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. • 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.

Monthly Archives: March 2018

What Sound Looks Like

An ongoing series cross-posted from

Excavated some cassettes of turntablism music (turntable as instrument) while cleaning out some of my old boxes this past weekend. Back then, around 1996 and 1997, when these were released, turntablism was often documented and circulated on cassette. These days, 20-plus years later, a lot of my listening is manipulation of the cassette tape itself, as well as digital approximations of tape manipulation. Some of the turntablists whose work is shown here have long since left traditional turntable vinyl behind and now use computer software that turns the turntable into a tactile controller for audio files.

An ongoing series cross-posted from
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RIP, Russ Solomon (1925-2018)

A brief remembrance of the late Tower Records founder

A little Russ Solomon (RIP) story from my years at Tower Records: I worked as an editor at Pulse!, the magazine published by Tower, full time from 1989 to 1996, and I continued to freelance for Tower after I left to take another job. The Tower corporate offices were in West Sacramento, and during my time as a Tower employee I lived in Sacramento (and briefly Davis), having moved out from Brooklyn for the job in 1989 after writing a few freelance pieces for the magazine. (Those articles’ subjects included electronically mediated cellist Hank Roberts, soul-punk band 24-7 Spyz, and alt-country act Souled American.)

After my first few months at Pulse!, the magazine’s office was moved across the parking lot from the main Tower corporate office building. This move meant a load of improvements: more space, better light, less noise, fewer interruptions. The move also further established what was already a solid editorial separation between the magazine and the company’s retail business.

Pulse!, of course, reflected Tower’s merchandising ethos, in that it covered as wide a range as possible of music. That was the point. We didn’t just cover the pop, rock, r&b, and hip-hop of most music magazines at the time. We had a classical columnist, and a separate opera columnist, and a Christian contemporary columnist, and a variety of jazz columnists, among many others. We kept on retainer reporters in cities around the world to contribute brief local scene reports. These days, having “big ears” — an appreciation for music across genres, with an emphasis on the connections between those genres — is an everyday occurrence, a listening norm, in our post-streaming, niche-market era, but back in the early 1990s the breadth of coverage in Pulse! distinguished it from most other music magazines.

In my time at Tower, the range of its publications expanded. I co-founded its classical magazine, Classical Pulse!, with the opera critic Bob Levine. And then in 1994 I created Tower’s first email publication. That’s what is now called a newsletter. Named epulse (everything back then was e-this and e-that, the way later it was i-this and i-that), the epulse newsletter ran weekly, more or less, for 8 years up until 2002.

Then Pulse! closed down fairly suddenly in 2002, after 19 years of publication. The closure was due to Tower’s financial instability. When in 1996 I left Pulse!, I had stopped editing the epulse newsletter for awhile, but then I picked up the responsibilities again later on. I ended up writing the final cover story for Pulse!, about rapper/producer Missy Elliott, before any of us knew it would be the magazine’s last issue. And when Pulse! shut down in 2002, we shut down epulse, too, naturally.

Or so we thought.

Because the very next week I got a call magazines’ (newly former) publisher. Apparently Russ Solomon had called him and asked why epulse hadn’t come out. Pulse! had been shut due to financial matters, he explained, but epulse was such a low-budget thing that Russ wanted it to continue. And so it did. Editorial coverage of music was core to Russ Solomon’s idea of what Tower was about. Little old epulse kept it going as long as possible. Epulse continued to be published, at his request, for another year or so, until bankruptcy finally shut down Tower for good.

This is lightly adapted from a thread I posted at the day after Russ Solomon died.

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What Sound Looks Like

An ongoing series cross-posted from

Repetition is a form of change.

An ongoing series cross-posted from
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Disquiet Junto Project 0323: Music for Meditation

Record a piece of music suited to meditation.

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, March 12, 2018. This project was posted in the afternoon, California time, on Thursday, March 8, 2018.

These are the instructions that went out to the group’s email list (at

Disquiet Junto Project 0323: Music for Meditation
Record a piece of music suited to meditation.

Step 1: Consider music appropriate for meditation. Think of the sounds, the tones, the forms that might suit such a thing.

Step 2: Record a short piece of music for meditation. Make your track a set number of minutes (that is, a length divisible by 60 seconds), preferably between 7 minutes and 20 minutes. Whatever length you choose, insert a bell/chime sound precisely one minute after the track begins and precisely one minute before the track comes to an end.

Six More Important Steps When Your Track Is Done:

Step 1: Include “disquiet0323” (no spaces or quotation marks) in the name of your track.

Step 2: If your audio-hosting platform allows for tags, be sure to also include the project tag “disquiet0323” (no spaces or quotation marks). If you’re posting on SoundCloud in particular, this is essential to subsequent location of tracks for the creation a project playlist.

Step 3: Upload your track. It is helpful but not essential that you use SoundCloud to host your track.

Step 4: Please consider posting your track in the following discussion thread at

Step 5: Annotate your track with a brief explanation of your approach and process.

Step 6: Then listen to and comment on tracks uploaded by your fellow Disquiet Junto participants.

Other Details:

Deadline: This project’s deadline is 11:59pm (that is, just before midnight) wherever you are on Monday, March 12, 2018. This project was posted in the afternoon, California time, on Thursday, March 8, 2018.

Length: The length is up to you. The instructions suggest 7 minutes and 20 minutes.

Title/Tag: When posting your track, please include “disquiet0323” 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 323rd weekly Disquiet Junto project (Music for Meditation: Record a piece of music suited to meditation) at:

More on the Disquiet Junto at:

Subscribe to project announcements here:

Project discussion takes place on

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

The image associated with this project is by Chris Corrigan and is used thanks to a Creative Commons license:

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An Upturned Glass

Listening in on Joseph Branciforte studio activities

Joseph Branciforte’s 2018 sound journal is the gift that keeps on giving, a window into his process, an upturned glass against his studio wall. The latest entry, dating from March 6, is a mix of dreamy keyboard tones and bracing textural play. The former is a series of briefly held tones that cluster ever so slightly, like something out of one of Brian Eno’s generative-app collaborations with Peter Chilvers. The latter is a kind of elaborate, rubbery, surface-vinyl effect. It’s pushed to an occasional extreme: an irritant that becomes an element of play. How Branciforte accomplished this all is detailed in the accompanying note, for those who want a sense of the track’s inner workings.

Track originally posted at More from Branciforte, who is based in Brooklyn, New York, at

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  • about

  • Marc Weidenbaum founded the website 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

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    • December 13, 2022: This day marks the 26th anniversary of the founding of
    • January 6, 2023: This day marked the 11th anniversary of the start of the Disquiet Junto music community.

  • Recent
    • April 16, 2022: I participated in an online "talk show" by The Big Conversation Space (Niki Korth and Clémence de Montgolfier).
    • March 11, 2022: I hosted a panel discussion between Mark Fell, Rian Treanor and James Bradbury in San Francisco as part of the Algorithmic Art Assembly ( at Gray Area (
    • December 28, 2021: This day marked the 10th (!) anniversary of the Instagr/am/bient compilation.
    • January 6, 2021: This day marked the 10th (!) anniversary of the start of the Disquiet Junto music community.
    • December 13, 2021: This day marked the 25th (!) anniversary of the start of 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

  • 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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  • 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.

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  • 0544 / Feedback Loop / The Assignment: Share music-in-progress for input from others.
    0543 / Technique Check / The Assignment: Share a tip from your method toolbox.
    0542 / 2600 Club / The Assignment: Make some phreaking music.
    0541 / 10BPM Techno / The Assignment: Make some snail-paced beats.
    0540 / 5ive 4our / The Assignment: Take back 5/4 for Jedi time masters Dave Brubeck and Paul Desmond.

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