My 33 1/3 book, on Aphex Twin's Selected Ambient Works Volume II, was the 5th bestselling book in the series in 2014. It's available at Amazon (including Kindle) and via your local bookstore. • F.A.Q.Key Tags: #saw2for33third, #sound-art, #classical, #juntoElsewhere: Twitter, SoundCloud, Instagram

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Disquiet Junto Project 0204: Under Beat

Add a foundational rhythm to an ambient foreground.

20151126-toasterremix

Each Thursday in the Disquiet Junto group on SoundCloud.com and at disquiet.com/junto, a new compositional challenge is set before the group’s members, who then have just over four days to upload a track in response to the assignment. Membership in the Junto is open: just join and participate.

Tracks will be added to this playlist for the duration of the project:

This project was posted in the early afternoon, California time, on Thursday, November 26, 2015, with a deadline of 11:59pm wherever you are on Monday, November 30, 2015.

These are the instructions that went out to the group’s email list (at tinyletter.com/disquiet-junto):

Disquiet Junto Project 0204: Under Beat
Add a foundational rhythm to an ambient foreground.

This week’s project is a complement to last week’s — but you can do this week’s project without having done, or even been aware of, last week’s. Last week we added a foreground to an underlying beat. This week we’re adding an underlying beat to a foreground.

Step 1: Listen to and download the track “Beacon, For Marissa” by Toaster:

https://soundcloud.com/toaster-1/beacon-for-marissa

Step 2: You’ll be adding a foundational, underlying rhythm — a beat, that is — to the track. The original is quite long, at over 17 minutes. You can certainly utilize the full piece, but it’s recommended that you select a segment of between 2 to 4 minutes.

Step 3: Please create a new track by adding a beat to the source audio from Step 2. (Do not change the source audio, other than perhaps fading in and out at the start and end, though you can use it as raw material for whatever beat you choose to add.)

Step 4: Upload your completed track from Step 3 to the Disquiet Junto group on SoundCloud.

Step 5: Then listen to and comment on tracks uploaded by your fellow Disquiet Junto participants.

Deadline: This project was posted in the early afternoon, California time, on Thursday, November 26, 2015, with a deadline of 11:59pm wherever you are on Monday, November 30, 2015.

Length: The length is up to you. The original is just over 17 minutes, though you needn’t create something that long. A segment of between 2 to 4 minutes is recommended.

Upload: Please when posting your track on SoundCloud, only upload one track for this project, and be sure to include a description of your process in planning, composing, and recording it. This description is an essential element of the communicative process inherent in the Disquiet Junto. Photos, video, and lists of equipment are always appreciated.

Title/Tag: When adding your track to the Disquiet Junto group on Soundcloud.com, please in the title to your track include the term “disquiet0204-underbeat.” Also use “disquiet0204-underbeat” as a tag for your track.

Download: Set your track as downloadable, and that it allows for attributed remixing (i.e., a Creative Commons license permitting non-commercial sharing with attribution), per the license of Toaster’s source audio.

Linking: When posting the track, please be sure to include this information:

More on this 204th weekly Disquiet Junto project (“Add a foundational rhythm to an ambient foreground”) at:

http://disquiet.com/2015/11/26/disquiet0204-underbeat/

More on the Disquiet Junto at:

http://disquiet.com/junto/

Join the Disquiet Junto at:

http://soundcloud.com/groups/disquiet-junto/

Subscribe to project announcements here:

http://tinyletter.com/disquiet

Disquiet Junto general discussion takes place at:

http://disquiet.com/forums/

The image associated with this project is a light reworking of the image that accompanied the track, Toaster’s “Beacon, For Marissa,” that is the source audio for this week’s project:

https://soundcloud.com/toaster-1/beacon-for-marissa

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Disquiet Junto Project 0203: Beat Basis

Add something to a rhythm track titled "It."

20151119-nameconstant

Each Thursday in the Disquiet Junto group on SoundCloud.com and at disquiet.com/junto, a new compositional challenge is set before the group’s members, who then have just over four days to upload a track in response to the assignment. Membership in the Junto is open: just join and participate.

Tracks will be added to this playlist for the duration of the project:

This assignment was made in the early afternoon, California time, on Thursday, November 19, 2015, with a deadline of 11:59pm wherever you are on Monday, November 23, 2015.

These are the instructions that went out to the group’s email list (at tinyletter.com/disquiet-junto):

Disquiet Junto Project 0203: Beat Basis
Add something to a rhythm track titled “It.”

Step 1: Listen to and download the track “It” by Name Constant:

https://soundcloud.com/random-coil/it-1

Step 2: When posting the track, Name Constant accompanied it with this invitation: “additions welcome, should anyone be inspired by emptyness.” Please create a new track with the source audio as the foundation. (Do not change the source audio, though you can also use it as raw material for whatever you choose to add.)

Step 3: Upload your completed track to the Disquiet Junto group on SoundCloud.

Step 4: Then listen to and comment on tracks uploaded by your fellow Disquiet Junto participants.

Deadline: This assignment was made in the early afternoon, California time, on Thursday, November 19, 2015, with a deadline of 11:59pm wherever you are on Monday, November 23, 2015.

Length: The length is up to you. The original is just under six minutes, though you needn’t create something that long.

Upload: Please when posting your track on SoundCloud, only upload one track for this project, and be sure to include a description of your process in planning, composing, and recording it. This description is an essential element of the communicative process inherent in the Disquiet Junto. Photos, video, and lists of equipment are always appreciated.

Title/Tag: When adding your track to the Disquiet Junto group on Soundcloud.com, please in the title to your track include the term “disquiet0203-beatbasis.” Also use “disquiet0203-beatbasis” as a tag for your track.

Download: It is preferable that your track is set as downloadable, and that it allows for attributed remixing (i.e., a Creative Commons license permitting non-commercial sharing with attribution).

Linking: When posting the track, please be sure to include this information:

More on this 203rd weekly Disquiet Junto project (“Add something to a rhythm track titled ‘It'”) at:

http://disquiet.com/2015/11/19/disquiet0203-beatbasis/

More on the Disquiet Junto at:

http://disquiet.com/junto/

Join the Disquiet Junto at:

http://soundcloud.com/groups/disquiet-junto/

Subscribe to project announcements here:

http://tinyletter.com/disquiet

Disquiet Junto general discussion takes place at:

http://disquiet.com/forums/

Image associated with this project originally accompanied the source audio (“It” by Name Constant) on SoundCloud:

https://soundcloud.com/random-coil/it-1

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Disquiet Junto Project 0202: Text-to-Speech-to-Free

Create an audiobook chapter from the new essay collection The Cost of Freedom.

20151112-bassel

Each Thursday in the Disquiet Junto group on SoundCloud.com and at disquiet.com/junto, a new compositional challenge is set before the group’s members, who then have just over four days to upload a track in response to the assignment. Membership in the Junto is open: just join and participate.

Tracks will be added to this playlist for the duration of the project:

This assignment was made in the evening, California time, on Thursday, November 12, 2015, with a deadline of 11:59pm wherever you are on Monday, November 16, 2015.

These are the instructions that went out to the group’s email list (at tinyletter.com/disquiet-junto):

Disquiet Junto Project 0202: Text-to-Speech-to-Free
Create an audiobook chapter from the new essay collection The Cost of Freedom.

Earlier this week the book The Cost of Freedom, with an essay by Lawrence Lessig, among others, was published into the public domain. Its goal is to raise awareness about the ongoing detainment of Creative Commons coder/artist Bassel Khartabil Sadafi. I have an essay in the book, as does Jon Phillips, who encouraged that China-gallery project we did a few weeks ago (project 0195).

We’re going to help spread the book by creating audiobook entries of some of its chapters. This is the third Junto project related to Bassel. On March 12, 2015, the third anniversary of his seizure, we did Disquiet Junto Project 0167: Placid Cell. And earlier still, on January 23, 2014, we did Disquiet Junto Project 0108: Free Bassel.

These are the steps:

Step 1: Obtain a copy of the free book The Cost of Freedom: A Collective Inquiry at:

http://costoffreedom.cc

Step 2: You will be turning one of these chapters into a spoken-word recording. You’re encouraged to use text-to-speech, but you also can read it aloud. Select a chapter — perhaps out of a specific interest, or perhaps by chance operation. When doing so, please, if you have a moment, please register which chapter you’re doing on the Disquiet discussion forum, so we’re less likely to have repeated chapters:

http://disquiet.com/forums/discussion/18/junto-0202-bassel-chapters

Step 3: Create a track with the spoken text of the chapter and additional background music. You can use your own original music, or source audio from previous Bassel-related projects. The text should remain intelligible. Do confirm the license on music from these two projects before employing:

http://disquiet.com/2015/03/12/disquiet0167-freebassel/ http://disquiet.com/2014/01/23/disquiet0108-freebassel/

Step 4: Upload your completed track to the Disquiet Junto group on SoundCloud. In the title to your track include the term “disquiet0202-costoffreedom” and the title of the chapter you used.

Step 5: When sharing the music, please consider employing these two tags: #freebassel and #newpalmyra. The first is an ongoing tag raising awareness of Bassel’s situation. The second, related to Junto project 0167, involves collective effort to continue one of Bassel’s art projects: a three-dimension CGI rendering of the ancient city of Palmyra.

Step 6: Then listen to and comment on tracks uploaded by your fellow Disquiet Junto participants.

Deadline: This assignment was made in the evening, California time, on Thursday, November 12, 2015, with a deadline of 11:59pm wherever you are on Monday, November 16, 2015.

Length: The length of your finished work will be determined by the length of your selected chapter.

Upload: Please when posting your track on SoundCloud, only upload one track for this assignment, and be sure to include a description of your process in planning, composing, and recording it. This description is an essential element of the communicative process inherent in the Disquiet Junto. Photos, video, and lists of equipment are always appreciated.

Title/Tag: When adding your track to the Disquiet Junto group on Soundcloud.com, please in the title to your track include the term “disquiet0202-costoffreedom” and the title of the chapter you used. Also use “disquiet0202-costoffreedom” as a tag for your track.

Download: It is preferable that your track is set as downloadable, and that it allows for attributed remixing (i.e., a Creative Commons license permitting non-commercial sharing with attribution).

Linking: When posting the track, please be sure to include this information:

More on this 202nd weekly Disquiet Junto project (“Create an audiobook chapter from the new essay collection The Cost of Freedom) at:

http://disquiet.com/2015/11/12/disquiet0202-costoffreedom/

The source of the text in this project is from the book The Cost of Freedom, which raises awareness about the ongoing detainment of Creative Commons coder/artist Bassel Khartabil Sadafi. More on it here:

http://costoffreedom.cc

More on the Disquiet Junto at:

http://disquiet.com/junto/

Join the Disquiet Junto at:

http://soundcloud.com/groups/disquiet-junto/

Subscribe to project announcements here:

http://tinyletter.com/disquiet

Disquiet Junto general discussion takes place at:

http://disquiet.com/forums/

#freebassel
#newpalmyra
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“Bassel K”

An essay I wrote for The Cost of Freedom, dedicated to detained Creative Commons coder/artist Bassel Khartabil Sadafi

20151109-costoffreedom

“Bassel K” is a short essay I wrote for the book The Cost of Freedom: A Collective Inquiry, which was published today, November 9, 2015, to draw attention to the continued detainment in Syria of Bassel Khartabil Sadafi. The publication came together as part of a “book sprint” held in Pourrières, France, from the 2nd to the 6th of November. (I wasn’t in France. I was home, typing in San Francisco.) Contributors include Lawrence Lessig, Lucas Gonze, Barry Threw, Niki Korth, and Jon Phillips, among many others. Bassel has been held since March 15, 2012.

We’ve done two Disquiet Junto projects related to Bassel’s detainment. On the third anniversary of his seizure, March 12, 2015, we focused our imaginations on the silence of a closed room: “Disquiet Junto Project 0167: Placid Cell.” Previous to that, back on January 23, 2014, as described in the essay below, we expanded on one of his works-in-progress, creating an imaginary soundscape to the ancient city of Palmyra: “Disquiet Junto Project 0108: Free Bassel.”

And here is the essay:

“Bassel K”

I read The Trial at too young an age. It instilled in me many things, some of them even positive, such as an affection for Franz Kafka, an aspiration to taut structure, and a desire to tell stories. It also haunted me, and it does to this day. It imprinted on me an intense fear of undeserved imprisonment.

I was introduced to the imprisonment of Bassel Khartabil by three remarkable people: Niki Korth, Jon Phillips, and Barry Threw. They are in many admirable ways as free as Bassel is not. Each of the trio is dedicated to their own individual and collective artistic pursuits to explore the deep potential where technology and culture meet. They make and celebrate the things that make today a special time.

And they know full well that all is not right in our time. They expend significant energy in building awareness of the ongoing fact of Bassel’s murky, tragic legal status. At their suggestion, back in January 2014, I gathered musicians to highlight Bassel’s plight. These musicians participate collectively in something called the Disquiet Junto. It’s a freeform group I moderate that each Thursday responds to music-composition prompts. The idea behind all the prompts is that creative constraints, such as those employed in Oulipo and Fluxus, are a useful springboard for creativity and productivity.

The Junto’s fondness for such “constraints” met a fierce complement when we tackled Bassel’s situation, which is that of a most uncreative form of constraint. There were many ways we could have paid tribute to Bassel. What we elected to do in the Junto was to keep one of his projects going: He may be in jail, but his art could continue to develop. Prior to Bassel’s arrest on March 15, 2012, in Damascus, he was working on several projects. Among them was a three-dimension computer rendering of the ancient city of Palmyra. What we in the Junto did was make “fake field recordings”: audio of what the halls of Palmyra’s structures might have sounded like millennia ago. Much as Bassel was trying to revive an ancient world, the Junto participants were, in essence, keeping one of his projects alive while he is incapable of doing so. And, of course, building upon his artistic efforts was true to the ethos of the Creative Commons, in which Bassel has been profoundly engaged.

We had no idea, of course, back in early 2014 that Palymra would itself receive worldwide attention when ISIS, the extremist movement, would in 2015 move to destroy much of the ancient city’s remaining architectural history — or that, later still, Russian warplanes would further damage the site. This is one of Kafka’s lasting legacies: just when things seem horrible, they can and do get worse.

Palmyra has fallen. Bassel remains in jail. The challenge to rectify his situation has long since surpassed the overly employed term “Kafkaesque.” Someone must have been telling lies about Bassel K, because he is still kept from his freedom. But as long as he is in prison, there are plenty of people telling his story, and keeping his work alive.

Below is a shot of Bassel in happier times, and an image from his “3D Palmyra” work mentioned in my essay:

20151109-basselcc

20151109-palymyra

More on the book The Cost of Freedom: A Collective Inquiry, which is in the public domain and is available as an ePub and PDF, at costoffreedom.cc.

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Report from the (Real) Future (Fair)

A few hundred people listen to the Junto with their eyes closed — plus clairaudient journalism (Nov 6-7, 2015)

20151108-realfuture

As you can perhaps deduce from the unused drink tickets that remain attached to these two wristbands, I had a pretty debilitating head cold during the Real Future Fair in San Francisco on November 6 and 7. I did, though, have the great opportunity to share the fruits and nearly four-year history of the Disquiet Junto in a short presentation during the Fair’s closing night “Future of Sound” event.

This appearance meant, among other things, sharing a bill with soul-pop figure Kelela, Hrishikesh Hirway of the Song Exploder podcast, San Francisco electronic musician Pamela Z, and performance artist Dia Dear, as well as a bunch of journalists from Real Future and its parent media organization, fusion.net. Head cold or not, that was pretty grand.

Some quick highlights of the Fair:

— Alexis Madrigal, editor-in-chief of fusion.net, did me the favor of interviewing me for the Junto presentation. I like talking in front of crowds, and I like a public discussion all the more. Madrigal did a great job of summing up what the Junto is, and if I get my hands on the audio I’m going to transcribe it for future (not just Real Future) use.

— Madrigal has a particular sense of how the sounds emitted from Junto projects are interestingly apart from what is generally considered music. This perspective is something that I can, frankly, lose track of since I spend much of my listening time inside the drone bubble. (I did take the opportunity to mention that one of my favorite Junto projects played with the idea of a song, using the room tone of three different places to flesh out the verse, chorus, and bridge of a “song.”)

— My favorite moment of the live Junto event was when Madrigal had the entire audience close their eyes for 30 seconds and just listen to the final of the Junto tracks we prepared. Me? I kept my eyes open to take it in.

— The Junto project we shared with the Real Future audience is the current one, number 201, in which we: “Encapsulate an album for efficient yet meaningful consumption.” The idea is that in the future, among the many problems of overpopulation and the resulting leisure time provided by the robotization of work is that way more art is being produced. So, how do we, as humans, consume it — not to mention the vast back catalog of novels, music, video games, etc.? In addition to some very interesting sonic processing, this Junto project has led to some fun short-form science fiction in the liner notes to the various tracks. We’ve compressed two different albums in the course of the project, self-titled records by the French group Salmo and the New Zealand duo Montano. For the Real Future event I played a few tracks off the Montano album for context, and then three of the Junto reworkings: from Australia-based Tuonela, Tokyo-based Hiroyuki Kuromiya, and, closer to home, Erik Kuehnl of Berkeley.

— In addition to the folks I mentioned up top, there was some interesting live journalism. Kashmir Hill talked about the “real world mute button” being developed at Doppler Labs. Hill also did a great job the day prior moderating a panel about the future of surveillance.

— Kevin Roose gave a funny talk on vocaloids, in particular Hatsune Miku (who made a guest appearance in the Red Bull Music Academy comic on synthesizer legend Tomita that I edited, with Hideki Egami, last year).

— There was a short video from Daniela Hernandez on LRAD sound weapons.

— Kristen V. Brown reported on an outlier in the field of performance-venue acoustics.

— And there was a report on sonic healing that balanced skepticism with inquiry, but I didn’t catch the name of the reporter.

— One great thing that the Real Future producers did was hire Marc Kate to “live score” the event. Of course, he didn’t live score my session, since I was providing the music, but in all the reports he, in real time, summoned up audio to augment the narrative.

— The headliner of the show was Kelela, who is very much of the soul-pop realm in whose context the idea of much Junto work being “musical” to a general audience can be a complicated sell. I didn’t stay for her performance (#headcold) but I greatly enjoyed the interview that Hrishikesh Hirway of the Song Exploder podcast did with her at the start of the evening, talking about the recording of one of her songs. She discussed various aspects of her process, including working with producers, reworking provided instrumental tracks, singing first in vocalese before filling in the vowels and consonants and spaces with actual words. (I also missed Pamela Z.) One great thing about Hirway’s Song Exploder is how the musicians among its listenership are being encouraged, if not outright trained, to speak analytically about how they do what they do. Historically, this has not been a strongpoint of pop-music journalism, excepting technology/instrument-specific reporting in magazines like Guitar Player.

More details on the event: realfuturefair.com. Major thanks to Alexis Madrigal and Cara Rose DeFabio. Check out the website at fusion.net, and definitely subscribe to Madrigal’s Real Future newsletter at tinyletter.com/realfuture.

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