My 33 1/3 book, on Aphex Twin's Selected Ambient Works Volume II, was the 5th bestselling book in the series in 2014. It's available at Amazon (including Kindle) and via your local bookstore. • F.A.Q.Key Tags: #saw2for33third, #sound-art, #classical, #juntoElsewhere: Twitter, SoundCloud, Instagram

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Disquiet Junto Project 0311: Ceramic Notation

Read a work of ceramics as a score in graphic notation.

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 11:59pm (that is, just before midnight) wherever you are on Monday, December 18, 2017. This project was posted in the morning, California time, on Thursday, December 14, 2017.

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 0311: Ceramic Notation
Read a work of ceramics as a score in graphic notation.

Major thanks to Grant Wilkinson for instigating this week’s project.

Step 1: This week’s Junto project is our first graphic score in a while. The idea of a graphic score in this case is to read an image as piece of musical notation. Here, the graphic score is a photo of a sculpture, the sculpture a ceramic wall installation by Steven Geddes, who is based in London.

Step 2: To begin with, look at this photo of a piece by Geddes that is titled Notations:

https://www.instagram.com/p/BcfUGjvhemn/

Step 3: Study the image for its musical potential. Imagine the image — not merely the sculpture, but the photo of the ceramics — is intended as musical score. Ask yourself, What does it sound like?

Step 4: Compose a piece of music that is a musical interpretation of this score.

Five More Important Steps When Your Track Is Done:

Step 1: If your hosting platform allows for tags, be sure to include the project tag “disquiet0311” (no spaces) in the name of your track. If you’re posting on SoundCloud in particular, this is essential to my locating the tracks and creating a playlist of them.

Step 2: Upload your track. It is helpful but not essential that you use SoundCloud to host your track.

Step 3: Please consider posting your track in the following discussion thread at llllllll.co:

https://llllllll.co/t/disquiet-junto-project-0311-ceramic-notation/

Step 4: Annotate your track with a brief explanation of your approach and process.

Step 5: Then listen to and comment on tracks uploaded by your fellow Disquiet Junto participants.

Deadline: This project’s deadline is 11:59pm (that is, just before midnight) wherever you are on Monday, December 18, 2017. This project was posted in the morning, California time, on Thursday, December 14, 2017.

Length: As long as you see fit. Three minutes feels about right.

Title/Tag: When posting your track, please include “disquiet0311” 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: It is preferable that your track is set as downloadable, and that it allows for attributed remixing (i.e., a Creative Commons license permitting non-commercial sharing with attribution).

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

More on this 311th weekly Disquiet Junto project (Ceramic Notation: Read a work of ceramics as a score in graphic notation) at:

https://disquiet.com/0311/

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-0311-ceramic-notation/

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

Image associated with this project is a photo of ceramic work by Steven Geddes, used with his permission. Image originally posted at

https://www.instagram.com/p/BcfUGjvhemn/

More from Geddes, who is based in London, at

http://stevengeddes-ceramics.co.uk/

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Unsilent Night 2017

You owe it to yourself to try this wherever you happen to live.

Made it to Unsilent Night this past weekend. I love attending. If you haven’t ever, I do recommend looking at the schedule and seeing if it’s happening in your town: unsilentnight.com. I see it’s in Austin on December 17th, Manhattan on the 17th as well, Montréal on the 19th, and Colorado Springs on the 16th. If you’re not familiar, the short version is that 20-plus years ago the composer Phil Kline wrote and recorded four piece of ambient music, collectively titled Unsilent Night, that are meant to be played simultaneously. He then distributed these recordings individually to people, who put them on boomboxes and walked around lower Manhattan in a kind of secular carol for the holidays. Since then it’s been repeated every year in Manhattan, and spread to many other places, about 116 different cities according to the website.

We went last night, using a mix of an iPhone, an Android phone connected to an old Jambox, and an an archaic iPad Mini. They were running the free app, and I was streaming from SoundCloud. You can also download the tracks, and whenever I’ve participated, there have been tape cassettes and CDs available for free use, provided by whoever had organized it that year.

At some point after everyone gathers at the meet-up location, the organizer does a countdown and we all hit play at (roughly) the same moment. The beauty of the sound of Unsilent Night is how those four tracks, in random combinations of emphasis, mix — with variations on them playing slightly out of sync on a wide variety of playback mechanisms, and how the sound bounces off walls in narrow spaces and diffuses in wider, more open spaces — and of course, there’s the sound itself, as it’s a lovely, sedate, holiday-vibe composition, filled with soft bells, and muffled singing, and minimalist percussion.

The path we take in the Mission District hasn’t changed much over the years. We start in Dolores Park, on an edge of the Mission District, where it becomes the Castro District. We then walk through the Mission, sticking mostly to less-populated streets and wider alleys, but not infrequently passing storefronts. There were a lot of people participating this weekend, perhaps 150, maybe more. I was surprised I only recognized one person, a local composer, and otherwise everyone was an unfamiliar face, except that is a few I recognized solely from past Unsilent Night events, like this one guy who has a beautiful old Gramophone-style speaker atop a very tall stick, with an lovely attached wooden box, inside of which I imagine is a phone or an iPod or something.

This year the event started at 5pm, which was great. I seem to recall it started much later in the past. It was nice to see faces, and to experience the transition from daylight to significant darkness as we proceeded. The main change I recall in the walk from previous routes is that this time we headed back directly from the Mission (that is the actual Mission, at the corner of Dolores Street and 18th Street) to the spot near the tennis courts in Dolores Park where we began, rather than re-entering the park further away, up a hill, and coming back down that way. The full composition is 45 minutes long, and we walked almost the full 45 minutes, lingering for the last few minutes in the park as the music came to its subdued close.

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Disquiet Junto Project 0310: From Memory

Recall — and then recreate — a favorite sound.

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 11:59pm (that is, just before midnight) wherever you are on Monday, December 11, 2017. This project was posted in the early evening, California time, on Thursday, December 7, 2017.

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 0310: From Memory
Recall — and then recreate — a favorite sound.

Step 1: Think of a favorite sound, preferably one that you can no longer access, something perhaps from your now distant past.

Step 2: Try to recreate that sound. Even if you fail to do so to your own satisfaction, share the best you can accomplish.

Five More Important Steps When Your Track Is Done:

Step 1: If your hosting platform allows for tags, be sure to include the project tag “disquiet0310” (no spaces) in the name of your track. If you’re posting on SoundCloud in particular, this is essential to my locating the tracks and creating a playlist of them.

Step 2: Upload your track. It is helpful but not essential that you use SoundCloud to host your track.

Step 3: In the following discussion thread at llllllll.co please consider posting your track:

https://llllllll.co/t/disquiet-junto-project-0310-from-memory/

Step 4: Annotate your track with a brief explanation of your approach and process.

Step 5: Then listen to and comment on tracks uploaded by your fellow Disquiet Junto participants.

Deadline: This project’s deadline is 11:59pm (that is, just before midnight) wherever you are on Monday, December 11, 2017. This project was posted in the early evening, California time, on Thursday, December 7, 2017.

Length: As long as you see fit — it could be a few seconds, or it could be a few minutes.

Title/Tag: When posting your track, please include “disquiet0310” 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: It is preferable that your track is set as downloadable, and that it allows for attributed remixing (i.e., a Creative Commons license permitting non-commercial sharing with attribution).

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

More on this 310th weekly Disquiet Junto project (From Memory: Recall — and then recreate — a favorite sound) at:

https://disquiet.com/0310/

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-0310-from-memory/

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

Image associated with this project is by Jitze Couperus and is shared via Flickr thanks to a Creative Commons license:

flic.kr/p/5KeLV6

creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

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“Four Strings Patch”

A little after-hours experiment

A little after-hours experiment, running my electric guitar through my modular synthesizer. There is small looper picking up elements of what’s being played live on the guitar and then replaying them, warping the tune a bit as it goes. The percussion is simply a side effect of all the signals being sent to the looper. There’s also some high end and low end being cut off, thanks to a filter bank, and somewhere in the middle of the audio spectrum a slow triangle wave is manipulating a narrow frequency band.

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Live Textural Ambient Synthesizer Performance

From Monorail, aka Rijnder Kamerbeek of Berlin

Monorail, the solo musician not the retro-futuristic vision of transportation utopia, has a running series of live synthesizer jams on his YouTube channel. The styles and tools vary from jam to jam, though there is usually a modular synth at the core. Some might argue that the contemporary rise of the modular synth is itself a form of retro-futurism. If you scroll through his video archive you can chart, in the thumbnail images, the steady progression of his studio:

Sometimes a fellow musician, like a drummer, joins in, but generally speaking these are solo outings. The most recent, as of this writing, is jam number 114, a textural ambient piece, starting off with piercing tones and found snatches of dialog, and then proceeding into something denser and more amorphous, with segments of smashed white noise and soft, low-lying drones. Admirably, the video has the full synthesizer in clear view, so you can patch along at home following his example if you elect to. Occasionally Monorail’s arm enters the picture to adjust an oscillator or tweak some other setting, though for much of the piece the music is left to its own looping, slowly evolving devices. Present in the video is a little Lego figure of a Star Wars stormtrooper who appears — like Where’s Waldo from a galaxy far, far away — in many if not all of Monorail’s recorded jams.

This is the latest video I’ve added to my YouTube playlist of recommended live performances of ambient music. Video originally posted at Monorail’s YouTube channel. Monorail is Rijnder Kamerbeek, based in Berlin, Germany.

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