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.

Listening to Yesterday: Banking On It

The background noise of institutional authority

The bank was quiet yesterday. It was especially quiet for a mid-week visit in the afternoon, especially on the last day of the month. The line was short, two people ahead of me, with three people at the lengthy counter. The bank was sizable, with hard, shiny floors and wide, blank walls. Despite the reflective power of all that surface area, the financial conversations were muffled, muted, their privacy respected by the room’s structure and design. Street noise occasionally became apparent when the front doors, down a short hallway, opened, especially when a bus was pulling up to or out of the stop just beyond the entryway. Keystrokes were heard. The occasional beeping of generic computer equipment was absorbed into the room’s capacious silence. Inside the main hall of the bank, music played lightly, music as background noise, so matched in volume to the hush of the space — a hush akin to a museum, or to a proctored examination — that it took effort to discern the identity of what song was being played.

After I was done with my transaction, I walked down that short hallway and turned to take the stairs to the garage. The music faded slowly as I moved further and further from the main area of the bank. However, as quiet as it got with each step, the music was only suddenly, firmly gone when the stairwell door closed behind me. Immediately the space around me was void, empty, echoing its own silence, reinforcing its absence by presenting nothing more than a voluminous hush, a hush that made the quietude of the bank feel, in retrospect, more like a stage whisper, like a carefully crafted impression of quiet. The bank was private. In contrast, the stairwell was vacant. Private is valuable, comforting. Vacancy is neutral at best; if anything, it is devoid of presence, of comfort.

Stepping into the stairwell was like having the illusion of the bank’s authority dispelled. Inside the bank, its institutional gravitas was everywhere, from the visual depictions of its storied history to the sheer impression made by the activity. To step into the stairwell was to realize how much of that authority was a performance. To step into the stairwell was to step backstage, into the wings of the show that was the bank. I wondered: Had the music continued from the bank into the staircase, would I have experienced the transaction denouement for a longer period of time? Would I have had the song more likely in my head as I exited the garage? Would the authority of the bank have lingered more in my imagination? Would I have remained comforted by its institutional loco parentis, rather than dispiritingly enlightened as to the environmental conceit that had provided that comfort in the first place?

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 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

  • 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 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.

  • 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 oup.com.)

  • 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: 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).

  • 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