Disquiet Junto Project 0006: “Spinning Cylinders”

The Assignment: Make something new from antique Edison recordings.

Each Thursday evening at the Disquiet Junto group on Soundcloud.com 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 to the Junto is open: just join and participate.

The sixth Junto project was another shared-sample situation, but not all shared-sample situations are the same. They each use the shared sample, or samples, to different ends. In some cases, the musician is left to his or her own devices, so to speak, as to what they elect to do with the sample. In others, not only are the musicians restricted to specific pre-existing sounds, they are restricted in regard to what they can do with them. (This is especially true of the project that followed 0006, project “0007-subtract,” more on which when it is complete.)

In this sixth Junto project, the musicians were provided three public-domain recordings and told they could only use them — and, furthermore, they were to select just one element from each of the tracks and combine them. The audio comes from if not the dawn of recording, then certainly when it was still early morning: the sound is all from Edison cylinders from the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th.

The assignment was made late in the day on Thursday, February 9, with 11:59pm on the following Monday, February 13, as the deadline. View a search return for all the entries: disquiet0006-cylinder. As of this writing, there are 58 tracks associated with the tag.

Here are the instructions that were presented to members of the Disquiet Junto:

Disquiet Junto Project 0006: “Spinning Cylinders” Plan: The sixth Junto project is a shared-samples project, in which the participants all work from the same exact sonic resources. Select one distinct element from each of the three following recordings and construct something new from them. (Do not add any other sounds, though certainly use any sorts of processing that you might choose.) All three tracks are archival songs originally released on antique Edison cylinders in the late 1800s and very early 1900s. Their rich surface noise is arguably as much a part of the recordings as is the music they contain. http://www.archive.org/details/colnyp-15132 http://www.archive.org/details/edba-3871 http://www.archive.org/details/ind-986 Length: Keep your finished piece to between two and five minutes. Title/Tag: When adding your track to the Disquiet Junto group on Soundcloud.com, please include the term “disquiet0006-cylinder”in the title of your track, and as a tag for your track. Download: As always, you don’t have to set your track for download, but it would be preferable. Linking: When you post the track, please include this information: All audio selected from these antique cylinder recordings: http://www.archive.org/details/colnyp-15132 http://www.archive.org/details/edba-3871 http://www.archive.org/details/ind-986 More details on the Disquiet Junto at: http://soundcloud.com/groups/disquiet-junto/

The results varied widely, which is not only natural, but the point. For some participants, the sounds of the cylinders were subsumed into a drone haze of their own imagination. In others, the selected sounds were given the spotlight — but even then, variety meant that some musicians focused on the more self-evidently musical material in the original cylinders, while others embraced the rough noises inherent in the ancient technology.

One particularly great thing that occurred this week was that the Discussion section got more active, thanks to a query, by Brian Biggs, about what exactly constitutes a “remix.”

(Photo via Creative Commons from flickr.com.)

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