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tag: field-recording

Duet with Washing Machine

A Junto video from Jason Richardson

We live with our machines. These machines are small and large, ranging from light switches to refrigerators, from doorbells to dishwashers, from laptops to digital assistants. We know these machines. We know them even if we don’t pay attention to them. We know them through lived experience, which is the deepest form of learning. And among other things, we know their sonic natures, that which constitutes their unique characteristics, how they participate in, contribute to, the ever-shifting suite of noises that is the domestic soundscape, and how their contributions change as a result of the hour, the season, the humidity, the context. This week in the Disquiet Junto, the weekly music community based on shared compositional prompts, musicians are using such sounds, such noises, by exploring them for their rhythmic potential ( In many cases, no doubt, these will not be happenstance sounds but familiar ones. The Junto projects are brief, barely four days between when the prompt is emailed out and the final deadline occurs. Given the creative constraints, participants will generally call upon familiar resources. Take Jason Richarson, the prolific and longtime Junto participant, who elected to use his washing machine as his backing track. He plays against it like he has its rhythms in his blood. He can anticipate its rough tumble, and meets it as an equal partner.

Track originally posted at Jason Richardson’s YouTube channel. He has some additional notes about the recording on his website, Ironically, it was raining the day he wanted to do the project, so he had to use a recording of the machine he made several years ago.

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Disquiet Junto Project 0401: Noise Pacing

The Assignment: Use background noise as a beat, as a rhythm.

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 Monday, September 2, 2019, at 11:59pm (that is, just before midnight) wherever you are. It was posted on Thursday, August 29, 2019.

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

Disquiet Junto Project 0401: Noise Pacing
The Assignment: Use background noise as a beat, as a rhythm.

This project is the third and final of a series being done in collaboration with Musikfestival Bern, which will be held in Switzerland from September 11 through 15. For this reason, a German translation is provided below. We are working at the invitation of Tobias Reber, an early Junto participant, who is in charge of the educational activities of the festival. Select recordings resulting from these three Disquiet Junto projects will be played publicly as part of the Rauschlabor Schützenmatte ( or broadcast on the festival’s radio show, Radio Antenne ( If you don’t want your recording to be used in this way, please note so wherever you post it.

Step 1: Familiarize yourself with the German word “rauschen,” the theme for this year’s festival. Understand that “rauschen” is noise in the sense of white noise, waterfall noise, background noise, static, wind in trees, rain, etc. The blurred, diffuse, continuous kind of noise, not short individual non-tonal sounds.

Step 2: You are going to make music in which one or more “rauschen” noise(s) will be used as the beat or rhythm for a track. Record and listen back to such “rauschen.”

Step 3: Select one or more noise elements from Step 2.

Step 4: Create a track using the elements from Step 3 as beats or rhythmic material, and then layer something melodic atop it.

Seven More Important Steps When Your Track Is Done:

Step 1: Include “disquiet0401” (no spaces or quotation marks) in the name of your track.

Step 2: If your audio-hosting platform allows for tags, be sure to also include the project tag “disquiet0401” (no spaces or quotation marks). If you’re posting on SoundCloud in particular, this is essential to subsequent location of tracks for the creation of a project playlist.

Step 3: Upload your track. It is helpful but not essential that you use SoundCloud to host your track.

Step 4: Post your track in the following discussion thread at

Step 5: Annotate your track with a brief explanation of your approach and process.

Step 6: If posting on social media, please consider using the hashtags #disquietjunto and #musikfestivalbern so fellow participants are more likely to locate your communication.

Step 7: Then listen to and comment on tracks uploaded by your fellow Disquiet Junto participants.

Additional Details:

Deadline: This project’s deadline is Monday, September 9, 2019, at 11:59pm (that is, just before midnight) wherever you are. It was posted on Thursday, September 5, 2019.

Length: The length is up to you. Shorter is often better.

Title/Tag: When posting your track, please include “disquiet0401” 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: Consider setting your track as downloadable and allowing for attributed remixing (i.e., a Creative Commons license permitting non-commercial sharing with attribution, allowing for derivatives).

For context, when posting the track online, please be sure to include this following information:

More on this 401st weekly Disquiet Junto project — Noise Pacing / Use background noise as a beat, as a rhythm — at:

This project is the third and final of a series being done in collaboration with Musikfestival Bern, which runs in Switzerland from September 11 – 15, 2019. The source audio was provided by the Tobias Reber. More details at:

More on the Disquiet Junto at:

Subscribe to project announcements here:

Project discussion takes place on

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

. . .

Disquiet Junto Project 0401: Noise Pacing
Die Aufgabe: Verwende Hintergrundgeräusche als Beat, als Rhythmus.

Jeden Donnerstag wird der Disquiet Junto eine neue Kompositions-Challenge gestellt. Mitglieder haben dann vier Tage Zeit, ein Stück hochzuladen, in welchem sie auf die Challenge reagieren. Die Mitgliedschaft in der Junto ist offen: du kannst einfach mitmachen. (Ein SoundCloud-Account ist nützlich, aber nicht zwingend.) Es besteht keine Verpflichtung, bei jedem Projekt mitzumachen. Die Junto ist wöchentlich von Donnerstag bis Montag, so dass du immer dann mitmachen kannst wenn du Zeit hast.

Deadline: Die Abgabefrist für dieses Projekt ist der Montag, 9. September 2019 um 23.59 Uhr wo immer du bist. Das Projekt wurde am Donnerstag, 5. September 2019 gepostet.

Dies sind die Anweisungen, welche an die Email-Liste der Gruppe (unter versandt wurden:

Disquiet Junto Project 0401: Noise Pacing Die Aufgabe: Verwende Hintergrundgeräusche als Beat, als Rhythmus.

Dies ist das dritte und letzte Projekt in Zusammenarbeit mit dem Musikfestival Bern 2019, welches vom 11.-15. September stattfindet. Wir arbeiten auf Einladung von Tobias Reber, einem frühen Junto-Teilnehmer und Verantwortlicher für die Musikvermittlung beim Festival. Ausgewählte Resultate dieser Projekte werden im Rahmen des Festivals im Rauschlabor Schützenmatte ( öffentlich gespielt oder auf dem Festtivalradio, Radio Antenne (, ausgestrahlt werden. Falls du nicht möchtest, dass dein Stück dafür verwendet wird, dann vermerke dies bitte wenn du es veröffentlichst.

Weitere Informationen:

Schritt 1: Mach dich mit den Bedeutungen des Wortes «rauschen» vertraut, dem Thema des diesjährigen Festivals.

Schritt 2: Du wirst Musik kreieren, in welcher rauschende Geräusche als Beat oder rhythmisches Fundament für einen Track dienen. Mach deine weiteren Aufnahmen dazu und höre dir an was so entsteht.

Schritt 3: Wähle eines oder mehrere Geräusch-Elemente, die in Schritt 2 entstanden sind.

Schritt 4: Gestalte einen Track mit den Elementen von Schritt 3 als Beats oder rhythmisches Material, und schichte dann etwas Melodisches darüber.

Sieben weitere Wichtige Schritte wenn deine Komposition fertig ist:

Schritt 1: Verwende „disquiet0401″ (ohne Leerschläge und Anführungszeichen) im Namen deines Tracks.

Schritt 2: Falls deine Audioplattform Tags zulässt: stelle sicher dass du den Projekt-Tag „disquiet0401″ (ohne Leerschläge und Anführungszeichen) verwendest. Vor allem auf SoundCloud ist dies hilfreich um anschliessend eine Projekt-Playlist erstellen zu können.

Schritt 3: Lade deinen Track hoch. Es ist hilfreich, aber nicht zwingend, wenn du dazu SoundCloud verwendest.

Schritt 4: Poste deinen Track im folgenden Diskussions-Thread auf

Schritt 5: Füge deinem Track eine kurze Erklärung zu deiner Herangehensweise bei.

Schritt 6: Falls du den Track auf den sozialen Medien erwähnst, verwende gerne die Hashtags #disquietjunto #musikfestivalbern so dass andere Teilnehmer deinen Hinweis besser finden können.

Schritt 7: Höre und kommentiere die Stücke deiner Junto-Kolleg*innen.

Weitere Details:

Deadline: Die Abgabefrist für dieses Projekt ist der Montag, 9. September 2019 um 23.59 Uhr wo immer du bist. Das Projekt wurde am Donnerstag, 5. September 2019 gepostet.

Dauer: Die Dauer des Stückes ist dir überlassen. Kürzer ist oft besser.

Titel/Tag: Wenn du das Stück postest, verwende bitte „disquiet0401″ im Titel des Tracks und – wo möglich – als Tag.

Upload: Wenn du bei diesem Projekt mitmachst, dann poste einen fertigen Track mit dem Projekt-Tag und füge ihm eine Beschreibung deiner Vorgehensweise bei – Planung, Komposition und Aufnahme. Diese Beschreibung ist ein zentrales Element im Kommunikationsprozess der Disquiet Junto. Fotos, Video und eine Auflistung der verwendeten Instrumente sind immer willkommen.

Download: Ermögliche gerne das Herunterladen deiner Komposition und erlaube attribuiertes Remixing (z.B. eine Creative Commons-Lizenz welche nicht-kommerzielles Teilen mit Attribution erlaubt und Remixes zulässt).

Wenn du den Track online postest, füge ihm als Kontext die folgende Information bei:

Mehr über dieses 401. wöchentliche Disquiet Junto-Projekt – Noise Pacing / Die Aufgabe: Verwende Hintergrundgeräusche als Beat, als Rhythmus – unter:

Dies ist das dritte und letzte Projekt in Zusammenarbeit mit dem Musikfestival Bern 2019, welches vom 11.-15. September stattfindet. Weitere Informationen unter:

Mehr zur Disquiet Junto unter:

Abonniere die wöchentlichen Projekt-Ankündigungen hier:

Die Diskussion des Projekts findet statt auf unter:

Ausserdem gibt es einen Junto Slack-Channel. Sende deine Email-Adresse an um Zugang zum Channel zu erhalten.

Das Bild zu diesem Projekt wurde aus eine Fotografie von Tobias Reber adaptiert und wird mit seinem Einverständnis verwendet.

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Red Means Recording

UX, consent, and emotions

I was interviewed yesterday morning for something related to the Disquiet Junto, and the interviewer began, appropriately, by doing that standard interview thing where they ask if it’s OK that they record your voice. I’ve done this countless times myself, and I’m still getting used to it, to being on the other side of the proverbial and literal microphone. It turns out (and this was news to me, hence my making note of it) Skype now has a recording feature built in, so there’s no need for a handheld recorder, or for using a second app (though I would still recommend a backup). For privacy’s sake, when your Skype interlocutor elects to employ this in-app recorder, a little alert pops up in your window. The image shown here is from the upper left corner of my screen (in this case an iPad) as it appeared when the interviewer hit the record button. (I had, in turn, asked my interviewer if I could take this screenshot.) The message is a little reminder. The color red here is a standard “currently recording” tell, but in our global moment of heightened surveillance awareness it feels, as well, like a warning. Which is to say, there might be a nicer way for Skype to frame such an interaction.

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I Keep the Subtitles On at Night

A rare moment of dual diegetic ambience cues from Mindhunter

I keep the subtitles on at night. I do this to keep the house quiet, and I do this because, often as not, I’m watching some British show in which everything sounds to my American ears like an erudite mumble. In the case of Mindhunter, the Netflix serial-killer show now enjoying a second season, it’s the former. Everything stated in these East Coast accented voices is distinct and clear to my (natively) East Coast hearing — and the Southern voices, too, perhaps because the Southern accents are being spoken generally by people who want their utterances to be heard (whether they are beleaguered law enforcement, concerned bystanders, or vain convicts).

Late at night, the captions keep the living room’s televised noises from traveling too far around the house, and as a result I get glimpses at the way the hearing-impaired captioning is framing the on-screen action, the encapsulation of the sonic mise-en-scène.

This particular shot (from midway through season 2, episode 6) is a rare instance of dual caption cues. It’s far more the norm for a single sound — “footsteps,” “eerie music,” “fan rattling” — to be selected set the tone for a given moment, but here two distinct elements (“dogs barking in the distance,” “indistinct radio chatter”) combine to achieve the desired effect, the desired summary of effects, the desired way to read the scene. On TV, it’s generally the case that more than one sound is at work at a given time: score plus multiple bits of diegetic ambience, as well as dialog. (Jason Hill’s score to Mindhunter is the show’s main nod to contemporary aesthetics: all warped slivers of sound, synthesized haze, and other such meticulously designed treats.) In the moments when dialog is absent, such as here, the background sounds edge toward the foreground.

As watchers of mysteries, we, the audience, are the dogs in this picture, sniffing out (or, in this case, keeping an eye out for) clues. When two sonic cues appear, our eyes and ears are alerted simultaneously to the seriousness of the moment.

This is of course a David Fincher production, which is to say a hyper-detailed one in which the most mundane physical objects — a period vehicle, an abandoned warehouse, a small forest — is likely to be the result of hours of CGI transformation. At a moment like this, it’s not hard to imagine Fincher himself, the model of a Hollywood perfectionist, having made the call: “No, neither the dogs nor the radio alone is sufficient. We need both.”

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The Foghorn and the Marine Layer

Sound and perspective, climate and geography

To appreciate the foghorns of the San Francisco Bay, it helps to first appreciate the fog. In particular, it helps to wrap your head around what’s called the marine layer.

The foghorns can ring out on the sunniest of days, such as today, the archaic bellowing incongruous with, seemingly ignorant (to much of the city) of, how clear the sky may be. But as shown here, a dense cloud can run below the radar, as it were: a thick funnel from the ocean, into the bay, and under the Golden Gate Bridge.

My photography doesn’t do the enormity of the marine layer justice. The sheer scale of this mass is evident in person in a way my phone cannot reproduce, at least not in my hands. So, I include this visualization to show where one’s spatial-atmospheric imagination should focus. (The National Geographic vibe of that yellow border was unintentional, but I do want to acknowledge its presence.)

It’s helpful to understand something about the perspective here. The stretch of buildings visible in the center of these photos ends where it appears to end: excepting some descending hills and a narrow beach, that is a northern edge of San Francisco. Then comes the marine layer of fog, and then come the hills known as the Marin Headlands. Those hills are across the bay from the buildings. In between is simply the bay, a bay filled with fog. This is roughly the line of sight, via Google Maps’ satellite view:

As for the foghorns, they resound through parts of the city that the fog itself may never touch.

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