My 33 1/3 book, on Aphex Twin's Selected Ambient Works Volume II, was the 5th bestselling book in the series in 2014. It's available at Amazon (including Kindle) and via your local bookstore. • F.A.Q.Key Tags: #saw2for33third, #sound-art, #classical, #juntoElsewhere: Twitter, SoundCloud, Instagram

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Monthly Archives: December 2016

What Sound Looks Like

An ongoing series cross-posted from instagram.com/dsqt


Picked up three LPs yesterday at a used-music shop, two scores and a compilation. One of the scores is John Williams’ Earthquake, which I’ve been interested in since collaborating with Geoff Manaugh on a fault-sonification project several years ago. The big takeaway from the LP, released in 1974, is that much of what could be mistaken for score in the film is, in fact, the sound design of the communications, infrastructure, and emergency services activity. The recording closes with almost three minutes of “actual sound effects,” per the bright pink sticker on the LP cover. I’ve never heard the Earthquake music on its own, separate from the film, before.

The second is Two Film Scores for Piano (1976), both by Harvey Schmidt, composer of the 1960 musical The Fantasticks. One is from A Texas Romance, 1909 (from 1964), written and directed by Fantasticks lyricist Tom Jones, and the other is from Bad Company (from 1972), a more straight-ahead drama directed by Robert Benton and starring Jeff Bridges. I don’t know of many movies that have only piano for the score. The main one I can think of is The Firm, with music by Dave Grusin, which I sometimes discuss in the class I teach on sound. There’s also David Shire’s The Conversation, another subject in class, though that one employs some sonic effects to extend the music’s psychological telegraphing. I’m interested in how the solo piano works in film, since film music historically has been a fairly grand affair; it took Hollywood a lot longer to lose the orchestra than it did the sense of film being merely a document of theater. And there’s the connection to silent film scores. Solo piano is also timely, due to HBO’s much-discussed Westworld.

The third album is a Windham Hill compilation from 1987, Soul of the Machine, one in a series of themed collections the new-age label was releasing at the time. It was preceded by a piano set and succeeded by a guitar album. Beyond its utility as a period document, I was most interested in a piece by Gary Chang, who composed one of my favorite film scores, A Shock to the System, directed by Jan Egleson, which combined electronics with the Turtle Island String Quartet.

An ongoing series cross-posted from instagram.com/dsqt.
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Disquiet Junto Project 0260: Tone Fade

An exercise in when a sound ends.

Each Thursday in the Disquiet Junto group, 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. A SoundCloud account is helpful but not required. 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 will be added to this playlist for the duration of the project:

This project was posted in the morning, California time, on Thursday, December 22, 2016, with a deadline of 11:59pm wherever you are on Monday, December 26, 2016.

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

Disquiet Junto Project 0260: Tone Fade
An exercise in when a sound ends.

Step 1: More than many Junto projects, this is essentially an exercise, one that is as much about listening as it is about playing. It’s also a live performance.

Step 2: Choose an instrument that can have a fairly long fade.

Step 3: The plan is to record yourself playing the instrument selected in Step 2 for around three to four minutes straight, and certainly longer if you choose. Set up your equipment to allow for this.

Step 4: Choose a note or a chord to play on the instrument. You’ll only be playing that one note or chord for the duration of the piece.

Step 5: The plan is to play that note or chord, and to then wait until you’re certain you can no longer hear it, and to then at that instant strike the note or chord again. You’ll do this over and over — waiting until it is silent, but not letting the silence linger. Do this for as long as you like. Three or four minutes seems about right. Kudos in advance to the sonic yogis who aim for half an hour or longer.

Five More Important Steps When Your Track Is Done:

Step 1: Per the instructions below, be sure to include the project tag “disquiet0260” (no spaces) in the name of your track. If you’re posting on SoundCloud in particular, this is essential to my locating the tracks and creating a playlist of them.

Step 2: Upload your track. It is helpful but not essential that you use SoundCloud to host your track.

Step 3: In the following discussion thread at llllllll.co please consider posting your track.

http://llllllll.co/t/disquiet-junto-project-0260-tone-fade/5809

Step 4: Annotate your track with a brief explanation of your approach and process.

Step 5: Then listen to and comment on tracks uploaded by your fellow Disquiet Junto participants.

Deadline: This project was posted in the morning, California time, on Thursday, December 22, 2016, with a deadline of 11:59pm wherever you are on Monday, December 26, 2016.

Length: The length is up to you, but three to four minutes sounds about right.

Title/Tag: When posting your track, please include “disquiet0260”in the title of the track, and where applicable (on SoundCloud, for example) as a tag.

Upload: When participating in this project, post one finished track with the project tag, 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.

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 online, please be sure to include this information:

More on this 260th weekly Disquiet Junto project — “Tone Fade: An exercise in when a sound ends — at:

https://disquiet.com/0260/

(This project is for Sterling.)

More on the Disquiet Junto at:

https://disquiet.com/junto/

Subscribe to project announcements here:

http://tinyletter.com/disquiet-junto/

Project discussion takes place on llllllll.co:

http://llllllll.co/t/disquiet-junto-project-0260-tone-fade/5809

There’s also on a Junto Slack. Send your email address to twitter.com/disquiet for Slack inclusion.

Photo associated with this project is by Michel Banabila, used thanks to a Creative Commons license:

flic.kr/p/5GB7bn

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What Sound Looks Like

An ongoing series cross-posted from instagram.com/dsqt


The complexities of the doorbell defy even the most learned magicians.

An ongoing series cross-posted from instagram.com/dsqt.
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What Sound Looks Like

An ongoing series cross-posted from instagram.com/dsqt


Great illustration from a 1981 Webster’s Dictionary of the rare English word with no vowels.

An ongoing series cross-posted from instagram.com/dsqt.
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Disquiet Junto Project 0259: Signals Lost

Summon up a horror story in sound.

Each Thursday in the Disquiet Junto group, 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. A SoundCloud account is helpful but not required. 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 will be added to this playlist for the duration of the project:

This project was posted in the early evening, California time, on Thursday, December 15, 2016, with a deadline of 11:59pm wherever you are on Monday, December 19, 2016.

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

Disquiet Junto Project 0259: Signals Lost
Summon up a horror story in sound.

Step 1: There is a cool recent short fiction collection of horror stories, all with sound as their subject. The book is titled Lost Signals, and it contains 24 pieces of fiction, one of them, “The Night Wire” by H.F. Arnold, dating as far back as 1926.

Step 2: We’re going to take a short segment of one of the stories and try to represent it in sound. The story is “Transmission” by T.E. Grau. It’s about a mysterious radio station. You can either use the following segment, or read the book and find a different section of roughly similar length:

“Max was pondering the important issue of how petrogylphs differed from hieroglyphs when the radio halted its roll at the very far end of the electronic dial. After a brief silence, the weak signal transmitted indistinct sounds, like whispers, intermingled with an odd chanting that faded in and out like a spectral dirge. Intrigued by this strange combination, and hoping for a broadcast of a lonely Indian powwow, Max turned up the volume, but the higher it went, the softer the voice and chant became, going silent. There was no apparent signal, but the radio scan was still stopped, locked in on something”

Step 3: Render the text in Step 2 (or that you choose yourself from the book Lost Signals). However, do not read the text. Just let the text inform the sounds.

Five More Important Steps When Your Track Is Done:

Step 1: Per the instructions below, be sure to include the project tag “disquiet0259″ (no spaces) in the name of your track. If you’re posting on SoundCloud in particular, this is essential to my locating the tracks and creating a playlist of them.

Step 2: Upload your track. It is helpful but not essential that you use SoundCloud to host your track.

Step 3: In the following discussion thread at llllllll.co please consider posting your track.

http://llllllll.co/t/disquiet-junto-project-0259-lost-signals/5726

Step 4: Annotate your track with a brief explanation of your approach and process.

Step 5: Then listen to and comment on tracks uploaded by your fellow Disquiet Junto participants.

Deadline: This project was posted in the early evening, California time, on Thursday, December 15, 2016, with a deadline of 11:59pm wherever you are on Monday, December 19, 2016.

Length: The length is up to you, but three to four minutes sounds about right.

Title/Tag: When posting your track, please include “disquiet0259”in the title of the track, and where applicable (on SoundCloud, for example) as a tag.

Upload: When participating in this project, post one finished track with the project tag, 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.

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 online, please be sure to include this information:

More on this 259th weekly Disquiet Junto project — “Signals Lost: Summon up a horror story in sound” — at:

https://disquiet.com/0259/

The text that inspired this is from the book Lost Signals, from by Perpetual Publishing out of San Antonio, Texas. More details on the book at:

perpetualpublishing.com/product/lost-signals/

More on the Disquiet Junto at:

https://disquiet.com/junto/

Subscribe to project announcements here:

http://tinyletter.com/disquiet-junto/

Project discussion takes place on llllllll.co:

http://llllllll.co/t/disquiet-junto-project-0259-lost-signals/5726

There’s also on a Junto Slack. Send your email address to twitter.com/disquiet for Slack inclusion.

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