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
• February 5, 2020: The first session of the 15-week course I teach at the Academy of Art about the role of sound in the media landscape.
• April 15, 2020: A chapter on the Disquiet Junto ("The Disquiet Junto as an Online Community of Practice," by Ethan Hein) appears in the forthcoming 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.)
• December 13, 2020: This day marks the 24th anniversary of Disquiet.com.
• January 7, 2021: This day marks the 9th anniversary of the start of the Disquiet Junto music community.
• There are entries on the Disquiet Junto in the forthcoming 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.
• At least two live group concerts by Disquiet Junto members in the San Francisco Bay Area are in the works for 2020.
• I have liner notes for a musician's solo album and an essay in a book about an art event due out. I'll announce as the release dates come into focus.
• 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.
• 0465 / You Thank / The Assignment: Make a piece of music for someone or something for which you feel thankful.
• 0464 / Blanket Song / The Assignment: Play over a song, and then remove the original.
• 0463 / Making the Gradient / The Assignment: Make a piece of music inspired by the concept of a gradient.
• 0462 / Vade in Pace / The Assignment: Write a short piece of music that gets slower and slower as it proceeds.
• 0461 / Goldilocks Zone / The Assignment: Navigate a sonic space between the hospitable and the inhospitable.
And there is a complete list of past projects, 465 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.