February 13, 2014, is the official release date for my 33 1/3 book on Aphex Twin's 1994 album Selected Ambient Works Volume II, available at Amazon (including Kindle) and via your local bookstore. • F.A.Q.Key Tags: #saw2for33third, #sound-art, #classical, #juntoElsewhere: Twitter, SoundCloud, Instagram

Listening to art.
Playing with audio.
Sounding out technology.
Composing in code.

Monthly Archives: January 2012

Past Week at Twitter.com/Disquiet

  • RIP, church organist Gerre Hancock (b. 1934). On mastering his instrument: "Coordination is key. But so are earplugs." http://t.co/D21x1Mnw #
  • Good use of "also": "[T]hey found a computer monitor and 2 video surveillance cameras. They also located a large amount of methamphetamine." #
  • Dean Westerfield posted a comic of his I edited back in 1997, about a concert from five years earlier: http://t.co/BDpIRJtC #
  • Already 7 @mapmap remixes at http://t.co/anQFre9l, all sharing the same 10 core audio samples, and we're barely a day in. #
  • Senior citizen who complained loudly in cafe about loud babies now on cellphone. Prediction: Will criticize loud typing. #
  • Senior citizen complaining loudly in cafe about how loud babies can be. #
  • Read more »
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The Disquiet Junto Project List

Association for communal music/sound-making on Soundcloud.com. [Update: August 14, 2014]

The Disquiet Junto is a group I founded on Soundcloud.com. The purpose of the group is to use constraints to stoke creativity. Each Thursday evening I post a clearly defined compositional assignment, and members of the Junto are to complete the assignment by 11:59pm the following Monday. The initial Junto assignment was made on January 5, 2012, the first Thursday of the new year.

The inspirations for the group’s existence are numerous. There are the weekly Beat Battles sponsored by Stonesthrow, and also hosted at Soundcloud.com, in which dozens if not hundreds of participants craft instrumental hip-hop beats from a shared sample. There is the tradition of Oulipo, whose embrace of creative constraints is personified by one of its co-founders, the author Raymond Queneau. Several comics artists with whom I have worked, including Matt Madden, have bonded under the banner of Oubapo, and there is, in fact, a related musical tradition, which goes by Oumupo. (I was reminded that the Iron Chef of Music projects at kracfive.com were also an influence on my thinking. They were for many years a big part of the Downstream department here.)

The word “junto” comes from the name of a society that Benjamin Franklin formed in Philadelphia during the early 1700s as “a structured forum of mutual improvement.” In Franklin’s honor, the third Disquiet Junto project explored the glass harp, an instrument he experimented with in the development of what he christened the armonica.

The idea for the Junto arose after the completion of a Disquiet project at the end of December 2011. That project, Instagr/am/bient, was more loosely curated than other such projects I had commissioned, beginning in 2006 with Our Lives in the Bush of Diquiet. Instagr/am/bient proved quite popular, with over 20,000 listens and almost 4,000 downloads in its first month, and this success suggested to me that I experiment with an even looser format — the irony being that this “looser” format is, in fact, dedicated to constraint. Much to my surprise, the very first Junto project resulted, in four days, in 56 original pieces of music by as many musicians. The assignment was to record the sound of ice cubes in a glass and to make something musical of that recording.

If for the musicians involved, the Disquiet Junto is an experiment in creative constraints, for me it is as much an experiment in what I would describe as “community organizing as a form of curation.”

Visit the group — and, better yet, sign up and participate — at soundcloud.com/groups/disquiet-junto. There’s also an email announcement list for the group. If you would like to be added to the suscription list, you can join up here: tinyletter.com/disquiet-junto.

This page serves as an index of the assignments. They are listed here in chronological order:

These are the weekly projects to date:

0001: ice cubes

0002: duet for foghorn and steam whistle

0003: expanded glass harp

0004: remixing Marcus Fischer

0005: adding sounds to everyday life

0006: remixing archival Edison cylinders

0007: create through subtraction

0008: rework Benjamin Franklin’s autobiography

0009: cross-species collaboration

0010: remix a previous Junto track

0011: everyday mechanical rhythms

0012: cut and paste

0013: remixing wild Up playing Shostakovich

0014: sonic version of Matt Madden’s Oubapo story

0015: aural RGB

0016: sandpaper and dice

0017: transition between field and composed

0018: relative prominence

0019: graphic score (photo by Yojiro Imasaka)

0020: use the NodeBeat app

0021: the four seasons

0022: sonic decay

0023: palindrone

0024: a suite of sonic alerts

0025: remixing project 24

0026: making music from your trash

0027: turm the instruction text into sound

0028: remix a netlabel release

0029: music from water, inspired by William Gibson’s Count Zero

0030: sounds from silence

0031: Revisiting a 1955 Yoko Ono Fluxus piece

0032: sonify the 2012 U.S. presidential election polling data

0033: making music with a turntable but without vinyl

0034: Use the theme song of the Radius broadcast as the source of an original composition

0035: Make music from a sample page of Beck’s Song Reader sheet music

0036: Reworking Bach into abstract expressionism

0037: The sound of commerce

0038: Make a fake field recording

0039: Combine three tracks from the Nowaki netlabel into one

0040: Turn a Kenneth Kirschner duet into a trio

0041: Dirty minimalism

0042: Record a “naive melody” with your oldest and newest instruments

0043: Make mechanical roars from the sound of a retail space

0044: Transition from storm to calm using field recordings from Sandy 2012

0045: Combine material from the public domain adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Tom Sawyer

0046: Investigate a recording of the voting process for its “sonic fingerprint.”

0047: Turn the muffled voices of a distant party into the foundation of a recording.

0048: Celebrate the Creative Commons license that allows for derivative works by remixing music from the Three Legs Duck netlabel.

0049: Make a track, 50% of which is the sound of a tape cassette deck in motion.

0050: Encode a word or phrase in Morse Code and employ that as a track’s rhythm.

0051: Create a 2012 audio diary with a dozen five-second segments.

0052: Celebrate the Creative Commons by remixing three tracks from the Bump Foot netlabel.

0053: Record the sound of ice in a glass and make something of it (redux).

0054: Create an original musical score for the day’s news.

0055: Combine two Nils Frahm solo piano pieces into one.

0056: Make music from the sound of the tick of a clock.

0057: Use sounds from the Phonetics Lab Archive at UCLA to depict emotions.

0058: Celebrate the Creative Commons by remixing three tracks from the Endless Ascent netlabel.

0059: Make music from three randomly assigned vowels.

0060: Record something about yourself and your music/sound in your own words and voice.

0061: Record a single for which the cover would be the image suggested by a @textinstagram tweet.

0062: Make music using just three sine waves.

0063: Make a new piece of music based on an echo-laden re-recording of Gregorian chant.

0064: Compose a piece to align with, from memory, 60 seconds of everyday sound.

0065: Compose music atop a randomly assigned segment of a pre-existing track by Jared Brickman.

0066: Collaborate posthumously with the late Jeffrey (Nofi) Melton.

0067: Compose music for a phrase from Homer’s The Odyssey

0068: Combine three songs from the first release of the new deriv.cc netlabel.

0069: Make music from field recordings of earth, water, air, and fire.

0070: Create a single piece of music from two tones and three beats.

0071: Create an original score to the trailer to Christine Knowlton’s film about blind sailors.

0072: Make a domestic score from sounds recorded in your own home.

0073: Read a map of the San Andreas Fault as if it were a graphic notation score

0074: Turn applause into music.

0075: Make a 3-part, 18-second suite with the Vine app.

0076: Use the sounds of the room in which you sleep as source audio for a score to you describing your dream.

0077: Combine music from three different netlabels to create one track.

0078: Create music by removing sound from a century-old Edison Symphony Orchestra recording.

0079: Remix music from the movie Manos: The Hands of Fate (1966) to make a downtempo instrumental.

0080: Make music with a metronome.

0081: Create generative music with four loops of differing lengths

0082: Create a minimal techno track using elements of a Haydn string quartet.

0083: Treat a page from recently declassified documents related to NSA collection of telephone metadata records as a graphically notated score.

0084: Connect two distinct field recordings via a transition between isolated elements.

0085: Make a song with three simple parts (oscillator, drum machine, field recording).

0086: Your next single is titled “Hyperloop.” Now record it.

0087: Make five varied doorbell rings.

0088: Make a track simulating 3D sound.

0089: Use the sounds of interstellar space to make “goodbye music” for the Voyager 1 space probe.

0090: Explore the sound of a radio caught between stations.

0091: Explore the musical qualities of footsteps.

0092: Use room tone to shape a three-part suite.

0093: Combine music from three different netlabels to create one track.

0094: Record an unlikely vocal trio with the sound of a bird, a kitten, and a pig.

0095: Musicians post recent tracks with the express purpose of getting constructive feedback.

0096: Pay tribute to the late Lou Reed’s noise classic.

0097: Decode the music in a phrase from a book.

0098: Combine original three spoken texts into one track.

0099: Compose an 8-bit melody based on the “E G D” startup sound of the Xbox One.

0100: Record the sound of water boiling and make something of it.

101: Make a phase composition based on the sounds of three switches.

0102: Record original secular holiday music: glistening, reflective, gentle.

0103: Make a song based on last week’s “sonic tinsel” project.

0104: Create a 2013 audio diary with a dozen five-second segments.

0105: Record the sound of ice in a glass and make something of it (re-redux)

0106: Treat the weather chart as a graphically notated score.

0107: Use a wind chime as the rhythmic foundation for a track.

0108: Create a soundscape for the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra.

0109: Insert musical objects into an urban soundscape.

0110: Celebrate the 100th birthday of that old cut-up, William S. Burroughs.

0111: Rework work from Impulsive Habitat, Xylem, Zeromoon (via actsofsilence.com).

0112: Turn your week’s dayplanner into music.

0113: Record a piece of music that slowly improves, in tribute to the late Harold Ramis’ film Groundhog Day.

0114: Combine elements of Dave Seidel’s album ~60 Hz (Irritable Hedgehog).

0115: Record a duet with yourself, divided by a wall.

0116:Record a score for daily dental hygiene.

0117: Compose an original piece of music in response to a haiku.

0118: What is the room tone of the Internet?

0119: Write music to accompany the typing of a work of fiction.

0120: Write a song based on the heartbeat of Marcel Duchamp.

0121: Two projects of varying complexity inspired by Edward Frenkel’s book Love and Math.

0122: Create music for a fake movie whose plot is “Poltergeist meets Wreck-It Ralph.”

0123: Help Gizmodo create the soundscape of the home of the future.

0124: Recombinate work from the netlabels addSensor, As4cords, and Audiotalaia.

0125: On the centennial of the great W.C. Handy song “The Yellow Dog Blues,” participate in a Studio 360 listener challenge.

0126: Change the meter of a 1918 jazz recording by the Louisiana Five.

0127: Record the sound of your library — and then maybe make something of it.

0128: Write a score to accompany a short piece of text you wrote a year ago today.

0129: Create tones to match five of the new emoji.

0130: Create a composition by altering an ongoing loop

0131: Create a composition that naturally extends from the whistle of a tea kettle.

0132: Collaborate with the late Jeffrey (Nofi) Melton using a previous tribute track.

0133: Compose an especially short and concise composition.

0134: Compose music to accompany one minute of a dance video by Cori Marquis.

0135: Record the sonic equivalent of air conditioning.

0136: Recombinate work from the netlabels Nowaki, Phantom Channel, and Rec72.

0137: Produce an original piece of music that fits the genre “old-time electronica.”

And this is the initial post I made on Disquiet.com, announcing the project on January 7, 2012: “Sneek Peek.”

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Piano Minimalism (MP3)

Free MP3: variations in German techno

Much of the Mizati album ydna, released late last year, is a collection of slight elements aligned in unlikely combinations, among the most delectable of such combinations being those that mix emotionally remote piano lines with slender fragments of electronic percussion. There’s something special to how the piano here is almost inhuman in its simplicity, and how that spare quality allows for a camaraderie, a kind of cold simpatico, with the far more mechanized beat. The track titled, simply, “G” may be the highlight, its chords spaced apart to such an extent that they often decay fully before a new one enters in — an effect that is amplified, so to speak, as the close nears, when the decay fades into a drone that never quite seems to end (MP3). Pushing the album beyond being a straightforward experiment in minimalist pop are tracks that flirt with raspy techno, and others that employ unusual elements, such as saxophone and guitar.

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Get the full set for free download and streaming at tonatom.net, the releasing netlabel. More on Mizati, aka Andreas Groll, at mizati.de.

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Reclaiming “Industrial” (MP3)

Free MP3s: German drones via a great Portuguese netlabel

Among the many good things that have come from the increasing prevalence of drone-based music is a clarification, a realignment, of the word “industrial.” Thanks in addition to the rise in field recordings as broadly produced and consumed sonic media, the word “industrial” has ceased meaning simply a pounding nightife nihilism akin to an ersatz jackhammer beat, and come to mean a sonic aura akin to or actually resulting from a mechanical process. And that why it is a term that can be applied to much of Colliding Textures, a four-song release by Mon0 on the great Test Tube netlabel. The album’s initial two tracks, “Cathedral of the Lost” (MP3) and “Marching into Desperation” (MP3), in particular seem to document some unimaginably vast industrial process. (The album comes with a humorous if, based on personal experience, hyperbolic warning: “Beware of the heavy use of bass frequencies, because these tracks might break your living room windows if you put your amp volume too loud.”) They are monotonous in all the right ways, which is to say to an extent that veils their underlying urgency, their sense of intense inward momentum.

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Get the full set at monocromatica.com. More on Mon0 at mon0.de.

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Movie with and without a Movie

Free MP3 and video: Refurbished surrealism from a revived netlabel

When the excellent Kikapu netlabel announced a return from extended hiatus, there was reason to be excited. One of the earliest netlabels, it was in existence from 2001 to 2008. In an interview here after the label was shuttered by its founder, Brad Mitchell (aka the musician Pocka), he said the idea of closing it down had been on his mind for close to two years. Mitchell is an innovative musician and proprietor who considers things thoroughly. He isn’t one to bring the label back lightly. And now, four years after closing, Kikapu is back — albeit at kikapu.org, a new URL. Its first release speaks of its newfound energy and adventurous spirit. The release, a single MP3, is in fact a fully original score to a 1928 silent surrealist film by Antonin Artaud and Germaine Dulac: La coquille et le clergyman (The Seashell and the Clergyman). The music is by Roto Visage, who was apparently hired by Transflux Films to create the score, though the project was shelved. He recorded two versions, this being one of them. In addition to providing the MP3 for free download, Kikapu shows the full film with the audio synced. It’s a dense and haunting score, with a voluble mix of orchestral and noise-based approaches, putting front and center the dread inherent in the film’s eerie goings-on.

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More on Roto Visage, aka Jason Popejoy, at rotovisage.com.

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