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.
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.
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:
More details on the Disquiet Junto at: