Disquiet Junto Project 0036: Still Life

The Assignment: Turning something "classical" into something "abstract expressionist," in tribute to Clyfford Still.

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.

This is a set of the tracks created in this project. At the time of this update, there were 48:

The assignment was made early in the afternoon, California time, on Thursday, September 6, with 11:59pm on the following Monday, September 10, as the deadline. (There are no translations this week.)

These are the instructions that went out to the group’s email list (at tinyletter.com/disquiet-junto). The project was inspired by a visit to the Clyfford Still Museum in Denver during last month’s Denver Junto concert trip.

Disquiet Junto Project 0036: Still Life

The painter Clyfford Still (1904-1980) was one of the great practitioners of abstract expressionism. The Clyfford Still Museum in Denver, Colorado, not only houses a wealth of his works, it also has on display artifacts from Still’s daily life and practice, such as his smock, his old paint cans — and his record collection. These records, displayed behind glass, include pieces by Wagner, Mozart, Beethoven, and Bach, among others, and they’re accompanied by a small note: “Clyfford Still was passionate about music, particularly classical music. Shown here are several samples from his record collection.” In this week’s project we’re going to take that word “sample” literally.

There’s an interesting question inherent here about matters of aesthetic influence: how it is that the man who painted such massive and graphically evocative works was, in fact, listening to music far more figurative than the art he himself produced? The goal of this week’s Disquiet Junto project is to take a shared sample of the sort of music that Still loved — a 78rpm recording of J.S. Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 2, II. Andante — and turn it into something that might be deserving of the term “abstract expressionism.”

So, the instructions for this week are as follows:

Step 1. Please select part of this MP3 of J.S. Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 2, II. Andante:


Step 2. Then transform that sample, through any methods you desire, into something that you feel meets the definition of “abstract expressionism” provided by the Clyfford Still Museum: “marked by abstract forms, expressive brushwork, and monumental scale.”

You cannot add any sounds to the sample, but you can manipulate the sample in any way you see fit.

Deadline: Monday, September 10, at 11:59pm wherever you are.

Length: Your finished work should be between 2 and 10 minutes in length.

Information: Please when posting your track on SoundCloud, 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.

Title/Tag: When adding your track to the Disquiet Junto group on Soundcloud.com, please include the term “disquiet0036-cstillconcerto”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 posting the track, be sure to include this information:

This track is a transformation, in honor of painter Clyfford Still, of a sample of J.S. Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 2, II. Andante, culled from this recording:


More on the Clyfford Still Museum at clyffordstillmuseum.org.

More on this 36th Disquiet Junto project at:

Disquiet Junto Project 0036: Still Life

More details on the Disquiet Junto at:


The example of Still’s work up top is an untitled piece dated 1957 from the collection of the San Francisco Museum of Modern art (sfmoma.org).

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