Monthly Archives: May 2012


tweed square [disquiet0020-nodebeat]

The 20th disquiet.com junto project in May 2012 explored the inherent creative limits of a mobile app. All participants employed the same app to complete the project.

Everyone working on this project used two instruments. One of those instruments was NodeBeat, an app available for iOS (iPhone, Touch, iPad), for Android, for Blackberry, and as a cross-platform (Flash) implementation. The other was an instrument of our choice; this second instrument was to fall into the broadly defined category of “traditional” — i.e., a keyboard, a guitar, woodwind, percussion, etc.

The project employed three steps:
Step 1: Create a piece of music in NodeBeat.
Step 2: Record a segment of that music no shorter than 30 seconds and no longer than four minutes.
Step 3: Use that segment as the basis for a track employing one additional instrument.

I wrestled with the app’s ability to free-form soundscapes, so in the end, I chose to keep the the nodes and beat generators stationary. The app makes some classic electronica sounds and the keyboard’s square wave brought me back into a new wave head. Once programmed, I “played” the app for about 2:40, with no particular structure, just turning things on and off while playing the keyboard (in major pentatonic) that runs across the screen behind the nodes. Took me a few takes to find something I liked, and this is still a bit messy, but it was truly fun and i think i got a pretty big sound, in a way, for doing something totally on the fly.

Didn’t record in the app, though, but rather into Sony Acid from an iPad plugged direct into a MOTU interface. Then I played Jolie, my Gibson ES-335 Dot Reissue, over the NodeBeat track in an open D# tuning through a 1961 Fender Tweed Champ emulator with the drive set at 8 and a bit of presence. Three guitar takes in all. Each was live, no punch in and everything got minimal processing (compression, enhancement, EQ). A “demo” in all senses, but also a window. And as always, the junto took me down a road I would never find on my own.

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This track employs the app NodeBeat, created by Seth Sandler, Justin Windle, and Laurence Muller.
More information on NodeBeat

More details on the Disquiet Junto at:
soundcloud.com/groups/disquiet-junto/info
twitter.com/djunto


sliver of sky [disquiet0019-rojiura]

sliver of sky
where planes streak
birds fly
guide me to my dreams
hvac hum
rainfall drum
basement guitar practice strum
white noise cardboard pillow

face flashes in windows,
light strobes and mortar shadows
in an updown walldance
as homework ends,
as bills are paid,
as security makes rounds,
as embraces lead to encounters.

orion’s belt appears in winter
three hours into the night
his rodeo champion buckle
scrapes across the fire escapes
clanks against the risers
says farewell disappearing
behind the southern cornice.

3rd floor cigarette smoker
7th floor cool down
5th floor dinner burn,
crack the window.

2nd floor she always looks down
to make make sure i’m safe.
she knows i would save her
if i did not need saving.

dawn crawls

to leave me to the light,
to fall from the darkness
of my offgrid alleyhome unrooftop

white noise
sliver of sky.

This project explored the concept of graphic notation. We were challenged to treat the provided photograph as if it were a musical score.

bricks = guitar
mortar = synth pad
windows = bass
pipes & sky = white noise
fire escapes = guitar plucked behind its bridge

the beautiful photograph inspired poetry. i imagined a transient man, a regular in the alleyway, who often calls it home. i wrote the words first, then put sound to them. words are below.

the ratio of the full size image on my macbook was ~23 x ~18, so the track is right around 2 min 30 sec. used the vertical length as a frequency range.

the guitar is “squared,” using a fender twin opto-tremolo emulator, to mimic bricks. an ibanez screamer was layered on top and 3 live takes run simultaneously. i always think of heavy tremolo as a square or rectangular sound, but sometimes “i go about things the wrong way…”

a synth pad moves in and around the guitar to act like mortar between bricks, creating the 2 “walls.”

the pipes were white, so i took them literally to represent white noise. the frequency of the white noise sample follows the pipes’ descent in the left part of the photo. the proportions of the photograph gave me a loose vertical range of 0-1800hz. the white noise runs through a high-pass resonant filter and drops from 1800 until it hits the sky. there are 2 bursts of full noise as the horizontal pipes are crossed at ~70sec. the noise again blows out full in the middle sky section and then recedes to reflect the scattered white artifacts on the right half of the picture disappearing into shadow.

the bass was timed with the windows as you move across the photo.

i wanted a metallic sound to represent the fire escapes so i plucked my guitar behind the bridge through the opto-trem and screamer and got a sound i liked.

as always, junto opens up an absolutely fascinating creative journey.

peace,
westy

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This track treats a photo by Yojiro Imasaka as its score. More on Imasaka at yojiroimasaka.com.

More details on the Disquiet Junto at:
soundcloud.com/groups/disquiet-junto/info


no brooklyn bound [disquiet0018-3×3]

sound 1: field recording – downtown new york city subway 6 train weekend service disruption announcement and surrounding ambience. recorded with iphone garageband.
sound 2: constructed beat – iphone garageband drum samples
sound 3: synth – programmed iphone animoog

minute 1: the drum is primary, backed by stabs and swoops of the synth and cut up portions of the subway announcement.
minute 2: the subway field recording runs full and uninterrupted, with the beat and synth stabs and swoops slightly tweaked, but retaining the same basic phrasing.
minute 3: the synth comes forward with a 2nd part, laid over the cut up subway announcement and drum beat.

the drum beat is a long phrase (fourteen 8-beat measures?) that repeats three times w/ a couple variations. i considered the entire phrase as one sound, even though it’s made of a kick, snare, high hat and cymbal. this was my first time using garageband to construct a beat and the result sounded something like my old boss dr-5. made me smile for that alone. the synth sound was programmed in iphone’s animoog app, and then played live using the app’s D#-minor pentatonic keyboard over the other 2 tracks. first minute is one take, second and third minutes contain a second take and the third minute a third take as the add’l part.

though everything was generated/recorded by an iphone, all sounds were dumped into sony acid (my daw that i just can’t shake), and all cutting up, loop creation, compression application and rendering happened there. i didn’t set out to use a subway recording for this week’s challenge, but my trips into and out of manhattan this weekend were maddening. this track became my way of processing the absurdity of a monolithic transportation schema that often leaves me feeling like a character in the film “brazil.”

probably best absorbed through headphones, fwiw.

enjoy,
westy

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The 18th disquiet.com junto project was “about how a simple matter of sequence can provide a sense of development and compositional momentum.”

The assignment was as follows:

Construct three simple, self-contained sounds (or sonic elements) that are distinct from each other. Then make a three-minute track out of these sounds, based on the following rules:
For each of the three minutes, one of the three sounds should be prominent, and the other two should be less prominent. By the end of the complete three minutes of your track, each of the three sounds, thus, will have been prominent for one full minute and will have served a background purpose for two full minutes.

We were allowed to transform the individual sounds, but they needed to still be somewhat recognizable even in their transformed state.

More details on the Disquiet Junto at:
soundcloud.com/groups/disquiet-junto/info


waterfall love [disquiet0017-transition]

My contribution to the 17th week of the disquiet.com junto. The challenge was to take 30 seconds of a field recording, and slowly and seamlessly transition it into 1 of 2 given pre-existing tracks. Sounds could be added and the source tracks manipulated in any way. The first five seconds of the field recording and the last 5 seconds of the pre-existing track, however, were to be left untouched, aside from fading in and out.

I found a very pretty major chord arpeggio in the Lee Rosevere track, “The Day Love Came In The Mail” (link below) and mainly floated it up to its 5th and 7th and back down to the root a few times. The one grand manipulation (grand, for lo-fi me) was to separate the track’s left and right channels and treat each as its own entity until the final 10 seconds or so, when I sync’ed them back together as per the challenge. This allowed me to isolate the arpeggio in the left channel and pan it against the more floaty ambience contained in the right channel. Finally, I added a couple of spare beats hanging out on my media drive and some reverb & resonance to the ambient channel and to the fade-out of the waterfall during the middle section. Despite all the reworking and additions, I didn’t want to adulterate either source track too much as they both brought me such peace. So I hope most of the process here isn’t all that noticeable and you just float away on it for a couple minutes.

The field recording of the waterfall is from the audio track of a video I shot while walking my dog, Sterling (pictured), in Prospect Park, Brooklyn, on Saturday 28 April 2012. I retrofitted the video to the finished audio piece, which you can check out here. Sterling’s not in the video, unfortunately, but it was a pretty day.

vimeo.com/41306430

This audio track includes a segment of “The Day Love Came In The Mail” by Lee Rosevere off the album Play 3 on the WM Recordings netlabel, thanks to Creative Commons license. More information at:
archive.org/details/WM074_900
www.wmrecordings.com/free-downloads…severe-play-3/

More details on the Disquiet Junto at:
soundcloud.com/groups/disquiet-junto/info