Disquiet Junto 0302 Gronkytonk



The Junto this week asks for a gronkytonk single, based on the genre described in Malka Older’s novel Infomacracy.

Honkytonk is a style of piano playing that emphasises rhythm and the word 'gronk' suggested something atonal or misshapen.

It seemed like an opportunity to use the recording I'd made of a statue earlier in the year, which was sitting on my desktop along with drums from last year.

I spent a while making loops from my tapping on the statue, then layered them up before giving a structure that built up as it went.

Then I experimented with re-pitching some of the loops and added gates to try and stop it from getting too muddy.

What’s your favorite sound?



C: What’s your favorite sound?
M: I tend to think of sound in context, not alone. I teach a course about the role of sound in the media landscape, and I structured the course that way because I didn't want to do a sound studies project that suggested that sound must be considered in hermetic, theoretical isolation. The brain isn't an anechoic chamber. If anything, it's the opposite. If anything, we as humans are the opposite. Sound occurs in the context of the moment it resounds, in the way we experience it physically, and also amid the non-linear accumulation of personal and cultural associations it brings to mind. All of which said, if I had to choose one sound as a favorite, it would be the sound of ice in a glass. That is, specifically the sound of ice cubes put in a cold beverage, and especially when those cubes crackle and pop as they ever so slowly change composition. That sound is the subject of the very first Disquiet Junto, when I asked musicians to record the sound of ice in a glass and make something of it. It was already a sound I liked. I drink a small glass of iced coffee every morning, always with a couple ice cubes in it. But because of what the Junto has become, that sound has become rich with personal meaning and associations, which have in turn reinforced it as a favorite, as a true touchstone. When I did the first Junto project, that sound was the subject of it because I liked the sound. Now every morning when I drink iced coffee, I think in turn of the Junto.

Disquiet Junto 0300 The 300th Project



The 300th Junto project asks for three chords over 100 seconds.

Timing was tricky for this project in a couple of ways. I'd just returned from a week camping and didn't time the length of the chords, so they ended up a bit short.

Delay was added in Live to stretch the electric ukulele, Nashville-tuned guitar and bass to the desired length.

When the DJ drops Thriller

Stockhausen's Helicopter Quartet



When I read about Karlheinz Stockhausen's Helicopter Quartet it seemed like a concept that wouldn't be realised, yet this version from 2012 isn't the first performance. That happened in 1995, only two years after it was written.

Apparently

Disquiet Junto 0299 10bpm Waltz



The Disquiet Junto this week asks for a waltz at 10bpm.

Think I ended up thinking about how 20bpm differs from 10bpm than considering what 10 beats per minute means and feels like. Rather than thinking about the instance of how the down beat of 10 bpm differs from, say, 20 bpm,

In the process I noticed that Ableton Live will only go down to 20bpm and the Ohmboyz delay said 80bpm. Ten beats per minute just is. So. Very. Slow.

It took me a while to settle on an approach for this Junto. On Saturday I started reminding myself of a chord progression on the ukulele and ended up playing arpeggios. This helped to pick the six-note sequences on the four strings of my electric uke in 3/4 time signature.

The track was recorded in a single take, then I've added two delays to flesh it out.

The video was shot on Friday morning when I couldn’t sleep. I guess this happens often enough that on the morning I heard the sprinklers and went back to the house to get my camera. I’ve often admired the way the floodlight projects the gum tree onto a screen of water created by the sprinklers.

If I was a music reviewer



Clearly music criticism isn't what it used to be.

When I wrote music reviews it seemed best to try and be objective.

So I'd guess the music critic above has a novel way of listening to albums for the guitar to get that effect :)

Disquiet Junto 0298 Dungeons & Drum Machines



The Disquiet Junto this week uses dice as a compositional tool in the style of rolling character attributes in the Dungeons and Dragons roleplaying game.

As shown, I rolled a 13 and a 14. Notes were DCAGAF, beats were a half note then two quarter notes.

Then I thought I'd roll four 10-sided dice to determine tempo, getting 99 and 93. That led to 192bpm but the track has a halftime feel, I think.

This track was recorded quickly using a Jomox kick and the 707's high hats through chorus and Space Echo pedals.

I played the chords on my MIDI guitar and ran them through an Oddity pad, before adding a bassline.

The track opens with D minor but I decided to experiment with a bassline in G, as I remembered that I find those two chords hard to distinguish.

The result, like Dungeons and Dragons, doesn't really resolve.

And, again like D&D, I found myself in a daydream every time I'd hit play. If there hadn't been a deadline of Monday night, I mightn't have ever exported this result.

What instrument do you play?



Click on the image for the punchline!

Disquiet Junto 0297 Domestic Chorus



The Junto this week asks for a domestic portrait.

After I found the bathroom door no longer squeaked, I wasn't sure what to record.

Then I remembered the toasted sandwich I'd filmed but had yet to edit. It was waiting for an appropriate track but instead I found loops within it to build a song.

If you haven't seen my remarkable sandwiches, there are more here.

None of the loops have been repitched but I did run one through a resonator and another through a Sinevibes effect.

I seem to have edited myself out of the conversation, probably because I prefer to hear my partner's voice.

A Future In Commons



The Juntos responding to the imprisonment of Bassel have been among the most poignant, particularly the one that drew on his letter from prison in Syria.

Rupert Lally put together this compilation from Junto tracks and all the proceeds go to a memorial fund hosted in Bassel's name by Creative Commons.

His name was Bassel Khartabil. He was a coder and open-source advocate born in Syria, the same country that would later imprison him and execute him. During his incarceration, and during the extended period when his death was presumed but not yet confirmed, his story became a rallying point around the world. His plight inspired essays, and conference sessions, and political statements. And it inspired music. All the tracks in this collection are sourced from different projects undertaken by members of the Disquiet Junto music community to keep Bassel’s story alive.

1000

Just noticed I've now published 1000 posts on this blog.

Headphones

This cynical comic about the marketing of headphones stirred some discussion among friends on Facebook.

While I've never tried Beats headphones, I have recently bought a new pair of cans.

A friend trumpeted Sennheiser HD650 and Sonarworks Reference software, which uses EQ calibration to correct the sound in the headphones.

This software has been good for my mixing, which has increasingly relied on using headphones since I realised the room I use needs treatment and I was overcompensating the lower frequencies.

Hopefully I've moved on from muddy sounding mixes like this one.



I bought a pair of HD600 after reading a few reviews and decided to draw the line at paying the extra $80.

The Sennheisers are a nice pair of headphones. I found the packaging over the top but there is a sense they provide extra detail, although they aren't as comfortable to wear as my cheaper cans.

The other headphones I have are AKG K240s, which are closed and get a bit hot around the ears in warmer months.

These AKGs are mostly used while recording but provide a very flat and somewhat clinical response, although there is a sense the higher frequencies can vary from how a mix will sound over speakers.

I also have several pairs of Grado headphones, their SR60 and SR60i and a pair of Alessandro Grado that my brother thought were rubbish and gave to me.

I used these last pair lots in recent years and like them for comfort and the flattering warm mid-range.

Thanks Ableton

Ever since I embraced video editing with Ableton Live, it's simplified my workflow for remixing and enabled me to stop using Soundcloud.

For a while there was a drawback in the way Live would shrink video resolution and change the frame rate of footage.

I've written about this previously and was surprised to find it was about a year ago that I wondered whether Ableton would address this in their tenth version of Live.

So I was surprised when I exported a video yesterday and saw a bunch of new options.

It turns out that when I updated to Live 9.7 last weekend that they've started to address my video export wishes.

Thanks Ableton! Wonder if this points to future developments incorporating video into the digital audio workstation?

Casio on Hipsta

Like PC Hipsta, I have a Casio keyboard.

Disquiet Junto 0296 Clustered Primes




The Disquiet Junto this week involves interpreting prime numbers.

I'd had a conversation with my son earlier in the week about composing music that uses overlapping time signatures.

It's one of those techniques that I return to from time to time, particularly using a 4/4 drum beat with a 3/4 bassline.

This song adds a 5/4 drum beat and a 7/8 organ part.

The looped vocal introduces each part. The lyric about three accompanies the 3/4 303-style part, then discusses five as the drums begin, before mentioning seven with the organ.

The lyrics were quickly written and recorded. I think I could spend more time de-essing them though.

Please share this picture


Sharawadji

The Sharawadji effect is an aesthetic effect which characterises the sensation of plenitude sometimes created by the contemplation of a complex soundscape whose beauty is unexplainable. This exotic term, which travellers introduced to Europe in the 17th Century from their journeys to China, designates the beauty that comes about without perceiving the order or economy of the object in question. The effect comes about as a surprise and will carry you elsewhere, beyond strict representation - out of context. In this brutal confusion, the senses get lost. A beautiful Sharawadji plays with the rules of composition, manipulates them and awakens a feeling of pleasure through perceptual confusion.Whether in a dreamlike or anxious state, we are sometimes completely deaf to the environment. However while on a walk or on a journey, our spirit can combine availability, attention, perspicacity and therefore become receptive to new things, including sonic fantasy.The beautiful Sharawadji affirms itself in contrast with the banality from which it originates. Sharawadji sounds, as such, belong to everyday life or to known musical registers. They only become Sharawadji by decontextualisation, by a rupture of the senses. The sonic matter that encourages the Sharawadji effect is up to the appreciation of each individual, in a given context, however the soundscape, and in particular urban soundscapes can, as a result of their unpredictability and diversity, favour it. The sonic wealth of nature is also susceptible of creating the Sharawadji effect.

-- Jean-François Augoyard and Henry Torgue, À l'écoute de l'environnement, répertoire des effets sonores (a dictionary of sound effects) , 1995 (translated by Claude Schryer)

John Luther Adams on renewing human consciousness and culture

"Music," Adams said, "has a particular power not just to illustrate or instruct but to allow us to be more fully present in the world. I actually do believe that music can serve as a sounding model for the renewal of human consciousness and culture."

Naviarhaiku190 – Poisoned Waterhole



The haiku shared by Naviar Records this week is the fifth and final in the Crossing Streams collaboration with Western Riverina Arts as part of an exhibition planned for Narrandera this October.

My response employs a technique promoted by my sometime collaborator Garlo Jo, where the wind plays the guitar. See his Vent de Guitares website for more.

The passing traffic worked well to vibrate the strings, then it started to rain and the effect was magic.

It's a small thing but I decided not to edit the recording other than to enhance it with reverb and delay, as well as EQ and compression and re-amping effects as it was a direct recording from the guitar.

So those arpeggio-like notes near the end as the rain falls are the water droplets hitting the strings, which become increasingly muted as the shower continues.

Modern recording


Disquiet Junto 0294 Offline Status



The Disquiet Junto this week continued remembering Bassel Khartabil, a Creative Commons web developer who was killed by the Syrian government in 2015.

Black Sabbath matters

Naviarhaiku189 – Verdant town of trees



The haiku shared by Naviar Records this week is by Narrandera Library manager Sue Killham, who has supported workshops I've held at that venue.

My response aims to sound busy, as the town Narrandera has a wide river flowing past and is on the junction of two highways. It's no coincidence roads follow rivers, as I learned developing a soundtrack to the Reimagining the Murrumbidgee exhibition in 2013.

The result hopes to sound like a jazz sextet with double bass, percussion, drums, clarinet and flute. The video, my 65th responding to Naviar haikus, doesn't present verdant trees because the blossoms of the wattle are much more eye-catching as they announce that spring is on its way.

Disquiet Junto 0293 Emerge/Immerse



Not sure I paid enough attention to the Junto instructions to: "record a short piece of music, up to two minutes, that is about something emerging — something being brought to life, or coming out of a cave, or otherwise coming into being."

My track brings into being a chord progression I've been playing over the last few days.

I've used the Rhodes-style instrument with the MIDI guitar and kept the guitar part too.

It was recorded quickly and you can see at least one edit in the video.

Naviarhaiku188 - A sepia wash



The haiku shared by Naviar Records this week is one of mine.

I've been writing a haiku each day during 2017 and this was from the coldest morning of winter.

The photo was taken as I stopped outside Narrandera on the way to a meeting near the Murray River.

My track uses a Rhodes-style keyboard for a sepia wash and I've kept the vibe mellow because that's how Naviar roll.

Disquiet Junto 0292 Eclipse Music



The Disquiet Junto this week asks musicians to ponder the solar eclipse occurring in the US on 21 August.

I've only seen lunar eclipses, so I pondered the majesty of a solar eclipse for a while and then set about finding ideas on the guitar.

It took a little while and then I worked to record my part before dinner.

There was only time for a single take and at first I thought I'd need to return and record another, but I decided to use the MIDI recording rather than the electric guitar.

Marimba is an instrument that appeals to me for its percussive quality but the low E of the guitar only triggers a few sampled instruments, so I've used tuba and double bass.

There's also bowed vibraphone in the mix, adding resonance in the higher frequencies.

Led Zeppelin primer

Daniel Levitin on composers

“It’s the job of the composer to bring us pleasure through choices we didn’t expect.”

Naviarhaiku187 – flood waters recede



The haiku by Julie Briggs that was shared by Naviar Records this week is the second in a series about Narrandera.

Having seen the flooding in that town in recent years, as well as having been isolated in Leeton during one event, I took the final line "Which way is up?" to reflect turmoil.

My musical response uses a string section for their emotive qualities with plaintive cries from oboe and clarinet.

Disquiet Junto 0291 Lantern Effect



The Disquiet Junto this week asked for a sonic equivalent to "the 'lantern effect' — the way light is filtered through the textured material of a paper lantern."

You can see I've used my MIDI guitar, with the MIDI triggering a vaguely oriental-sounding piano and the guitar fading in over the length of the track.

My idea is that the reverb on the piano part gives the impression of the diffused light, while the emerging guitar is meant to convey the opaque view of the lighting source as you draw nearer to a paper lantern.

Drop beats not bombs


Naviarhaiku186 – looping around town



I've been eagerly awaiting the haiku shared by Naviar Records this week as it marks the start of a collaboration that will form the Crossing Streams exhibition in Narrandera during late October.

For my response to Greg Pritchard's haiku I've focused on the idea of looping the words "around town," as well as using creating a simple electronic track that revolves around three chords.

The speed at which I've created this audible response shows in the video, which might be reworked for the exhibition.

Naviarhaiku185 – harmattan moon



The haiku this week got me to rethink my approach to a chord progression I'd recorded.

This barebones version is part of take and you'll notice there's an edit in the middle.

I recorded the MIDI part with the guitar and experimented with different instruments, before settling on a reversed piano.

My alternate version picks up where this one finishes and features gritty percussion.

Disquiet Junto 0290 Text-to-Beat



The Junto this week asks for a track built on a rhythm created with text-to-speech software.

One of my first considerations was how to show the process in a video, but I soon remembered the V-tech Alphabet Desk that has been used by my kids for about a decade now.

I'm a fan of the V-tech toys, having used another one in an early Ninja Trax recording.



This afternoon I set up my SM7 microphone to record the Alphabet Desk and was surprised at how quiet the level seemed to be, since when the kids use it it seems impossible to ignore the recorded voice.

This evening I started exploring making loops in Ableton Live, adding gates to emphasise rhythms.

The X proved to be a versatile syllable, with the initial "eh' serving as a snare and the 'chs' becoming a hi-hat.

You can also hear a lot of the B.

As the Junto directions suggested 2-3 minutes, I figured it was just enough time to not worry about developing harmonic progression but I did adjust the pitch in parts.

All of the parts come from the V-tech except for the kick, which is an 808 sample.

Naviarhaiku184 – deepening winter night



The haiku this week suggested something gritty, so I turned to my circuit-bent Casios.

Really bad turnout

Disquiet Junto 0289 Ancient Artifacts

Step 1: Imagine an instrument that has been lost in the sands of time.
Step 2: Imagine what that instrument sounded like.
Step 3: Record a piece of music employing that instrument.

The idea of an ancient instrument suggested one that used the human body. Chest-thumping, hand claps, finger snaps and flicking stretched cheeks were the result.



I can imagine sitting in a cave and hearing the reflected sound of flicked cheeks. My beard helped stop my cheeks aching and the cotton gloves did too.

Disquiet Junto 0286 Found in Translation



The Junto instructions this week ask for multiple versions of a track:
Consider what it means to “transliterate” something, and how that differs from “translating” something, and how both differ from “interpreting” something.

This spoke to my process of recording and then remixing tracks and there was a track that I'd already processed in various ways.

'Smoke' was a song very quickly recorded at the end of 2015, when I'd been keen to put something down without a clear idea what it might be.

At the time I'd written lyrics very quickly, recorded two takes and decided to layer them up rather than edit bits together.

Then in March this year I'd revisited the track, adding a bass part that was recorded for another song.

I'd experimented with repitching the vocals and added drums using Live's samples.

More recently I'd come back to the original and attempted to more drastically remix the parts.

In the third section of the video above, you can see I've layered much shorter samples and you can hear I've used Live's Beatrepeat effect to create new melodies.

Disquiet Junto 0285 Live Barcoding



The Junto this week asked for music from the three barcodes nearest to me.

When I started looking I found this sales gimmick from Woolworths that used a kind of a barcode on cards with various fauna and insects to trigger recordings.

I'd quietly waited until my kids lost interest in the cards and player, which had to be purchased seperately, but haven't yet taken the step of soldering an output.

For this project I picked three barcodes that offered a variety of wide and thin stripes.

I interpreted the stripes as notes quickly recording a single take singing each card. Then I thought it'd be fun to add the sounds of the card being read by the player.

In Ableton Live I looped the card sounds but kept my singing as single takes, then decided to add more variety by dropping one part down a fifth. Then I extended the parts so they repeated, then edited one with another to get a length of nearly three minutes.

I layered up these six parts and had an idea to duplicate the card sounds, slightly offset some then pan each into opposite channels.

Naviarhaiku179 – where feet fall softly



Quickly recorded this track responding to the haiku shared by Naviar Records last week.

Africans hear Autechre



Un-P.C. but works a treat. Also reminds me that I was grooving to these Nigerian musicians this time last year.

Disquiet Junto 0284 Creative Commonfield



The Junto this week asks for an interpretation of audio by Chris Kallmyer, a recording of his performance using ceramic chimes.

My process here was to EQ and compress a section of the MP3 recording and export it as a WAV file, which was then opened with Phatmatik Pro. This plug-in makes short loops and assigns them to MIDI, so I could find sections that worked together and layer parts of the recording.

When I'd found the parts that I wanted to use, I added reverb and delay on the buses to give it more shape. My idea was to create something that reflected the sense of sitting by a large river, imagining the source of the clay that made the instruments.

Because I needed to upload the result to Youtube, I went looking for a visual to accompany the recording and settled on using two takes of steam rising above the nearby rice coop.

Cliff Thorburn



New remix chain album from Shinobi Cuts features a remix of a remix of a remix etc. Great vibe on this chain.

The cover image comes from Matong last weekend.

Riding waves

Via FB

Naviarhaiku177 – Eastern guard tower



The haiku shared by Naviar Records this week forced me to consider the pleasures that come with lying in the sun, just as weather turned cold.

Once again I've turned to my gated effects rig, this time with my Nashville-tuned guitar. It's a simple chord progression based on a variation of BDAE recorded on the weekend, now EBDA.

Was thinking I'd record a bass part to accompany it but have competing deadlines at present. Only had time to record a single take.

Disquiet Junto 0282 Berio’s Bach



The Junto this week draws on Luciano Berio's observation that part of the attraction of some of Bach’s music is in its clear distinction between which notes are “structurally significant” and which are “decorative.”

I didn't spend much time thinking about the notes and distinguishing them, instead I had a chord progression in mind and fumbled about on the fretboard once I started recording.

The result could use an edit but, again, I didn't spend much time on it.

Naviarhaiku176 – lonely stillness



This haiku shared by Naviar Records this week was an opportunity for me to record a second take of the track I'd made while responding to the Disquiet Junto.

The timing of the palindromic loop was a bit wonky and, while it spiced the track by shifting the repetitions, I thought I could do better. Then the camera battery ran out while recording the bass part, so I looped it.

Disquiet Junto 0281 Pattern Interruption



Create a pattern, loop it, and intersperse alterations.
After watching Soundgarden videos this morning, I decided to use a chord progression from one of their songs. It's EBC made a palindrome as EBCCBE.

Initially I used MIDI instruments in Live to try the notes and played with the idea of using delay to intersperse alterations. Then I thought about the gated effects chain that hasn't been used for a week.

Art without constraints

Art without constraints ceases to be art. The trick will lie in finding the balance between here and the infinite.

Naviarhaiku175 – sound of rain



The haiku shared by Naviar Records this week suggested something percussive.

After rumaging around my hard drive, I found the bass and ukulele parts for a song that wasn't finished. Then added the drums from 'Smoke'.

Jonathan Safran Foer on bumbling

The art of the creative process is not seeking and finding, it’s bumbling.

Disquiet Junto 0280 20170514



The Disquiet Junto this week requests "please use new musical things to recreate some old musical thing."

The new musical thing is Shiver Me Timbers, which is the two-string upright that I bought last month (despite saying I wouldn't buy new musical equipment this year). It's been a lot of fun playing this fretless acoustic bass.

The old musical thing is Ice-T's 'Reckless', which came from the Breakin' soundtrack. The video above has the song with excerpts from the breakdance-themed film from 1984. I remember having a copy of the soundtrack on cassette and transcribed the lyrics for an English class activity in year seven.

Today I found a few notes that suited a slowed delivery of the lyrics, rehearsed a couple of times and recorded the vocal and bass. A Shure SM7 can be seen being used for my voice, while a Rode K2 is being used on the bass off-camera.

Naviarhaiku 174 -- chilled light



On a recent chilly morning I shot footage of the clouds moving against the lightening sky.

It seemed appropriate for this haiku.

e.e. cummings' The First Of All My Dreams



Tried recording another poem by e.e.cummings accompanied by Shiver Me Timbers.

The Devil's Music

Disquiet Junto 0279 Word Interiorities



For the Junto this week I've manipulated the word "disquietude" -- if it is a word.

My voice was recorded using a SM7 microphone, as well as a Nikon D5100. The result was manipulated in Ableton Live using loops, some treated with gates and Beatrepeat, as well as Valhalla Shimmer reverb and Ohmforce Ohmboyz delay.

I also experimented with "onomatopoeia" but the loops didn't really grab me. I thought the rhythm would work better.

Nick Cave on intellectual convenience

“The idea that we live life in a straight line, like a story, seems to me to be increasingly absurd and, more than anything, a kind of intellectual convenience,” he says. “I feel that the events in our lives are like a series of bells being struck and the vibrations spread outwards, affecting everything, our present, and our futures, of course, but our past as well. Everything is changing and vibrating and in flux..."

Spicy light and sound



My son and I ran a projection installation at Griffith Pioneer Park Museum's Action Day last Good Friday.

I've only filmed it from outside here as I thought it was a bit lame but the kids enjoyed it.

Naviarhaiku 173 -- desert sands



Last week I was looking at the tracks for recent Naviar haikus and thinking how much I wanted to rock the ukulele again.

On Friday afternoon I pulled out the ukulele chord chart and start piecing together different combinations. Then I spent spare opportunities, like taking my son to the skate park, to practice.

On Saturday I pulled in to the gated effects chain and realised I would have to pay attention to timing. I got a couple of loops going but didn't feel like setting up a camera.

Then on Sunday I tore myself away from Shiver Me Timbers to pull in again. I set up the camera and recorded a few takes. This is the third and is edited to around half the length.