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Disquiet Junto Project 0296: Clustered Primes

Make music inspired by a prime-number query initiated by novelist Robin Sloan.

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.

This project’s deadline is 11:59pm wherever you are on Monday, September 4, 2017. This project was posted in evening, California time, on Thursday, August 31, 2017.

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

Disquiet Junto Project 0296: Clustered Primes
Make music inspired by a prime-number query initiated by novelist Robin Sloan.

Step 1: The source material for this week’s project is a list of prime numbers. The list is the result of a contest that novelist Robin Sloan ran recently. In advance of the release of his new novel, Sourdough, which will be published on September 5, Sloan asked readers of his email newsletter to compete for an advance copy by submitting a prime number. The people who submitted the lowest prime numbers — and this next bit is important — that no one else submitted won a copy of the book. With that in mind, take a gander at the resulting CSV file of prime numbers here:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/1l9r1uncsmos0u0/primecountsmay2017.csv?dl=0

Step 2: Note that the CSV file has two columns of numbers. The column on the left shows the prime number. The column on the right shows the number of people who submitted the prime number on the left. Thus, 17 people submitted the number 2, 10 people submitted the number 3, and so on. The lowest prime number submitted by one person was 409, then several numbers were submitted by multiple people until you get to 467, and then two more were multiple submissions, but then you get three single submissions in a row: 491, 499, and 503. Just spend some time looking at the numbers for patterns — not just the patterns suggested by the primes, but the patterns in the social context, the clusters of submissions and what they say about people’s sense of the competition.

Step 3: Make a piece of music that somehow draws inspiration from the CSV file and from your perception of patterns.

Five More Important Steps When Your Track Is Done:

Step 1: If your hosting platform allows for tags, be sure to include the project tag “disquiet0296” (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:

https://llllllll.co/t/disquiet-junto-project-0296-clustered-primes/

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.

This project’s deadline is 11:59pm wherever you are on Monday, September 4, 2017. This project was posted in early evening, California time, on Thursday, August 31, 2017.

Length: The length is up to you. Bonus points, of course, if the minutes and seconds of the finished work read as a prime number.

Title/Tag: When posting your track, please include “disquiet0296” 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 296th weekly Disquiet Junto project — Clustered Primes: Make music inspired by a prime-number query initiated by novelist Robin Sloan — at:

https://disquiet.com/0296/

More on the Disquiet Junto at:

https://disquiet.com/junto/

More from Robin Sloan at:

https://www.robinsloan.com/

Subscribe to project announcements here:

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

Project discussion takes place on llllllll.co:

https://llllllll.co/t/disquiet-junto-project-0296-clustered-primes/

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

By Marc Weidenbaum

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