Short version: Record a couple seconds of a steady sound (e.g. from a synthesizer or software audio tool) whose fundamental pitch is 25 Hz. Send any recordings to me by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. I will use your sound(s) in a radio artwork and include you in its list of contributors.
Any suitable sounds I receive by May 9 (2022) will be used in the project.
Long version: In radio, “automation” refers to a system that can carry out a sequence of different sounds by starting and stopping the right audio sources at the right times. Today these sources are typically digital files, but in the 1950s, they were tape machines. Radio automation began as the technique of adding “cue tones” to recorded sound. When a special tape player detected one of these tones, it would stop the tape and start another machine playing. In this way, automation systems could interlace music with advertisements and station announcements to make up a continuous broadcast program. From 1953 up into the era of syndication by satellite, almost every automation system used the same frequency for its cue tones: 25 Hz. Hovering just above the lower bound of the purported “normal” human hearing range (20 Hz to 20,000 Hz), 25 Hz had to be filtered out of the broadcast signal on its way from automation system to transmitter. Here in this subtracted spot in the audio frequency spectrum, all the seams in a seamlessly automatic signal hid from hearing.
The piece I’m building for Wave Farm’s Radio Artist Fellowship will open up radio automation through its history and through those seams. The backbone of the piece will be 25 Hz cue tones that, instead of triggering seamless transitions, jarringly punctuate a collection of automation-related recordings. Because 25 Hz is so far into the bass register, a simple sinusoid tone would likely be inaudible in most listening environments. I will therefore need to use sounds that include overtones atop the 25 Hz fundamental. Rather than choose one arbitrary timbre to produce that more complex tone, I’d like to treat this problem as an opportunity for others to add sounds to the piece, which will cycle through a wide variety of these tones. These contributions will be credited but not financially compensated, so I hope it’s something people with the necessary means will consider spending just a few minutes on if interest strikes. If you have a synthesizer, DAW, tuner app, or other audio generator handy, I would be grateful for any and all little snippets of 25 Hz you care to send my way.
Thank you! —Andy