Compose Music to Complement a Field Recording (Disquiet Junto 0213)

Each Thursday in the Disquiet Junto group on and at, a new compositional challenge is set before the group’s members, who then have just over four days to upload a track in response to the assignment. Membership in the Junto is open: just join and participate. There’s no pressure to do every project. It’s weekly so that you know it’s there, every Thursday through Monday, when you have the time.

This project was posted in the late afternoon, California time, on Thursday, June 2, 2016, with a deadline of 11:59pm wherever you are on Monday, June 6, 2016.

These are the instructions that went out to the group’s email list (at

Disquiet Junto Project 0231: Field Complement
The Assignment: Compose a piece to align with, from memory, 60 seconds of everyday sound.

This week’s project’s theme involves how composing relates to memory. It is recommended that you read through all the steps in the project before proceeding to attempt to execute it.

These are the steps:

Step 1: Find a place, preferably outdoors, where you can sit for 5 to 15 minutes without being disturbed. This place should have a fair amount of inherent noise to it, and that noise should be variable, not static — i.e., not the long held drone of an overwhelmingly loud HVAC system, but the bustle of a street corner, or of a playground, or, if weather or other circumstances keep you indoors, perhaps of a busy cafe.

Step 2: Bring with you a portable recording device as well as something on which you can quietly take a small number of written (or typed) notes. You may wish to do a test recording to be certain that your note-taking isn’t part of the audio recording.

Step 3: Settle into the space and get a sense of its sounds. Listening closely.

Step 4: Make a field recording of one full minute, or a little longer, of continuous sound in this place. While recording the sound, use time codes to make note of any memorable sonic instances. Keep track not only of when a sonic instance begins, but also of its duration.

Step 5: Trim the field recording to exactly 60 seconds.

Step 6: Without listening back to the field recording, compose and record a 60-second piece intended to complement it. Refer back to your time-code notes to align composed instances with those real-world instances that you recall having distinguished your field recording. You can use whatever instrumentation you like, but it is recommended that you use no more than one or two instruments. You should not employ any field recordings in your composed piece. Sonically, the “composed” material should be distinct from the field audio.

Step 7: When your composed piece is completed, layer the two tracks together into one new 60-second work. They should be played back at equal volume, more or less. You can adjust a little to achieve the impression of balance between the field recording and the composed work. The only editing you can do is to fade in and out, if that is so desired.

Step 8: Upload your completed track to the Disquiet Junto group on SoundCloud.

Step 9: Annotate your track with a brief explanation of your approach and process.

Step 10: Then listen to and comment on tracks uploaded by your fellow Disquiet Junto participants.

Background: Longtime Junto participants/listeners may recognize this as a light revision of a project from back in March 2013.

Deadline: This project was posted in the late afternoon, California time, on Thursday, June 2, 2016, with a deadline of 11:59pm wherever you are on Monday, June 6, 2016.

Length: The length of the finished piece should be about 60 seconds.

Upload: Please when posting your track on SoundCloud, only upload one track for this project, and be sure to include a description of your process in planning, composing, and recording it. This description is an essential element of the communicative process inherent in the Disquiet Junto. Photos, video, and lists of equipment are always appreciated.

Title/Tag: When adding your track to the Disquiet Junto group on, please in the title to your track include the term “disquiet0231.” Also use “disquiet0231” as a tag for your track.

Download: It is preferable that your track is set as downloadable, and that it allows for attributed remixing (i.e., a Creative Commons license permitting non-commercial sharing with attribution).

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

More on this 231st weekly Disquiet Junto project — “Compose a piece to align with, from memory, 60 seconds of everyday sound” — at:

More on the Disquiet Junto at:

Join the Disquiet Junto at:

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Disquiet Junto general discussion takes place at:

Image associated with this project is by Anthony Easton and it is used thanks to a Creative Commons license:


This is one of my favorite Junto projects. I’m glad we’re doing it again. The first two tracks are up, and new ones will be added to this playlist for the duration of project 0213: