I flew a kite for the first time in decades if not ages, for the first time perhaps since before my own age hit double digits. The kite was a gift my child, still early on in single digits, had received, and we took it down to the ocean —Â a straight shot by bus from our home —Â to see how well it took to the wind. There is a dragon on the kite, a not particularly friendly looking dragon. The higher the kite flew, the more the dragon’s eyes seemed to shine with the sun. If you can hear your kite, that’s not a particularly good sign. When the kite lingers a couple dozen feet above the beach, the tails flutter perceptibly, much like a flag fighting to stay erect in a storm. If you hear your kite, it is proximate to ground, perhaps heading rapidly in that direction. The goal is to not hear your kite. The higher the kite goes, the quieter the flutter, until at some point the kite makes no sound at all. It ascends into silence. I had it in the air for almost 45 minutes straight, learning to tug this way and that to keep it afloat when the elements challenged its flight plan. At some point I recognized that I could pluck the string and watch the waveform travel up to the heavens, up to the kite, which would jiggle a bit in response. The slender tether made me think of Ellen Fullman’s Long String Instrument, which places the performer, generally Fullman herself, in a field of resonant strings, like a Lilliputian caught in a luthier’s workshop. I wondered how my long string might come to make sound, rather than recede from sound. As it hung in the air, I took mental notes about attaching something, maybe a bell, maybe a wind chime. Those experiments are for the next trip to the beach.An ongoing series cross-posted from instagram.com/dsqt.
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).
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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.
• 0456 / Line Up / The Assignment: Interpret a painting by Agnes Martin as if it were a graphic score.
• 0455 / Inner Invertebrate / The Assignment: What does a moment (or a day) in the life of a jellyfish sound like to a jellyfish?
• 0454 / Lsoo Vneg / The Assignment: Encode the name of someone you love into a piece of music.
• 0453 / Dial Up / The Assignment: Imagine the technologically mediated First Contact through sound.
• 0452 / Let's Scream / The Assignment: Get cathartic. Be resilient. Turn your scream into music.
And there is a complete list of past projects, 456 consecutive weeks to date.
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