Monthly Archives: July 2012


dronewater falls [disquiet0029-countzero]

Project:

This week’s project is inspired by an aside that occurs at the opening of chapter 17 of William Gibson’s classic cyberpunk novel Count Zero, originally published in 1986.

Process:

I returned to the Prospect Park, Brooklyn, waterfall (pictured, with Sterling) that I used for the prior junto challenge of remixing Lee Rosevere (Thereflectors – Waterfall-love) and made a new recording with the garageband app on my iPhone. That recording was eq’ed and compressed and runs uncut under the track. After Sony’s Acid beatmapped most of the track’s “measures” at ~99bpm with its mysterious one-button algorithmic analysis, I extracted 8 bars with a very subtle knocking sound, the result of a unicyclist (I kid you not) riding over loose slats on a wooden bridge running over the falls. This was looped continuously through the piece as a quiet insistent beat around which the melody was built (mostly evident in headphones, tho). All sounds were extracted from the recording using Paulstretch, Audacity and Acid. My hope is that the track is not “overworked” beyond the constraints of the assignment, and still evokes water over a stone. But if nothing else, it communicates the sense of calm and reflection I find in this somewhat secret place in the heart of the park, off the Nethermead near the Boathouse and Audubon bird sanctuary. There’s no real pathway or signs to the spot from the main route, save for trodden-down underbrush that beckons the more adventurous and hyper-aware about to cross the bridge. A slice of #secretnewyork, I guess.

The instructions were as follows:

Step 1: Locate and make a field recording of source material that involves running water.

Step 2: Extract a segment of the recording. That segment will serve as the basis for your composition, as its foundation. It will provide both rhythmic and melodic material.

Step 3: Add elements and treatments to the foundation recording of running water. Do so with the intention of highlighting the water’s internal sense of rhythm and melody. Do not embellish so much that the foundation recording becomes unrecognizable.

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The inspiration for this track came from the opening of chapter 17 of William Gibson’s 1986 novel Count Zero. The chapter is titled “The Squirrel Wood.” It opens as follows:

“The plane had gone to ground near the sound of running water. Turner could hear it, turning in the g-web in his fever or sleep, water down stone, one of the oldest songs.”

This idea of water running down stone, of a gentle but insistent natural stream, being one of the “oldest songs” is explored further in the chapter in various subtle ways. The Disquiet Junto project this week is to explore that idea: that there is music in the natural environment. We’ll make songs from running water.

More on the 29th Disquiet Junto project at:
disquiet.com/2012/07/19/disquiet0029-countzero/

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


textphony in d [disquiet0027-texting]

We continued the theme of “creative reuse” this week and were challenged to interpret a text file as sound.

Instructions:
“Please copy the instructions to this project and save them as a text file. You will then open that file in one or more pieces of audio-processing software. The resulting sound will serve as the foundation of your track. You can only use the sounds resulting from the text file in the process of making your track. You can manipulate the sounds, and you can use multiple versions that result from different pieces of software, but you cannot add any other sounds.”

Process:
In searching for how to do this, I found the same p22.com/musicfont/ as a few others here (I don’t think i could have done this any other way, fwiw).
Fed the phrase “disquiet junto 0027 creative reuse instructions” into it.
Cut up the generated midi file into the individual words.
Fed the midi files to a tweakbench “tapeworm” vst mellotron emulator set to “flute” with a tiny bit of tape hiss and a lot of decay.
Processed the midi file for the word “disquiet” through Paulstretch.
Added a whacked up phaser to the stretched sound to create the bouncing glitch.
Arranged the other midi samples over the stretched file somewhat randomly with added reverb and a tempo-synched delay.

My only concession was changing the final note to resolve to D. This involved tweaking the “0027” midi file’s second of two notes up a half-step. But the fact the piece probably ends with the word “0028” kinda made me smile.

Tools:
P22 Music Text Composition Generator, Sony Acid 7.0, Tweakbench “Tapeworm” VST Mellotron Emulator, Paulstretch (windows)

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more details on the disquiet junto at:
soundcloud.com/groups/disquiet-junto/info


unconsumption review of “the rime of the ancient pacific garbage patch”

Wonderful appearance of the Disquiet0026: Compos(t)ing project on the Unconsumption blog, run by Rob Walker, who also mentions my track as a highlight. So cool…

Walker writes:

As noted here the other day, the most recent installment of music/sound/art site Disquiet.com‘s ongoing series of “assignments” for electronic musician/composers had an Unconsumption-y theme: “Record the music to a PSA using sounds sampled from your garbage bin.” Specifically, participants were instructed to use sounds produced by four objects from the trash as their musical “source material,” uploading their creations to Disquiet Junto group on Soundcloud.

The results are in, and they’re pretty cool! To listen to any or all of the 15 submitted compositions, go here, or use the embedded player [below]. My favorites included one of the more soaring and atmospheric tracks: “The Rime of the Ancient Pacific Garbage Patch,” by Westy Reflector.

I wish I lived in a world where PSAs sounded like this…


the rime of the ancient pacific garbage patch [disquiet0026-compos(t)ing]

The theme of this week’s disquiet junto project was creative reuse — call it recycling, or unconsumption, or upcycling, or compos(t)ing. Four objects from garbage pails at work or home were developed into an original musical track that would be used as background music for a PSA about recycling.

We were allowed to transform the sounds of these elements, but only lightly, so as to respect their inherent sonic properties. In my track, all objects are represented in their native state, either alone or interacting with each other, as loops or one-shots with minimal processing. The soundscape underneath the raw sounds is a layering of each live recording in a processed state. I tried to keep processing to a minimum. Each processed sound was only either time stretched or resonant filtered, with 0 or 1 more effects applied on top (harmonics, pitch shift, or wah-wah). In this way, I think the processed sounds retain their sonic signatures, though some of them got blissfully strange (e.g., the eerie trash-wailing ~2:00 is a time-stretched, pitch-shifted bendy straw being pulled open).

The four objects used:
wine bottle (napa valley, ca, beringer pinot grigio, via ‘prime time wine and liquor,’ brooklyn, ny)
cracked sea shell (rockport, ma)
snipped guitar string ends (ernie ball heavy-bottom/light-top custom set, via peekamoose guitars, 30th st, nyc, ny)
bendy straw (china, via freshdirect dot com)

The live sounds recorded:
wine bottle dropped into bathtub w/ sea shell
wine bottle submerging
blowing into empty wine bottle (long blow, two-puff, one-puff)
spinning-in-air guitar string ends
low-e guitar string scraped across sea shell
pieces of sea shell tapped on each other (a one-shot and an 8 bar live loop)
blowing into straw while opening its bendy accordion joint
clean open of the bendy straw accordion joint

22 tracks (11 live w/ compression and reverb, 11 processed)

rig: sony acid 7.0, paulstretch (windows), condenser mic, motu interface, lexicon reverb

the earth’s just slowing down, and it’s just about to stop. the only question is, “where will it be noon?”

peace,
westy

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more details on the disquiet junto