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
• December 13, 2022: This day marks the 26th anniversary of the founding of Disquiet.com.
• January 6, 2023: This day marked the 11th anniversary of the start of the Disquiet Junto music community.
• April 16, 2022: I participated in an online "talk show" by The Big Conversation Space (Niki Korth and Clémence de Montgolfier).
• March 11, 2022: I hosted a panel discussion between Mark Fell, Rian Treanor and James Bradbury in San Francisco as part of the Algorithmic Art Assembly (aaassembly.org) at Gray Area (grayarea.org).
• December 28, 2021: This day marked the 10th (!) anniversary of the Instagr/am/bient compilation.
• January 6, 2021: This day marked the 10th (!) anniversary of the start of the Disquiet Junto music community.
• December 13, 2021: This day marked the 25th (!) 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.)
• 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).
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.
• 0554 / Cage Chord / The Assignment: Riff on a chord by John Cage.
• 0553 / Break That Cycle / The Assignment: Record in a steady tempo but break it on occasion.
• 0552 / The Radio in My Life / The Assignment: Record music in response to a John Cage and Morton Feldman conversation.
• 0551 / The Bends / The Assignment: Get less strict about something you're strict about.
• 0550 / Abrupt Probability / Make music based on a chance graphic score.
And there is a complete list of past projects, 554 consecutive weeks to date.
Monthly Archives: November 2014
The Assignment: Record your own cover version of the "song" sung/emitted by the comet Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.
Each Thursday in the Disquiet Junto group on SoundCloud.com and at Disquiet.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 evening, California time, on Thursday, November 27, with 11:59pm on the following Monday, December 1, 2014, as the SoundCloud deadline — though the encouraged optional video part of the assignment can wait a day or two longer, if necessary.
These are the instructions that went out to the group’s email list (at tinyletter.com/disquiet-junto):
Disquiet Junto Project 0152: Comet 67P Cover The Assignment: Record your own cover version of the “song” sung/emitted by Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.
The mysterious song of the Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko has been floated as a likely subject of a Disquiet Junto project since it first was announced by the European Space Agency. Thanks to everyone who suggested it, and I hope you find this approach to the material of interest.
Step 1: Record your own cover version of the “song” sung/emitted by the comet Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. You can hear the “original” here:
Step 2: Upload the finished track to the Disquiet Junto group on SoundCloud.
Step 3: Listen to and comment on tracks uploaded by your fellow Disquiet Junto participants.
Note: Per the track’s SoundCloud page: “To make the music audible to the human ear, the frequencies have been increased in this recording. This sonification of the RPC-Mag data was compiled by German composer Manuel Senfft (www.tagirijus.de). Read full details in ESA’s Rosetta blog: wp.me/p46DHN-Li.”
Length: Your finished work should be between roughly 1 and 3 minutes long.
Deadline: This assignment was made in the evening, California time, on Thursday, November 27, with 11:59pm on the following Monday, December 1, 2014, as the deadline.
Upload: Please when posting your track on SoundCloud, only upload one track for this assignment, and 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 “disquiet0152-comet67pcover” in the title of your track, and as a tag for your track.
Download: It is preferable that your track is set as downloadable, and that it allows for attributed remixing (i.e., a Creative Commons license permitting non-commercial sharing with attribution).
Linking: When posting the track, please be sure to include this information:
More on this 152nd Disquiet Junto project — “Record your own cover version of the ‘song’ sung/emitted by the comet Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko”— at:
Copyright Notice: Original Data Credit: ESA/Rosetta/RPC/RPC-MAG. Sonification: TU Braunschweig/IGEP/Manuel Senfft, CC-BY-NC-SA 4.0 creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/
More on the Disquiet Junto at:
Join the Disquiet Junto at:
Disquiet Junto general discussion takes place at:
Credit for image associated with this project:
ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM ”“ CC BY-SA IGO 3.0.
An occasional clipping service
Audiobook Culture: The past weekend’s Sunday Book Review in the New York Times had an extensive section of audiobook coverage, including a review by Dave Itzkoff of Tim Robbins reading Ray Bradbury’s classic Fahrenheit 451. The conflict in Itzkoff’s piece seemed to be how the rise of the audiobook somehow is part of the gadget-ization of culture. And he credits Bradbury’s book for having posited the notion “that it was not a distant stretch from dismissing books as quaint and obsolete to banning them outright.” He writes, as well, “Fortunately, a few thousand years ago, we gave ourselves a sustainable and still reliable mechanism to provide shelter from these distractions, as well as the option to use it or not” — this “reliable mechanism” is, of course, the physical book. What he doesn’t mention in the review is how Bradbury’s book itself closes with an image of an even more ancient mechanism, in which people — not just people, but maintainers of culture — tell each other stories out loud. Full disclosure: I didn’t so much “read” Itzkoff’s review as listen to it via text-to-speech thanks to the function that is part of the New York Times’ Android app. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/23/books/review/fahrenheit-451-read-by-tim-robbins.html
Sonar Sabotage: The headline says it all: “Study Shows Bats Jam Each Other’s Sonar to Snatch the Best Prey” (via Robin Rimbaud, aka Scanner). Rishi Iyengar reports in Time magazine on research published in the journal Science that bats can block each other’s frequencies. Science’s Penny Sarchet likens it to “sonar sabotage.” It’s nature’s own EMP. The researchers are Aaron J. Corcoran and William E. Conner. http://time.com/3571704/study-bats-jam-sonar-hunting/
Secular Robot Choirs: Unsilent Night is the annual secular caroling event, in which communal processions of boomboxes layer ambient scintillates provided by the composer Phil Kline. The schedule for the 2014 holiday season is now appearing online, including Manhattan on December 13, San Francisco also on December 13, and Toronto on December 19, with more dates to be added soon. I’ve walked the route in San Francisco, in the Mission, for many years, listening as Kline’s music fills narrow alleys and disperses into the street, as slight variations in playback create false echoes backward and forward in time. If it’s coming to your town, don’t miss it. If it isn’t, consider taking a trip. http://unsilentnight.com/schedule.html
This post first appeared in the Disquiet email newsletter: tinyletter.com/disquiet.
Also a test run toward a year-end top 10.
What’s on repeat, in estimated relative order of frequency.
Loscil’s Sea Island (Kranky, 2014): Gentle beeps and light burrs, so much happening from so little. I was asked, on Twitter, what this sounded like when I was just three tracks in, and I replied: “like a rainy day after the Singularity.” Many days of listening later, it still does.
Stafford Bawler, Obfusc, and Grigori’s Monument Valley (Original Soundtrack) (ustwogames, 2014): The score to the beautiful “casual” game is the perfect backdrop for a game that is itself only slightly more active than wallpaper.
Gavin Bryars Ensemble’s The Sinking of the Titanic (Recorded Live on 2012 Centenary Tour) (GB Records, 2014): A live performance of a work that always felt like a studio concoction. Listen as a band continues its performance even after the ship goes down.
Grouper’s Ruins (Kranky, 2014): Haunting, at times willfully unintelligible, dirges.
Michel Banabila and Oene van Geel’s Music for Viola and Electronics (Tapu, 2014): A lovely duet for complementary toolsets, one analog, the other digital. It’s to the album’s credit that it isn’t always clear where one of those ends and the other begins. One track, “Dondergod,” gets a bit intense, in a European free improvisation sort of way, but the rest is elegant as could be.
This post first appeared in the Disquiet email newsletter: tinyletter.com/disquiet.
My "Sonic Frame" collective audio installation at the San Jose Museum of Art
Since October 2 I’ve had a sound installation at the San Jose Museum of Art. Titled “Sonic Frame” it will, through February 22, 2015, be on display at the museum as part an expansive 45th-anniversary exhibit titled Momentum: An Experiment in the Unexpected. I was invited to be one of the museum’s “intervenors.” Other intervenors include comics artist Lark Pien, San Francisco Ballet principal dancer Damian Smith, and poet David Perez. Our role as intervenors was to create new, original works that responded to works that are part of the museum’s permanent collection. I selected Josh Azzarella’s video “Untitled #8, 2004.” The video is two minutes and thirty one seconds long, and shows a shape slowly morphing against a light blue background. My response takes the form of three small screens on which the video loops repeatedly. Each screen contains a unique set of seven different audio tracks composed to complement it, so each time the video plays anew it is accompanied by different sounds. Two of the three screens have headphones attached, one has a directional speaker, and all three have jacks allowing the visitor to plug in their own earbuds or headphones. The variety of scores, 21 in all, influence the viewer’s experience of the video. Of the 21 scores, 14 were selected from tracks contributed to a project of the Disquiet Junto, the weekly music collective I moderate, and 7 were contributed as the result of a direct request by me to the musician.
This is the wall text that accompanies the piece:
Sonic Frame, 2014 Original soundtracks on tablets Chosen artwork: Untitled #8 (2004) by Josh Azzarella For Marc Weidenbaum, Josh Azzarella’s video Untitled #8, in which a form slowly shifts, suggests a visual parallel to the ethereal nature of sound: perceptible yet intangible. Through his online collaborative project Disquiet Junto, Weidenbaum collected and curated original works of music and sound from an international community of colleagues, which he then added to unsynced iterations of Azzarella’s silent video. Intended to explore transformation and stasis, the sound elements create auras, halos, and contextual sonic frameworks that gently alter the viewer’s experience and perception of Azzarella’s video art.
Focusing on the intersection of sound, art, and technology, sound artist and author Marc Weidenbaum founded the website Disquiet.com in 1996. Through Disquiet, he initiated and moderates the Disquiet Junto group, inviting musicians to respond on SoundCloud to weekly compositional projects. Weidenbaum is also an instructor at the Academy of Art in San Francisco where he teaches a course on the role of sound in media.
In the development of Marc Weidenbaum’s Sonic Frame, almost eighty musicians from around the world contributed original recordings for potential inclusion. The majority of these recordings, seventy in all, were produced as part of a project in the weekly Disquiet Junto series. Each week the Disquiet Junto online community responds to a different compositional prompt. Another seven tracks were created by composers who Weidenbaum approached directly to participate in the piece. Some of these musicians had previously participated in Junto projects, and he wanted to ensure their involvement in this one. In the end twenty-one recordings were selected for inclusion, seven different ones for each of the three frames.
These are the participating composers, broken down screen by screen:
Screen #1 (Left) Taylor Deupree Van Stiefel Natalia Kamia Naoyuki Sasanami Carlos Russell Mark Rushton Paolo Mascolini (SÅzu) Screen #2 (Center) Stephen Vitiello Steve Roden Ã¦vol Marcus Fischer Julia Mazawa Westy Reflector + Lee Rosevere Ezekiel Kigbo (The Atlas Room) Screen #3 (Right) Steiner (Stijn Hüwels) Christina Vantzou Scanner Inlet (Cory K.) Jean Reiki Marco Raaphorst Bad Trails
Here are some images of the installed work. My “Sonic Frame” hangs directly to the right of a large, 50″-screen display of Azzarella’s original video:
And here are shots of the overall exhibit information, as displayed on walls at the museum:
The museum has asked that I don’t post the combination of video and sound online, so that the work is unique to the exhibit, and I want to respect that request. Here is a set of all the tracks resulting from the Junto project:
And here is the original, silent video by Azzarella they were intended to accompany:
I received a lot of input and assistance in the development of the “Sonic Frame,” and in particular I want to thank Lauren Franklin for video editing, Paolo Salvagione for designing and producing the screen enclosures, Jonathan Odom for woodwork on the enclosures, and the staff at the San Jose Museum of Art for their support, advice, and attention.
Here are some images taken during the installation process:
More on the exhibit at sjmusart.org.