Disquiet Junto Project 0285: Live Barcoding

Disquiet Junto Project 0285: Live Barcoding
Make rhythms from your packaged goods.

Step 1: We’ll be making music from barcodes, those zebra-striped symbols that adorn packaged goods. Please find the three barcodes nearest you.

Step 2: Look at the barcodes and sort out how they suggest, for you, a rhythm, a beat — how do they function as notations of percussion?

Step 3: Create a short piece of music in which each of the three barcodes is independently interpreted for its rhythmic content. In other words, make a piece of music that layers the beats of the three barcodes you selected in Step 1 based on the notational concepts that arose in Step 2.

Five More Important Steps When Your Track Is Done:

Step 1: If you hosting platform allows for tags, be sure to include the project tag “disquiet0285” (no spaces) in the name of your track. If you’re posting on SoundCloud in particular, this is essential to my locating the tracks and creating a playlist of them.

Step 2: Upload your track. It is helpful but not essential that you use SoundCloud to host your track.

Step 3: In this following discussion thread at llllllll.co please consider posting your track.

Step 4: Annotate your track with a brief explanation of your approach and process.

Step 5: Then listen to and comment on tracks uploaded by your fellow Disquiet Junto participants.

Deadline: This project’s deadline is 11:59pm wherever you are on Monday, June 19, 2017. This project was posted in the evening, California time, on Thursday, June 15, 2017.

Length: The length is entirely up to the participant, though roughly four minutes is suggested.

Title/Tag: When posting your track, please include “disquiet0285” in the title of the track, and where applicable (on SoundCloud, for example) as a tag.

Upload: When participating in this project, post one finished track with the project tag, 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.

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 online, please be sure to include this information:

More on this 285th weekly Disquiet Junto project — Live Barcoding: Make rhythms from your packaged goods. — at:


More on the Disquiet Junto at:


Subscribe to project announcements here:


Project discussion takes place on llllllll.co:


There’s also on a Junto Slack. Send your email address to twitter.com/disquiet for Slack inclusion.

Image associated with this project is by Valerie Everett, used thanks to a Creative Commons license:




The project is now live.

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I was in the kitchen making breakfast and grabbed my phone to get photos for the three barcodes: peanut butter, jelly and (forgive the awful pun and Barney reference) thyme.

I imported the photos into Alchemy and used the ‘Spectral’ function to make a patch using purely the image data. The LFOs for filter cutoffs, autopanning and other parameters were chosen using the non-zero numbers below the barcodes.

Three bounces were made from just one note pressed down for a couple of minutes - low, mid and high. The resulting pad-type sounds were then made percussive using Sinevibe’s Sequential plugin (http://www.sinevib.es/sequential/) set at 40bpm. Parameters in the plugin were mostly chosen using the numbers from the barcodes.




It reminds me when I started “hb”. I had been used barcode as artwork.



I selected barcodes from the three ingredients of my typical breakfast - Shredded Wheat (big biscuit), milk and sugar. From the barcodes I extracted the numbers, which I had represent notes (I did end up changing two of the 36 notes so that it would make more sense). Each barcode is a voice in this string trio, with the barcode for the Shredded Wheat earning the theme.

I wrote this in response to the demise of my granddaughter’s pacifier, which was a sad but necessary experience in her evolution.

A “pavane” was originally a couple’s dance, originating in the 16th century, and was generally fast. Over the years the dance morphed to become much slower. The most well known pavane is Ravel’s “Pavane pour une infante défunte” (Pavane for a deceased infante), which is generally thought to be mournful, but actually invokes a pavane danced by a child long ago. The point is that over time the meanings of words change. I selected the title partially for this reason, as over time a small child’s world necessarily changes as she gains experiences and has circumstances forced on her.

This piece is written for violin, viola and cello and the score is available at http://bit.ly/2roHJip.


Barcodes generated at www.barcodesinc.com/generator/index.php
Barcode 1 = disquiet 0285 - percussion track
Barcode 2 = disconcert - “bell” track
Barcode 3 = a consumer apparatus - voice track

took short sections of barcodes 1 & 2 and longer section of barcode 3; replicated them with sound.


liked for not using percussion as well as use of the word “Wubby” :sunglasses:


took the first three things I found in the pantry–happened to be cookies, cocoa and coffee (!), loaded three drum racks (not thinking about it too much) and eyeballing the barcodes turned them into 3 ableton live clips. then copied each clip and assigned it to a different synth (Synth1, obxd and Tyrell). In the beginning I introduced the clips 1 by one then sped up and slowed down the clips to form a few different scenes. No effects besides compression.

sounds like coffee and cookies! I wonder if corporate america knows something


Hey everyone,

March of the Vices(Disquiet0285) https://soundcloud.com/user-651760074/march-of-the-vicesdisquiet0285
I knew time would be short this weekend, so constraint and levity were employed. I found the 3 UPC symbols on the counter Friday before work. Think of Neil Peart’s 3 C’s of survival in his book ‘Ghost Rider’, with a twist! I used the lines representing the 10 digit code as a binary beat like start, with each number having a combination of wide and narrow bars. This gave a 20 beat part for each UPC. This in turn gave me 5- 4 bar measures to work with for each track. This began as a percussion only piece but blandness led to a more rounded result. One UPC is the beat in Recife, the wide band is kick and narrow a hit. Another the Chicago bass line of 2 notes.The last UPC is used amongst four other synths for leads, samples and noise, also with 2 notes each. Simple approach with quick and slightly goofy results, but fitting considering the UPC sources! This started with a faster BPM, but slowing it down gave it the plodding march sound that inspired the name :slight_smile: Played in Gadget, bounced each track into Cubasis for final mixing with only Room Verb added there. Happy Fathers Day to all you dads out there!
Videos- https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCc_iQ5JFusPt9EIwKIZ5rew


Again this week I felt inspired to compose two tracks to contribute. The idea behind both was the same: to study the closest barcodes I could find and then go to the synthesizer and attempt to transcribe my impressions from watching into music. Arpeggiated sounds fitted best, I found, and used them above and below and in-between all the other weird stuff I played.


Again this week I felt inspired to compose two tracks to contribute. The idea behind both was the same: to study the closest barcodes I could find and then go to the synthesizer and attempt to transcribe my impressions from watching into music. Arpeggiated sounds fitted best, I found, and used them above and below and in-between all the other weird stuff I played.


Picking three random objects (a packet of painkillers for my shoulder, a guitar effects pedal box and one of my own book publications), I started thinking about applying the barcode to a rhythmic structure. Since I am currently recovering from a shoulder injury, getting busy with graph paper and midi drum roll tracks was not a realistic task. Instead, I investigated the iOS store and found Baracodas (https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/barcodas/id430909025?mt=8&affId=1671662&ign-mpt=uo%3D4). This app nicely communicated with network midi to trigger Ableton Live. The slightly lop-sided rhythms created lent themselves to some more glitchy rhythms which were given some light processing (bit of dubby delay seemed to make things groove a little more smoothly. A bit of fun!


The first barcode was a graphical extension of Morse code. That’s how Norman Joseph Woodland arrived at his barcode prototype in the 1940’s while living in his father’s beachfront apartment. One imagines Woodland drawing with a wooden stick in the soft Florida sands, extending a series of dots and dashes into the cryptic patterns we all recognize today.

Morse code is commonly thought to be a mechanism of distress. Everyone knows the code signifying “SOS,” for example. The lyrics of “Dot Dash,” a song by punk legends Wire, appear to reference a more neutral approach to crisis. The narrator’s indifference to an upcoming automobile accident is oddly casual, almost clinically observant: “Progressive acceleration / Skidding, but the expression / Remains pan.”

It’s interesting how, decades after Woodland revolutionized the transactional landscape, our emotional response to barcodes is one of lax familiarity. We get bored with innovation when we’re constantly exposed to it. Using a self-checkout scanner at the local grocer has all the excitement of waiting for a traffic light to change. We simply go through the motions: beep, navel oranges, two for a dollar. Beep, bag of crisps for one seventy-nine. Whatever.

For this piece, Suss Müsik created a nine-part sequence based on three barcodes. Each “hit” was played using pieces of wood and overlapped according to variances in line thickness. As the rotation became more dense, a bit of reverb and panning was used to separate the layers and compress the more piercing frequencies.

Noting that one of the barcodes resembled an elongated set of piano keys, Suss Müsik identified individual notes and arrived at a somewhat accidental chord sequence that deadens the senses after two measures. Perhaps that’s what Wire was getting at with “Dot Dash” and the lesson of Woodland’s invention: random discoveries and events are unavoidably circumstantial, and the emotional responses they elicit can be surprisingly mundane.

The piece is titled Philco, named after the company who purchased Woodland’s patent in 1962 after IBM declined to pay his asking price.

Postscript: the wood percussion by itself is actually quite interesting, if a bit dry. If there is interest among Junto participants in hearing this part as an isolated track, let Suss Müsik know via comment and we’ll post it.


This is one of those projects were I go “This can be done in code! :imp:

My approach was to start by programming a small script in Processing (using an external lib) that scans my webcam for barcodes and then sends them as an OSC-message to SuperCollider.
In Supercollider the barcode got translated into a pattern (rythm) and a percussion like instrument was spawned with random variables to play said pattern.
At the time of performance I altered between 3 barcodes (that worked with my webcam) from a guitar stand, a cookie jar and a bag of crisps. These were layered multiple times and at different offsets (Read: I don’t know how many patterns I ended up with). Later I added some effects in Ableton and using an outboard reverb.
All in all this was great fun :slight_smile:


The playlist is now live:


I can’t believe how some of you guys arrived to very nice results using the suggested procedures (choice of 3 barcodes, interpretation of the numbers on it, etc) my tries were hopelessly unmusical, so I cheated, shoot me!
To me barcodes must sound like pattern based delays or filters, like a chop-down plugin à la skidder.
I took a piece I was working on, quite melancholic chord progression performed on different bell-like sounding synths (DX7 etc). Applied the bar code numbers from 0 (short) to 9 (long) and proceeded to chop down audio decay for each chord following that pattern (0-9) but eventually I gave up.
Then I used different constant delays and skidder FX but changing the setting time/pattern from one measure to the next, so every chord has it’s own repetitive tail. In a way the full track could be read as a barcode interpretation. That’s the best I could do to fit this week’s assignment, sorry!


grabbed the nearest book and painstakingly drew the barcode as a midi file
had this running through some instrument samples and fx. i really could not be arsed to draw two more barcodes so when the feedback had died down i played the same barcode again x2
i think i did well to leave some rhythm in; kind of allergic to rhythm at the moment: i’ll bring it up next time i go to the doctors.


So this is a first for me: Having read and listened to some different contribution I felt I could expand my program to do more. I was especially inspired by @George_Smyth 's use of ‘barcode values’ to come up with a melody. So here is my first ever second take on a challenge:

My program now creates a rythm from the bars in the barcode and choose the notes to play based on the digits of the code, mapped to a minor scale (to avoid too much atonality). Supercollider then spawns an instrument (an old additive saw wave synth I have made) much like the old code with random parameters.
I have added reverb, analog delay and subtle distortion in post.

Edit: I almost forgot: Only one of the barcodes from yesterday was reused. I ate the bag of crisps and I have misplaced the cookie jar, so instead I used the packaging from a stable machine and a book on shorebirds.

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The voice track makes this delightfully confusing.