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, 2021: This day marks the 25th anniversary of the founding of Disquiet.com.
• December 28, 2021: This day marks the 10th anniversary of the Instagr/am/bient compilation.
• January 6, 2021: This day marks the 10th anniversary of the start of the Disquiet Junto music community.
• 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.
• 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).
Most Recent Posts
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.
• 0506 / Wipe Out / The Assignment: Take something whole and erase half of it.
• 0505 / Line Out / The Assignment: Share a track, get feedback, and give feedback.
• 0504 / Transform Formula / The Assignment: Take a sound, change it, and contrast that with the original.
• 0503 / Sing Song / The Assignment: Record a song using only your voice transformed beyond recognition.
• 0502 / Global Swarming / The Assignment: Create a swarm of imaginary insects.
And there is a complete list of past projects, 506 consecutive weeks to date.
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Monthly Archives: March 2015
Communication breakdown, courtesy of Yusuke Nakamura
Texture isn’t secondary in Yusuke Nakamura’s “Tone.” On first impression, it sounds like a landline phone call that has fallen just short of a full connection, and we’re listening in as the systems on either end try to reconcile their differences. It’s all bright static and touchtone glitch. In time the basic, underlying 4/4 grid of the music becomes clear, but even as the song-ness of it takes hold, that frazzled-communication vibe retains its fresh, vigorous hold on your ear.
An ongoing series cross-posted from instagram.com/dsqt
Free downloads of sonic micro-fictions by Robin Rimbaud
Just like Rufus Wainwright, I generally leave my cellphone on vibrate. But there are reasons to veer from that habit. There are certain situations, such as driving or setting a wake-up alarm, that suggest a sonic signal is the best option. And then there is simply the attraction of the sounds themselves, like when a musician of Scanner’s stature makes new ringtones available for free download. Late last week he posted 17 tracks from an aborted commission. They range in length from 3 seconds to 16 seconds, and in style from variations on a traditional doorbell (“Twing”), to minute techno (“Elelo”), to bell tones (“Cobel”), to violin (“Gentlemen”).
Brief as they are, the 17 individual tracks are each rich with detail, with a sonic depth that would have been unimaginable when cellphones were first introduced. It is, also, hard not to imagine each tone as the starting point of a fuller composition. Many of them work quite well, in that regard, on repeat — they are starter cells for long stretches of minimalism. A ringtone can, in the correct circumstances, set the tone for a given situation. In that sense, Scanner’s cellphone tones are cues to fictions that their users willingly submit themselves to.
Scanner explains the scenario that led up to the tracks’ release in a brief accompanying note:
Ringtones that were originally commissioned for a new telephone out on the market soon, but after some months of back ‘n forth all my sound work was rejected for being ‘too Scanner.’ Rather than let these rot on a hard drive, here they are all in mono, low resolution for your own delight. Playful, fun little tunes to brighten up your smart phone.
A track with three parts, one invisible
The arrhythmia of the beat against the tonal sweetness of the melodic material makes the track “__..____._” by Glia sound like someone having an acute panic attack on an otherwise serene day. The gap between those sensations, the significant expanse between the anxious churning percussion of the beat and the soft see-saw of the suspended waveforms, makes for a third presence. The track’s title, with its suggestion of a coded message, adds yet another layer of context. I wondered if the apparent Morse code might be supplying the beat, so I popped it into a translator, but it returned a null.