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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Disquiet Junto Project 0300: The 300th Project

3 chords x 100 seconds

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.

This project’s deadline is 11:59pm (that is, just before midnight) wherever you are on Monday, October 2, 2017. This project was posted in the late morning, San Francisco time, on Thursday, September 28, 2017.

Tracks will be added to the above 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 0300: The 300th Project
3 chords x 100 seconds

Step 1: For the 300th consecutive weekly Disquiet Junto project, choose a chord. Read the 6 steps of these instructions all the way through before making a decisions about instrumentation (Step 2) or recording (Steps 3 and 4). Understanding the intended end result will potentially influence those decisions.

Step 2: Choose three different instruments on which to play the chord selected in Step 1.

Step 3: Record yourself playing for 100 seconds that chord on the first of the instruments you chose in Step 2. You may want to record slightly longer than 100 seconds and edit back. Not every instrument has infinite sustain. You may need to use different techniques (strumming, sequencing, preparing, etc.) to achieve the 100 seconds. Consider those different techniques and the role they’ll have in the resulting sound.

Step 4: Repeat Step 3 for each of the other two instruments from Step 2. Consider how the three instruments, as well as the techniques you employ to play them, will correlate with each other.

Step 5: Layer the three tracks you have recorded. Perhaps fade in at the start and out at the end.

Step 6: Bonus round: Your piece is completed, but if you have the time and interest, consider subtly tweaking with filters and other means one or more of the three track you recorded.

Five More Important Steps When Your Track Is Done:

Step 1: If your hosting platform allows for tags, be sure to include the project tag “disquiet0300” (no spaces) in the name of your track. If you’re posting on SoundCloud in particular, this is essential to my locating the tracks and creating a playlist of them.

Step 2: Upload your track. It is helpful but not essential that you use SoundCloud to host your track.

Step 3: In the following discussion thread at llllllll.co please consider posting your track:

https://llllllll.co/t/disquiet-junto-the-300th-consecutive-weekly-project/

Step 4: Annotate your track with a brief explanation of your approach and process.

Step 5: Then listen to and comment on tracks uploaded by your fellow Disquiet Junto participants.

Deadline: This project’s deadline is 11:59pm (that is, just before midnight) wherever you are on Monday, October 2, 2017. This project was posted in the afternoon, San Francisco time, on Thursday, September 28, 2017.

Length: The finished track should be roughly 100 seconds long.

Title/Tag: When posting your track, please include “disquiet0300” 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: 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 online, please be sure to include this information:

More on this 300th weekly Disquiet Junto project (3 chords x 100 seconds) at:

https://disquiet.com/0300/

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-the-300th-consecutive-weekly-project/

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

Image associated with this project is by Greg Williams is used thanks to a Creative Commons license allowing for non-commercial use and adaptation:

flic.kr/p/9U68Ep

creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/

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Augmented Japanese Neo-Classical

From Shinji Wakasa, straight outta Yokosuka

The neo-classical piano at the start of Shinji Wakasa’s track “Swimmy” is lovely enough unto itself, a gentle line heard as if through a felt screen, not so much muffled as it is coddled and framed, softened and nestled. And then the light transformations are introduced, wisps of synthesizer flourishes, backward masks that merge with the sound source, fibrous shoots of sound that for mere moments seem to fix the nostalgic melody in something more proximate to the present. And then the past forges back into the foreground. The synthesis isn’t so much evidence of a hybrid as it is of an augment, an upgrade, a fissure. It’s absolutely beautiful.

Track originally posted at soundcloud.com/user-666602380. More from Shinji Wakasa, aka Hitsuji Sound Factory, who is based in Yokosuka, Japan, at hitsujisound.com.

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Olga Palomäki Makes Sonic Spaces for Dark Stories

A work of ever-shifting sound design by the Helsinki-based musician

Olga Palomäki’s piercing, churning, often frightening “Groundwork” transforms everyday noise into something bracing and enigmatic. It’s urban cacophony rendered as a hyperreal installation. It’s echoes in which the original source audio is entirely lost to the hall of sonic mirrors. What for a moment is just rain on a heavily trafficked street is suddenly a warped blanket of strangeness. The humming of a tunnel is suddenly a zombie chorus. Industrial clanging proceeds as the sense of scale sways from skyscraper cladding to slide-door rattling. The end effect is prime cinema for the ear, not necessarily telling stories, but laying out the scene for countless ones. It lacks the metronomic pulse of minimal techno, the nihilism of overt noise music, and the utility of a generic sound design cue. It’s its own thing, its own unnerving place, its own richly detailed setting.

Track originally posted at soundcloud.com/olgapalomaki. More from Palomäki, who is based in Helsinki, Finland, at olgapalomaki.net and vimeo.com.

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Don’t Listen So Much as Submerge

A brief aquatic setting by Sweden-based Pythagora

Part squishy aquarium gurgle, part off-kilter rhythmic patterning, part droney melodic quaver, “Nord” by Pythagora is a brief glimpse at a synthetic sound world. Its component parts are so distinct from each other that the finished piece feels more like sound design than like a musical composition, in that it seems more about setting a sense of place than about expressing a narrative — which, come to think of it, is a fine alternate definition of ambient music. Now, virtually any music can be said to suggest a place, whether through direct or indirect association, through genre or lyrical content. What makes a piece like “Nord” ambient is its emphasis on place and mood above all else. (Presumably it is part of a larger construction, because it ends quite suddenly.) There is no development, per se, though some elements do appear to shift in relative importance. What there is is a depth that situates the listener amid the composition. You don’t listen so much as you submerge.

Track originally posted at soundcloud.com/pythagora. Pythagora is Dan Henry Pålsson of Malmö, Sweden.

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The Self-Education of Synthesist Emily Sprague

A great podcast interview on Sound + Process

Emily Sprague patches her modular synthesizer, sets it running, and checks in on it hours, even days, later to figure out where the generative invention has meandered and matured, what strange familiar-yet-unfamiliar music it’s gotten up to. She initiated her relatively recent self-education by mainlining module manuals and studying the videos of a handful of people (notably Lightbath and r beny) whose aesthetic and approach appealed to her (i.e., largely ambient, if gently melodic, and lacking a fixed rhythm). She says she likes tap tempo, for the organic feel, and certain filters, for their ability to self-oscillate. She began to share videos of her own work in part to replenish the well from which she’d drawn, and also out of an awareness that modular synths are a male-dominated thing.

Here’s an early such video, from May 2016:

And here’s a gentle, burbling track from about a year ago:

These are just some of the things we learn in the excellent eighth episode of the Sound + Process podcast hosted by Dan Derks. Interspersed in the podcast are demos of the music that will appear on her forthcoming solo modular synth album. Sprague, who also is part of the folk-pop band Florist, talks about gaining fluency with patching by buying and selling modules, seeing what works for her and what doesn’t, and how warm and welcoming the synth community, in particular on the llllllll.co (also known as Lines) message board, has proved to be.

And after listening to Sprague speak for an hour, you also can check out some of her band Florist’s music, and hear that same voice sing. This track is “What I Wanted to Hold,” off the forthcoming Florist album If Blue Could Be Happiness, which is to be released on September 29, 2017:

More from Emily Sprague at soundcloud.com/mlesprg and twitter.com/emyspraguemusic, and her YouTube channel. Subscribe to the Sound + Process podcast via iTunes or RSS.

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