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Disquiet Junto Project 0364: Casting Drones

The Assignment: Use dice to determine your slowly shifting tones.

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 Monday, December 24, 2018, at 11:59pm (that is, just before midnight) wherever you are on. It was posted in the afternoon, California time, on Thursday, December 20, 2018.

Tracks will be added to the 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 0364: Casting Drones
The Assignment: Use dice to determine your slowly shifting tones.

Many thanks to Todd Elliott (aka Toaster) for having proposed this project.

We’re going to use chance operations to make drone music (giving credit to John Cage, in particular for the compositional concept of time brackets). You’ll need some multitimbral sound sources that are capable of making sustained tones, or you can just write out the score and build up the drone via overdubbing.

Step 1: Create a single sustained tone that can be held for as long as necessary. This will serve as a “base” for you to add onto in subsequent steps.

Step 2: Roll two six-sided dice. The first die will be “time” and the second die will be the “notes.” Do this two additional times, so you have notated three pairs of time-plus-notes.

Step 3: Interpret the drone “time”:

Roll 1-2 = 1 minutes

Roll 3-5 = 2 minutes

Roll 6 = 3 minutes

The resulting time is the length of this segment, or bracket, of music. You’ll have three time brackets at the end of Step 3, resulting from the rolls in Step 2.

Step 4: Interpret the notes:

Roll 1-4 = For the first bracket, this is the number of notes you can have playing at a single time. In the second and third brackets, this can also be interpreted as the number of notes you might, alternately, elect to change. Any introduction of notes or changing of notes should be done slowly and subtly — in other words, since this is drone music, the divide between brackets isn’t instantaneous. You should never have more than four notes playing at a time. If you already have four notes playing and you roll four, you can’t add more — so, instead change all four. If you have fewer notes playing than you roll, either add notes or change notes (player’s choice). For example, if you have three notes going, and you roll a two, either change the two notes or add one (to get to three).

5 = Remove one note. (You can never have nothing playing — the sustained tone in Step 1 should always be playing.)

6 = Remove two notes. (Again, you can never have nothing playing — the sustained tone in Step 1 should always be playing.)

Step 5: The full length of your piece will be the combined length of those brackets plus one additional minute for a slow fade. During the last minute, you should remove all notes (at the pace and intervals you determine), and fade to silence. Throughout the piece, the foundational tone from Step 1 should be playing (until it also fades out in the final minute).

Bonus Round: If you’d like to, extend your piece to a length of one hour and one minute, and it will be considered for a run on the Dronecast podcast. The episode will include a link to your SoundCloud/Bandcamp. Note: the Dronecast is not a paying gig. (If you don’t want it to run on the Dronecast, feel free to say so.)

Six More Important Steps When Your Track Is Done:

Step 1: Include “disquiet0364” (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 “disquiet0364” (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: Post your track in the following discussion thread at llllllll.co:

https://llllllll.co/t/disquiet-junto-project-0364-casting-drones/

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 Monday, December 24, 2018, at 11:59pm (that is, just before midnight) wherever you are on. It was posted in the afternoon, California time, on Thursday, December 20, 2018.

Length: The length of your track is up to you.

Title/Tag: When posting your track, please include “disquiet0364” 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: Please consider setting your track as downloadable and allowing for attributed remixing (i.e., a Creative Commons license permitting non-commercial sharing with attribution, allowing for derivatives).

Context: When posting the track online, please be sure to include this following information:

More on this 364th weekly Disquiet Junto project — Casting Drones / The Assignment: Use dice to determine your slowly shifting tones — at:

https://disquiet.com/0364/

Many thanks to Todd Elliott (aka Toaster) for having proposed this project.

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-0364-casting-drones/

There’s also a Junto Slack. Send your email address to twitter.com/disquiet to join in.

Image associated with this project is by Pablo Ruiz Múzquiz, adapted thanks to a Creative Commons license:

https://flic.kr/p/9g1aZk

https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/

By Marc Weidenbaum

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  • about

  • 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

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