Music I play for friends


Disquiet Junto 0449 Page Machine

The Disquiet Junto assignment this week is to "Read a page of text from a book as if it were a musical score."

I settled on page 18 from the introduction to Matsuo Basho's The Narrow Road to the Deep North.

The layout of the page appealed to me, as it looked like it might be a drum intro and it was 8 August -- so I thought I should use 808 samples.

My process was to tally the syllables, since the text was largely haiku, as well as capital letters and punctuation.

The syllables became high-hats, while the capitals denoted kick drum and the punctuation triggered sound effects from the M-Tron Pro VST.

Then I decided to add a riser to convey the interpretive text, as it kinda serves to raise the rest of the writing.

And, finally, I flicked back to the contents page and took that last entry's page number to be the tempo.

Disquiet Junto 0447 Listen Ahead

This week the Disquiet Junto asks "Imagine...what your world will be like six months from today."

The instructions prompted me to record Jo's song, which she'd asked to do after returning home from a solstice event."

When you google the lyrics

Disquiet Junto 0446 WWWLDD

The Disquiet Junto activity this week involves responding to World Listening Day.

It's prompted me to share a soundtrack I composed from field recordings for an exhibition by the Murrumbidgee Field Naturalists at the Leeton Museum & Gallery.

It was composed to be looped in the background and accompany the many photographs members have taken of the natural Riverina environment.

The material draws on a decade of field recordings, which have been layered to provide a rich sense of the landscape.

Seems an appropriate recording to share for World Listening Day.

My playlists when I leave them on shuffle

Disquiet Junto 0445 Aare Tribute

The Disquiet Junto this week asks participants to read a map of the river Aare as a graphic score.

My immediate thought when looking at the map was that Bern looks a bit like Wagga.

Then I remembered a recording I'd made at the beach late last year.

So I've combined the video of Wagga Beach with my track for relaxing by the river.

When you walk away

Disquiet Junto 0444 Bot Ensemble

The Disquiet Jutno assignment this week is to "Make music as directed by the great account."

As I looked over the Bot's tweets, I took in the repetition of terms and started to formulate an idea.

Language like "tiny explosions" and "metronome" led me to think about recording drums, while the metallic descriptions reminded me that I'd been meaning to record various things in town.


Disquiet Junto 0443 In Two Landcapes

For the Disquiet Junto this week, I've taken two different field recordings and combined them to make one track.

It was with a sense of deja vu too, as I'd considered doing this for Project 0436.

The video above uses the footage I shot of the "2 tracks" sign, which I thought would be a clever nod to the idea but ended up using galahs roosting instead.

Galahs are still a feature this week, as they can be heard returning to their treetops on an evening when I'd filmed a sunset for Naviar's haiku project 0331.

You can also hear my son amusing himself, as I asked him to keep an eye on my camera while it recorded the weathervane.

You can hear my bike brake near the end.

Me checking

Disquiet Junto 0442 One Sentence

The Disquiet Junto this weeks asks participants to compose a piece of music based on a mapped exploration of a sentence.

Around the time that direction arrived, I read a poem that uses musical imagery and decided that it might be considered a long sentence.

Today I had some time to record myself reading the poem and using Ableton Live's MIDI mapping function to compose the music.

I just found this old tape

Disquiet Junto 0441 Three Stones

The Disquiet Junto asks for a piece of music that considers how stones can be thought to connect with where they originated.

I've used a recording I made last week at Pindari, where Alan Lamb and Scott Baker built an instrument known as 'the wires' for the 2004 Unsound Festival.

My partner and I worked with Alan for the 2006 Unsound Festival, and I've recorded 'the wires' since then and trimmed trees to ensure they continue to hum.

Last week 'the wires' weren't humming, as it was very still.

You can hear the long decay from touching 'the wires' and I've created a piece of music that aims to slow their back-and-forth hum even more.

My idea was to create a sense of the geological change that revealed and distributed the granite boulders on the hilltop outside Wagga Wagga.

Disquiet Junto 0439 Self Less

The Junto this week asks for "music combining the styles of two musicians you admire."

I've attempted Duke Ellington and Mr Oizo.

Footage via, my 225th video for the Disquiet Junto.

Hear me in Mexico

My remix for #StayHomeSounds by Cities And Memory is now online

Disquiet Junto 0438 Deep Plan

For some reason the Junto direction prompted me to think of a Paul Keating video I'd downloaded five years ago with a view to incorporating in a track.

It was serendipitous as Keating seems to be espousing a view of listening to links back to an observation about listening that I was prompted to write this week.

Aside from the TR-707 drum beat, all instrumentation came from the Gforce M-Tron Pro VST.

Ambient music fans

Toasted tracks

One of the surprising outcomes from abandoning Soundcloud has been making videos about toasted sandwiches.

I know, right?

Back when the Ninja Tune Forum was still a thing, I realised that I couldn't just brag about a great toasted sandwich.

Since I had a funky electronic song to share, I decided to add it to my blue cheese, leek and mushroom toastie.

Now I've posted my 32nd toasted sandwich and the soundtrack features Gforce Software's M-Tron Pro VST.

Aside from the percussion, I got a lot of inspiration from the huge number of instruments that software contains.

Live listening

Playing pool with my 11-year old yesterday and he made an observation that reminded me about the context of listening.

"It's more exciting hearing your favourite song on the radio, than it is playing it for yourself."

It was a profound observation for me and captured my own experiences listening to live and recorded sounds.

The sense of time seems to shift and listening can take us into a different temporal context.

That sense of being in the moment, like when a piece of music is broadcast, is something I'd observed while listening to 'the wires' for hours.

The recordings didn't have the same quality in more than the sense of fidelity.

It wasn't the discomfort of sitting on a granite rock, nor the experience of feeling the same breezes that would trigger the wave of harmonics.

I realised it was the moment and tension created from a cascade of thoughts, as I focused intently on the details in each micro-second.

It was a sense I was hearing something for the first time.

Being present while listening might be another description, much like the sense used by 'woke' individuals about living in the moment and not dwelling on the past or planning for a future.

I remember reading that Morton Subotnick would invite strangers into his apartment so that he would get the sense of hearing his recordings for the first time.

At various times I've heard musicians comment on how there's a similar tension when recording.

Gustav Ejstes described how "If we play it too many times before we record we lose something."

Sometimes I wonder if multitrack recording has diminished the thrill of hearing musicians sharing the same room – either from a richness in the sound of a bass player recorded through the kick drum microphone; or the performances as the band make eye contact with each other.

Perhaps it extends to the idea promoted by Dr John Diamond that digitised recordings provoke stress, as our brains have to reassemble the waveforms.

The thing that seems clear is that listening is an active experience and hearing your song on the radio feels like an invitation to enjoy that moment.

Stay Home Sounds

Cities And Memory's #StayHomeSounds is mentioned in The Monthly magazine and it's excited for me to see they used my quote from Leeton, even if it is unattributed.

Disquiet Junto 0437 Echo Relocation

The Disquiet Junto activity this week continues a prompt from artist and experimental philosopher Jonathon Keats:

Record someone else’s field recording of their environment playing within your own.

I've played Name Constant's neighbourhood in my backyard at first light.

When you find the song

naviarhaiku332 – from evening mist

It was foggy this morning and I've been playing with piano loops recently, so the haiku shared by Naviar Records this week led me to ponder how would it sound if pianists passed each other in the fog?

Not sure if this ambient music is good

When listening is grieving

Years ago I lived in an old farmhouse surrounded by cows.

I'd started seeing the woman who is now my partner and she lived on a property surrounded by sheep.

One morning as we lay in bed, she made an observation that came to mind after I wrote about grieving for a changed world.

She remarked how one way cows identify their calves is by recognising the patterns on their skins.

I'm probably simplifying it but my understanding was that the brown splotches on Friesian cattle, for example, assist mothers to find their babies in the paddock.

In contrast, I think she said, sheep listen for their voices among the herd.

I've often reflected that sheep must be always keeping an ear out for the distinctive bleat of their lambs.

My partner might have been telling me this as her family at that time would slaughter their own livestock.

It led me to consider that one can look around and, if you don't see something, you might not notice it is missing.

However, I wonder if we are always listening for meaningful sounds -- such the phenomena described as "miraculous agitations" in this old post.

In doing so we might be, consciously or subconsciously, regularly reminded of loss.

Recent discussions of being sentimental for sounds from another time has been on my mind since I started noticing how many projects online and on the radio are currently focusing on recording and listening to the changes in our landscapes.

naviarhaiku331 – Peaks of cloud

The haiku shared by Naviar Records this week brought to mind the weathervane at the end of my street.

It prompted me to explore piano loops of varying lengths, while aiming to get an Eno-esque ambient result.

When you're 13

Disquiet Junto 0436 Planetary Headspace

The Disquiet Junto this week invites close listening to the landscape, through sharing recordings and participating in a communal soundscape:
Download field recordings by other Junto members. Play the downloaded tracks in one ear, leaving your other ear open to hear the sounds in your midst. As you listen to the stereo soundscapes, your hearing will be extended, situating you in acoustic environments that you’ll share with other participants.
I've recorded the galahs that nest in a park at the end of my street.

Their chatter is a sound I associate with the town of Leeton and hearing them helps me recognise first light when I'm at home.

Grieving for a changed world

While I haven't studied the stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance), I have been prompted to consider how they make sense of the range of responses I see from people discussing the swift social changes since Covid-19 became a worldwide phenomenon.

I was just reading an interview with sound artist Maria Chávez and thought I'd share this part:
"I always thought field recording was just an audio snapshot, really. Now, taking the audio snapshot and adapting it to our present moment – who knew our times [would] so drastically [change] in a matter of two weeks. And my god, all of these field recordings that we’ve all been doing for the past 20-30 years, especially as the hand-held recorders got more and more accessible for the general public – I used to think of it all as, What are we going to do with all this stuff? It’s just trash, everybody’s just recording field recordings. I’d always roll my eyes. Now I’m like, You’re such an idiot. Thank god everybody was recording our world because it’s gone. 
"Concerts and live events will never be the same even if they can. You know what I mean? Now that I’ve changed my mind about all of these ridiculous amounts of recording, I think somehow we all knew. That we were privileged in some way to live in this world. Everybody I knew that was really into field recordings was just frantic – once they got hooked on it, it was like a rabbit hole. Now I just feel like, My god, we’re so lucky. Now we need to make a library of everything that everyone has done and it’ll be audible postcards of our past that we’ll never be able to hear again."

I'm not so sentimental about capturing concerts and live events, because so often they reinforce the feeling that one had to be there.

As a student of history I can see their value in providing a sense of what it is like to stand in a crowd, although the proximity effect of most microphones will likely make many listeners wonder how one endured the noises from nearby strangers.

However, like those recordings, the sentimentality for something that's both close and distant seems analogous with the experiences many are now sharing.

The recent disruptions to our lives by Covid-19 is in stark contrast to the relatively carefree experiences of only a few months earlier.

Like many others I have been going through the disappointment of re-evaluating my plans for the year and recognising it's possible some events will never be the same again.

It's a mild expression of depression but I'm sad that I can't imagine I'll be stripping off and brushing shoulders with people running around a burning effigy anytime in the near future, for example.

Yesterday I read a profile of the actor Val Kilmer that was remarkable how it illustrated a journalist grappling with uncertainties.

I found the piece fascinating for the way the article moves from trying to reconcile the actor's philosophy about illness, to trying to make sense of a series of profound changes in the journalist's life.

We're all making sense of living during a pandemic and this week I'm digging into how that manifests in creative pursuits.

One outcome for my music-making was recognising a piece I'd been looking forward to sharing had been set aside until things settle.

Cities and Memory founder Stuart Fowkes replied to my inquiry about the Future Cities project:
"Future Cities is delayed due to the ongoing destruction of all that our cities previously stood for! Will release that one later in the year!"
I expect it's going to be a while before those futures feel possible again!

In the meantime, I wonder if my opportunity to record a sense of the anxiety of visiting the supermarket has passed.

This week I'm surprised how quickly people have returned to what was normal, as I navigated the groups conversing in the aisles.

I also noticed the regular messages about social-distancing that would interrupt the in-store music have stopped.

It's both a relief and a cause for concern that so many in my community have moved on from practising the measures designed to limit the spread of Covid-19.

Maybe it's denial?


Some time ago I challenged myself to record an album with vocals.

It's taken a while to get comfortable with the idea of sharing it, but that distance has let me observe there's a wide variety of styles among the tracks.

I'm grateful to US music educator and blogger Ethan Hein for remixing 'Prime' which was recorded for a Disquiet Junto project, as well as producer Laura "DJ Pnutz" Bolokoski for her amazing remix of the track 'Alright'.

I also found inspiration in the writing of Alicia Boyd and Ash Bond, and appreciated getting the perspectives of David Graham, Ian Joyce and Dan "Long Distance" Larkin.

Other tracks were responses to Naviar Records' haiku prompts, including 'Ghostly Melody' which was composed from my senryu poems.

The video for that song was recorded at Leeton's swimming pool and will be part of an online art exhibition organised by Dubbo-based artist Kim Goldsmith next month.

The album SING ends with an electro-metal hybrid which was written after reading a front page article in Griffith's The Area News (but then exaggerated).

As someone who loves music and writing, I had to give songwriting a go.

Disquiet Junto 0434 Beat Kit

The Disquiet Junto follows up on the kits of samples developed by the community last week, with the instruction to create music with beats crafted by fellow participants.

I've taken samples by Ausgesuchtestenohren and mode.analogue to remix my track 'Alright' with their sounds.

Air conditioner too loud


If it weren't for Covid-19, I'd be at Valla Beach right now.

It's been a few years since I last visited and I leave with so many great photographs and recordings, they appear in Junto and Naviar projects for years afterwards.

For now I'll have to make do with music.

Music and me

naviarhaiku328 – flowering fields

When Naviar share a haiku describing the current season in the northern hemisphere, it puts me in a mind to respond to the season in the southern hemisphere.

So I was kinda torn this week when the poem described spring and I'd been hanging around the flowering mint in my yard, photographing butterflies.

Then I remembered I've been meaning to try composing using Elektroplanton, the Nintendo DS game from 2005 designed by Toshio Iwai.

I liked the idea of using the colourful leaves to evoke autumn and to expand the boundaries of my music-making.

The soundtrack you hear is a result of taking that performance and using it as MIDI information through a couple of VST synths.

I chose sounds that reminded me of insects circling.

I don't know what's worse

Disquiet Junto 0433 Kit Bits

I've exported a dozen sounds from my recording of Spinks Park for the Junto to use.

You can download audio (7mb aif file) and video (21mb mov file), both single files containing the 12 tones.

Longtime microphone collector

naviarhaiku327 – meandering through the city

My 110th video for Naviar's haiku prompts.

I liked the idea of creating a piece that could be looped, much like the drive around a city.

Disquiet Junto 0432 Ensembles (Remix)

Listening back over last week's Junto tracks, there were so many wonderful collaborations.

However, I had it in mind that I was going to take a traditional approach to remixing and add drums.

After all, most of what I've done for these trios has been drums.

This week I've revisited my 707 recordings from last week and used them with another of Krakenkraft's tracks.

'Threat' started as bass drones from Matt Davis Music, then Krakenkraft extended those and gave it that title, before Ausgesuchtestenohren added a "pulsating, noisy synth layer as the third one."

My contribution has been to sidechain the bass to the kick and create a dirty techno track.

The bass required a lot of attention and I've EQ'd it back a bit to squeeze in the kick.

People say

Disquiet Junto 0431 Solitary Ensembles x 3 (second stab)

Had a go at another trio.

I just saw a man

Disquiet Junto 0431 Solitary Ensembles x 3

For the Disquiet Junto this week I've joined Krakenkraft and DeDe for the 'Virtual Berlin School Trio,' adding a 707 drum part.

My drum machine is augmented with a triggered Jomox bass drum, distortion on the snare and stereo chorus on the high hat.

I'd considered joining this track last week, but the flac file was an extra step in the recording process which discouraged me.

Bravo Henrietta

Ambient relay

Recently I joined an "ambient relay," where each participant contributed to two tracks.

This asynchronous collaboration crossed the finish line today and is now on Bandcamp.

I've been involved with various relays and appreciate they all have different approaches.

At first I thought we'd only be listening to the contribution of the person ahead of us, then realised that was an assumption from other processes.

You can see in this graphic how the process was designed for each participant to build on the previous collaborator.

I find myself a bit irritated that some of the more textural sounds sit in the foreground of the mix, but enjoyed the prompt to develop new work and explore a different practice.

You said you were self-isolating

naviarhaiku325 – true tranquillity

I've been missing the sea, so the haiku shared by Naviar Records this week stirred me.

Me restarting the song

Sounds from the global lockdown

I've contributed to a couple of Cities and Memory's projects this year

Recently they published #StayHomeSounds and I shared a recording from my porch.

It features galahs rousing at dawn and the song of the pied butcherbirds who visit around the start of autumn and spring.

When I posted the link on a local Facebook page, I got this nice comment.

Stop that awful music

Disquiet Junto 0430 Solitary Ensembles x 2 (slight return)

I've tried joining another Junto trio, this time Morgulbee's 'Anti - Viral Blues' with a drum part.

My timing slips a bit, which is a shame because I really enjoyed the techno feels for this song.

Guess it needed a drum machine.

When the bassline is so sick

Disquiet Junto 0430 Solitary Ensembles x 2

The Junto this week adds a second player to our asynchronous trio.

I've chosen to add drums to Detritus Tabu's track 'Feeling Pretty Psyched' because it was, in part, an opportunity to record my brand new secondhand drumkit.

The audio and video files are available for a third member of the trio.