This little gadget is the Pisound, which I spent much of yesterday building under the guidance of a far more informed and experienced friend. Its existence is predicated on the Raspberry Pi, an inexpensive bare-bones computer, around $35, that is used widely in education and by tinkerers/makers. The Pisound is a sound card that attaches to the Raspberry Pi and turns it into a full-fledged media device, with an emphasis on high-grade audio processing. The Pisound is capable of serving many purposes, including a networked audio player. What I’m most interested in is its ability to serve as a programmable musical instrument, such as an effects pedal of infinite possibilities. After we got it set up yesterday — the Raspberry Pi organization is based in the U.K., and Pisound arrived from Lithuania — my friend showed me how a single line of code could transform my inbound electric guitar signal into an outbound warble that sounded like we had captured Angelo Badalamenti’s spirit in one tiny little semi-opaque box. Anyhow, yesterday was day one. Actually, the first thing we did, even before the guitar processing, was to drop in one of Fredrik Olofsson’s mini-compositions that come in the form of Twitter-sized bits of SuperCollider code. Makes me want to get a second PiSound and make a music box of generative compositions. I’m looking forward to exploring this thing more as the summer progresses.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
• December 13, 2021: This day marks the 25th anniversary of the founding of Disquiet.com.
• December 28, 2021: This day marks the 10th anniversary of the Instagr/am/bient compilation.
• January 6, 2021: This day marks the 10th anniversary of the start of the Disquiet Junto music community.
• July 28, 2021: This day marked the 500th consecutive weekly project in 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 oup.com.)
• 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.
• 0506 / Wipe Out / The Assignment: Take something whole and erase half of it.
• 0505 / Line Out / The Assignment: Share a track, get feedback, and give feedback.
• 0504 / Transform Formula / The Assignment: Take a sound, change it, and contrast that with the original.
• 0503 / Sing Song / The Assignment: Record a song using only your voice transformed beyond recognition.
• 0502 / Global Swarming / The Assignment: Create a swarm of imaginary insects.
And there is a complete list of past projects, 506 consecutive weeks to date.
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