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

Listening to art.
Playing with audio.
Sounding out technology.
Composing in code.

Monthly Archives: November 2017

Disquiet Junto Project 0306: Music in Motion

Record a piece of music while en route somewhere.

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.

Deadline: This project’s deadline is 11:59pm (that is, just before midnight) wherever you are on Monday, November 13, 2017. This project was posted in the afternoon, California time, on Thursday, November 9, 2017.

Tracks will be added to this playlist for the duration of the project.

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

Disquiet Junto Project 0306: Music in Motion
Record a piece of music while en route somewhere

Step 1: You’ll be making a piece of music while en route somewhere. Consider what instrument(s) and recording equipment you can easily carry.

Step 2: Plot a short trip — maybe a bus or train ride, maybe you’re in the back seat while someone else drives, maybe you’re driving and you record yourself singing.

Step 3: Compose and record a short piece of music with the equipment from Step 1 while on the route you decided upon in Step 2. Only use that equipment, and finish the piece while you’re still on the road.

Side Note: Certainly the sounds you encounter while on your little trip are potential source material.

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 “disquiet0306” (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-0306-music-in-motion/

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’s deadline is 11:59pm (that is, just before midnight) wherever you are on Monday, November 13, 2017. This project was posted in the afternoon, California time, on Thursday, November 9, 2017.

Length: The finished track’s length is up to you.

Title/Tag: When posting your track, please include “disquiet0306” 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 306th weekly Disquiet Junto project (“Music in Motion: Record a piece of music while en route somewhere) at:

https://disquiet.com/0306/

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:

https://llllllll.co/t/disquiet-junto-project-0306-music-in-motion/

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 Iain Hinchliffe and is used thanks to a Creative commons license:

flic.kr/p/M7XJx

creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/

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What Sound Looks Like

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


This doorbell may have begun its functional life alone on the front of the small office building. Or, perhaps from day one it shared the entrance with its two neighbors: that blank black face of the card reader and the usefully over-sized gadget providing wheelchair accessibility. Either way, the three objects have little in common except a vague adherence to form, an apparently agreed upon sense that a shallow cuboid object suspended from a facade signals “This is how you get in.” The visual confusion afforded by the additional buttons shouldn’t distract from the peculiar decision-making evidenced within the design of the doorbell itself. Note how the surveillance camera’s circular computer eye is significantly larger than the actual doorbell button itself, thus complicating the wayfinding message. In any case, somewhere along the line someone came to determine that when there are multiple interactive objects awaiting a visitor, the presence of the doorbell is diminished — hence the now worn label hand-affixed to the doorbell. There is something “Hello, My Name Is” to the ripped paper tag, what with its all-caps writing — as if the doorbell is introducing itself before the visitor does the same.

An ongoing series cross-posted from instagram.com/dsqt.
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Listening to Kate Williamson’s Comics

Caught between pop music and ephemeral sounds in At a Crossroads

There is a lot of sound, a lot music, in Kate T. Williamson’s 2008 graphic novel At a Crossroads: Between a Rock and My Parents’ Place, but there are few if any actual sound effects. There are some “thump thump thump”s written into the panels during a brief anecdote about a squirrel infestation, and three little musical notes are rendered during a karaoke scene, where they could almost be mistaken for crumbs on the carpet. That’s about it. Yet despite the relative paucity of drawn sound, the book abounds with sound. It appears in the form of the sounds around her that she shares with the reader in keen descriptions that also reveal her state of mind. There are also numerous references to her favorite pop music, which serves as an emotional support structure.

Williamson, in the context of this story, could certainly use some support. She’s back home, living with her parents, and trying to finish a book. At a Crossroads is certainly a graphic novel, but it could easily be read as — mistaken for, considered — something other: a series of portraits and landscapes of suburban ennui rendered with captions and word balloons. The captions do tell a story, about a young woman dealing with Gen X dropout anxiety, and there are clear comic-book moments, multiple panels on a page or across pages that combine dialogue and figurative drawing. However, much of the book is comprised of extended, often silent or near-silent instances, like a two-page spread showing a house buried in snow, or another two-page spread of leaves on a few branches, or a New Jersey street scene depicted at night. Only the last of those examples features any text, a sentence or so at the bottom of the page in casual script. These spreads occasionally bring to mind the photographs of Duane Michals, who would write snatches of description onto his images, like scenes in a film — or, as it were, panels from a live-action comic.

It’s tough to publish a book about the anxiety about publishing a book, because the whole time the reader is thinking, “Uh, I’ve got the book in my hands. And the publisher, Princeton Architectural Press, is pretty respectable.” This is the rare situation when the book itself is kind of a spoiler for the book. Still, Williamson’s analysis of her own heightened emotional state is handled solidly. The frequent appearances of pop music provide social filters (litmus tests for possible new friends), and acts of self-expression. One minute she’s doing karaoke, the next attending a Hall & Oates concert. It can be fun, and the presence of all the radio fodder is balanced by her meditative consideration of the near silence that exists around her most of the time. If the pop music is Williamson reflecting on her old self, the person she was when she previously lived with her parents, then the everyday noises are her consideration of loneliness, of her current, temporary, transitional state.

She is caught, in other words, between pop and her sonic awareness of place. The book moves back and forth between those very different sonic terrains: packaged pop on the one hand and quotidian soundscapes on the other. It feels meaningful, as a result, that at the very end of At a Crossroads Williamson listens to the soundtrack to a movie, a Wim Wenders film, Paris Texas, whose score was composed by Ry Cooder. In other words, at the close of a memoir in which the narrator either pays attention to ephemeral background noise or focuses on highly crafted pop music, Williamson takes solace in recorded music intended to serve as background.

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What Sound Looks Like

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


An inset panel from Hulk #4 (2017), written by Mariko Tamaki, drawn by Nico Leon, who really get me. Alternate caption: “Superheroes, they’re just like us.”

An ongoing series cross-posted from instagram.com/dsqt.
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Disquiet Junto Project 0305: Three Princes

Explore chance by exploring the roots of the word "serendipity."

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 the playlist for the duration of the project.

Deadline: This project’s deadline is 11:59pm (that is, just before midnight) wherever you are on Monday, November 6, 2017. This project was posted in the early afternoon, California time, on Thursday, November 2, 2017.

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

Disquiet Junto Project 0305: Three Princes
Explore chance by exploring the roots of the word “serendipity.”

This week’s project explores the concept of serendipity. I was unfamiliar with the word’s etymology until I recently read the book Algorithms to Live By: The Computer Science of Human Decisions, by Brian Christian and Tom Griffiths, which I recommend. Those language origins figure into this project’s formulation.

Step 1: The word “serendipity” has an interesting origin. Its coinage is credited to Horace Walpole, who apparently made it up based on a Persian fairy tale, “The Three Princes of Serendip.” In turn, “Serendip” is itself a Persian word for another place entirely, Sri Lanka, or Ceylon. To explore the nature of serendipity, we’re going to apply randomness to samples of Ceylonese music.

Step 2: Choose three tracks — one for each prince in the fairy tale — from this collection of music from Ceylon:

https://goo.gl/szUFd2

There’s a lot of it, 138 tracks in all, so it might help to employ chance routines to select both the the tracks you’ll use, and which segments you’ll extract from them.

Step 3: Extract a short piece of audio, between two and seven seconds, from each of the three tracks you selected in Step 2. Each extract should be of a different length from the other two. Again, you might do this by ear, or you might do it based on some sort of chance routine.

Step 4: Create a roughly two-minute loop of each of the three individual extracts from Step 3: that is, a two-minute loop of the first extracted piece, a separate two-minute loop of the second extract, and a separate two-minute loop of the third. (You might also accomplish these loops in some other manner.)

Side note: There was a typo in the original instructions calling for a three-minute loop of the third sample. This was an error. It was intended to be a two-minute loop, like the others.

Step 5: Layer the three loops from Step 4. Do so in a way that might allow you to subsequently manipulate the loops individually, should you choose to do so. Notably, the three tracks will be out of sync with each other.

Step 6: Listen through to the layered piece in Step 5. Pay attention for moments of chance intersection, of rhythmic ingenuity, melodic unlikelihoods, and textural congruence, among other potential results.

Step 7: Create a short piece of music, based on the observations you made in Step 6, that builds on those serendipitous results. This may be as simple as using relative volume to highlight the highlights, or you might add other musical elements.

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 “disquiet0305” (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-0305-three-princes/

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’s deadline is 11:59pm (that is, just before midnight) wherever you are on Monday, November 6, 2017. This project was posted in the early afternoon, California time, on Thursday, November 2, 2017.

Length: The finished track’s length is up to you.

Title/Tag: When posting your track, please include “disquiet0305” 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 305th weekly Disquiet Junto project (“Three Princes: Explore chance by exploring the roots of the word “serendipity”) at:

https://disquiet.com/0305/

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:

https://llllllll.co/t/disquiet-junto-project-0305-three-princes/

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

Photo associated with this project is a stereo image of a Ceylon sunset, courtesy of the Tekniska museet account on Flickr, thanks to a Creative commons license:

flic.kr/p/emto4p

creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

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