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

Monthly Archives: January 2016

Soloist at the Church of Modular Synthesis

A 7-minute piece by R. Beny

“Marine Derelict”by R. Beny comes with a fairly long list of hashtags that express its technological origin as a mix of synthesizer parts. What it sounds like is a church organist on the rare day when the pews are empty, the building is otherwise vacated, and he can just play what he wants to play — ethereal, aching, blissful.

Track originally posted at soundcloud.com/rbeny/marine-derelict. More from R Beny, who is based in the San Francisco Bay Area, at this excellent YouTube account, which includes a lot of live performance pieces, such as this following “experimental / textural”segment featuring the Ciat-Lonbarde Sidrax Organ (that’s the wooden instrument visible in the video’s upper left corner):

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When a Drone Is Called Upon to Do the Work of a Melody

A glacial piece by Vyborg, Russia—based Murkok

There are drones that channel the hum and vibrance of machinery. In fact, most drones do. Much of what makes a drone a drone, as opposed to, for example, a note held for an extended period, is the warmth of its seemingly uncountable overtones, the sheer spread of warmly contrasting harmonics. Often as not, drone recordings leave the drone on its own. Call it the single-malt approach to composition. Then there is work like “My Grandmother Smiles at Me”by Russian musician Murkok, which puts the drone to melodic use. Here the singular yet internally rambunctious drone plays out a slow, peaceful sequence of notes. There’s no division between those notes. It’s pure resourceful melisma, endlessly transformative shifts that are glacial from a pop music perspective, even from a classical music one. It brings to mind Discreet Music”“era Brian Eno, as well as Gavin Bryars when he was busy sinking the Titanic.

Track originally posted at soundcloud.com/murkok. More from Murkok, aka Ilya Glebov of Vyborg, Russia, at instagram.com/kaoioka and murkok.bandcamp.com.

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Hearing Gray but Waiting for the Orchestra to Surface

A new track from Keith Berry's forthcoming Elixir

The more you listen to drones, the less they sound like drones. One person’s gray wool flannel sweater of a sonic experience becomes someone else’s expansive orchestral grandeur. “Elixir,”heard here in an excerpt — though at over four and a half minutes in length, it’s more than enough to go by — is good training for those who hear gray and want to get through the gray to the detail.

It’s a thorough composite, a swollen, soupy mass of sound, but in it there is so much to pay attention to, glimmery effects and arpeggiating fragments, all moving behind a veil drenched in white noise. The track is credited to Keith Berry, who, as Invisible Birds notes, recorded for the excellent Trente Oiseaux label, run by Bernhard Günter. “Elixir”is from a forthcoming album by that name, due out on Invisible Birds around March of this year.

Track originally posted at soundcloud.com/invisible-birds. More from Keith Berry, who is based in the U.K., at invisiblebirds.org and twoinchesoffground.com.

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Disquiet Junto Project 0212: 484 Hz Love Songs

The Assignment: Make music intended to attract male mosquitoes.

mosquito-monitor

Each Thursday in the Disquiet Junto group on SoundCloud.com and at disquiet.com/junto, 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. There’s no pressure to do every project. It’s weekly so that you know it’s there, every Thursday through Monday, when you have the time.

Tracks added to this playlist for the duration of the project:

This project was posted shortly after noon, California time, on Thursday, January 21, 2016, with a deadline of 11:59pm wherever you are on Monday, January 25, 2016.

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

Disquiet Junto Project 0212: 484 Hz Love Songs
The Assignment: Make music intended to attract male mosquitoes.

The steps for this project are as follows:

Step 1: Recent research by Brian Johnson and Scott Ritchie of the Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine has revealed that 484 Hz is “the frequency of a female Aedes aegypti’s wings flapping,” and thus is the frequency that attracts the male of the species. You can read up here:

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-01-19/scientists-discover-frequency-traps-male-yellow-fever-mosquitoes/7084434

Step 2: Create a brief, seductive love song that somehow features the 484 Hz frequency.

Step 3: Upload your completed track to the Disquiet Junto group on SoundCloud.

Step 4: Then listen to and comment on tracks uploaded by your fellow Disquiet Junto participants.

Deadline: This project was posted shortly after noon, California time, on Thursday, January 21, 2016, with a deadline of 11:59pm wherever you are on Monday, January 25, 2016.

Length: Length is up to you, though between 30 seconds (mosquitoes do have a short lifespan) and 3 minutes (vaguely pop-song length) seems appropriate.

Upload: Please when posting your track on SoundCloud, only upload one track for this project, and be sure to 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. Photos, video, and lists of equipment are always appreciated.

Title/Tag: When adding your track to the Disquiet Junto group on Soundcloud.com, please in the title to your track include the term “disquiet0212-484hzlovesongs.”Also use “disquiet0212-484hzlovesongs”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 212th weekly Disquiet Junto project (“The Assignment: Make music intended to attract male mosquitoes”) at:

Disquiet Junto Project 0212: 484 Hz Love Songs

More on the Disquiet Junto at:

https://disquiet.com/junto/

Join the Disquiet Junto at:

Subscribe to project announcements here:

http://tinyletter.com/disquiet

Disquiet Junto general discussion takes place at:

https://disquiet.com/forums/

Photo courtesy of Jason Richardson, who recommended this news story as a Junto prompt:

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-01-19/scientists-discover-frequency-traps-male-yellow-fever-mosquitoes/7084434

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Layering a Sonic Environment onto a Pre-exisiting Environment

Free download: Thierry Charollais live at the Bern Botanical Garden

Radio120

The Touch Radio series’ 120th free download (MP3) is a quarter-hour live performance by Thierry Charollais. It moves through deep, murky spaces. Hovering tones barely begin to mask just how far down other sonic impulses flow. It’s exploratory music, not simply in the sense of being apart from any ingrained tradition of melodic development, but also because it sounds like — reads like — the semi-improvised score to some restless endeavor, a dark-night journey into an unmapped cavern.

The piece was, in fact, recorded last summer in broad daylight on August 29, 2015, at the Botanical Garden in Bern Switzerland. A short statement explains: “The purpose was to give to the audience a sonic environment which contrasts with the quietness of Bern’s Botanic Garden.” That purpose was achieved, and then some.

Track originally posted for free download at touchradio.org.uk. More from Charollais, who is based in Geneva, Switzerand, at soundcloud.com/thierrycharollais and twitter.com/tcharollais. There are some photos of the Bern concert, part of the festival Les Digitales, but they have all rights reserved, so click over to Pascal Greuter’s Flickr account for a view. The above photo, by Cécilia Kapitz, accompanied the track’s post at touchradio.org.uk.

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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, 2022: This day marks the 26th anniversary of the founding of Disquiet.com.
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  • Recent
    • 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).
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    • 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).

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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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  • 0544 / Feedback Loop / The Assignment: Share music-in-progress for input from others.
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    0542 / 2600 Club / The Assignment: Make some phreaking music.
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    0540 / 5ive 4our / The Assignment: Take back 5/4 for Jedi time masters Dave Brubeck and Paul Desmond.

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