New Disquietude podcast episode: music by Lesley Flanigan, Dave Seidel, KMRU, Celia Hollander, and John Hooper; interview with Flanigan; commentary; short essay on reading waveforms. • Disquiet.com F.A.Q.Key Tags: #saw2for33third, #field-recording, #classical, #juntoElsewhere: Twitter, SoundCloud, Instagram

Listening to art. Playing with audio. Sounding out technology. Composing in code. Rewinding the soundscape.

Making Abstraction Engaging

When is a podcast not a podcast?

I’ve been thinking for a long time to make a Disquiet.com podcast, and I’m still intent on doing it, but not quite yet. I even have the theme music in the can, thanks to a regular participant of the Disquiet Junto project series, but I’m still fiddling with the format, and I want to make sure I have the time to do it regularly. I may wait until after this semester is over, since I’m already dedicating time each week to creating 2,000-word summaries of each lecture in my “role of sound in the media landscape” course, and sending those to my tinyletter.com/disquiet email list.

What’s been on my mind lately has been how best to frame the abstract work I’m often up to in sound, so that it can have an audience beyond those already attracted to abstraction. The goal isn’t a larger audience unto itself; the goal is an audience that would quickly find the work of interest when given the proper context.

The “Sonic Frames” installation I developed for the San Jose Museum of Art was an attempt at this, and I think a fairly successful one. Using imagery, and elegant physical frames, and directional speakers, along with other tools, the piece can attract a potential listener from across the room, and keep them focused once they decide to interact with it.

For the Junto projects, I share the written instructions each week as part of the setlist I create for the given project, but that requires someone to take the time to read. Also, those instructions are intended for a different audience: the participants in the projects. So, three weeks ago I acted on the instinct to record myself describing the project. It’s very different to be told a story than to read one, and very different to have a (somewhat?) friendly voice explain something abstract than to have to decipher it on a page. So now each week’s setlist begins with me, for a minute or so, explaining what the project is about. Collectively the intro and the tracks that follow it comprise something akin to a podcast, though it’s not quite yet the podcast I have in mind.

Below are the first four such project-introduction narrations. The first week I did this, I actually made two separate playlists, for reasons explained in the audio below:

More on the Disquiet Junto at disquiet.com/junto.

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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    December 13, 2021: This day marks the 25th anniversary of the founding of Disquiet.com.
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    July 28, 2021: This day marked the 500th consecutive weekly project in 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.
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    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.

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  • 0511 / Freeze Tag / The Assignment: Consider freezing (and thawing) as a metaphor for music production.
    0510 / Cold Turkey / The Assignment: Record one last track with a piece of music equipment before passing it on.
    0509 / The Long Detail / The Assignment: Create a piece of music with moments from a preexisting track.
    0508 / Germane Shepard / The Assignment: Use the Shepard tone to create a piece of music.
    0507 / In DD's Key of C / The Assignment: Make music with 10 acoustic instrument samples all in a shared key.

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