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. • Disquiet.com 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: April 2021

1 Harp x 50 Guitar Pedals

Emily Hopkins is a force for good.


You should know this old line, “Question: What was the acoustic guitar called before the electric guitar? Answer: the guitar.” Now, here’s a new one: “Question: What was the guitar pedal called after Emily Hopkins? Answer: the pedal.”

Emily Hopkins’ videos are always a treat. She regularly puts her massive harp through guitar pedals, transforming both in the process. We hear the harp as it is rarely heard, and we hear the pedals put to use that is unusual for them, as well. In this video, Hopkins plays the same exact phrase through no fewer than 50 guitar pedals. Sometimes we just hear the phrase, rendered through echo, or delay, or crushed nearly beyond recognition; others we hear it on repeat as the pedal is itself manipulated — or, in a manner of speaking, played. The result is a sparkly rainbow of electronic possibility.

Video originally posted at YouTube.

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Current Favorites: Instagram Bits

Heavy rotation, lightly annotated

Another post in acknowledgement of the small bits of music that pop up on Instagram over the course of the week and are enchanting on loop. Instagram doesn’t particularly lend itself to the playlist treatment I do on YouTube.

▰ This is Sarah Belle Reid, based in Los Angeles, California, excerpted from a livestream concert, combining her flugelhorn with software and hardware synthesis:

▰ This is exactly the sort of lovingly sodden, deeply nostalgia-laden synthesis listeners of Orbital Patterns’ music have come to expect. He’s based in Rochester Hills, Michigan, and is one of my favorite modular synthesizer wizards:

▰ This is Todd Kleppinger, of Fairfax, Virginia, producing delightful melodic, rhythmic patterning on the Orca software, running on a Monome Norns Shield and stimulating an Elektron Digitakt.

▰ This is Mark Lentczner (aka Electric Kitchen, of Mountain View, California) producing industrial joy with a combination of the Recursive Machine and the Beebo from Poly Effects.

▰ Listening to UK-based Ryan Lerigo-Jones drum along with synth collaborators is one of my fave new pleasures:

I’m at instagram.com/dsqt, and I follow a vast amount of this.

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twitter.com/disquiet: The Skateboard and the Human Seismometer

From the past week

I do this manually each week, collating tweets I made at twitter.com/disquiet, my public notebook. Some tweets pop up (in expanded form) on Disquiet.com sooner. It’s personally informative to revisit the previous week of thinking out loud.

▰ Someone rides a skateboard down the block weekday mornings around 7:15am. It’s such a beautiful sound, almost always entirely alone in the serene quiet, the cars still dormant. I imagine its rider, heading likely to a job, and I enjoy the clatter of wheels on pavement equally.

▰ Why didn’t anyone tell me the new Godzilla vs. King Kong movie features a young deaf actor whose character, acting as a human seismometer, recognizes the vibrations of Godzilla arriving long before the actual alarms go off?

▰ There are things I wish would happen, and among those is a subset are things I kinda expect to happen, and one is that online crosswords will let us enter words in two colors: black if we’re certain, and a second if we’re uncertain.

▰ Good time to play Prince’s “Baltimore”:

▰ Recent but Tired: Taking comfort that the majority of concerts I attend are usually below 25% attendance.

Upcoming(ish)* Wired: Being part of as many of those 25% audiences as possible.

*Pending, you know, a whole lotta tier-based variables

▰ TFW you think spellcheck is broken or paused because nothing in the document is underlined but it’s simply because nothing in the doc is misspelled

▰ Q: What’s the plan for the upcoming 500th consecutive weekly Disquiet Junto project?

A: I’m not sure one project can properly note the collaborative effort represented by the 500th project. So, we’ll probably celebrate the 500th project for the next 500 weeks until we hit 1,000.

▰ vertiginous
existential
condensation
verklempt
wherewithal

^ Words patiently awaiting their emoji

▰ Out loud I say, “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.”

In my head I say, “The Falcon and no, not the Snowman, yeah the Winter Soldier — hope no one caught that pause.”

▰ One of these has arrived (barter for a writing project) and I am stoked.

▰ And on that note, have a great weekend.

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A Certain Type of Ambient YouTube Performance

Also: I have a hard time listening to music I have a hard time listening to.

A bit more about how that YouTube playlist I’ve been doing of fine live ambient music performances originated:

It started with me trying to watch tutorials of music tech I was interested in, and the music in such tutorial videos being often not to my liking. I have a hard time listening to music I have a hard time listening to. Time and again, I’d see someone in concert use a piece of equipment, or discuss it in a BBS, and then I’d want to learn more. And then I’d find I’d need to listen through unbearable music in the tutorial to try to get to the technique, to the technology, to the instrument.

Over time, tutorial videos began to surface that I didn’t find hard to listen to. I also got better (somewhat) at dealing with the music in most tutorial videos. In the process, I came to notice a subset of performance videos that while not tutorials still shed light on process. Those videos all had something specific in common: while listening to this ambient music being performed, you got glimpses, and sometimes a full-frontal view, of the performance itself. Even with super quiet, near-static sound, the eye and ear correlated action and result. As of today, there are 203 videos in the playlist.


I remember during college watching a VHS tape of a King Crimson concert. Every time Robert Fripp, the band’s leader and guitarist, performed a solo, the video went psychedelic, obscuring the performance, the director clearly having no sense of what the audience was interested in. That stuck with me. These ambient videos are the opposite. In the videos I’ve focused my attention on, the image is more than decoration, more than a narrative or abstract decoration for (or complement to) the given track. Instead, the video was the music, was in sync with the music. This was valuable to me: informative and heartening (good combo).

By no means am I suggesting performance videos are a higher plane of music activity, for obvious reasons, among them:

  1. There’s a big audience for the music that many tutorials use. (I’m just not part of that audience.)

  2. Video needn’t document technique. (I’m just focused on the ones that do.)

  3. The studio is itself an instrument. (Live sets aren’t the be-all and end-all.)

The music I’m talking about, ambient music, tends to embrace and explore stasis. Watching video of stasis in action (yeah, stasis in action) is itself a form of exploration, providing a rough map to elusive territory, a loose timeline to something that aspires to timelessness.

Anyhow, it was a slow process, coming to this playlist — it originated with a disgruntled disinterest in one sort of cultural activity, which led to awareness of another sort. Even when I first started noting these live performance videos of ambient music, I didn’t fully sense the commonality.

I also admit it was also an act of encouragement, collating such a video playlist. If I made such a thing, maybe more people would make such videos.

The playlist is at youtube.com/disquiet.

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Disquiet Junto Project 0486: Earths Days

The Assignment: Celebrate Earth Day on or for another planet.

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 the end of the day Monday, April 26, 2021, at 11:59pm (that is, just before midnight) wherever you are. It was posted on Thursday, April 22, 2021.

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

Disquiet Junto Project 0486: Earths Days
The Assignment: Celebrate Earth Day on or for another planet.

Step 1: Each Disquiet Junto project begins on a Thursday. This Thursday happens to be Earth Day. Reflect on the concept of Earth Day, and how it might map beyond our big blue marble.

Step 2: Record a piece of music or sound celebrating Earth Day for or as if on another planet.

Seven More Important Steps When Your Track Is Done:

Step 1: Include “disquiet0486” (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 “disquiet0486” (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 llllllll.co:

https://llllllll.co/t/disquiet-junto-project-0486-earths-days/

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 the end of the day Monday, April 26, 2021, at 11:59pm (that is, just before midnight) wherever you are. It was posted on Thursday, April 22, 2021.

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

Title/Tag: When posting your tracks, please include “disquiet0486” 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 486th weekly Disquiet Junto project — Earths Days (The Assignment: The Assignment: Celebrate Earth Day on or for another planet) — at: https://disquiet.com/0486/

More on the Disquiet Junto at: https://disquiet.com/junto/

Subscribe to project announcements here: https://tinyletter.com/disquiet-junto/

Project discussion takes place on llllllll.co: https://llllllll.co/t/disquiet-junto-project-0486-earths-days/

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

Image associated with this project is in the public domain courtesy of NASA. Image credit: Zolt Levay Photography: http://hubblesite.org/contents/media/images/2021/001/01EWXK6QFEF57A7W1RV6TC6ZZB

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