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. • 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.

Listening to Yesterday: Conference Call

"You don't have to put on the red light. Those days are over."

  1. conference call
  2. user interface


The conference call lasted a little over an hour, four people in four different buildings on two different coasts. The discussion was mediated by a software interface. The software allowed for screen-sharing, but especially prominent on the interface, this being a live conversation, were markers for various aspects of the audio. A little microphone symbol was situated next to each speaker’s name — that’s speaker as in human, not as in sound-emitting technology — and a horizontal meter registered how loud someone was talking. Whoever spoke, their name appeared prominently next to the word “talking.” This was an imperfect approach, since had someone been sharing my laptop with me, my name would have appeared when they spoke. On this call we all knew each other well enough that the names were unnecessary.

I’ve seen variations on this speaker-identification model over the years. One that particularly stuck in my memory used a spatial relationship for the voices, so you’d see them on the screen in a manner that suggested they were, in essence, in different seats. It was a bit like an ambisonic Jedi Council: If you listened on headphones, the voices were also situated spatially across the stereo spectrum. You had the option to move them to where you wanted them, so you could group them according to role or organization. It seemed particularly useful as a means to evenly distribute the people who talked too much.

On the conference call tool yesterday, the microphone button was red when someone had muted it, green when they had it live. Color is a whole other ball of wax from sound. There are especially strong cultural associations with color, though the associations also vary widely around the globe. In the west, red is often seen as an admonition (stop, warning), whereas in Asia it can suggest happiness (good luck, joy). On this call, red was intended as neutral, a simple “off” in an on/off binary world, but it seemed to still carry some cultural baggage. I had it on red/mute most of the time so that my typing of notes didn’t fill up the sonic conversation space. I couldn’t help but think, though, that the red next to my name was unintentionally signaling disinterest. I also wondered if any of these whiz-bang digital conference-call tools could just filter out keyboard clatter.

By Marc Weidenbaum

Tag: / Leave a comment ]

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>


Subscribe without commenting

  • about

  • Marc Weidenbaum founded the website 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

  • Field Notes

    News, essays, surveillance

  • Interviews

    Conversations with musicians/artists/coders

  • Studio Journal

    Video, audio, patch notes

  • Projects

    Select collaborations and commissions

  • Subscribe

  • Current Activities

  • Upcoming
    December 13, 2021: This day marks the 25th anniversary of the founding of
    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.

  • Recent
    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

  • Ongoing
    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:

  • 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).

  • disquiet junto

  • Background
    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.

    Recent Projects

  • 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.

    Full Index
    And there is a complete list of past projects, 511 consecutive weeks to date.

  • Archives

    By month and by topic

  • [email protected]

    [email protected]

  • Downstream

    Recommended listening each weekday

  • Recent Posts