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Disquiet Junto Project 0064: Composing from Memory

The Assignment: Compose a piece to align with, from memory, 60 seconds of everyday sound.

20130321-bench

Each Thursday 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 in the Junto is open: just join and participate.

This assignment was made in the mid-afternoon, California time, on Thursday, March 21, with 11:59pm on the following Monday, March 25, 2013, as the deadline.

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

Disquiet Junto Project 0064: Composing from Memory

This week’s project’s theme is composing from memory. It is recommended that you read through all the steps in the project before proceeding to attempt to execute it.

These are the steps:

Step 1: Find a place, preferably outdoors, where you can sit for five to fifteen minutes without being disturbed. This place should have a fair amount of inherent noise to it, and that noise should be variable, not static — i.e., not the long held drone of an overwhelmingly loud HVAC system, but the bustle of a street corner, or of a playground, or, if weather or other circumstances keep you indoors, perhaps of a busy cafe.

Step 2: Bring with you a portable recording device as well as something on which you can quietly take a small number of written (or typed) notes. You may wish to do a test recording to be certain that your note-taking isn’t part of the audio recording.

Step 3: Settle into the space and get a sense of its sounds. Listening closely.

Step 4: Make a field recording of one full minute, or a little longer, of continuous sound in this place. While recording the sound, use time codes to make note of any memorable sonic instances.

Step 5: Trim the field recording to exactly 60 seconds.

Step 6: Without listening back to the field recording, compose and record a 60-second piece intended to complement it. Refer back to your time-code notes to align composed instances with those real-world instances that you recall having distinguished your field recording. You can use whatever instrumentation you like, but it is recommended that you use no more than one or two instruments. You should not employ any field recordings in your composed piece.

Step 7: When your composed piece is completed, layer the two tracks together into one new 60-second work. They should be played back at equal volume, more or less. You can adjust a little to achieve the impression of balance between the field recording and the composed work. The only editing you can do is to fade in and out, if that is so desired.

Deadline: Monday, March 25, 2013, at 11:59pm wherever you are.

Length: Your finished work should be 60 seconds long.

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 “disquiet0064-halflive”in the title of your track, and as a tag for your track.

Download: Consider setting your track in a manner that allows for attributed, commerce-free remixing (i.e., a Creative Commons license permitting non-commercial sharing with attribution).

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

More on this 64th Disquiet Junto project at:

Disquiet Junto Project 0064: Composing from Memory

More details on the Disquiet Junto at:

Above photo via Creative Commons license from flickr.com.

By Marc Weidenbaum

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  • about

  • 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

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