Tag Archives: Scott Davidoff

Uniontown Poultry Association’s Tone Series and Poultry Hall Ringtone

Recently I stumbled upon a notice for the Uniontown Poultry Association‘s Fall Show. Thinking it would be a great place to capture some bird sounds, I called and asked if the  the association would allow me to capture some ringtones. My contact was Krista Martin, a Washington County resident and member of the association since 2005. She gave me the low-down on the schedule for the weekend–judging on Saturday; and an auction, a visit from the UPA mascot, Big Chicken, and an awards ceremony on Sunday. I headed out to the Fayette County Fairgrounds on Saturday October 15th, with an assistant in tow, thinking it would be the quieter day of the weekend–better for capturing good audio and visiting with people.

Krista Martin holds “Bitchy” Betty, a Buff-Laced Polish chicken


The first in this six-tone series is the Uniontown Poultry Association’s Poultry Hall Tone. In it, you’ll hear roosters crowing, hens clucking, chickens scratching, and faintly, folks “speaking chicken” in the background. For good measure, I’ve prepared this Rooster Crow Alert–because who wouldn’t want a rooster to announce their incoming text or picture messages? During our visit we also picked up some great geese and turkey-gobble sounds, with the help of other Association members and/or show competitors. And we captured some lovely bird calls from a couple of fellows who are part of the association. Throughout the week, I’ll post additional tones. To read more about Krista and her chickens, and to see more pictures from our visit to the fall show, scroll down.


Did you know there are over 60 breeds of chickens (and 175 varieties)?  Or that a hen lays an egg about every 26-28 hours? The birds in the Fall Show (and, surprise! bunnies–maybe because they supposedly taste like chicken?) were plentiful, stylish (check out Svetlana’s plumage), beautiful and soft.

Krista Martin, our guide and member of the Uniontown Poultry Association

Krista, who makes a living doing legal research, had always wanted to have chickens. “It was a family experience, and a way of life for us–my parents raised chickens and so I’ve always wanted to have them.” Her family also had a garden, and canned fruits and vegetables. “Raising your own food is a lost art–it used to be a way of life for people. But once you’ve had eggs from your own chickens, grocery store eggs just don’t compare. And I think raising chickens is better for stress than something like watching fish swim around in a tank.” Krista presently has 12 chickens, 2 roosters and 1 (Fall Poultry Show champion) turkey. “My chickens work as show birds, or as chicken ambassadors,” she said, “they’re extremely friendly.” She described the community outreach she does as magical and told us a story about taking her hen Greedy Guts to visit fourth graders. “The best part was when the hen stood there, stock-still, with her chest raised up and her legs locked – she looked kind of like a penguin – and she was looking unusually focused. The kids wondered what was wrong with Greedy Guts–she was frozen like that for a minute or so before she lowered her hind end slowly and the egg just popped out. I was surprised Ol’ Greedy laid that egg – she turns 7 years old in November. I’ve had other of my Chicken Ambassadors lay eggs at other events and it is always a big hit, even though it is unplanned.”

Krista told us that poultry shows have been around since 1849–that’s when the first one occured in the US (in Boston). “The American Poultry Association was formed in 1879, and the Uniontown Poultry Association has been in existence since the turn of the 20th Century. It formally incorporated as a nonprofit in 1928, and is one of the oldest poultry clubs in this geographic area.

During one of our conversations, Krista said, “By the way, have you ever  held a chicken?” She brought out Svetlana, a beautiful (and soft) Silver Laced Polish chicken, and showed us how to hold her.

Scott Davidoff, Locally Toned supporter and assistant, holds Svetlana, a Silver Laced Polish chicken

Svetlana’s stylish headdress

The food at the Poultry Hall was delicious–we could not resist trying the chicken and dumpling soup.

The homemade chicken and dumpling soup

Snowball, Angie Hamman’s “talking” Jersey Wooley rabbit (a missed “oppor-TONE-ity”–there were too many crowing roosters in the hall to be able to capture this bunny’s  delightfully quirky sounds)

Thanks to the members of the Uniontown Poultry Association for the lively contributions to Locally Toned.


This ringtone recording sessions with participants at the Uniontown Poultry Association’s Fall Show were made possible by a generous grant from The Fine Foundation.

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Photo Documentation of Locally Toned TV

A photo montage by Anna Lee Fields. Below are selected photos she took during the recording of Locally Toned TV at the Waffle Shop, July 9, 2010.

From the outside in (color).

From the outside in (with calendar), black and white.

Donnell Pearl as the cool *cat* who interviewed me.

Lenka Clayton, artist and temporary Waffle Shop staff member, works the controls.

Setting up a shot.

Gettin’ ready for the show (long shot).

Encyclopedia Destructica (Christopher Kardambikis and Jasdeep Khaira), one of Locally Toned’s Old and New Media Residency co-hosts. They were my first guests. We visited about their creative contributions to Locally Toned.

Justin Hopper, this year’s Old and New Media Resident Artist, was up next on the show. He talked about his project, Public Record, and brought his goldfish on the show–wanted me to get a tone from the little dude. That didn’t happen…

Artist Ayanah Moor, ringtone contributor and informal project adviser came on the show to perform a new ringtone.

Video and filmmaker (and ringtone contributor) Caleb Foss ran camera for Locally Toned TV.

Video artist and musician Keith Tassick performed his famously subtle *Ring*tone live!

Dave English took time away from his television show to be a guest on Locally Toned TV, too.

Spontaneous ringtone contributor Ricardo Iamuuri plays the hand harmonica (a harmonica made from only his hands).

Another spontaneous ringtone contributor–Christine “Scout” Smith played a lovely tune on her concertina.

Contributor Scott Davidoff (a.k.a. Edith Leadbottom).

Turadg Aleahmad, accompanist on the Mayan Horn, and Ms. Edith Leadbottom rehearse the ringtone, “You Are the One for Me.”

As the show is winding down…

Thanks to Anna Lee Fields for the lovely photos, and to the Waffle Shop, all the guests and audience members.

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Listener’s Request: Siren Text Message Alert

Today’s tone, the Siren Text Message Alert (from With These Hands) is an excerpted and slightly tweaked version from a series of tones I produced last fall with Ron Baraff at Rivers of Steel in Homestead, PA. The request for a shortened version came in from Locally Toned supporter, smart home researcher and designer Scott Davidoff, who recently loaded the longer version of the tone on his phone as a text message alert.

The original tone/siren sound comes from an industrial/safety film called “With These Hands,” shot in McKeesport in 1956. As Ron Baraff explained to Locally Toned last fall, the siren goes off in the film every time a flag waves to show the viewer that something dangerous is about to happen.

I think it sounds like the kind of siren you’d hear in a 1950’s movie about an alien invasion. The posters above are from a Rivers of Steel mill-safety exhibition.

The idea for shortening the original tone came while having lunch in a local restaurant, as the ringtone went off on Scott Davidoff’s phone. The phone was in Scott’s pocket, and we noticed nearby diners curiously looking around the restaurant, smiling and wondering where the siren sound was coming from. “Could it be shortened?” Davidoff asked.

“Could it be shortened!” I answered.

Click on this link to get the shortened version of the tone for your phone.

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Conversation with Architect Michael Schoner (of Boom Bench Fame)

Architect Michael Schoner

Meet the artist/designer Michael Schoner of NL Architects in the Netherlands (Amsterdam). He’s the creator of this amazing piece of outdoor furniture–the Boom Bench.


Michael re-worked the idea of a street bench into a work of public art capable of reflecting and amplifying the tastes, interests and personalities of those who have access to it. The Boom Bench has been described as “a regular piece of street furniture [turned] into a sound system.” Michael’s described it as a super-sized Docking Station. I’ll let him speak for himself:

“The Boom Bench features eight 60-watt co-axial speakers and two subwoofers that can be accessed through Bluetooth. Connect your player to the amplifier and take control. Now you can play your music with 95 dB high quality sound. A Bass Shaker in the seat transforms the deep sounds into vibrations that enhance the physical sensation of your tunes. Playing loud music in public will either attract or repel people. The music extends you personality onto the streets. As such it will shape the place. It is a showing off and putting yourself on the stage. Either you start an instant party or mark your territory. The music acts as an acoustic sign.”


Michael told me that the idea for the bench came out of putting a couple of observations together–that teenagers would congregate around benches near their homes and play music from their cell phones. They didn’t have boom boxes to take outside (like in the old days–if you’re old enough to remember) and they didn’t have the space to play their music loud or share it with each other in their families’ homes. Go here to read more about his democratic bench (especially the hilarious Celine Dion story he recounts there).

How’d I find out about Michael’s work? Through project research about how sound shapes space. That notion came up in conversations related to a grant proposal I was preparing for Locally Toned. The first glimmer of that idea came from a comment that smart home researcher and designer Scott Davidoff shared with me: “Someone like my mother wouldn’t completely understand your project unless there was video documentation to show her what happens when the tones go off in public.” He was so right. How do I capture that experience/arrange for that sort of video documentation?

I mentioned Scott’s comment to another mentor/project adviser, Marge Myers, she said, “Yes, what happens when the tones go off in public? How do the ringtones shape or affect the space or sphere in which they’re played? Notions of unexpected place and timing are interesting to think about in relation to your work…”

After talking with Marge, I went straight home and googled “how does sound shape public space.” Presto! I found this .pdf called Can Sound Shape the Public Space? uploaded by NL Architects. The document includes writing about (and links to) other projects and products that embodied this concept. So I wrote to the firm to thank them for posting that research and asked if anyone at the firm would allow me to talk with them about the idea of how sound shapes space.

The firm wrote back (!), said they were delighted to hear I found their essay, and suggested I speak with Michael Schoner, who designed the Boom Bench. Then Michael sent me a note (!). He mentioned that the sonic cannon ringtone made him feel extremely nervous and that he’d be happy to talk. Here follows our Q&A:

Teresa Foley (TF): You’re sensitive to audio in particular?

Michael Schoner (MS): Yes, but I think it does take a while to realize how much audio has to do with space. For example, in churches and museum–the general expectation is that you have to be quiet.

TF: Can you describe a formative experience from your childhood in relation to sound?

MS: Yes–sitting on a washing machine and singing, or the experience of parents telling you to shut up.

TF: The first thing you mention is an embodied experience of sound and of manipulating it! As soon as you say that, I remember lying on my stomach on the floor, and another kid giving me a karate chop/pretend massage–I start humming and love how the impact of their hands on my back affects my vocalizing.

MS: Well at least your experience was social, Teresa–mine was with a machine…

TF: Yes, but I bet somebody put you up on that washing machine the first time you discovered those vibes, though.

MS: Sure.

TF: Until you said what you did about your washing machine experience, I never thought about how children learn about sound/vibrations physically. It reminds me of that thing I’ve seen musicians and scientists do–where they put sand or rice on top of an amplifier to make sound vibrations visible .

Okay, another question–where’s the Boom Bench been so far?

MS: Amsterdam, Milan and New York.

TF: Where’s it going to next?

MS: Possibly Shanghai.

TF: Have any cities asked about installing it somewhere permanently?

MS: We received an inquiry from Bulgaria, but right now it’s been designed for temporary placement or exhibition. If you wanted to make it a permanent piece, it would have to be fabricated out of steel. The original is made out of wood.

TF: What would be an ideal location for it?

MS: The obvious placement is urban, but some people have asked to place it out in the suburbs–one location that’s been pitched is an area in between the sea and a lake. The idea of an urban artifact installed in the countryside is interesting, I think. But I’ve never really thought too much about this idea. I think it’s up to other people to figure out what to do with it. The thing leads a life of its own, anyhow.

TF: Are you working on any other audio related projects?

MS: I’m working on designing a concert hall.

TF: Would you kindly share the names of any other artists whose audio work you find interesting?

MS: Yes, a friend of mine told me about a project called The International Dance Party–a kind of disco machine. You start dancing by it and music comes out, the machine starts to open up–there’s even a smoke machine. My bench is for hanging out, a machine like this is for dancing–something like that machine would be great to have for openings.


In 1999, I saw an installation of an artist named Céleste Boursier-Mougenot at PS1. It was a wonderful work with live birds and sound produced, I think, by the birds landing on feeders.


Image from a more recent work by Boursier-Mougenot

Another sound project which I found really interesting is the Optofonica–a collaboration between two artists–TeZ and Janis Poenish.

Optofonica: capsule-cube

Oh, yes, and the artist Roman Signer–he has a very nice movie in which he went to Iceland, put a tent up, went to sleep and amplified his snoring through these giant speakers.

Roman Signer (image from his website)

Roman Signer (image from his website)

TF: What kinds of things would you think about if you were designing a ringtone to be shared/downloaded for free/played in public?

MS: Well, I don’t really like ringtones. They’re usually so terrible. I had a friend who made an interesting tone–he had one of the first phones that you could record sounds with. He made a ringtone out of the sound you get when you slowly let air out of a balloon. Snoring might be an interesting ringtone…

TF: There is a snore tone in the project… Okay, one last question–may I make a ringtone for the project based your specifications, or would you like to submit an audio file to the project?

MS: I’ll think about it. Maybe that is the sort of thing I could mention at the lunch table to the firm.

TF: Wow–that’d be great! Thanks for your time, Michael. I’ve enjoyed learning about your work, and this exchange we’ve had is helpful in expanding my thinking around the performative aspect of Locally Toned.

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