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Monthly Archives: August 2020

Disquiet Junto Project 0449: Page Machine

The Assignment: Read a page of text from a book as if it were a musical score.

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, August 10, 2020, at 11:59pm (that is, just before midnight) wherever you are. It was posted on Thursday, August 6, 2020.

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

Disquiet Junto Project 0449: Page Machine
The Assignment: Read a page of text from a book as if it were a musical score.

Step 1: You’ll be reading, so to speak, a page of text from a book as if it were musical score. Select such a page from such a book, perhaps that has special meaning to you, or perhaps at random.

Step 2: Make a copy of this page, or be prepared to write on it directly.

Step 3: Study the page, less as a work of writing, and more as a two-dimensional sculpture. Take note of the shapes inherent in the text. Are there a lot of paragraph breaks? Are there snakelike descending curves where spaces occur between words? Are there a lot of o’s. Or periods. Or question marks? Find some patterning that is of interest.

Step 4: Make a set of rules for yourself as to what these symbols mean. Is every paragraph break a beat? Is every capital I a stately chord? Is every apostrophe a cowbell?

Step 5: Record a piece of music based on applying the rules in Step 4 to the page selected in Step 1.

Seven More Important Steps When Your Track Is Done:

Step 1: Include “disquiet0449” (no spaces or quotation marks) in the name of your tracks.

Step 2: If your audio-hosting platform allows for tags, be sure to also include the project tag “disquiet0449” (no spaces or quotation marks). If you’re posting on SoundCloud in particular, this is essential to subsequent location of tracks for the creation of a project playlist.

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

Step 4: Post your tracks in the following discussion thread at

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

Step 6: If posting on social media, please consider using the hashtag #disquietjunto so fellow participants are more likely to locate your communication.

Step 7: Then listen to and comment on tracks uploaded by your fellow Disquiet Junto participants.

Additional Details:

Deadline: This project’s deadline is Monday, August 10, 2020, at 11:59pm (that is, just before midnight) wherever you are. It was posted on Thursday, August 6, 2020.

Length: The length is up to you. Remember: it’s a page, not a novel.

Title/Tag: When posting your tracks, please include “disquiet0449” in the title of the tracks, and where applicable (on SoundCloud, for example) as a tag.

Upload: When participating in this project, 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 always best to set your track as downloadable and allowing for attributed remixing (i.e., a Creative Commons license permitting non-commercial sharing with attribution, allowing for derivatives).

For context, when posting the track online, please be sure to include this following information:

More on this 449th weekly Disquiet Junto project, Page Machine (Read a page of text from a book as if it were a musical score), at:

More on the Disquiet Junto at:

Subscribe to project announcements here:

Project discussion takes place on

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

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Drum Machine Ruler

20 centimeters of rhythmic wonder from ::vtol::

If you’ve ever plucked a metal ruler or banged it on the edge of a table, you know the vibrant, heady pulse of its taut rebound. The talented Moscow-based engineer Dmitry Morozov, who goes by ::vtol::, recognized the promise in that boinngggg and automated it. The result, a combination of processing power, two servo motors, and other items, is a programmable drum machine that makes all its sounds with a 20-centimeter metal ruler. This demo video shares some of its sonic and rhythmic potential.

Writes Morozov:

The device is based on the school experience of imitating bass lines at the desk and a fun way to disturb teachers. The instrument can be classified as an automated plucked contrabass monochord. Changing the pitch is done by quickly changing how far the ruler is extended relative to the nut. Movements, plucks and presses of the ruler along the nut are driven by powerful and fast motors, which allows playing pretty fast lines. 2 pressing motors can work simultaneously or selectively, which allows you to choose the register: the range and amplitude of oscillations depends on the place in which the ruler is clamped before the pluck. The sound is picked up by a small piezo element, which is getting hits by a ruler directly (the instrument has no resonator). The instrument is equipped with 12 touch keys, each of which can be reassigned to a specific length of the ruler. A small OLED display is used to select modes, tune notes, and indicate processes and states.

The device is called the RBS-20(cm), which stands for “Ruler bass synth, 20 centimeters.” Video originally posted at More details at

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Street Music

An ongoing series cross-posted from

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Retro Surveillance Theater

An ongoing series cross-posted from

Security, or “Come right in and make yourself at home”?

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At a Planetary Scale

Music from Nathan McLaughlin

The acoustic guitar is so prominent, so closely mic’d, so emotionally present, that the sounds circumnavigating Nathan McLaughlin’s playing may only become fully apparent to the listener when the guitar pulls back. They’ve been there all along, small atmospheric bits, like echoes, like shadows, like lens flares. But perhaps they’re something more, like glitches in the fabric of reality, because when the guitar does go away, the backdrop becomes the foreground, and the sheer beauty of what’s been running below the radar becomes fully evident, a rich, subtle, plaintive airing of tonal spaciousness. It’s a revelation.

Such is the first track on Saturn, McLaughlin’s remarkable new two-part EP of music played based on “planetary scales” (he cites Joscelyn Godwin’s Harmonies of Heaven and Earth: Mysticism in Music from Antiquity to the Avant-Garde in the liner note; the planetary scales are from work by Rudolf Steiner). Like the live performance of his I mentioned at the start of the U.S. response to the pandemic (“Minimalism and Its Echoes”), the music here sounds improvisatory, largely due to how it drifts from song form into something rangier and more free-flowing. But there’s no doubt, upon repeat listens, that this is deeply considered work, music in which the arrangement (notably the muted appearance, on the EP’s second track, of violin performed by Oliver McLaughlin) is paramount. Everything is in a keen balance with everything else. To listen to Saturn is to witness balance in action.

Album posted at More from McLaughlin at

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