Ice cube remix

Disquiet Junto Project 0053: Ice for 2013

Happy new year! This week's project is as follows:

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 as the very first Disquiet Junto project, the same one that launched the series on the first Thursday of 2012. Revisiting it a year later provides a fitting way to begin the new year. 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 weekly habit. It's beneficial to step back and see things from a longer perspective.

Deadline: Monday, January 7, 2013, at 11:59pm wherever you are.

Length: Your finished work should be between 2 and 4 minutes in length.


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

More on this 53rd Disquiet Junto project at:

More details on the Disquiet Junto at:

I wasn't looking forward to turning off the airconditioning so that I could record an ice cube with a forecast maximum of 42C (it reached 44.8C). The cube itself was larger than normal, which helped but was the result of not being able to locate the ice cube tray.

It's becoming something of a habit for me to misinterpret the instructions for the Disquiet Junto projects and for this one I initially set about recording the ice cube in different cups using a contact microphone. I was amazed that I could still hear the kids playing outside in these recordings. Four different cups were used, one plastic and the others glass -- including a nice crystal wine glass.

After realising I was drifting away from the instructions, I set up my stereo mic and made recordings of the ice rattling in three different glasses. I also recorded video with a view to making a clip to accompany the track but I think that might be another project.

Once I opened the files in Ableton Live I made a few different tracks before settling on one to submit. This was also my experience remixing playgrounds. I found I'd make one or two very loop-y rhythm sorta tracks before getting the ideas to make something more harmonically interesting. (Not that this track is particularly harmonically interesting but it's got a couple more chords than the earlier drafts.)

The track Solitary was titled because I could imagine it as the soundtrack to solitary confinement in a freezing cell. It uses four samples, one of the plastic cup with the contact mic and two other cups recorded with the stereo cardioid mic. The chime-like sound comes from the wine glass.

The kick drum sound is a drip from the ice hitting the bottom of the plastic cup, pitched down two octaves. The other samples were ice rattling in a glass, pitched down between half to two octaves. Gating and EQ were used to bring out the sounds I wanted and remove hiss. The kick sound has a springy sorta reverb, other samples have bigger decays.

P.S. My sketchbook diary entry shows a little of this project.