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: Buddha Machine

Buddha Machine Variations No. 40 (MBP BMV VCV)

A series of focused experiments

Been a while. This is a new entry in the occasional Buddha Machine Variations series. The previous one was about 10 months ago. This was a test run of something I’ve never done before: recording video straight off my laptop (a MacBook Pro), bypassing the microphone in favor of the internal sound. Oddly, such a routing isn’t an immediate option within macOS Monterey, so I had to use a third-party tool, in this case Loopback from Rogue Amoeba. Recorded in QuickTime. Edited in iMovie. Cover image in InDesign. The source audio is one of the tracks from the original Buddha Machine, created by the duo FM3. It’s been looped and processed in VCV Rack (this is the Pro edition, but there’s probably nothing going on in this patch you couldn’t do in the free edition, except a few of the modules may have had a fee associated with them). In any case, this was more a proof of concept, or of several concepts: (1) could the routing work, and (2) would this all happen without the new laptop’s fan turning on. In both cases: yes!

Video originally posted at youtube.com/disquiet. There’s also a video playlist of the Buddha Machine Variations.

Also tagged , , / / Leave a comment ]

Disquiet.com 25th Anniversary Countdown (4 of 13): Buddha Machine(s)

An archival ambient advent calendar from December 1st – 13th, 2021

It’s day 4 of my archival ambient advent calendar countdown to the 25th anniversary of Disquiet.com, which was founded December 13, 1996. As time passed during the quarter century of Disquiet.com’s existence, my focus didn’t necessarily shift so much as expand. In the process, the devices used to make sound became as much an interest of mine as is the music itself. At the Venn Diagram overlap are devices that make sound where there’s an internal coherence to them, where the sound object is as much object as sound, and a key example of that is the Buddha Machine.

Christiaan Virant and Zhang Jian, who together comprise FM3, introduced the Buddha Machine in 2005. It borrowed its shape from cheap boxes that Virant, an American living in China, came upon a decade earlier in the gift shops of Buddhist temples. He and Jian made their own such box, but in the place of the original prayers were abstract ambient, textural, and rhythmic material intended to be played on loop. I’ve interviewed Virant twice, once when the Buddha Machines first came out, in 1995 “Buddha in the Machine,” and then three years later, when FM3 introduced a second generation: “Buddha Machine, Reloaded.” (And during pandemic lockdown, I also recorded a bunch of short videos, the Buddha Machine Variations, of Buddha Machines being used as musical instruments.)

Tag: / Leave a comment ]

Buddha Machine Variations No. 39 (Hazumi Chord)

A series of focused experiments

A little test run of the new Hazumi sequencer, running on VCV Rack, the free modular synth emulator. Hazumi, the grid on the far left, is from the Voxglitch family of modules, created by Bret Truchan. The audio is the initial loop of sound from “Ma,” the first piece of music heard on the very first Buddha Machine (this is from a digital file, not from the physical device). It’s heard here in three pitches, rendered in Adobe Audition: the original, then up four semitones, and then up one additional semitone. The original is also running through Glitch Shifter, a module from Unfiltered Audio, the company of Joshua Dickinson, Michael Hetrick, Ryan McGee, and Benn Cooper. Hetrick spoke to my Sounds of Brands course last year. The additional noise comes courtesy of two sources: the fan of my laptop, and the wind from a chimney, the latter due to the storm (an “atmospheric river”) currently assaulting San Francisco.

More at vcvrack.com and unfilteredaudio.com. Video originally posted at youtube.com/disquiet. There’s also a video playlist of the Buddha Machine Variations.

Also tagged / / Comment: 1 ]

Buddha Machine Variations No. 38 (Virtual Ma)

A series of focused experiments

Monday night. Your batteries have run out, so to get the Buddha Machine source audio, you opt for the album version of the first track, “Ma,” on a streaming service. Running through the Glitchlets script for Norns (albeit on a Fates).

Video originally posted at youtube.com/disquiet. There’s also a video playlist of the Buddha Machine Variations.

Also tagged / / Leave a comment ]

Buddha Machine Variations No. 37 (Tape CV KO)

A series of focused experiments

That is, indeed, a cassette player in the foreground. It’s been modded in a couple ways, the key one here being that the speed of the playback can be manipulated electronically. Specifically, the sort of control voltage that works between synthesizer modules can be applied externally to the speed of the cassette. In this case, a slow waveform is increasing and reducing (back and forth, pendulum-like) the pace of the cassette playback, lending it that slurry, warbling quality. (Note the long, pink cable that plugs into cassette player.)

The recorded sequence itself is a Buddha Machine as sampled, sequenced, and played by Teenage Engineering Pocket Operator (PO-33 K.O.). I recorded that PO-33 K.O. sequence onto the tape, and then rewound the tape and played it back as controlled by the control voltage (CV) output of the synthesizer (seen in the background). This is the first patch I’ve tried out with the CV cassette player, which I received on Friday in the mail and have been eager to give a test run.

The slow wave form, an LFO (low-frequency oscillation), is from a Batumi (by Xaoc), its highs and lows compacted by the SPO (by WMD / SSF). SPO stands for Scaler / Polarizer / Offset Generator. The cassette player mod is by the awesome Chester Winowiecki, of Whitehall, Michigan. (The other mod is it can take an audio line in. The standard device only used its own microphone.) I shared some photos of the tape cassette player a few days ago: “Cassette Bent.”

Video originally posted at youtube.com/disquiet. There’s also a video playlist of the Buddha Machine Variations.

Also tagged , / / Comment: 1 ]
  • 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

  • Field Notes

    News, essays, surveillance

  • Interviews

    Conversations with musicians/artists/coders

  • Studio Journal

    Video, audio, patch notes

  • Projects

    Select collaborations and commissions

  • Subscribe



  • Current Activities

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

  • Recent
    • April 16, 2022: I participated in an online "talk show" by The Big Conversation Space (Niki Korth and Clémence de Montgolfier).
    • March 11, 2022: I hosted a panel discussion between Mark Fell, Rian Treanor and James Bradbury in San Francisco as part of the Algorithmic Art Assembly (aaassembly.org) at Gray Area (grayarea.org).
    • December 28, 2021: This day marked the 10th (!) anniversary of the Instagr/am/bient compilation.
    • January 6, 2021: This day marked the 10th (!) anniversary of the start of the Disquiet Junto music community.
    • December 13, 2021: This day marked the 25th (!) anniversary of the start of the Disquiet Junto music community.
    • There are entries on the Disquiet Junto in the book The Music Production Cookbook: Ready-made Recipes for the Classroom (Oxford University Press), edited by Adam Patrick Bell. Ethan Hein wrote one, and I did, too.
    • A chapter on the Disquiet Junto ("The Disquiet Junto as an Online Community of Practice," by Ethan Hein) appears in the book The Oxford Handbook of Social Media and Music Learning (Oxford University Press), edited by Stephanie Horsley, Janice Waldron, and Kari Veblen. (Details at oup.com.)

  • My book on Aphex Twin's landmark 1994 album, Selected Ambient Works Vol. II, was published as part of the 33 1/3 series, an imprint of Bloomsbury. It has been translated into Japanese (2019) and Spanish (2018).

  • disquiet junto

  • Background
    Since January 2012, the Disquiet Junto has been an ongoing weekly collaborative music-making community that employs creative constraints as a springboard for creativity. Subscribe to the announcement list (each Thursday), listen to tracks by participants from around the world, read the FAQ, and join in.

    Recent Projects

  • 0548 / Drone Vox / The Assignment: Make a drone using just your voice.
    0547 / Genre Melee / Combine two seemingly different genres.
    0546 / Code Notes / The Assignment: Make music that includes a secret message.
    0545 / Unself-Awareness / The Assignment: Learn from feedback intended for others.
    0544 / Feedback Loop / The Assignment: Share music-in-progress for input from others.

  • Full Index
    And there is a complete list of past projects, 548 consecutive weeks to date.

  • Archives

    By month and by topic

  • [email protected]

    [email protected]

  • Downstream

    Recommended listening each weekday

  • Recent Posts