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.


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.


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


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.