Some music is electronic by intent; other music accrues the association over time. The Internet Archive, at archive.org, has much intentional electronic music on it: among other places, in the Other Minds archive, which has been featured often in the Disquiet Downstream, and the general live archive, which sneaks in some work by DJs and techno acts amid the overwhelming amount of roots rock. Then there’s the “78 RPMs” section (link), 798 tracks in total as of this writing. The whole batch is defined by its technological moment, bearing the scar of thick surface noise that is, depending on your mood, either a palimpsest of recording history or a premonition of tinnitus. Buried deep in the 78 RPMs section are many key items, long in the public domain, that define audio history, notably songs by Enrico Caruso and Bing Crosby, artists who early on learned to use the studio to their advantage. (There’s nothing, unfortunately, by Les Paul, who turned 90 earlier this month.) If you wander through the stacks, you’ll come upon material that is so entranced with the idea of recording sound that it dispenses with song almost entirely, in favor of effects. A case in point is “The 11 69 Express” (MP3), dated 1911, 3:12 in length and credited to Fred Duprez, reportedly a monologuist and character from Edison’s recording company. After an orchestral opening, Duprez tells his tale accompanied by staccato strings, bells, train sounds, whistles and more, including a clucking-like noise, around the 3:06 point, that eerily suggests the scratching of vinyl many decades ahead of its scheduled arrival.
Marc Weidenbaum founded the website Disquiet.com in 1996 at the intersection of sound, art, and technology, and since 2012 has moderated the Disquiet Junto, an active online community of weekly music/sonic projects. He has written for Nature, Boing Boing, The Wire, Pitchfork, and NewMusicBox, among other periodicals. He is the author of the 33 1⁄3 book on Aphex Twin’s classic album Selected Ambient Works Volume II. Read more about his sonic consultancy, teaching, sound art, and work in film, comics, and other media
• July 28, 2021: This day marks the start of the 500th consecutive weekly project in the Disquiet Junto music community.
• December 13, 2021: This day marks the 25th anniversary of the founding of Disquiet.com.
• January 6, 2021: This day marks the 10th anniversary of the start of the Disquiet Junto music community.
• There are entries on the Disquiet Junto in the forthcoming book The Music Production Cookbook: Ready-made Recipes for the Classroom (Oxford University Press), edited by Adam Patrick Bell. Ethan Hein wrote one, and I did, too.
• A chapter on the Disquiet Junto ("The Disquiet Junto as an Online Community of Practice," by Ethan Hein) appears in the book The Oxford Handbook of Social Media and Music Learning (Oxford University Press), edited by Stephanie Horsley, Janice Waldron, and Kari Veblen. (Details at oup.com.)
• The Disquiet Junto series of weekly communal music projects explore constraints as a springboard for creativity and productivity. There is a new project each Thursday afternoon (California time), and it is due the following Monday at 11:59pm: disquiet.com/junto.
• My book on Aphex Twin's landmark 1994 album, Selected Ambient Works Vol. II, was published as part of the 33 1/3 series, an imprint of Bloomsbury. It has been translated into Japanese (2019) and Spanish (2018).
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Since January 2012, the Disquiet Junto has been an ongoing weekly collaborative music-making community that employs creative constraints as a springboard for creativity. Subscribe to the announcement list (each Thursday), listen to tracks by participants from around the world, read the FAQ, and join in.
• 0485 / Strange Weather / The Assignment: Remix the pure sounds of Chris Kallmyer's traveling wind chimes to your own musical purposes.
• 0484 / A Movable Heart / The Assignment: Transplant the sounds of Chris Kallmyer's wind chimes to a new location.
• 0483 / Type Set / The Assignment: Use a recording of yourself typing something as the underlying rhythmic track for a piece of music.
• 0482 / Exactly That Gap / The Assignment: Make a musical haiku following instructions from Marcus Fischer.
• 0481 / Capsule Time / The Assignment: Record a time capsule for yourself in the future.
And there is a complete list of past projects, 485 consecutive weeks to date.
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