SoundCloud.com turns a particular idea of the bootleg on its head. The term “bootleg” is often associated with black market recordings, but much of the realm is actually more grey market: not fake versions of commercial goods, but commercial versions of uncommercial goods, such as live recordings or studio outtakes. SoundCloud is where many musicians, professional, aspiring, and casual, post their works-in-progress. In other words, these are free versions of uncommercial goods. For a particular sort of listener — a listener increasingly characterized as a SoundCloud sort of listener — that is an enticing operation. Which means informed musicians are posting the very things that previously would have been considered the things one gets out of the way before posting something. Tautologies aside, it makes for good listening, and for a great social experiment in sound. Take Greg Surges, who besides having a great family name for someone eking the most out of experimental electronics, is an accomplished participant in the online music world. His mundanely titled “patch sketch_2” seems to take a filename for its name, but that’s true to what it is: an “improvised sketch,” as he puts it, for a forthcoming live concert (in Tijuana later this month). He explains his process briefly: “Using homebrew computer-controlled hardware into a custom software filterbank. Slower drones and percussive effects here.” The piece is a mix of slight fluctuations in tone and gentle if insistent percussion, like a Martian drum circle heard from beyond a massive sand dune.
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 29, 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 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.
• 0500 / Humming to Your Selves / The Assignment: Play a tune by yourself and as if by two people whom you invent.
• 0499 / Out of the Landscape / The Assignment: Record a piece of music in which a sound emerges from a field recording.
• 0498 / Sonic Entomologist / The Assignment: Create a new hybrid insect from the sound of two different insects.
• 0497 / Benjamin's Glass / The Assignment: Pay tribute to Benjamin Franklin and his armonica
• 0496 / Isolation Room / The Assignment: Create new music around one strand of something you made in the past.
And there is a complete list of past projects, 500 consecutive weeks to date.
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