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.

tag: audio-games

“Alternative Musical Interfaces”: Disquiet @ GAFFTA (San Francisco, September 19)

Panel discussion at the new media hub

On Wednesday, September 19, there’s a panel discussion in San Francisco at the Grey Area Foundation for the Arts on “Alternative Musical Interfaces,” and I’ll be serving as moderator.

The panelists include the highly talented trio of Michael ZbyszyÅ„ski (mikezed.com), Peter Nyboer (see his bayimproviser.com entry), and Spencer Salazar (see his ccrma.stanford.edu page) — more on whom at gaffta.org.

It’s all under the auspices of GAFFTA’s Sound Research Group. GAFFTA is located at 923 Market St, Suite 200, which is between 5th and 6th Streets. The event runs from 7:00pm until 8:30. Tickets are $20, but GAFFTA has a solid “no one turned away for lack of funds” policy.

I’m excited to be headed back to GAFFTA. I last took part in a discussion there in August 2011, when I presented some thoughts on “Sound as Commentary.”

Update (2012.07.25): The following description of the event has been added to the GAFFTA page at gaffta.org:

We’ve seen many shifts in ways to control sound over the millenia; everything from animal skins and bones to hacked Game Boys and everywhere in between. We find ourselves positioned at an interesting point in time for how we manipulate sound in a post-instrument world. The topic of alternative musical interfaces has been discussed by those attempting to redefine how we’ve shaped sound since the tribal era, but the discourse seems to be thriving. We’ve brought together three specialists (see below) who have dedicated large portions of their lives to the noble task of constructing new musical interfaces and pushing musicians to interact with their instruments in new and different fashions. The object of this evening is to gather together those interested in redefining our physical relationship to sounds and music. If you are interested in audio we recommend that you come join in the discussion with us.
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The Disquiet Junto Project List (0001 – 0544 …)

Association for communal music/sound-making, since January 2012. [Updated: June 8, 2022]

The Disquiet Junto is a group I founded on Soundcloud.com. The purpose of the group is to use constraints to stoke creativity. Each Thursday evening I post a clearly defined compositional assignment, and members of the Junto are to complete the assignment by 11:59pm the following Monday. The initial Junto assignment was made on January 5, 2012, the first Thursday of the new year.

The inspirations for the group’s existence are numerous. There are the weekly Beat Battles sponsored by Stonesthrow, and also hosted at Soundcloud.com, in which dozens if not hundreds of participants craft instrumental hip-hop beats from a shared sample. There is the tradition of Oulipo, whose embrace of creative constraints is personified by one of its co-founders, the author Raymond Queneau. Several comics artists with whom I have worked, including Matt Madden, have bonded under the banner of Oubapo, and there is, in fact, a related musical tradition, which goes by Oumupo. (I was reminded that the Iron Chef of Music projects at kracfive.com were also an influence on my thinking. They were for many years a big part of the Downstream department here.)

The word “junto” comes from the name of a society that Benjamin Franklin formed in Philadelphia during the early 1700s as “a structured forum of mutual improvement.” In Franklin’s honor, the third Disquiet Junto project explored the glass harp, an instrument he experimented with in the development of what he christened the armonica.

The idea for the Junto arose after the completion of a Disquiet project at the end of December 2011. That project, Instagr/am/bient, was more loosely curated than other such projects I had commissioned, beginning in 2006 with Our Lives in the Bush of Diquiet. Instagr/am/bient proved quite popular, with over 20,000 listens and almost 4,000 downloads in its first month, and this success suggested to me that I experiment with an even looser format — the irony being that this “looser” format is, in fact, dedicated to constraint. Much to my surprise, the very first Junto project resulted, in four days, in 56 original pieces of music by as many musicians. The assignment was to record the sound of ice cubes in a glass and to make something musical of that recording.

If for the musicians involved, the Disquiet Junto is an experiment in creative constraints, for me it is as much an experiment in what I would describe as “community organizing as a form of curation.”

Visit the group — and, better yet, sign up and participate — at soundcloud.com/groups/disquiet-junto. There’s also an email announcement list for the group. If you would like to be added to the subscription list, you can join up here: tinyletter.com/disquiet-junto. And there’s an F.A.Q.

This page serves as an index of the assignments. They are listed here in chronological order:

These are the weekly projects to date:

0001: ice cubes

0002: duet for foghorn and steam whistle

0003: expanded glass harp

0004: remixing Marcus Fischer

0005: adding sounds to everyday life

0006: remixing archival Edison cylinders

0007: create through subtraction

0008: rework Benjamin Franklin’s autobiography

0009: cross-species collaboration

0010: remix a previous Junto track

0011: everyday mechanical rhythms

0012: cut and paste

0013: remixing wild Up playing Shostakovich

0014: sonic version of Matt Madden’s Oubapo story

0015: aural RGB

0016: sandpaper and dice

0017: transition between field and composed

0018: relative prominence

0019: graphic score (photo by Yojiro Imasaka)

0020: use the NodeBeat app

0021: the four seasons

0022: sonic decay

0023: palindrone

0024: a suite of sonic alerts

0025: remixing project 24

0026: making music from your trash

0027: turm the instruction text into sound

0028: remix a netlabel release

0029: music from water, inspired by William Gibson’s Count Zero

0030: sounds from silence

0031: Revisiting a 1955 Yoko Ono Fluxus piece

0032: sonify the 2012 U.S. presidential election polling data

0033: making music with a turntable but without vinyl

0034: Use the theme song of the Radius broadcast as the source of an original composition

0035: Make music from a sample page of Beck’s Song Reader sheet music

0036: Reworking Bach into abstract expressionism

0037: The sound of commerce

0038: Make a fake field recording

0039: Combine three tracks from the Nowaki netlabel into one

0040: Turn a Kenneth Kirschner duet into a trio

0041: Dirty minimalism

0042: Record a “naive melody” with your oldest and newest instruments

0043: Make mechanical roars from the sound of a retail space

0044: Transition from storm to calm using field recordings from Sandy 2012

0045: Combine material from the public domain adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Tom Sawyer

0046: Investigate a recording of the voting process for its “sonic fingerprint.”

0047: Turn the muffled voices of a distant party into the foundation of a recording.

0048: Celebrate the Creative Commons license that allows for derivative works by remixing music from the Three Legs Duck netlabel.

0049: Make a track, 50% of which is the sound of a tape cassette deck in motion.

0050: Encode a word or phrase in Morse Code and employ that as a track’s rhythm.

0051: Create a 2012 audio diary with a dozen five-second segments.

0052: Celebrate the Creative Commons by remixing three tracks from the Bump Foot netlabel.

0053: Record the sound of ice in a glass and make something of it (redux).

0054: Create an original musical score for the day’s news.

0055: Combine two Nils Frahm solo piano pieces into one.

0056: Make music from the sound of the tick of a clock.

0057: Use sounds from the Phonetics Lab Archive at UCLA to depict emotions.

0058: Celebrate the Creative Commons by remixing three tracks from the Endless Ascent netlabel.

0059: Make music from three randomly assigned vowels.

0060: Record something about yourself and your music/sound in your own words and voice.

0061: Record a single for which the cover would be the image suggested by a @textinstagram tweet.

0062: Make music using just three sine waves.

0063: Make a new piece of music based on an echo-laden re-recording of Gregorian chant.

0064: Compose a piece to align with, from memory, 60 seconds of everyday sound.

0065: Compose music atop a randomly assigned segment of a pre-existing track by Jared Brickman.

0066: Collaborate posthumously with the late Jeffrey (Nofi) Melton.

0067: Compose music for a phrase from Homer’s The Odyssey

0068: Combine three songs from the first release of the new deriv.cc netlabel.

0069: Make music from field recordings of earth, water, air, and fire.

0070: Create a single piece of music from two tones and three beats.

0071: Create an original score to the trailer to Christine Knowlton’s film about blind sailors.

0072: Make a domestic score from sounds recorded in your own home.

0073: Read a map of the San Andreas Fault as if it were a graphic notation score

0074: Turn applause into music.

0075: Make a 3-part, 18-second suite with the Vine app.

0076: Use the sounds of the room in which you sleep as source audio for a score to you describing your dream.

0077: Combine music from three different netlabels to create one track.

0078: Create music by removing sound from a century-old Edison Symphony Orchestra recording.

0079: Remix music from the movie Manos: The Hands of Fate (1966) to make a downtempo instrumental.

0080: Make music with a metronome.

0081: Create generative music with four loops of differing lengths

0082: Create a minimal techno track using elements of a Haydn string quartet.

0083: Treat a page from recently declassified documents related to NSA collection of telephone metadata records as a graphically notated score.

0084: Connect two distinct field recordings via a transition between isolated elements.

0085: Make a song with three simple parts (oscillator, drum machine, field recording).

0086: Your next single is titled “Hyperloop.” Now record it.

0087: Make five varied doorbell rings.

0088: Make a track simulating 3D sound.

0089: Use the sounds of interstellar space to make “goodbye music” for the Voyager 1 space probe.

0090: Explore the sound of a radio caught between stations.

0091: Explore the musical qualities of footsteps.

0092: Use room tone to shape a three-part suite.

0093: Combine music from three different netlabels to create one track.

0094: Record an unlikely vocal trio with the sound of a bird, a kitten, and a pig.

0095: Musicians post recent tracks with the express purpose of getting constructive feedback.

0096: Pay tribute to the late Lou Reed’s noise classic.

0097: Decode the music in a phrase from a book.

0098: Combine original three spoken texts into one track.

0099: Compose an 8-bit melody based on the “E G D” startup sound of the Xbox One.

0100: Record the sound of water boiling and make something of it.

101: Make a phase composition based on the sounds of three switches.

0102: Record original secular holiday music: glistening, reflective, gentle.

0103: Make a song based on last week’s “sonic tinsel” project.

0104: Create a 2013 audio diary with a dozen five-second segments.

0105: Record the sound of ice in a glass and make something of it (re-redux)

0106: Treat the weather chart as a graphically notated score.

0107: Use a wind chime as the rhythmic foundation for a track.

0108: Create a soundscape for the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra.

0109: Insert musical objects into an urban soundscape.

0110: Celebrate the 100th birthday of that old cut-up, William S. Burroughs.

0111: Rework work from Impulsive Habitat, Xylem, Zeromoon (via actsofsilence.com).

0112: Turn your week’s dayplanner into music.

0113: Record a piece of music that slowly improves, in tribute to the late Harold Ramis’ film Groundhog Day.

0114: Combine elements of Dave Seidel’s album ~60 Hz (Irritable Hedgehog).

0115: Record a duet with yourself, divided by a wall.

0116:Record a score for daily dental hygiene.

0117: Compose an original piece of music in response to a haiku.

0118: What is the room tone of the Internet?

0119: Write music to accompany the typing of a work of fiction.

0120: Write a song based on the heartbeat of Marcel Duchamp.

0121: Two projects of varying complexity inspired by Edward Frenkel’s book Love and Math.

0122: Create music for a fake movie whose plot is “Poltergeist meets Wreck-It Ralph.”

0123: Help Gizmodo create the soundscape of the home of the future.

0124: Recombinate work from the netlabels addSensor, As4cords, and Audiotalaia.

0125: On the centennial of the great W.C. Handy song “The Yellow Dog Blues,” participate in a Studio 360 listener challenge.

0126: Change the meter of a 1918 jazz recording by the Louisiana Five.

0127: Record the sound of your library — and then maybe make something of it.

0128: Write a score to accompany a short piece of text you wrote a year ago today.

0129: Create tones to match five of the new emoji.

0130: Create a composition by altering an ongoing loop

0131: Create a composition that naturally extends from the whistle of a tea kettle.

0132: Collaborate with the late Jeffrey (Nofi) Melton using a previous tribute track.

0133: Compose an especially short and concise composition.

0134: Compose music to accompany one minute of a dance video by Cori Marquis.

0135: Record the sonic equivalent of air conditioning.

0136: Recombinate work from the netlabels Nowaki, Phantom Channel, and Rec72.

0137: Produce an original piece of music that fits the genre “old-time electronica.”

0138: Compose a 2.5-minute soundtrack to complement a work of silent video art.

0139: Create and upload a track that exemplifies one key creative process you’ve developed.

0140: Take a recent track of your own and “cover” it with different equipment.

0141: Interpret a New Yorker cover as a graphically notated score.

0142: Make music from the near silence of phone calls.

0143: Play a live duet with the world outside your window.

0144: Remove parts from an unfinished composition to create a finished composition.

0145: Make a short piece of music inspired by a provided verse.

0146: Make a short piece of music based on a typographic symbol for the word “silence.”

0147: Record 8 seconds of white noise in your own personal style.

0148: Make music inspired by and suitable for listening to while reading William Gibson’s novel The Peripheral.

0149: Take a walk around the block and make something from it.

0150: Record a subtle personal mobile score.

0151: Score a segment of George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead using the movie’s audio as source material.

0152: Record your own cover version of the “song” sung/emitted by the comet Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

0153: Record a short sound intended to be set on repeat.

0154: Create a track from two locked grooves

0155: Take a track and its remix and meld them into something new.

0156: Create a sonic diary of the past year with a dozen five-second segments.

0157: Record the sound of ice in a glass and make something of it.

0158: Go from noise to signal with words.

0159: See what music the steps of a favorite recipe yield. 0160: Make a one-minute field recording starting right at midnight (wherever you are). 0161: Create a new track from three tracks from three different netlabels.

0162: Use Paul Lamere’s “Girl Talk in a Box” to gain a new perspective on your own music.

0163: Create a new late-night ambience with sounds from a handful of pre-existing field recordings.

0164: Create music that emerges from the sound of fireworks.

0165: Create a composition that explores the sonic resonance of Harry Bertoia’s iconic side chair.

0166: Take a pre-existing track, slow it in descending states, and then add something to it.

0167: Marking the 3rd anniversary of Bassel Khartabil’s incarceration, turn the silence of a room into something soothing.

0168: Create an original, multi-part piece with a single audio source.

0169: Make a track using only an HTML5 drum machine.

0170: Create a one-minute track that takes the project title as its guiding aesthetic.

0171: Rework a pre-existing field recording in response to an Oblique Strategies card.

0172: Do something analog, then do the same thing digitally, and then combine them.

0173: Do an “over” rather than a “cover” of a pre-existing track.

0174: Play something on your favorite instrument — wearing gloves.

0175: Record the composition on top of the rough draft.

0176: Create a composition on top of a rough idea first recorded on your cellphone.

0177: Netlabel Portrait Use samples of recent Dark Winter Records releases to produce a sonic image of the label:

0178: Emphasize the bells in an urban field recording.

0179: Show off (and explain) one thing you’ve learned recently about an instrument/tool.

0180: Use the Russian nesting dolls as a model for a musical composition.

0181: Imagine your favorite instrument is dreaming while it sleeps — what does it sound like?

0182: Do a rendition of Ethan Hein’s laptop orchestra score by yourself.

0183: Insert something that plays across the stereo spectrum in an after-dark field recording. 0184: Explore the relationship between segments that consist of 1 bar, 8 bars, and 4 bars. 0185: Summon up a memory, and then summarize it in sound.

0186: Explore the sonic contours of a word you’ve spelled out loud frequently: your name.

0187: Shift between three renditions of the same melody.

0188: Take a provided track and make it more complex.

0189: Create a dense stack of attack-free tonal material from one audio source.

0190: Set two out-of-sync loops atop each other, and then add sonic glue.

0191: One chord to rule them all — on several instruments.

0192: Record a 10-second loop to accompany an insane cat GIF.

0193: Record a short composition for two instruments that occasionally intersect.

0194: Record the sound of a clock and make something playful and sweet out of it.

0195: Make music for a Caochangdi Village National Day party.

0196: Sight-read the whiteboard notation from a children’s music class.

0197: Sight-read newly uncovered choral music from the 10th century.

0198: Create an overture for a full-length album.

0199: Make a field recording of a field recording in a spaceship.

0200: Create a score to a Richard Kadrey short story — using his own voice as source audio.

0201: Encapsulate an album for efficient yet meaningful consumption.

0202: Create an audiobook chapter from the new essay collection The Cost of Freedom.

0203: Add something to a rhythm track titled “It.”

0204: Add a foundational rhythm to an ambient foreground

0205: Interpret boxed-up music-education materials as a graphic-notation score.

0206: Compose a track with a trio of through-lines that repeatedly alternate relative prominence.

0207: Rework source audio from Michel Banabila’s 1983 album, Marilli.

0208: Record a composition in place using only the sounds around you.

0209: Create a sonic diary of the past year with a dozen five-second segments.

0210: Record the sound of ice in a glass and make something of it.

0211: Shift between the midnight sounds both within and beyond a physical structure, preferably your home.

0212: Make music intended to attract male mosquitoes.

0213: Combine three field recordings from artist Charles Lindsay to explore and express notions of perceived techno-organic intelligence.

0214: Bring to the fore the distinction between two specific microtones.

0215: Make a short track with just pin-prick audio.

0216: Add a thin foundational bed to beats of pin-prick audio.

0217: Take an existing assemblage of rhythm and tone and turn it into verse/chorus/verse.

0218: Following the path of artist Kate Carr, explore sounds from a distance.

0219: Working with artist Paolo Salvagione, create the audio backdrop for a piece of choreography utilizing only the sound of soft breaths.

0220: Make overtly rhythmic music from short loops of overtly arrhythmic source audio, following instructions from Dennis DeSantis.

0221: Compose something — quiet, peaceful, refreshing — you’d want to wake up to.

0222: Compose a piece for contemporary dance — with a “soft top” and a “shifting bottom.”

0223: Record multiple, slightly varying takes on the same looped composition in this project by Monome’s Brian Crabtree.

0224: Make music with the sound of a refrigerator as its foundation.

0225 / Serial Composition: Sight read a late-1940s painting by Argentine artist Lidy Prati as a graphically notated score.

0226 / Bucky Ball: Compose music for a fictional greatest-hits collection of the electronic music of R. Buckminster Fuller.

0227 / Treated Chord: Record a piece of music in which what changes is the treatment of the notes that comprise a single chord.

0228 / Three Mics: Make a piece of music with one sound source recorded three different ways.

0229 / Fourth Worldizing: Use a favorite trick of legendary sound designer Walter Murch.

0230 / Design I: Interpret a graphic score (never before performed or realized) from the mid-1970s

0231 / Field Complement: Compose a piece to align with, from memory, 60 seconds of everyday sound.

0232 / No Input / The Assignment: Record a piece of music exploring the concept of “no-input mixing.”

0233 / Netlabel (NND Remix) / The Assignment: Make one track from three different netlabels, courtesy of a Creative Commons license.

0234 / Remix Ximer / The Assignment: Make a remix of three tracks of a remix of three tracks, courtesy of a Creative Commons license.

0235 / Dice Music / The Assignment: Create a piece of music based on a structure determined by the roll of a single die.

0236 / Hello Jun(t)o / The Assignment: Say hi to the Juno Spacecraft by embedding Morse code in an original composition.

0237 / Combination ABCs / The Assignment: Build a 90-second composition from three 10-second segments.

0238 / Magnifying Contant / The Assignment: Record a piece of music, emphasizing the sounds of production over the music itself.

0239 / Code Requiem / The Assignment: Compose a short composition in memoriam for a piece of recently deceased software.

0240 / Emerging from a Drone / The Assignment: Compose a piece of music in which a drone slowly, imperceptibly, gives way to something rhythmic and/or melodic.

0241 / Foreground Effect / The Assignment: Compose a piece of music in which the material processed is secondary to the processing.

0242 / Share Yer Knowledge / The Assignment: Make (and annotate) a track that provides an example of a trick/skill/tip you want to share about a piece of musical software or hardware.

0243 / Synth Trial / The Assignment: Share the best track from your audition tape for Blade Runner 2.

0244 / Euro Mixin / The Assignment: Combine tracks from three different European netlabels (Portugal, Spain, Switzerland) into one sonic union.

0245 / Practical Music / Write a piece of music for getting things done, suitable for playing on repeat.

0246 / Double, Quadruple, Sextuple / Compose a piece of music that increases speed in stages as it proceeds.

0247 / Waltz, Maybe / Interpret as a graphic score an illustration drawn upon waking by Lark Pien.

0248 / Galactic Tick / Celebrate the new celestial holiday in music.

0249 / 80 Phases / Wish the minimalist composer Steve Reich a happy birthday.

0250 / Soothing Sounds for Junto / Make some peaceful music for an infant child.

0251 / Soothing Sounds for Parents / Remix some music for infants with parents in mind.

0252 / Sonic Palindrome / Make music that sounds the same backwards and forwards.

0253 / Doorbell Rehab / Record some welcome music.

0254 / Fog and Steam / Make music from two provided samples.

0255 / Capone’s Ghost / What does the banjo music of the fabled criminal sound like?

0256 / Music in Place / Record a short piece of music using the sounds around you.

0257 / Remember Noisevember / Make some noise.

0258 / Sonic Climate / Express your local weather in sound.

0259 / Signals Lost / Summon up a horror story in sound.

0260 / Tone Fade / An exercise in when a sound ends.

0261 / Audio Journal 2016 / Create a sonic diary of the past year with a dozen five-second segments.

0262 / Ice Code / Record the sound of ice in a glass and make something of it.

0263 / Overture Edit / Produce an overture to an existing album.

0264 / Time Travel / Record a piece of music that plays with the perception of time.

0265 / Kitchen Music / Record a piece of music that uses items from just one drawer.

0266 / Vocal Cuts / Use segments of your own held vowel to make music.

0267 / The Metronomic Society / Create a theme song for a fictional organization.

0268 / Walking Music / Take a stroll and describe it in sound, paying tribute to the late manga great Jiro Taniguchi.

0269 / Duet Portion / Record half of a live duet.

0270 / Just Duet / Record the second half of a duet live.

0271 / Prison Sky / Mark the 5th anniversary of open-source software engineer Bassel Khartabil’s detention.

0272 / Exoplanetary Intervals / Use music to express the relationships between planets.

0273 / Alarm Clocked / Make music for a (new! improved!) slow-waking alarm clock.

0274 / Broken Sound / Record a piece of music in the genre called “broken sound.”

0275 / Revisit Something / Make a track all over again.

0276 / 808 Blockchain Beats / Make 808-style beats based on the blockchain.

0277 / Chew Concrète / Make music inspired by C. Reider’s Chew Cinders album procedures.

0278 / MacConnel’s Jingle / Interpret a work of contemporary art as a graphically notated score.

0279 / Word Interiorities / Dissect the sonic properties of a single spoken word.

0280 / 20170514 / Celebrate the 70th birthday of a Junto member.

0281 / Pattern Interruption / Create a pattern, loop it, and intersperse alterations.

0282 / Berio’s Bach / Make a piece of music based on one composer’s observation regarding another composer.

0283 / Rooms Within Rooms / Make an instrumental song built from the sounds of different room.

0284 / Creative Commonfield / Make ambient music from the sound of clay bowls.

0285 / Live Barcoding / Make rhythms from your packaged goods. 0286 / Found in Translation / Make three versions of something from different distances.

0287 / Digital Pause Tape / Make a track using only cut and paste.

0288 / Interspecies Duet / Make music from samples of two different animals.

0289 / Ancient Artifacts / Imagine a forgotten instrument and make music with it.

0290 / Text-to-Beat / Use computer-generated speech as the rhythmic foundation for a track.

0291 / Lantern Effect / Make music that suggests the way a paper lantern filters light.

0292 / Eclipse Music / In coordination with St. Louis Art Hack Day, make some solar-inspired tunes.

0293 / Emerge/Immerse / Make music for Paige Dansinger’s Palmyra 3D/VR images, paying tribute to the late Bassel Khartabil.

0294 / Offline Status / Pay tribute to the late Bassel Khartabil by turning his spoken words into music.

0295 / Disregard Echoes / Make music inspired by a haiku, reflecting on Australian history.

0296 / Clustered Primes / Make music inspired by a prime-number query initiated by novelist Robin Sloan.

0297 / Domestic Chorus / Make music from all the alarms, buzzers, and other alerts in your home.

0298 / Dungeons & Drum Machines / Make a track with two rolls of a 20-sided die.

0299 / 10bpm Waltz / Make super slow music in 3/4 time.

0300 / The 300th Project / 3 chords x 100 seconds

0301 / Parts > Sum / Artfully reduce an album to something less than itself.

0302 / Gronkytonk / Record a single in the genre introduced in Malka Older’s novel Infomacracy.

0303 / Out of Sequence / Pay tribute to the Roland 303 by doing something that is apart from how you think it was intended to be utilized

0304 / Let’s Buzz / Create a piece of music by thinking of the structure of a bee hive.

0305 / Three Princes / Explore chance by exploring the roots of the word “serendipity.”

0306 / Music in Motion / Record a piece of music while en route somewhere.

0307 / Black and White and Punk All Over / Pay tribute to the Sex Pistols on the 40th anniversary of Never Mind the Bollocks.

0308 / Giving Thanks / Write a short piece of music for a person or thing you’re thankful for.

0309 / Military Matrix Mixer / Mix music according to a military standard for relative message clarity.

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

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

0312 / Amplify/Magnify / Explore two ways in which sound is scaled.

0313 / Audio Journal 2017 / Create a sonic diary of the past year with a dozen five-second segments.

0314 / Cold Start / The Assignment: Record the sound of ice in a glass and make something of it.

0315 / First Chair / The Assignment: Record the first third of a trio.

0316 / El Segundo / The Assignment: Record the second third of a trio, adding to a pre-existing track.

0317 / Triadic Awareness / The Assignment: Record the third part of a trio, adding to a pre-existing track of two parts.

0318 / Linear Training / Record a piece of music composed of variations on the same held tone.

0319 / Duly Noted / Make a composition with the same melody repeated but with notes appearing and disappearing.

0320 / Table of Contents / Make a composition containing loopable background-music segments for each chapter of one of your favorite books.

0321 / Let’s Active / Make a short piece of music that decreases the mind’s tendency to wander, based on research by Dr. Liila Taruffi, PhD, and her colleagues.

0322 / The Wanderer / Make a short piece of music that encourages the the mind’s tendency to wander, based on research by Dr. Liila Taruffi, PhD, and her colleagues.

0323 / Music for Meditation / Record a piece of music suited to meditation.

0324 / Factory Floor / Make music for newsrooms, design studios, and other collaborative workplaces.

0325 / Fake Book / Make a forgery of an old jazz song by using samples from three Edison cylinders.

0326 / Wave Turntable / In collaboration with composer Danny Clay, make music for his exhibit with artist Jon Fischer using only sine waves and turntable surface noise.

0327 / Time Zoned / Create a piece of music that is simultaneously in 3/4, 2/4, and 7/4 time.

0328 / Sonic Pentimento / Record a piece of music inspired by a term from painting.

0329 / Extended Version / Make a piece of music in which you expand the functionality of an instrument — and document your technique.

0330 / Wax Off / Make a piece of music by erasing aspects of a pre-existing track.

0331 / Born Under a Bad Sine / What does it sound like when a robot has the blues?

0332 / Lucky Numbers / Make music based on the lottery.

0333 / Half Evil / Where numerology casts a shadow on musicology.

0334 / Mass Branca / Record a massive multi-layered tribute to the legendary guitarist-composer.

0335 / Alone Time / Record conference-call hold music — a private limbo of your own making.

0336 / Open Mic / Share a piece of music you’re working on in the interest of getting feedback.

0337 / Through-Composted / Create a piece of music that is through-composed, but built entirely from samples.

0338 / Imaginary Quartet / In collaboration with Naviar Haiku, make a four-person band from the provided four live solo.

0339 / Rude Mechanicals / The Assignment: Record a piece of music in this imaginary genre.

0340 / Porta Party / The Assignment: Record a piece of music entirely on the go.

0341 / Sample Forensics / The Assignment: Place a fragmentary sample into a natural-seeming setting.

0342 / In Sea / The Assignment: Record a piece of music in tribute to Terry Riley’s In C using only samples of water sounds.

0343 / Big Pun / The Assignment: What does a musical pun sound like?

0344 / Careful Symmetries / The Assignment: Explore palindromes in musical form.

0345 / Sample Time / Make your own drum machine sounds, do something with them, and share them.

0346 / Drum Machinations / The Assignment: Make a beat with new drum machine sounds provided by other Junto musicians.

0347 / Remix Remodel / The Assignment: Update a track by one Junto participant by adding beats from another Junto.

0348 / Hot Mise en Abyme / The Assignment: Make a piece of music inspired by the art-historical term for fractal/recursion.

0349 / Got Glitch? / The Assignment: Help define “glitch” by glitching something, and explaining what you did.

0350 / Selected Insomniac Works / The Assignment: Make very quiet music for very late at night for very fragile psyches.

0351 / Selected Insomniac Works Volume II / The Assignment: Rework some very quiet music by making it even more sedate.

0352 / Layering Permutations / The Assignment: Play something melodic atop two variations.

0353 / Warp & Weft / The Assignment: Read loom-woven fabric as a musical composition.

0354 / Rituals & Canticles / The Assignment: Make music using instruments from a future that doesn’t fully remember our present.

0355 / Sonic Vivisection / The Assignment: Operate with incisions on a live sound in real time.

0356 / Ground Swell / The Assignment: Derive something spooky from a specific place.

0357 / Clock Work / The Assignment: Base a piece of music on your previous 12 hours.

0358 / Rhythm + Blue(s) / The Assignment: An exercise in genre.

0359 / Broken Clock / The Assignment: Use an image not as a graphic score, but as a graphic depiction of a remix.

0360 Fishbowl Progressions / The Assignment: Explore spatial sound as a compositional element.

0361 / Zork Diaries / The Assignment: Score a classic interactive fiction.

0362 / Operational Surrealism / The Assignment: Make a piece of music informed by a key text from the art movement.

0363 / Gymnopédie Rats / The Assignment: Make over Erik Satie’s “Gymnopédie No. 1” in your chosen genre.

0364 / Casting Drones / The Assignment: Use dice to determine your slowly shifting tones.

0365 / 2018 Tracker / The Assignment: Create a sonic diary of the past year with a dozen (or more) super-brief segments.

0366 / Ice Breaker / The Assignment: Record the sound of ice in a glass and make something of it.

0367 / Trio Initiate / The Assignment: Record the first third of an eventual trio.

0368 / Engage Duo / The Assignment: Record the second third of a trio, adding to a pre-existing track.

0369 / Final Solo / The Assignment: Record the final third of a trio, adding to a pre-existing track, based itself on a prior pre-existing track.

0370 / Through Lines / The Assignment: Follow a single strand in the accumulated material resulting from a multi-part, multi-thread collaborative endeavor.

0371 / Concrete Ambience / The Assignment: What could concrete wallpaper music sound like?

0372 / Honeymoon Phase / The Assignment: Record a piece of music with (only) your most recently obtained instrument or music/sound tool.

0373 / Copernican Music / The Assignment: Record a piece of music intended for an alien species.

0374 / Glitch Glitch / The Assignment: what happens when you glitch something that’s been glitched?

0375 / Despite Yourself / The Assignment: Make a piece of music that sounds as unlike you as you can accomplish.

0376 / Pi Filling / The Assignment: Celebrate Pi Day.

0377 / Algorithms Assemble / The Assignment: Have fun with rules applied to scales, in coordination with the Algorithmic Art Assembly.

0378 / Blue(tooth) Haze / The Assignment: Experiment with the sonic qualities of a failing signal.

0379 / Open Studios / The Assignment: Share a track, get feedback, and give feedback.

0380 / Ears Only / The Assignment: Record a piece of music for an audience of one.

0381 / Shared System / The Assignment: make music using a free software synth assembled by Scanner.

0382 / Understanding McLuhan / The Assignment: Remix samples of an interview with Eric McLuhan on his father and media theory.

0383 / Interstellar Ambience / The Assignment: Record the sound of an apartment on a large interstellar ship.

0384 / Breath Beat / The Assignment: Explore breath as a resource for rhythm.

0385 / Audubonus Instrumentum / The Assignment: Imagine a fake instrument, and make music with it.

0386 / New Colors / The Assignment: Out with the old white noise, in with the new.

0387 / Everything & More / The Assignment: Make a single piece of music using every single instrument that you have at your disposal.

0388 / Random Less / The Assignment: Make a single piece of music with very few tools, all selected at random.

0389 / Long Then / The Assignment: Take an old song, and make it (much) slower, and add something.

0390 / Pace Quickens / The Assignment: Take an old song (or field recording), and make it faster, and then add something.

0391 / Front Page / The Assignment: Make music that fills in where the news trails off.

0392 / Another Country / The Assignment: Compose the national anthem for a fictional country.

0393 / Mix Master / The Assignment: Make a new composition from your favorite parts of three of your previous recordings.

0394 / You & Me / The Assignment: Accompany the music made by a species other than your own.

0395 / Acoustic Expanse / The Assignment: Make music with (samples of) the biggest guitar in the southern hemisphere.

0396 / Front Page / The Assignment: Make music with by humming a song and then processing the humming.

0397 / Numbers Racket / The Assignment: It’s 808 Day. Do it up.

0398 / Rauschen Bern / The Assignment: Make music by making a collage of noises.

0399 / Edges & Echoes / The Assignment: Make sonic art for a space with the sounds of that space.

0400 / Sub Divided / The Assignment: Create a score to a Malka Older story using the author’s own voice as source audio.

0401 / Noise Pacing / The Assignment: Use background noise as a beat, as a rhythm.

0402 / Music for Tasks / The Assignment: Record music intended as the backdrop/soundtrack to a chore.

0403 / Filter Box / The Assignment: Record music a piece of music in which a sequence of sounds is treated by the same filter or process.

0404 / Seven (St)ages / The Assignment: Record a piece of music that follows the arc of Jacques’ “All the world’s a stage” speech from Shakespeare’s play As You Like It.

0405 / Trustable (C. Remix) / The Assignment: Remix music from C. Reider’s album … a trustable cloud.

0406 / Phoneme Home / The Assignment: After a visit to Yellowstone National Park, you send a sonic report back to your planet of origin.

0407 / Dark Pitch / The Assignment: What do you hear between stations on the radio dial during a drive in the middle of night?

0408 / Fritiniency Tronics / The Assignment: Were “fritiniency” (“the chirruping sound made by birds or insects”) a musical genre or technique, what would it sound like?

0409 / Spooky 3.0 / The Assignment: Raise haunting music to the next level.

0410 / Op Audio / The Assignment: What does the sonic equivalent of Op Art sound like?

0411 / Wrapped Up / The Assignment: Record a piece of music as a gift for someone special to you.

0412 / One Chord Wonder / The Assignment: Play an extended chord where the instrumentation of each note changes as the piece proceeds.

0413 / Objective Thankfulness / The Assignment: Highlight one piece of musical equipment for which you are particularly grateful.

0414 / Mod Cons / The Assignment: Compose one or more sounds for an appliance/device/gadget of your own choosing.

0415 / Seasonal Metal / The Assignment: Tinsel is your latest instrument.

0416 / Time Laps / The Assignment: Improvise successive layers, each time reversing the previous layer.

0417 / Changes Tracker / The Assignment: Create a sonic diary of the past year with a dozen (or more) super-brief segments.

0418 / Ice-Nine / The Assignment: Record the sound of ice in a glass and make something of it.

0419 / Dischoir / The Assignment: Make music from 100+ vocal samples of held syllables by members of the Disquiet Junto.

0420 / Luna Tick / The Assignment: Make music that proceeds according to the phases of the moon, in celebration of Lunar New Year.

0421 / Marquee Ghosts / The Assignment: What sounds haunt a discarded movie theater in the middle of the night?

0422 / Chapter Cascade / The Assignment: Make a piece of music made up of tiny alternating parts.

0423 / Hold Noise / The Assignment: Record music intended to sound just as garbled as the hold music on a phone call.

0424 / Fluctuating Rhythm / The Assignment: Employ nature as your conductor.

0425 / Crop Score / The Assignment: Crop circles are musical compositions.

0426 / Cellular Chorus / The Assignment: Make music with the source audio from (and inspired by) a Patricia Wolf project.

0427 / Music 4 Airplanes / The Assignment: Make music that blends in with the industrial drone of modern air flight.

0428 / Urban Moss / The Assignment: What echoes of past concerts are retained within this pole?

0429 / Solitary Ensembles / The Assignment: Record the first third of a trio that others will complete.

0430 / Solitary Ensembles x 2 / The Assignment: Record the second third of a trio that others will complete.

0431 / Solitary Ensembles x 3 / The Assignment: Complete a trio by adding a track to an existing duet by two other musicians.

0432 / Ensembles (Remix) / The Assignment: Take an existing musical trio and remix it to make it your own.

0433 / Kit Bits / The Assignment: Create a kit’s worth of percussion samples.

0434 / Beat Kit / The Assignment: Create music with beats crafted by fellow Junto participants.

0435 / Woodshed Report / Share something you’ve been working on (and respond to what others post).

0436 / Planetary Headspace / The Assignment: Share a recording of your local environment to create a communal soundscape.

0437 / Echo Relocation / The Assignment: Record someone else’s field recording of their environment playing within your own.

0438 / Deep Plan / The Assignment: Compose a piece of music in which something special is situated at the very center.

0439 / Hybrid Self / The Assignment: Compose music combining the styles of two musicians you admire.

0440/ Tuning In / The Assignment: Dismantle the institution known as A440.

0441/ Three Stones / The Assignment: Make music that explores territory sonically.

0442/ One Sentence / The Assignment: Make music that explores the shape, tone, cadence, and content of a favorite section of prose or poetry.

0443 / In Two Landscapes / The Assignment: Take two different field recordings and combine them to make one track, as in a mash-up.

0444 / Bot Ensemble / The Assignment: Make music as directed by the great twitter.com/InstrumentBot account.

0445 / Aare Tribute / The Assignment: Read maps of a river as a graphic score.

0446 / WWWLDD / The Assignment: Celebrate World Listening Day for the whole weekend.

0447 / Listen Ahead / The Assignment: Make some music for the near future.

0448 / Seamless Bridge / The Assignment: Create a 20-second piece of music to connect two preexisting 20-second pieces of music.

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

0450 / Texture Analysis / The Assignment: Create a piece of music from sounds related to working with rocks.

0451 / Ursula’s Silences / Make music inspired by a line from A Wizard of Earthsea.

0452 / Let’s Scream / The Assignment: Get cathartic. Be resilient. Turn your scream into music.

0453 / Dial Up / The Assignment: Imagine the technologically mediated First Contact through sound.

0454 / Lsoo Vneg / The Assignment: Encode the name of someone you love into a piece of music.

0455 / Inner Invertebrate / The Assignment: What does a moment (or a day) in the life of a jellyfish sound like to a jellyfish?

0456 / Line Up / The Assignment: Interpret a painting by Agnes Martin as if it were a graphic score.

0457 / System Alert / The Assignment: Compose sounds for an OS.

0458 / Phrase Shift / The Assignment: Make music in a sequence of parts with shared elements.

0459 / From a Distance / The Assignment: Make music intended to be heard from afar.

0460 / Creative Destruction / The Assignment: Show how you got to a tortured sound.

0461 / Goldilocks Zone / The Assignment: Navigate a sonic space between the hospitable and the inhospitable.

0462 / Vade in Pace / The Assignment: Write a short piece of music that gets slower and slower as it proceeds.

0463 / Making the Gradient / The Assignment: Make a piece of music inspired by the concept of a gradient.

0464 / Blanket Song / The Assignment: Play over a song, and then remove the original.

0465 / You Thank / The Assignment: Make a piece of music for someone or something for which you feel thankful.

0466 / [ ] Sound Machine / The Assignment: What sort of sound does your city make?

0467 / Toolbox Show & Tell / The Assignment: Share a tip for making music that you learned during the pandemic.

0468 / Mirror Rorrim / The Assignment: Create a new persona for yourself, and record a duet together.

0469 / [Missing in Caption] / The Assignment: Make music that pushes the constraints of descriptive television captions.

0470 / Calendar View / The Assignment: Create a sonic diary of the past year with a dozen (or more) super-brief segments.

0471 / Phase Transition / The Assignment: The Assignment: Record the sound of ice in a glass and make something with it.

0472 / Jam Time (1 of 3) / The Assignment: Record the first third of a trio that others will complete.

0473 / Placebo Effect (2 or 3) / The Assignment: The Assignment: Record the second third of a trio that others will complete.

0474 / Police Action (3 of 3) / The Assignment: Complete a trio by adding a track to an existing duet by two other musicians

0475 / Low End (4 of 3) / The Assignment: Remix a trio by doing forensics on its component parts.

0476 / IAH Forecast / The Assignment: Here’s your next single’s cover. Now record it.

0477 / Flying Blind / The Assignment: Record a piece of music in which some substantial portion is performed without looking.

0478 / Collage of Collages / The Assignment: Make a collage that will become part of a larger collage.

0479 / Truck Radio Rain / The Assignment: Locate three sound sources and make something with them.

0480 / Ongsay Aftcray / The Assignment: Record a piece of music by employing Pig Latin as a technique.

0481 / Capsule Time / The Assignment: Record a time capsule for yourself in the future.

0482 / Exactly That Gap / The Assignment: Make a musical haiku following instructions from Marcus Fischer.

0483 / Type Set / The Assignment: Use a recording of yourself typing something as the underlying rhythmic track for a piece of music.

0484 / A Movable Heart / The Assignment: Transplant the sounds of Chris Kallmyer’s wind chimes to a new location.

0485 / Strange Weather / The Assignment: Remix the pure sounds of Chris Kallmyer’s traveling wind chimes to your own musical purposes.

0486 / Earths Days / The Assignment: Celebrate Earth Day on or for another planet.

0487 / Carillon Quotidian / Assignment: Turn a recurring sound from your life into music.

0488 / Reverse Delay / Assignment: Do something you’ve been putting off.

0489 / The Prestige / The Assignment: Apply some magic to ABA form.

0490 / In Conversation / The Assignment: Compose a piece of music structured like dialog.

0491 / Footsteps Sequencer / The Assignment: Compose a piece of music structured upon a walk through your home.

0492 / Kintsugi Rework / The Assignment: Employ the Japanese technique of mending broken ceramics as a metaphor for remixing.

0493 / AudioCorrect / The Assignment: Think about the utility and the useful failures inherent in autocorrect and apply this to your music.

0494 / Insect Menagerie / The Assignment: Record a 20-second clip of the sounds of an insect that you yourself have invented.

0495 / Protip Etude / The Assignment: Share a tip for making music or working with sound, and record a track that employs it.

0496 / Isolation Room / The Assignment: Create new music around one strand of something you made in the past

0497 / Benjamin’s Glass / The Assignment: Pay tribute to Benjamin Franklin and his armonica

0498 / Sonic Entomologist / The Assignment: Create a new hybrid insect from the sound of two different insects.

0499 / Out of the Landscape / The Assignment: Record a piece of music in which a sound emerges from a field recording.

0500 / Humming to Your Selves / The Assignment: Play a tune by yourself and as if by two people whom you invent.

0501 / PDK Playback / The Assignment: Record the sound of a Martian daydream, interrupted.

0502 / Global Swarming / The Assignment: Create a swarm of imaginary insects.

0503 / Sing Song / The Assignment: Record a song using only your voice transformed beyond recognition.

0504 / Transform Formula / The Assignment: Take a sound, change it, and contrast that with the original.

0505 / Line Out / The Assignment: Share a track, get feedback, and give feedback.

0506 / Wipe Out / The Assignment: Take something whole and erase half of it.

0507 / In DD’s Key of C / The Assignment: Make music with 10 acoustic instrument samples all in a shared key.

0508 / Germane Shepard / The Assignment: Use the Shepard tone to create a piece of music.

0509 / The Long Detail / The Assignment: Create a piece of music with moments from a preexisting track.

0510 / Cold Turkey / The Assignment: Record one last track with a piece of music equipment before passing it on.

0511 / Freeze Tag / The Assignment: Consider freezing (and thawing) as a metaphor for music production.

0512 / The Sequel / The Assignment: Record a piece of music that follows up a preexisting piece of music.

0513 / Ghost OST / The Assignment: Play that spooky music.

0514 / Chord Channels / The Assignment: Take two chords and connect them over time.

0515 / Talking Cure / The Assignment: Write music for a psychotherapist’s waiting room.

0516 / Outside In (Co/Exist 1 of 3) / The Assignment: Record a minute or two of nature.

0517 / Inside Out (Co/Exist 2 of 3) / The Assignment: Record a minute or two of civilization.

0518 / Inside Out (Co/Exist 3 of 3) / The Assignment: Combine sounds of nature and civilization.

0519 / Looking Glass Remix / The Assignment: Remix yourself from another point of view.

0520 / On the Clock / The Assignment: Get that thing done before the end of the year.

0521 / Cannon Canon / The Assignment: Make a martial round.

0522 / Just Backdated / The Assignment: Create a sonic diary of the past year with a dozen (or more) super-brief segments.

0523 / Chill Communication / The Assignment: Record the sound of ice in a glass and make something with it.

0524 / Sunset Waveform / The Assignment: Read a photo like a graphic score.

0525 / Magic Number (1 of 3) / The Assignment: Record the first third of a trio.

0526 / Magic Number (2 of 3) / The Assignment: Record the second third of an asynchronous trio.

0527 / Magic Number (3 of 3) / The Assignment: Complete an asynchronous trio begun by two other musicians.

0528 / Landscape Architecture / The Assignment: The Assignment: Forge an unobtrusive path through musical flora.

0529 / Squared Off / The Assignment: Explore the number 23.

0530 / Minimally Viable Music / The Assignment: How much less is just shy of too little?

0531 / Noise Sculpt / The Assignment: Listen for a mirage of your music within white noise.

0532 / Other Means / The Assignment: Make music about something you find difficult or unproductive to talk about.

0533 / Numbers Magik / The Assignment: Remix a trio — potentially using its subsets and variants.

0534 / Transition Capsule / The Assignment: Record music to help people efficiently reorient between two zones.

0535 / Jigsaw Disjunction / The Assignment: Break a familiar melody into pieces and play it in a different sequence.

0536 / Metaphor Play / The Assignment: Take a figure of speech as a creative prompt.

0537 / Penitent Honk / The Assignment: Do sound design for “a missing gesture” of vehicular life.

0538 / Guided Decompression / The Assignment: Get someone from tense to chill.

0539 / Control Breath / The Assignment: Let your slow breathing guide a piece of music.

0540 / 5ive 4our / The Assignment: Take back 5/4 for Jedi time masters Dave Brubeck and Paul Desmond.

0541 / 10BPM Techno / The Assignment: Make some snail-paced beats.

0542 / 2600 Club / The Assignment: Make some phreaking music.

0543 / Technique Check / The Assignment: Share a tip from your method toolbox.

0544 / Feedback Loop / The Assignment: Share music-in-progress for input from others.

And this is the initial post I made on Disquiet.com, announcing the project on January 7, 2012: “Sneek Peek.”

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Cache a Falling Star (iOS App)

Fans of the great Thicket iOS app who are awaiting an update (one is in the works) can bide their time with a lovely free app produced in part by Thicket’s developers, Joshue Ott and Morgan Packard. Titled Falling Stars, it’s a marketing piece created on behalf of a gum (Trident Vitality, a Kraft subsidiary), though the branding is limited to some relatively low-key logo appearances. It’s a work of playful, generative music-making, with an emphasis on appealing to a broad audience. Generative music is music that results from a system, a set of rules, rather than from a fixed score. It was released on June 27.

Here’s how it works: The user draws vines on the screen, which are hit by falling stars, thus triggering sounds. Each vine signifies a different sound, most “musical,” which is to say tonal and melodic, though there are also simulated hand claps. The user can trigger the five stars by tapping on them, or can wait for them to fall on their own. The stars bounce when they hit vines, which means that the user can set up Rube Goldberg compositions, sending the stars bouncing from one vine to another, or capturing them in literal loops (a complete circle of vine) that will put the star into a lengthy repetitive cycle. The stars also make different sounds when they hit the bottom of the screen, depending on where they land.

There are seven types of vines, selectable from a menu along the bottom of the screen (it disappears with a swipe). A couple of these vines don’t become available until the user shares a composition, via Facebook, Twitter, or email. (It isn’t particularly invasive, as I was able to just email myself a composition to unlock the remaining sounds.) This being a marketing tool, the emphasis on networked participation isn’t surprising, and the app thankfully lets users share their compositions. And should the visualization of small round dots triggering sounds along long lines bring to mind an abstract take on the traditional format of a piece of sheet music, that probably isn’t an accident.

Speaking of non-accidents, rest assured that the sounds that result from Falling Stars aren’t purely random. Quite the contrary, they are musical and enjoyable, owing to careful balance of the vine-related tones, and to some sort of underlying metronomic pulse that keeps everything relatively in sync.

iOS 4.2 & Vine: The main screen of Falling Stars app

This demo video was posted at the youtube.com account of Interval Studios, home to Thicket’s Ott and Packard. The brief piece is narrated by Ott:

There is additional footage posted by Trident.

Given the advertising-world origin of the app, Falling Stars is worth investigating for what it says about the commercial opportunities for generative music. As of this writing, of the 714 reviews of Falling Stars, almost 90%, 634 in total, give it five stars, the highest rating possible. Of the remaining 73 ratings, more than half are four stars, leaving just 12 three-star, nine two-star, and 16 one-star. The most negative reviews include a few critiques of the app, generally finding it useless, but a lot of them seem to be technical in nature (reporting audio defects that have not been evident on my test units: an iPad 2 and a current, aka fourth, generation iPod Touch). Those “useless” comments are common for generative sound apps, given that they often lack both a self-evident melody and the sort of goal or ending that is the hallmark of a proper game. (The Falling Stars app’s promotional text describes it as an “audio/visual digital toy.”)

The iPhone app based on the film Inception serves as the primary example of the power of a commercial brand to not only draw attention to something as adventurous as generative sound, but to lend it a useful context. The Inception app has 5811 ratings, over 77 percent of which are either four or five stars. By contrast, the various apps associated with RJDJ, the app from which Inception was derived, are more evenly divided between positive and negative responses.

This isn’t to say, merely, that a mass-market commercial property is necessary to garner public interest in generative sound — mass-market commercial properties can bring attention to any number of seemingly esoteric subjects. It’s simply to say that if a popular subject can indeed lend legitimacy to avant-garde ventures, then perhaps those ventures aren’t as esoteric as some might imagine. The Inception app provides the additional evidence that a good story, a rich narrative, can be a grounding force. Inception accomplishes this not only by tying itself to the popular film, but by having built a sense of discovery into the various stages, or levels, of the app. Falling Stars doesn’t have a story, per se, but its natural-world setting brings it out of the realm of pure graphic-score abstraction (the cold grids on which so many generative sound apps are founded), and into something that a broader range of people can relate to. The natural environment is a common source of inspiration in experimental music, and Falling Stars may even help some intrigued users track back to such figures as Stephen Vitiello (whose scores have drawn from images of nature), R. Murray Schafer (who popularized the concept of the soundscape), and Cheryl Leonard (who uses found objects, like bones and rocks, as instruments).

Water Music: Falling Stars’ mix of sheet-music elements and the natural environment echoes avant-garde graphic scores, such as sound artist Stephen Vitiello’s “Reed Music,” shown here, which superimposes sheet music onto a photo of reeds in a pond.

Closer at hand, Thicket’s Ott and Packard have acknowledged (in the text accompanying the video up above that features Ott) the influence of the app Soundrop on Falling Stars. Here’s a demo of Soundrop:

Trident is putting money behind the Vitality app’s promotion. There was a paid gawker.com post, and according to noisenewyork.com, a firm that was also involved in the app’s development, Falling Stars saw “over 100,000 downloads” during its first week of launch (other stats as of late June: “Trident Vitality app is #8 in the new and noteworthy section of the iPad, #15 in free entertainment apps, #85 overall in free apps”).

Get the Falling Stars by Trident Vitality Gum app (that is indeed its full name) at itunes.apple.com. Additional information at the gum’s website, tridentvitalitygum.com/fallingstars.

(Image of Vitiello’s composition from cnylink.com.)

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Tangents: Remixing/Rewording, Cellular Sculpture, Bitrate Guidelines, …

Recommended reading, news, and so forth elsewhere:

Rewarding Rewording: The site Translation Telephone, at translation-telephone.com, pulls an Alvin Lucier / “I Am Sitting in a Room Listening” on words. In Lucier’s landmark work, the sound of a recording is heard to disintegrate as a phrase is read aloud in a room, and then a recording of that is played in the room, and then a recording of that recording is played, and so on. In Translation Telephone, you type in a phrase, and watch it cycle from one language to the next. For example, here’s a paragraph from a Disquiet post a few days ago:

The remix takes many forms. Music is remixed, but so too are videos, photographs, words, recipes, buildings, ideas. The remix is a means by which the past is made vibrant. It is the means by which the certitude of any form of documentation is probed and prodded until it loses its illusion of integrity.
And here is how it turned out, after going from English to Macedonian to Hebrew and back to English, with 18 additional languages at various stages in between:
Love is in many ways. The Sound of Music Mixer. But he added, video, photos, graphics, love the structure, how to live. This document is credibility
If a good mantra is a universal one, then Disquiet.com’s — “Just sitting here, listening” — holds up OK. After cycling through Bulgarian, Hindi, and 18 others languages, it came out “Just sit and listen,” which is, arguably, an improvement. Of course there are differences between Lucier’s piece and Translation Telephone, in particular that Lucier’s disintegration algorithm does double duty to provide a sense of the contours of the room in which it is recorded. If there were a parallel in Translation Telephone, what would it be? (Thanks to Paolo Salvagione for the tip. He called it an example of “rewording.”)

Bowl Alone: The intersection of physics and spirituality is a not uncommon one. This video accompanied a brief piece at io9.com that discussed how physicists were exploring the unique properties of Tibetan bowls, which are a popular tool for experimental musicians, especially those interested in the drone.

Max/R.I.P.: Belatedly, an excellent interview with famed computer-music legend Max Matthews done by Geeta Dayal just weeks before his death: frieze.com. Dayal is the author of the 33 1/3 book on Brian Eno‘s Another Green World. When she was prepping for the Matthews interview, she asked, via Twitter, if anyone had any questions for him. (Matthews is synonymous with electronic music, because his first name is part of the name of the popular software Max/MSP.) I’d seen him speak at CCRMA at Stanford several years ago, and had wanted to ask him about the multi-channel mixer he had reportedly built for John Cage‘s 1964 performance of Atlas Eclipticalis with the New York Philharmonic, then under the direction of Leonard Bernstein. Dayal did indeed ask the question, for which I am eternally thankful. This is just an excerpt from her Frieze piece:

GD: Didn’t you build a 50-channel mixer in 1964, for the New York Philharmonic and Leonard Bernstein? For a performance of John Cage’s Atlas Eclipticalis? MM: [Laughs] Yes, it would have been in the 1960s, because Cage and Jim Tenney were the two conductors; they ran the mixer. The mixer did have roughly 50 input channels, one for each pair of musicians at a given music stand. It was an octopus of wires, and they all came into these two consoles with a lot of knobs to adjust the volumes, and to direct the sound to one or more of about a dozen loudspeakers which were positioned around Avery Fisher Hall. Cage wrote the music for the performers, and he and Tenney ran the mixer during the performance. Even by Cage’s fairly generous standards, it wasn’t what he had hoped for. He added a piano portion, and I forgot the name of his pianist to the piece [David Tudor], and my judgment was that Bernstein stayed as far away as he could get; he couldn’t stand it. And I was just as happy to have him stay away, to tell you the truth. GD: Did you and Bernstein not get along? MM: We didn’t get close enough to not get along. But if we had gotten any closer, I would have quit the project. The instruments did not have contact microphones on them, and of course you don’t want to put a contact microphone on a Stradivarius. I’d encouraged the musicians to bring their second violins, or any old violin, instead of their best violins. I arranged the contact mics to be on parts of the instrument that aren’t permanent, like the bridge, and had gone through quite a bit of trouble to be sure that the contact microphones could be put on the instruments without damaging the instruments. I think most of the instrumentalists didn’t have any trouble with that. So I was really mad at Bernstein when he came in one morning and told the instrumentalists that if they didn’t want to use the mics, they didn’t have to. I think most of them went ahead and used the mics. And Bernstein didn’t come back again. It was a concert series, about four or five nights of this piece, that it was played. Anyhow, it was fun to work with Cage, and it was fun to work with the orchestra, and it was fun to build this rather large mixer.

Board Game: There is something really beautiful about motion frozen, like fast-frame stills of bats in flight and of water drops hitting solid surfaces. And then there are Jeff Cook‘s wood sculptures based on cellular automata, like those in John Conway‘s influential “Game of Life” (via boingboing.net‘s David Pescovitz):

They’re on display at the gallery Chalk (chalkla.com) in Los Angeles through July. More photos from the opening at the gallery’s facebook.com account.

Kick It? Yes You Can: Two worthy musical Kickstarter campaigns, both from New Orleans: There’s the new Chef Menteur album, and a musical house. On the latter: “A growing group of local and national sound artists are working towards interactive instruments that can be built into its walls and floorboards so that visitors can bring the house to life through their touch.”

The Sound of Pixels: During dinner with a friend recently, talk turned, as it occasionally does, to the process of taking one’s physical audio recordings and converting them to MP3s. We discussed various subjects: the reasonable legal right to download files of albums you have already purchased, those scary stickers on old promotional LPs you bought used that say they remain the property of the record company, and, inevitably, the proper bitrate. Certainly not 128kbps, but 192? 320? And should it be MP3? OGG? FLAC? I said I usually rip mine at 320, but I have this lingering fear that a decade from now standard audio equipment will be upgraded in a manner that will make our 320kbps MP3s sound the way that our old VHS cassettes look on fancy new HD TVs. The momentary look of anxiety on his face was straight out of a John Carpenter movie.

Navel Browsing: I need to do a better job of tracking comments I make on other people’s sites. Here are two from excellent newmusicbox.org: A piece by Colin Holter takes apart a quote widely attributed to Duke Ellington (that there are only two types of music: good and bad), and while Ellington did say it, he didn’t mean by it what Holter says it means, and I tried to correct the record. Also, in a separate piece, Frank J. Otieri asks, “What is the sound of music-less music?” and I suggest that the answer is held in a study of phonography, or the art of field recordings.

Archives Anonymous: The great ubu.com site now has a landing page for all its electronic-music goods: ubu.com/emr (via Chris Power, of twitter.com/chrisjohnpower)

App Swap: The remarkable app Reactable appears to be the first major port of a general-interest (i.e., not framed as a next-gen instrument) generative-sound app from iOS to Android: reactable.com.

Playing Defense: Reports on “sonic warfare” generally discuss snazzy new weaponry, but there is recent news of an “acoustic ‘cloaking device'”: bbc.co.uk.

Truly Representing: Diego Bernal is the new City Council member representing District 1 in San Antonio, Texas. This is, indeed, the same Diego Bernal who remixed the Atlanta-based Fourth Ward Afro-Klezmer Orchestra‘s “Ose Shalom” last December for the tabletmag.com Hanukkah remix compilation I produced. Major congrats, man. Do your city proud.

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The Many Flowerings of Otomata

Otomata is a simple generative audio app, in which chance collisions yield unexpected patterns, both visual and sonic. Its arrival on the Internet a month ago has, in turn, yielded unexpected flowerings, from myriad new patterns generated and shared by users (pictured here is one such example), to its employment in fixed sound recordings, to its inspiration of new software development. What follows is a survey of just some of those efforts, much of it (audio and software) downloadable for free. (Meanwhile, read an interview with the Otomata developer, Batuhan Bozkurt, “When Cells Collide,” and check out the software itself at earslap.com.)

Mitzilla‘s “Audio Recording on Sunday Afternoon” (at soundcloud.com/mitzilla) uses the beading pulses of Otomata as a rhythm track, against which he plays generously spaced strums of an acoustic guitar. It’s a promising sketch of what will, one hopes, eventually yield a more fleshed-out composition. Mitzilla hails from El Paso, Texas:

For DrDerek, the Otomata-derived material provides not the rhythm but the melody, to which he adds other digitally sourced material (“my Electribe SX-1 and Korg Kaoss Pad 3 and the Korg Kaossilator Pro. recorded live,” he explains, listing his tools with one caveat: “some things may sound a bit off”). The result (at soundcloud.com/drderek) is louche, loungey electronica.

And for bongo_g, who is based in Amherst, Massachusetts, Otomata provided not sound source material, but an overall approach. His “Ricochet1” (at soundcloud.com/user4724971) is evidence of an implementation of an Otomata-like software tool that he is developing on the popular device called the Monome.

Bongo posted the code at monome.org, where the discussion is ongoing. Here is a video demonstration (from vimeo.com) of bongo’s Otomata-derived instrument on a 256-cell Monome, performed by Machsymbiont:

Just to take the proceedings one further step meta and virtual, this next video (also at vimeo.com) shows Bongo’s Monome implementation of Otomata as ported to the Nomome, which is a software emulation of the Monome on a 64-cell device called the Novation Launchpad:

And because no cultural instance is complete without an iOS app implementation, this is Sound Cells (at apple.com), which debuted in the iTunes App Store earlier this month. As its developer notes, Otomata’s inventor is himself working on an iOS version. Sound Cells offers six different scales, among them the Hang scale, based on the Hang drum, which was the inspiration for Otomata’s tuning:

Two more videos. This is Otomata paired with another sound app, called SoundPrism:

And this is four instances of Otomata working together in tandem — with TV food personality Alton Brown (the patron chef of hackers) in the background:

Check out the original Otomata software for free at earslap.com.

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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.
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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).
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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.
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  • 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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