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

Listening to art.
Playing with audio.
Sounding out technology.
Composing in code.

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Got Those Junto Blues

Kurt Anderson's Studio 360 and John Schaefer's Soundcheck both praise Disquiet Junto tracks.

The winning entry — well, one of two tying winning entries — in a blues-song cover challenge launched by Kurt Anderson’s Studio 360 radio show was the work of a Disquiet Junto regular, and the result of a Disquiet Junto project.

Back on May 8, Studio 360 announced its “1914 Blues Challenge,” in which listeners would create covers of the W.C. Handy blues classic “The Yellow Dog Blues,” which turns 100 this year. And today the show announced the winners, as chosen by guest judge Chocolate Genius, aka Marc Anthony Thompson. Thompson couldn’t decide between two entries, one of them by Junto regular Westy Reflector, aka Dave Westreich. The other winner was Kelly Pratt, who records as Bright Moments.

Here’s the Studio 360 announcement:

And here’s Westy Reflector’s cover:

Challenges like the blues cover initiated by Studio 360 have a lot in common with the Disquiet Junto: open calls based around a specific prompt. I’m always on the lookout for an external project that seems like it would be fun to put forward to the Junto, especially a project where the Junto’s interest in abstract sound might provide some unique contributions. This particular Studio 360 project seemed especially appropriate because of the sense in which the blues was never fully about composition as an end, but about a rich community of shared source material. The blues, like other forms of folk music, is a source of inspiration for the Creative Commons, and this seemed like a good time to make that connection. That connection is emphasized in the Studio 360 broadcast, when it’s mentioned how in the blues “lyrics are passed form person to person, generation to generation.”

And I just learned today, as well, that a month ago on John Schaefer’s Soundcheck radio show, two more Junto entries from the “Yellow Dog” project were commended, versions by Tom Anderson and Ethan Hein. Here’s the broadcast, from May 28:

Here’s Tom Anderson’s version:

Here’s Ethan Hein’s version:

And here is the full Junto project, which was number 125:

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Disquiet Junto Project 0130: Filtered Melody

Create a composition by altering an ongoing loop.

20140626-filteredmelody

Each Thursday at the Disquiet Junto group on SoundCloud.com 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.

This project was published in the evening, California time, on Thursday, June 26, with 11:59pm on the following Monday, June 30, 2014, as the deadline.

These are the instructions that went out to the group’s email list (sign up at tinyletter.com/disquiet-junto):

Disquiet Junto Project 0130: Filtered Melody

These are the steps for this week’s project:

Step 1: Create a short melodic phrase, between three and six seconds in length, and loop it for between one minute and two minutes. The phrase can be created from scratch or extracted from a pre-existing source.

Step 2: Create an original composition only by filtering in various ways the loop. You can influence the sound as you wish. Just don’t introduce any additional external sounds. The goal is to produce a sense of compositional development without actually altering the melody.

Step 3: Upload the track to the Disquiet Junto group on SoundCloud, following the directions below.

Deadline: Monday, June 30, 2014, at 11:59pm wherever you are.

Length: The length of your finished work will be between one and two minutes.

Information: Please when posting your track on SoundCloud, 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.

Title/Tag: When adding your track to the Disquiet Junto group on Soundcloud.com, please include the term “disquiet0130-filteredmelody” in the title of your track, and as a tag for your track.

Download: It is preferable that your track is set as downloadable, and that it allows for attributed remixing (i.e., a Creative Commons license permitting non-commercial sharing with attribution).

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

More on this 130th Disquiet Junto project — “Create a composition by altering an ongoing loop”— at:

Disquiet Junto Project 0130: Filtered Melody

More on the Disquiet Junto at:

The Disquiet Junto Project List (0001 – 0279 …)

Join the Disquiet Junto at:

Disquiet Junto general discussion takes place at:

https://disquiet.com/forums

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Disquiet Junto Project 0129: Sonic Emoji

Create tones to match five of the new emoji.

20140719-sonicemoji

Each Thursday at the Disquiet Junto group on SoundCloud.com 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.

This project was published in the evening, California time, on Thursday, June 19, with 11:59pm on the following Monday, June 23, 2014, as the deadline.

These are the instructions that went out to the group’s email list (sign up at tinyletter.com/disquiet-junto):

Disquiet Junto Project 0129: Sonic Emoji

Emoji are compact electronic visual symbols for various things, ranging from objects to ideas to emotions. This week an announcement was made by the Unicode Consortium that 240 new emoji are due to be introduced. We will, in this project, devise sonic complements to those same objects, ideas, and emotions. The sounds should bear the hallmarks of emoji: concision, self-evidence, a willful genericness, and humor.

Here are the steps:

Step 1: Download the PDF emoji chart from the following URL:

http://cdn0.vox-cdn.com/assets/4629797/U70-1F300.pdf

Step 2: Look at the document. Note the items that are highlighted. Those are the 240 new emoji.

Step 3: Using a random selection process of your own devising, decide upon 5 of the 240 new emoji.

Step 4: Create short (less than three seconds each) sonic equivalents for each of your 5 emoji. Do not use any words in these sounds.

Step 5: Record a single track containing each of these 5 sonic emoji. Repeat each one 3 times. Include a brief pause between each repetition.

Step 6: Upload the track to the Disquiet Junto group on SoundCloud, following the directions below. Be sure to list the subjects of the 5 emoji in the notes associated with your track.

Deadline: Monday, June 23, 2014, at 11:59pm wherever you are.

Length: The length of your finished work will likely between 20 seconds and 60 seconds.

Information: Please when posting your track on SoundCloud, 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.

Title/Tag: When adding your track to the Disquiet Junto group on Soundcloud.com, please include the term “disquiet0129-sonicemoji” in the title of your track, and as a tag for your track.

Download: It is preferable that your track is set as downloadable, and that it allows for attributed remixing (i.e., a Creative Commons license permitting non-commercial sharing with attribution).

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

More on this 129th Disquiet Junto project — “Create tones to match five of the new emoji”— at:

Disquiet Junto Project 0129: Sonic Emoji

More on the Disquiet Junto at:

The Disquiet Junto Project List (0001 – 0279 …)

Join the Disquiet Junto at:

Disquiet Junto general discussion takes place at:

https://disquiet.com/forums

Image associated with this project via:

http://goo.gl/m2bSoC

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“Radiophonic Satie”

My ukulele, my nascent modular synth setup, and I set out to try out realtime processing.

20140614-radiophonicsatie

This is a recording of fake, Radiophonic space-age Satie that I attempted with a combination of my ukulele and the modular synthesis kit I’ve been slowly experimenting with. The short version is I’m trying to use the modular synth as a realtime processing unit, taking in the sound of the ukulele and making something of it. The thing I’m especially trying to do here is to use the system to introduce a varying, random range of sonic responses to — halos around, reflections of — the inbound signal, so that the overall sound with each echoing ring of an individual note has its own flavor.

The best part, for me, of this experiment was getting a sense of sympathy with the machine, getting a sense of what it was responding to, what it was capable of responding to, and capable of expressing, and then playing at a pace that complemented those capacities. Anyhow, I had a good time working on this. The photo associated with this track shows the patch. And one point of clarification: I didn’t touch the modular synthesizer once while recording this. Any alterations in the sound as the recording proceeds were the direct result of the patch functioning on its own.

For folks following the development of my setup, the bottom row are modules I own and the top row are loaners from a friend.

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Score to a Drone Battle

If I could draw, this is what I would draw.

The track is “-” — just a hyphen — by the Teapot. The initial crunch has the foreboding intensity of a robot army slowly making its way through thick snow. It’s a rough, scratchy white noise that comes in deep, mechanical clusters. If I could draw, I would draw a story that “-” suggests. There would be no robots pictured for the first 1:45 of the track’s 6:40 running time. Then, after a brief silence that falsely suggests relief, we’d spy the army from up high, its steady march viewed at a greater distance, but no less anxious-making. At 2:30, we’d switch to robot-eye-view, as members of the army slow to a halt and send a scout ahead. At 3:00 we see what the scout sees, a base for another robot army, this one consisting of hovering drones. We’d then go deep in the drone base, where amid the waves of drone activity we’d overhear the opposing forces making their own plans. These flying drones aren’t as resilient as they seem. Something is amiss in flying-drone central. The drone leader, wounded, is slowly fading. Amid unintelligible but dire communication, a new plan is hatched. At 5:30, the flying drones send a massive, near-silent robot high above the approaching army. It surveys the landscape, and witnesses just how outnumbered the flying drones are. This lone flying drone, aloft, makes a fateful decision, and just keeps flying, further and further away.

But I can’t draw.

Track originally posted for free download at soundcloud.com/theteapot.

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