Disquiet Junto Project 0296: Clustered Primes

Disquiet Junto Project 0296: Clustered Primes
Make music inspired by a prime-number query initiated by novelist Robin Sloan.

Step 1: The source material for this week’s project is a list of prime numbers. The list is the result of a contest that novelist Robin Sloan ran recently. In advance of the release of his new novel, Sourdough, which will be published on September 5, Sloan asked readers of his email newsletter to compete for an advance copy by submitting a prime number. The people who submitted the lowest prime numbers — and this next bit is important — that no one else submitted won a copy of the book. With that in mind, take a gander at the resulting CSV file of prime numbers here:

Step 2: Note that the CSV file has two columns of numbers. The column on the left shows the prime number. The column on the right shows the number of people who submitted the prime number on the left. Thus, 17 people submitted the number 2, 10 people submitted the number 3, and so on. The lowest prime number submitted by one person was 409, then several numbers were submitted by multiple people until you get to 467, and then two more were multiple submissions, but then you get three single submissions in a row: 491, 499, and 503. Just spend some time looking at the numbers for patterns — not just the patterns suggested by the primes, but the patterns in the social context, the clusters of submissions and what they say about people’s sense of the competition.

Step 3: Make a piece of music that somehow draws inspiration from the CSV file and from your perception of patterns.

Five More Important Steps When Your Track Is Done:

Step 1: If your hosting platform allows for tags, be sure to include the project tag “disquiet0296” (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.

This project’s deadline is 11:59pm wherever you are on Monday, September 4, 2017. This project was posted in early evening, California time, on Thursday, August 31, 2017.

Length: The length is up to you. Bonus points, of course, if the minutes and seconds of the finished work read as a prime number.

Title/Tag: When posting your track, please include “disquiet0296” 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 296th weekly Disquiet Junto project — Clustered Primes: Make music inspired by a prime-number query initiated by novelist Robin Sloan — at:


More on the Disquiet Junto at:


More from Robin Sloan 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.


The project is now live — and I have no idea how to make the author’s website not revert to that larger link. But the text all reads fine. Thanks!

I noticed that the prime numbers with more than one digit always end with 1-3-7 or 9. I decided to make some kind of pattern out of that;
So I took a 3 bar groove with three different time signatures; 3/4 + 7/4 + 9/4
Downloaded from freesound.org a human voice counting numbers, by mistake my first download was in Japanese, I couldn’t help keeping it. The JP voice is combined with an English human metronome counting down the irregular signature.
Then gradually transformed the mood of the groove (without altering the 3-7-9 beat pattern) to make it a more sequential-repetitive little track. The drums come back in the end but are superfluous for the most of the tracks IMHO.

Electric piano, samples, drums, synth bass, synths.
Created in Paris, France, 1st September 2017.


similar to a recent junto this is comprised of text-to-speech-to-music

just pasted the prime numbers into audition speech generation and then had a load of fx applied: delay, echo, guitar fuzz, chorus, convolution reverb, mastering

i wanted the numbers to be on the cusp of liminality


For this week’s Disquiet Junto Project I took the tae supplied list of numbers and allocated a note to each digit - 1-to 0 with 5 being C. So for example 463 would be B-D-A. Duplicate digits i.e 433, were ignored so in that instance the corresponding notes would be B-A.

In Ableton Live I duplicated the Prime Numbers sequence with instruments.
In the second movement I used the same rules of designating notes to digits for the submissions and sent them up an octave or two.

As for my apples for the teacher - each movement is 43 seconds long. The overall piece is 137 seconds and in 3 movements. And for added geekiness the whole thing plays at 101 BPM.


I’ve used prime numbers as the basis of time signatures.

The kick is 2/4, bassline is 3/4, drums 5/4 and organ is 7/8.

You can read more about this approach on my blog.


A Mersenne prime is a prime number that is one less than a power of two. It was developed in the 1600s by a French monk named Marin Mersenne. The Mersenne prime subsequence begins with the numbers 3, 7, 31, 127 and 2047, with 67108863 being the largest known Mersenne prime. Now you know.

Prime numbers have a special place in music history. Marin Mersenne himself was referred to as the “father of acoustics” for his seminal work on string vibrations. More recently, Three Dog Night sang Harry Nilsson’s famous lyric “one is the loneliest number that you’ll ever do,” exactly twenty years before De La Soul reminded us that three is the magic number.

Suss Müsik studied the two columns of numbers in search of hidden dynamics. It would have been a delicious coincidence if the total number of submissions (1371) had been a prime, but the total went over by ten (the same number who submitted the “magic number” three).


We determined a semantic derived from the Mersenne primes and programmed those figures into three drum machines at a tempo of 111 BPM. The modulations were coupled with a simple piano polyrhythm played in threes and sevens at counts of ten and twenty-two. It got a bit confusing after a while, so we packed it in at exactly 3:53.

The piece is titled Mersenne. The image shows three nuts from a hickory tree, of which there are 19 species.


Nicely done. If we were to do it again, we might have set the BPM to 113 rather than 111 (although we were intrigued by the idea of three ones behaving as a conceptual unit).


Studying the SV file of prime numbers a while, I noticed that there two triplets of prime numbers which submitted each from 11 people:

103 313
107 317
109 331

Thinking about, I decided to go further with these 6 x 11 = 66.

And than the cosmos explodes when you’re looking for interpetation and meaning for 66!!!

I create a 6/4 beat with elastic drums on my ipad played guitar with samplr and 66 comes up…have fun!!


Oh boy,

Nineteen in B(disquiet0296)https://soundcloud.com/hypoidsound/nineteen-in-bdisquiet0296
Spreadsheets and large groups of numbers give me a headache, but one thing that stood out before I was incapacitated, nineteen people picked the number 19. This was an obvious sign to stop looking at numbers on a grid and make some noise. I thought an experiment in Cubasis utilizing nineteen different synths could be interesting and answer some questions about limitations with Inter App Audio in iOS. Okay, actually only eighteen and a drum kit from Cubasis. After fifteen it got a little painful loading new track instruments and honestly, it was getting tough adding complimentary sounds as well. But with track freezing, placement and mixing board work, something that resembles all the sounds that make you grit your teeth was born!
I T ’ S A L I V E !!
Stuff used:
Crystal XT
Waldorf Nave (2 patches, one bounced)
Yonac Magellan
Microcoque (2 different MIDI patches)
B major was the root and a modified and distorted Nine EFX kit made the beats.
Hope the pain inflicted is only temporary, I’ll let you know when mine clears ;-D
I should learn to read at some point…2 seconds over a prime. Missed it by that much!
My music videos-https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCc_iQ5JFusPt9EIwKIZ5rew


Interesting how we took similar approaches. Yours is much better. The background somewhat recalls Stefan Betke’s glitch work as Pole. Nicely done.


Cool mashup. If there is any lineage between Alex Chilton and Max Headroom to be found, you’ve uncovered it.

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The playlist is rolling:

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Interesting how many of these tracks use some form of drum machine to interpret prime numbers as a musical concept.

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Unfortunately I didn’t have time this week to go in depth on this project, so I had to take the easy route of making a modular patch that uses lots of prime-number clocks and has at it’s heart a 13 step sequence. Sometimes, it is more important just to take part. Done is better than perfect.




Found the following two pages interesting and useful:

Used the above to determine the prime numbers between 0 and 12 or the chromatic scale.
Ended up with five numbers: 2,3,5,7 and 11.
Used these as the musical notes/pitches for the project.
Used another random number generator to generate the actual order of notes to be played.
Used the random number generator to select the tempo, key and length of the project.
Added synths, bass and percussion generated randomly using the above numbers as notes on the chromatic scale.


I used the first 15 primes and their guess frequencies as constraints for setting parameters in a system I’ve been working on: a signal is filtered into a number of frequency bands, with each band then being sent to a separate feedback loop whose delay time is determined by a line that the user manipulates. The idea is to effect a kind of spectral spread as the sound repeats. I cycled 3 times through a set of 5 short field recording snippets, each time setting the number of frequency bands according to the prime number and the gap between min and max delay times according to the number of guesses. The strange, multi-peaked distribution of guesses among this first chunk of the data set felt like it led to a steady but eccentric progression in the resulting sounds, which I then sequenced in an overlapping mix.




Questionable accompanying video-

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Here’s mine: https://soundcloud.com/plusch/primary-colors-disquiet0296

I made a series of Pure Data patches that read through sections of the CSV data and used it to create several audio files, which were then arranged in Reaper and treated with EQ, saturation, and reverb.