideas for a course in music education for young children that I’ll be teaching this fall. Oh, and I did find the eastly chapter of rediscovered instruments. Looking for the rest. https://radar.brookes.ac.uk/radar/file/7e9ace8a-2434-c207-41ac-71bcc5cd0208/1/rediscoveredInstruments_meastley_01_1974_dev.pdf
Thank you Jason – sorry for the slow reply,
best wishes, David
Dear David, I met you in 2000 London at Sonic Boom.
I was there with my colleague Anthony Moore (he is playing now at meakusma too).
I did a sound art projekt “Klangraum-Raumklang” in 2004 in Cologne and I’m one of the few professors for sound art in Germany at Mainz University. From October 2017 on I’ll be awarded with a five years fellowship in “sound art – sound research”.
Now I found out that you come to Eupen, Belgium in september which is only 30 km from my home town: Aachen, Aix la Chapelle. It would be great if we could meet in Eupen at Meakusma-Festival, if you have some minutes spare time. Here is my contact: email@example.com or more at http://www.peter-kiefer.de or http://www.klangkunst.de. Hope we can meet. All the very Best, Peter
I look forward to meeting you again, this time in Eupen.
Dear David, thank you very much. Do you know, at what time it’s good to meet? There is no time of you presentation and artist talk on Sept. 9th in the Web… Thank you and looking forward meeting you. Peter
Dear Peter, The programme is now online. It seems that my talk will be at 3.00 and the performance at 5.00. best, David
Dear David, thank you very much. I’ve seen it and already bought the tickets. Probably we find some time after your talk or after the concert. I’m looking very much forward meeting you. Peter
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Hi David, I hope you are well. I mention your “Ocean of Sound” book in this post “Eastern Philosophy and the Cosmic Sound in the Counterculture” http://www.woebot.com/2020/06/eastern-philosophy-and-cosmic-sound-in.html Best wishes, Matthew Ingram
Thank you Matthew. I had a glance at your post and it looks very interesting. I look forward to reading it properly.
I listened to your recent Christmas mix (24.12.2020) on NTS radio. One piano track in the mix (starting at about 15:00) was just absolutely beautiful and I can not forget about it. Since I couldn’t find the tracklist for the mix, could you please tell me the name of this piano track? All the best!
Thank you, I’m happy you liked the mix. The piano track was by Terry Jennings, a piece called Winter Trees. If you don’t know his work, which is beautiful, I recommend the CD released by Another Timbre, Lost Daylight. best, David
Dear David Toop,
I’m writing to you as a fan (I hope you don’t mind).
Your albums; ‘Screen Ceremonies’, ‘Pink Noir’ and ‘Spirit World’ are wonderful, and for me, perfectly capture the essence of the mid-’90s for some reason. They seem to sum up everything that was alternative and bubbling underground at that time. It’s hard to describe. …They actually seem like a trio of albums.
Anyway, wondered if there’s any chance they’d be released as double LPs one day in the future? Probably unlikely I know, but just thought I’d air my interest in the albums. Plus, the cover artworks would look awesome as 12″ sleeves.
Thanks for your message and kind words (you don’t give your name!). A double vinyl LP will be released later this year by Foam On a Wave, selections from Pink Noir and Spirit World.
Hi David, thanks so much for your reply. Oh cool, that’s exciting! I’ll be sure to keep an eye out for the double LP on the ‘Foam on a Wave’ label.
All the best, Thom.
The promiscuous mix of theory, art, sound, and subcultures in Oceans of Sound encouraged me to write a short piece on some similarities between the 1990s Detroit techno artist Drexciya and the 19th century whaling novel Moby-Dick. The title: “Weird Waters: A Drexciya Playlist for Moby Dick.”
Thought I would share it in case you wanted to take a look and listen: https://selector.news/2021/08/09/drexciya-moby-dick-playlist/
My email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you John, being a fan of both I shall read it.
Great, I hope you like it!
Hi David, in case you are interested, I mention Oceans of Sound in a an article on Drexciya in the Journal of Popular Music Studies: https://online.ucpress.edu/jpms/article/34/1/118/120452/Imagined-OceansDrexciya-s-Bubble-Metropolis-and
I so enjoy reading your blog and hope you don’t mind my reaching out here. I’m curating an exhibition in New York about the relationship between print and sound/the materiality of sound in print. I’d love to speak with you about the project at your convenience, if you’re open to it.
Look forward to hearing from you.
Dear Elleree, Thank you, that’s very nice to hear. I’d be very interested to learn more about your exhibition. You can reach me on email@example.com.
Dear David, I believe you might provide the answer to a mystery that puzzled me throughout my six-year research on the Performance Art/living artwork of 1967-1969 called The Exploding Galaxy. In Unit Magazine issue 9 (Tony Elliot’s sixties precursor to Time out magazine) there is an article about a performance at the Arts Lab in Covent Garden. In it is the following quote: … ‘Another side to the Galaxy’s commitment to art and culture came when their musical director, Richard Topp (sic) performed Eric Satie’s rarely performed Vexations at the Arts Lab shortly after it opened; it consists of the same musical piece performed 840 times. A support team fed him sandwiches and drinks through the night, and someone was on hand to substitute for him when he had to make unavoidable breaks’.
It only occurred to me recently that there might be a typo and that Richard Topp might in fact be Richard Toop.
I remember that I was there on that occasion, but I don’t remember your role with us and whether the connection was just a misprint /misunderstanding because we were performing on the same evening. We were often onstage with musicians, eg Arthur Brown, The Soft Machine and Graham Bond. However, apart from two musicians in the Exploding Galaxy, we were all untrained, although I do remember that at the Arts Lab we were experimenting with ‘sounds-as-response’ to created sound – eg spinning a bicycle wheel and running a stick over it as a response to gamelan music. What we described as our art was often what got produced as a response to a major artwork such as the Katakhali dancers of Kerala, the St Matthew Passion, or ‘Field with Butterflies’ by Val Gogh (we bought a postcard of the painting, tore the card into pieces and reconstructed it any which way on a flat surface.)
I am sure it must have been you performing at the Arts Lab and wonder if you have any recollection of that evening?
Dear Jill, Thank you for your interesting message. The confusion between me and Richard Toop used to happen fairly frequently. I knew David Medalla well and must have seen The Exploding Galaxy perform at various venues. Hugh Davies, an old friend who died some years ago, used to programme music events at the Arts Lab so perhaps he was responsible for the Richard Toop performance of Vexations.
Best wishes, David
Hi David, after having loved many a copy of Exotica, as well as gifted many respectable artist and musician friends over the years with copies, I finally sought to ease my curiosity on what the tracklist for the aforementioned CD might have been.
As it turns out that CD may never have surfaced?
Would you please be able to share what the tracklist was? Apologies if it’s on the internet somewhere, but I couldn’t find it.
Thank you for such a thorough cultural document. Before I hand Exotica to anyone I preface with ‘this is my Bible’…
thank you for your message. I appreciate your kinds words about Exotica. The compilation was cancelled at the last minute, a decision that was very upsetting and damaging at the time. I can send you a PDF of the track list but can’t see a way to attach it here. If you’d like to send me your email address I’ll pass it on. Best wishes, David
Hi, I broadcasted yesterday a special episode about DAVID TOOP’s music in my catalan radio program called ONES DE CROM (Chromatic Waves).
All records from your career since the 70s.
Hope you like it.
Enjoying these days “Flutter Echo” too.
Great your work and books.
Following since long time ago!
Thank you Emili, that’s very nice to hear. I really appreciate your support.
Very best wishes,
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