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

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tag: junto

The Woodshed Is a Black Box

I want to talk about the algorithms we call music communities.

On Friday, March 22, 2019, I had the great pleasure of speaking as part of the first Algorithmic Art Assembly, a two-day combination of daytime talks and evening performances. That’s the flyer for it up above, listing all the participants. This is video of my talk, “The Woodshed Is a Black Box,” which takes as its subject the algorithms we call music communities:

And here is a summary of what I discussed, partially drawn from the transcript, partially clarified, and partially expanded upon. All the images seen here are slides from the deck that I used in my presentation:

Thanks, everyone — to my fellow participants, to everyone attending, to Gray Area for hosting, and to Thorsten Sideb0ard for putting this amazing event together, and for the invitation to present and participate.

We’re here for the next two days and nights to talk about algorithms and culture — in a variety of disciplines and from a variety of perspectives. The algorithmic culture I’m going to focus on in this talk is one that occurs within music communities.

I want to talk about the algorithms we call music communities.

The petri dish in which this activity takes place is often called, in musician vernacular, the “woodshed.”

The “woodshed” is the classic place to which a musician retreats in order to practice, to work things through, to self-improve. This venture is often thought of as a solitary one — a self-funded, low-budget “artist’s retreat of one.” I will also show that the solitary aspect of it actually isn’t necessarily the case, or the optimal case.

Now, “woodshed” is the sort of word that doesn’t really require detailed etymological dissection when being introduced as a topic. You put “wood” and “shed” together, and you kind of get the picture. One thing that should be noted, though, is that “woodshed” is more often, in this context, not a noun but a verb. One may “go to a woodshed” as a musician, certainly — but more likely, one will “woodshed.”

The word “woodshed” has particular presence in jazz, and it appears frequently in the biographies and autobiographies of jazz musicians. This bit is from Louis Armstrong: An Extravagant Life, Laurence Bergreen’s 1997 book on the early jazz trumpeter.

The “Lil,” named here, providing this anecdote is Lil Hardin Armstrong, Satchmo’s second wife (second of four, if you’re keeping track). I like that even from the vantage of the 1920s, the word “woodshed” was already a throwback to a still-earlier time.

This probably goes without saying, but one other thing to note about woodshedding is that it’s only really woodshedding if it takes a toll, hence the comment about Armstrong’s nerves.

The woodshed I’d like to invite you into is one called the “Disquiet Junto.” It’s a music community that’s been running for — well, it’s into its eighth year now. Specifically, it’s now in its 377th consecutive week, as of yesterday, March 21st, 2019.

I know the weekly count is up to 377, because weekly projects are the organizing principle of the Disquiet Junto community.

The way the Junto works is as follows. Each Thursday a compositional prompt is sent out to the music community — currently 1,300+ people on the email announcement list — and they have until the following Monday to respond with a piece of music.

I’ll talk more about the Junto shortly, but since we’re gathered in San Francisco to engage with algorithms and culture, how about we start things off by making some culture? Read more »

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Disquiet Junto Project 0420: Luna Tick

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

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, January 20, 2020, at 11:59pm (that is, just before midnight) wherever you are. It was posted on Thursday, January 16, 2020.

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

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

Thanks to George Kelly, whose suggestion inspired this project. Just one step this week.

Step 1: Lunar New Year is fast approaching. Celebrate it by making a piece of music that is inspired by the phases of the moon.

Seven More Important Steps When Your Track Is Done:

Step 1: Include “disquiet0420” (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 “disquiet0420” (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 llllllll.co:

https://llllllll.co/t/disquiet-junto-project-0420-luna-tick/

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 hashtag #disquietjunto 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, January 20, 2020, at 11:59pm (that is, just before midnight) wherever you are. It was posted on Thursday, January 16, 2020.

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

Title/Tag: When posting your track, please include “disquiet0420” 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 420th weekly Disquiet Junto project — Luna Tick / The Assignment: Make music that proceeds according to the phases of the moon, in celebration of Lunar New Year — at:

https://disquiet.com/0420/

Thanks to George Kelly, whose suggestion inspired this project.

More on the Disquiet Junto at:

https://disquiet.com/junto/

Subscribe to project announcements here:

http://tinyletter.com/disquiet-junto/

Project discussion takes place on llllllll.co:

https://llllllll.co/t/disquiet-junto-project-0420-luna-tick/

There’s also a Disquiet Junto Slack. Send your email address to twitter.com/disquiet for Slack inclusion.

The image associated with this track is by Manu Mejias, and is used (image cropped, text added) via Flickr thanks to a Creative Commons license:

https://flic.kr/p/sURFV7

https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/

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Disquiet Junto Project 0419: Dischoir

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

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, January 13, 2020, at 11:59pm (that is, just before midnight) wherever you are. It was posted on Thursday, January 9, 2020.

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 tinyletter.com/disquiet-junto):

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

Step 1: Welcome to a large, asynchronous, distributed choir. The Dischoir consists of 113 samples of held syllables by over 50 participants in the Disquiet Junto. You can access the files at the following URL. Note that a few of them deviate from the initial instructions:

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/pkuvmzwcdz6dx27/AACUsNclLLqToLp-OJWVkaQXa?dl=0

Step 2: Create a piece of choral music from the provided samples. You are encouraged to make music that feels “human,” that feels like it is simply a lot of people singing at once. However, of course, the end result is up to you; you can and should mix, mash, and create as you please.

Background: This all came about as a result of something Alan Bland mentioned on the Junto Slack. He pointed out that my having misspelled Disquiet as “Disquier” in the December 19, 2019, project title made him think of “Dischoir,” a possible Junto project. Thanks to Alan and to Jason Wehmhoener for helping me think this project through, and to everyone (over 50 contributors) who sent in samples.

Seven More Important Steps When Your Track Is Done:

Step 1: Include “disquiet0419” (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 “disquiet0419” (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 llllllll.co:

https://llllllll.co/t/disquiet-junto-project-0419-dischoir/

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 hashtag #disquietjunto 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, January 13, 2020, at 11:59pm (that is, just before midnight) wherever you are. It was posted on Thursday, January 9, 2020.

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

Title/Tag: When posting your track, please include “disquiet0419” 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 419th weekly Disquiet Junto project — Dischoir / The Assignment: Make music from 100+ vocal samples of held syllables by members of the Disquiet Junto — at:

https://disquiet.com/0419/

This all came about as a result of something Alan Bland mentioned on the Junto Slack. He pointed out that my having misspelled Disquiet as “Disquier” in the December 19, 2019, project title made him think of “Dischoir,” a possible Junto project. Thanks to Alan and to Jason Wehmhoener for helping me think this project through, and to everyone (over 50 contributors) who sent in samples.

More on the Disquiet Junto at:

https://disquiet.com/junto/

Subscribe to project announcements here:

http://tinyletter.com/disquiet-junto/

Project discussion takes place on llllllll.co:

https://llllllll.co/t/disquiet-junto-project-0419-dischoir/

There’s also a Disquiet Junto Slack. Send your email address to twitter.com/disquiet for Slack inclusion.

The image associated with this track is by Joe Lencioni, and is used (image cropped, text added) via Flickr thanks to a Creative Commons license:

https://flic.kr/p/8Bk9Rx

https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/

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Disquiet Junto Project 0418: Ice-Nine

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

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, January 6, 2020, at 11:59pm (that is, just before midnight) wherever you are. It was posted on Thursday, January 2, 2020.

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 tinyletter.com/disquiet-junto):

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

Welcome to a new year (the ninth!) of Disquiet Junto communal music projects. This week’s project is as follows. It’s the same project we’ve begun each year with since the very first Junto project, way back in January 2012. The project is, per tradition, just this one step:

Step 1: Please record the sound of an ice cube rattling in a glass, and make something of it.

Background: Longtime participants in, and observers of, the Disquiet Junto series will recognize this single-sentence assignment — “Please record the sound of an ice cube rattling in a glass, and make something of it” — as the very first Disquiet Junto project, the same one that launched the series back on the first Thursday of January 2012. Revisiting it at the start of each year since has provided a fitting way to begin the new year. At the start of the ninth year of the Disquiet Junto, it is a tradition. A weekly project series can come to overemphasize novelty, and it’s helpful to revisit old projects as much as it is to engage with new ones. Also, by its very nature, the Disquiet Junto suggests itself as a fast pace: a four-day production window, a regular if not weekly habit. It can be beneficial to step back and see things from a longer perspective.

Bonus: If you don’t have time to record ice yourself, longtime and frequent Junto member Jason Richardson has provided for your use both an audio file (mediafire.com) and a video file (mediafire.com).

Seven More Important Steps When Your Track Is Done:

Step 1: Include “disquiet0418” (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 “disquiet0418” (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 llllllll.co:

https://llllllll.co/t/disquiet-junto-project-0418-ice-nine/

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 hashtag #disquietjunto 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, January 6, 2020, at 11:59pm (that is, just before midnight) wherever you are. It was posted on Thursday, January 2, 2020.

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

Title/Tag: When posting your track, please include “disquiet0418” 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 418th weekly Disquiet Junto project — Ice-Nine / The Assignment: Record the sound of ice in a glass and make something of it — at:

https://disquiet.com/0418/

More on the Disquiet Junto at:

https://disquiet.com/junto/

Subscribe to project announcements here:

http://tinyletter.com/disquiet-junto/

Project discussion takes place on llllllll.co:

https://llllllll.co/t/disquiet-junto-project-0418-ice-nine/

There’s also a Disquiet Junto Slack. Send your email address to twitter.com/disquiet for Slack inclusion.

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Disquiet Junto 0417: Changes Tracker

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

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, December 30, 2019, at 11:59pm (that is, just before midnight) wherever you are. It was posted on Thursday, December 26, 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 tinyletter.com/disquiet-junto):

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

As is the tradition at the end of each calendar year, this week’s project is a sound journal, a selective audio history of your past twelve months.

Step 1: You will select a different audio element to represent each of the past 12 months of 2019 — or you might choose even more elements, choosing an audio element for each week, or each day, for example. These audio elements will most likely be of music that you have yourself composed and recorded, but they might also consist of phone messages, field recordings, or other source material. These items should be somehow personal in nature, suitable to the autobiographical intention of the project; they should be of your own making, and not drawn from third-party sources.

Step 2: You will then select one segment from each of these (mostly likely) dozen audio elements (if you’re doing a dozen items, one for each month, then five-second segments are recommended).

Step 3: Then you will stitch these segments together in chronological order to form one single track. There should be no overlap or gap between segments; they should simply proceed from one to the next.

Step 4: In the notes field accompanying the track, identify each of the audio segments.

Seven More Important Steps When Your Track Is Done:

Step 1: Include “disquiet0417” (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 “disquiet0417” (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 llllllll.co:

https://llllllll.co/t/disquiet-junto-project-0417-changes-tracker/

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 hashtag #disquietjunto 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, December 30, 2019, at 11:59pm (that is, just before midnight) wherever you are. It was posted on Thursday, December 26, 2019.

Length: The length is up to you.

Title/Tag: When posting your track, please include “disquiet0417” 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 417th weekly Disquiet Junto project — Changes Tracker / The Assignment: Create a sonic diary of the past year with a dozen (or more) super-brief segments — at:

https://disquiet.com/0417/

More on the Disquiet Junto at:

https://disquiet.com/junto/

Subscribe to project announcements here:

http://tinyletter.com/disquiet-junto/

Project discussion takes place on llllllll.co:

https://llllllll.co/t/disquiet-junto-project-0417-changes-tracker/

There’s also a Disquiet Junto Slack. Send your email address to twitter.com/disquiet for Slack inclusion.

The image associated with this track is by kntsmd, and is used (image cropped, text added) via Flickr thanks to a Creative Commons license:

https://flic.kr/p/7ngP9u

https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/

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