MEMOIR OF SOUND WEBSITE FAQ
WHAT KIND OF PROJECT IS MEMOIR OF SOUND?
Memoir of Sound is a living memoir of Carolyn Fok’s aka CYRNAI’s work, a lifetime statement that continues indefinitely. Since this is a music diary as much as written diary, Carolyn envisions Memoir of Sound as a continuing lifelong project where each new release adds to the Memoir of Sound. Note: This site is in progress. Descriptions of albums will be next update.
IS MEMOIR OF SOUND, A LABEL?
MEM (Memoir of Sound) is a boutique label, and music store.
HOW DO I USE THE SITE?
The site is currently and will always be evolving. Technical note, this site is on general hosting. This means our online shop may experience some lag or delay when loading a main segment. You may experience minimum of 15 seconds to load. We apologize for the inconvenience, but this platform was best option in order to bring this to you sooner than later.
To use the site, click on a ‘Time Segment’ or go to the STORE menu to find time period. There are two sound file options, mp3 and WAV. Album cover images are not downloadable. They were designed for imagery to complement audio previews.
WHO IS CAROLYN FOK?
Carolyn Fok is an Chinese-American artist who has always thrived on simultaneous projects and various mediums, from painting, pencil, ink, to written diaries spanning the same amount of years as the music, 40 years, amassing over 50 unreleased diaries, 100+ albums of music and sound, numerous art, photography, etc.
Carolyn Fok aka CYRNAI creates unique sound designs to sequenced synthesizers, drum machines, real instruments, vocals, sound effects, and sampling the world.
Carolyn Fok’s father worked as a computer systems analyst. For hobby, he was an audiophile in the 1970’s, and built a drum machine, flanger, analog delay, and a synthesizer, and collected used instruments Carolyn found in the living room, as well as his Teac 4-track. Carolyn Fok was first exposed to electronic gear from a drum machine her father built at age 9, and given a tape recorder then, she first recorded vocal stories using music from the the radio in 1975. Eventually, Carolyn began discovered taping recorders together until she discovered the 4-track. She never used EQ having not been introduced to mixers, so she recorded using microphone angles to amps. Her debut, Charred Blossoms 1986, defined its own sound against typical 80’s pop or punk in the era, and broke most engineering rules.
While Carolyn originally wrote and drew illustrations in children’s stories as early as age 7, and written extensive diaries to present, she eventually combined stories, journals, and music in one project as her signature product.
See more: carolynfok.com.
NOTE : Carolynfok.com entire site is currently under renovation.
Early 1980’s, Carolyn Fok invented the name CYRNAI (mixing letters). Carolyn designated CYRNAI as a translator for the subconscious, while Carolyn Fok was the conscience, non-fiction reporter. Carolyn has always felt she had an extra set of conscience when viewing daily life where everything was documentable. ‘I realize time and its contents are constantly passing, so I’m documenting in real-time, all the time’.
As CYRNAI – pronounced Seer-in-I. or See-in-our-eye, CYRNAI was to digest the world in parts. She says, ..’the screech of dry ice against metal, after effects from a train platform that just left a station, memories of strangers who would show up in a dream. But these parts would not necessarily ever permanently leave one’s existence, because they had occurred in one’s timeline, even through media consumption, but primarily through passing thoughts.’
While living unofficially at a San Francisco family property, she wrote most of her early solo albums there through various stages of its abandoned status. Her tentative neighbors were nail salons and photo Express, and her immediate neighbor on the same floor was an Actor’s Studio and another time an Acting school. The floor had a large theater where at night, Carolyn would use the natural reverb to record songs with drum machines with guitar. Surrounded by theater in the neighborhood, Carolyn would spend time attending them and after some powerful performances, she wrote music using similar emotional juxtapositions, contradictions, ironies embedded in a story. She recorded several albums that reflected the reclusiveness of this process.
Carolyn had found herself continuing to live in an empty building where ‘…no one had disturbed, except waking up to screaming exercises by the acting school.’ She found herself collecting dreams and documenting over hundreds of episodes in real-time. She released Transfiguration 1996 CD with 80 page booklet that included these nightmarish dreams.
She says, ‘The point is a display of works conveying that this is a lifetime project that can’t be duplicated without using one’s lifetime as the statement.’
Works from childhood in the 70’s to span 4 decades of recording through recording evolutions. Tapes, reels, DATs, Mini-disks, computer…When adding up each of these mediums as albums, presented and categorized by medium, these 100+ albums offer not only invaluable insight into audio evolution, but perhaps insight into one of the only few female recording artists who would achieve such feat.
Memoir of Sound intends to be an endeavor that continues to amass. ‘Any new works would be added to the Memoir. In theory, future works, become the past.’
HOW DID DIGITAL EVOLUTION BECOME PART OF THE WORK?
During the 90’s innovations of samplers, Carolyn had accumulated dozens of DAT recordings made of instruments and sounds, in particular, drum hits and processing them. She would had to edit every single one. So she had a programmer program software to batch edit them. Working together around 1994, they created a software program called Robotic Editor, the fastest and only batch audio sample editor at the time. Robotic Editor could edit 500 drum samples within minutes. At the time, CD-Roms were the only way to sell software and copy protection was not reliable and the editor was never made available. For song creation, very nuance of an effect on an instrument were used in samplers, and played into sequences. Current efforts had been made in recent years to re-establish and continue a private version that would work on current Apple OSX. Carolyn is currently exploring more software creation options.
WHAT KIND OF GEAR HAS CAROLYN FOK USED?
Carolyn’s first exposure to instruments was the guitar her father brought, then upright piano, drum kit, Rhodes keyboard, flute, saxophone, clarinet, bass guitar, variety of electric guitars. And later approached her with Mac laptops and computers, etc. in addition to his built drum machines, synths, effects as a hobby, ie PAiA Drummer Boy, Flanger, Analog Delay, misc synth kits.
DRUM MACHINES: Pais drum machine, Sound Master drum machine, Korg drum machines, Roland 808 drum machine, Roland 303, SMS CV modules, Samplers…
SYNTHESIZERS/PIANO : Moog Opus 3, Roland JD-800, SMS CV module, Synclavier, Casio, organs, home piano, Yamaha DX7, Roland M-20, virtual synthesizers
SAMPLERS/SEQUENCERS : Casio FZ100 sampler, SampleCell II, Studio Vision , Sound Designer II, Pro Tools, Performer…
PROCESSORS AND PLUG-INS : Lexicon Reverbs, Harmonizors, Arturia, IK Media, virtual instruments, Omnisphere, spatializers, Waves plug-ins, Universal Audio plug-ins, Ivory Piano
Teac 3340, Tascam 388, FOSTEX 8 Track
1985 Commodor 64, 1993 Mac II, 1994 MAC 9500, 1996 MAC 9600, Mac laptop (early model), 2003 MAC G5 Tower, 2004 MacBook Pro, 2006 Mac Powerbook 12”, 2008 MacBook Pro 15”, 2015 iMac 32” Display
WHAT ABOUT THE RETURN OF ANALOG?
“Although drum machines and modules are popular these days, just consider when artistry runs into the temptation of getting itself euphorically replaced.”
WHY DO I HEAR DISTORTED OR UNEVEN SOUND IN RECORDINGS, AND WHAT WERE SOME OF THE EFFECTS?
Expect to hear analog artifacts such as hiss, tape clips, tape machine noise, starts/stops, loud hums. A lot has been cleaned up, but some left on purpose. In the 80’s Carolyn had edited tape only by the start/stops versus physically cutting in order to preserve the tape itself.
‘As time progressed from analog to digital, grit and hiss became part of a new sound design, particularly in the 90’s. In the early 90’s, the use of samplers had spawn music punctuated by sample hits or songs entirely by samples, and it was a new era that began to popularize techno cultures, cybernetic lifestyles, fashion, and computer graphics.’
Two tape recorders were initial efforts to record each other as a way to multi-track, not knowing there was a machine that recorded one track at a time. Luckily a Teac 4-track was conveniently in the house. Prolific efforts were made to record original compositions as well as cover songs. The Reverb mic was used for reverb impression but also if it were banged lightly, it would create spring effects.
As a current Analog to Digital Transferring engineer has said of Carolyn Fok aka CYRNAI’s work:
“Each one of the reels that I’ve previewed so far is a project in it self. No one tape was recorded in the same way as the one before it. Like I mentioned earlier, some have the speed turned up, some don’t seem to, but I can’t really be sure. Some have dbx turn on, some don’t seem to. But again, it’s hard to tell since I’m not 100% sure if what I’m hearing is the lack of dbx or just the way that track was intended to sound. The levels are all over the place as well. Some tracks are extremely hot, going into distortion, while other tracks have hardly any level at all, and then it all changes a few minutes later.
The unconventional methods used when recording and just the unconventional nature of the material makes it difficult to know if what I’m hearing is correct or not.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION, SIGN UP WITH YOUR EMAIL ON THE HOMEPAGE FORM. THANKS FOR VISITING. FEEL FREE TO SEND US A COMMENT OR QUESTION. WE CAN ANSWER SOME IN THIS BLOG.