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.

How Junto Prompts Originate

In advance of the 500th project

A key thing about the Disquiet Junto prompts is that just about any participant can do them at any point, and do so alone. A new project is posted every Thursday, and the deadline is the following Monday at 11:59pm, whatever local time zone you’re in. By definition, I don’t want someone logging on at midnight on a Sunday and realizing there were steps that required more time than they have left before the deadline. So, every project has to be a standalone and doable in a pretty short amount of time, though of course people can spend more time if they choose to.

The majority of projects are reverse-engineered from observations I have had. I might see a story in the science pages about some matter of physics, or a line in a novel where sound plays a role in the story, or a descriptive passage in a review of a record, and then I will wonder, “How can I flip that around so it’s a description in advance, rather than after the fact?” Ethan Hein, a longtime participant who has written at length about the Junto himself, put it particularly well. He said in effect that I write record reviews of music that doesn’t exist yet, and then internet strangers make it real. I couldn’t improve on that.

Also, a lot of the projects come from collaborations with members of the Junto, and artists, writers, and other creative individuals.

Hard to say what makes a good one. Participation varies widely by week, from the low teens to the low seventies, in terms of number of musicians. Some of the least active projects have resulted in some of my favorite music, so it’s not really about quantity. I will say that a given project is good enough for a given week not only because it stands on its own but because it makes sense in a broader context, which is to say how it relates to other projects we’ve done recently, and that we’ll do in the near future. I feel a bit like a DJ that way. The Junto is an ongoing flow of projects, and where a project is situated in that flow is as meaningful as what the project consists of.

The above originated as my answer to a pair of questions (“How do you come up with the prompts for the pieces? What makes for a good one?”) posed to me by Colin Joyce for an article he wrote for the online publication I Heard It In A Magazine (hii-mag.com).

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

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    • 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 (aaassembly.org) at Gray Area (grayarea.org).
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    • 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.)

  • 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.

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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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