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. • 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.

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A mesostic

Nearly Midnight
      nO passing cars
      nO sidewalk chatter 
   sileNt movie
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Colin Joyce on the Junto at

Along with Sarah Geis' Audio Playground

Major thanks to Colin Joyce, who wrote an article for about music communities that are built around shared composition prompts. The piece is titled “Prescriptive Art Practice in Sound,” and it features two primary examples. One is Audio Playground (, a project run monthly since last year by Sarah Geis, former artistic director of the excellent Third Coast International Audio Festival. The other is the Disquiet Junto. Joyce approaches the topic through the lens of the classic Oblique Strategies cards of Brian Eno and his late collaborator, the artist Peter Schmidt.

Here’s an excerpt:

Part of the long-running success of the project seems to come from the attention and care that Weidenbaum has applied to the prompts themselves. There are never too many in a row with the same style or bent. Some are more conceptual, like #392 “Compose the national anthem for a fictional country,” while others are more practical, like #336 “Share a piece of music you’re working on in the interest of getting feedback.” Changing up the approach no doubt helps the musicians stay engaged, but it also allows everyone involved to flex different creative muscles, to push themselves in different ways, to always be trying something new. But for Weidenbaum, what’s most important is that people are spurred to action. Whether a prompt deeply resonates with a person or not, the hope is that work gets made in response.

“I think inspiration is overrated,” he says. “I think work is what is important. You can only make music if you make music. You can only paint if you paint. You can only write if you write. In general, you won’t get better at it, or at anything else, unless you do it. And so you do it. I think being inspired really happens in the midst of work, not before the work.”

Weidenbaum’s years of shepherding the project have resulted in a robust and engaged community. The group stays in touch through a Slack channel and a message board, encouraging one another and explaining the processes behind their pieces. It’s heartwarming in a way that feels rare in the currently decentralized state of the internet. So often making music and art can be an isolated process, especially for people who work in forms that might be deemed experimental, but projects like this allow people to connect. They’re able to push themselves but also to get in touch with others who are interested in doing the same. “The single best part of it is the people,” Weidenbaum explains. “I have become aware of so many creative individuals, and had remarkable conversations with so many of them.”

Read (or listen to)the full piece at

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Orchestra Room

An ongoing series cross-posted from

Exterior entrance

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A mesostic

The worst pArt is less
 the sheer Number
           Than how 
      very Silently they gather
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The Comics of Noise Pollution, Circa 1930

Rereading Emily Thompson

I’ve been rereading Emily Thompson’s The Soundscape of Modernity for the first time since it was published, nearly 20 years ago, back in 2002. Each page is a trove of historical detail, such as the above 1930 Robert Day editorial cartoon. The next year The New Yorker would start publishing Day, and it would do so through 1976.

For all the advancement of our comprehension culturally of sound, it’s not like the early 1900s were the stone age. As Thompson tells us, the New York Times noted in 1926 that volume wasn’t the issue; “the nature of the [specific] sounds were.” That’s a distinction many today, in our over-quantified era, still find to be a revelation. Around that same time, for example, it was shown that “horse-drawn traffic was actually louder than automobiles or trucks,” even though modern vehicles were generally the source of citizen complaints (per Edward Elway Free, using a “Western Electric audiometer”).

At the turn of the century, back in 1905, Julia Barnett Rice “counted almost 3,000 whistles [of tugboats] in just one night,” leading two years later to the Bennett Act. Of course, once noise laws were set, matters of race and class came into play as to what was and wasn’t criminal. Thompson lays this all out in her excellent book.

Here’s another editorial cartoon reproduced in The Soundscape of Modernity. It’s from the same year, 1930:

The New Yorker published the piece by Otto Soglow: waterway gondolas replacing elevated trains, a louder firework to punish someone setting off a firework, a jack-in-the-box replacing a car horn. I immediately got the silent newspaper hawkers in the Soglow. Unclear to me was the garbage truck joke, which friends later helped me understand: gymnasts making quick, quiet work of the pails.

The silent picture joke still confuses me, all the more so because being the final panel, it serves as the punch line of a series of punch lines. This is the joke he chose to end on, and I understand it the least. Silent movies weren’t really silent. We just call them that. They had scores. Projectors were loud. They were often raucously attended. Perhaps the appearance in Soglow’s strip was a matter of instant nostalgia. Perhaps three years after The Jazz Singer, people were already regretting the talkie. Or perhaps the point is the lonely theater employee below the marquee: you could happily attend a silent movie in 1930 because the crowds were elsewhere.

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