Disquiet Junto Project 0379: Open Studios

Each Thursday in the Disquiet Junto group, 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. (A SoundCloud account is helpful but not required.) 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.

Deadline: This project’s deadline is Monday, April 8, 2019, at 11:59pm (that is, just before midnight) wherever you are. It was posted in the morning, California time, on Thursday, April 4, 2019.

These are the instructions that went out to the group’s email list (at tinyletter.com/disquiet-junto):

Disquiet Junto Project 0379: Open Studios
The Assignment: Share a track, get feedback, and give feedback.

Step 1: The purpose of this week’s project is to provide participants opportunities to get feedback on works-in-progress. Consider work you’re doing you’d appreciate responses to from fellow Junto participants.

Step 2: Either upload an existing recording (sketches and mid-process takes may prove optimal), or record something new and post it online for feedback. If there are some things in particular you’d like feedback on, mention what they are.

Step 3: After uploading, be sure to listen to the work of other participants, and to post responses.

Seven More Important Steps When Your Track Is Done:

Step 1: Include “disquiet0379” (no spaces or quotation marks) in the name of your track.

Step 2: If your audio-hosting platform allows for tags, be sure to also include the project tag “disquiet0379” (no spaces or quotation marks). If you’re posting on SoundCloud in particular, this is essential to subsequent location of tracks for the creation a project playlist.

Step 3: Upload your track. It is helpful but not essential that you use SoundCloud to host your track.

Step 4: Post your track in the following discussion thread at llllllll.co:


Step 5: Annotate your track with a brief explanation of your approach and process.

Step 6: If posting on social media, please consider using the hashtag #disquietjunto so fellow participants are more likely to locate your communication.

Step 7: Then listen to and comment on tracks uploaded by your fellow Disquiet Junto participants.

Additional Details:

Deadline: This project’s deadline is Monday, April 8, 2019, at 11:59pm (that is, just before midnight) wherever you are. It was posted in the morning, California time, on Thursday, April 4, 2019.

Length: The length is up to you.

Title/Tag: When posting your track, please include “disquiet0379” 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: Consider setting your track as downloadable and allowing for attributed remixing (i.e., a Creative Commons license permitting non-commercial sharing with attribution, allowing for derivatives).

For context, when posting the track online, please be sure to include this following information:

More on this 379th weekly Disquiet Junto project — Open Studios / The Assignment: Share a track, get feedback, and give feedback — 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 adapted (cropped, colors changed, text added, cut’n’paste) thanks to a Creative Commons license from a photo credited to Matthew Ebel:




The weekly Junto project is now live.

A Dream Itself Is But A Shadow was written in response to Disquiet Junto Project 0379: Open Studios

Step 1: The purpose of this week’s project is to provide participants opportunities to get feedback on works-in-progress. Consider work you’re doing you’d appreciate responses to from fellow Junto participants.
Step 2: Either upload an existing recording (sketches and mid-process takes may prove optimal), or record something new and post it online for feedback. If there are some things in particular you’d like feedback on, mention what they are.

A Dream Itself Is But A Shadow is, of course, a quote from Shakespeare’s Hamlet. I started writing it in response to the haiku by Portuguese author Corine Timmer:

the falling tide
tugs at my dream -
winter solstice

I was not able to complete the piece in time for inclusion with naviarhaiku272 (http://www.naviarrecords.com/2019/03/20/naviarhaiku272-the-falling-tide/). I have returned to it off and on and am at a place comfortable where I believe that it can be shared.

I would appreciate any input, good, bad, or otherwise, especially in relation to how well the music fits the idea in the haiku. (Alas, I will be in New York all weekend but will definitely read any comments left when I return Monday evening.)

A Dream Itself Is But A Shadow was written for Flute, Clarinet, Bassoon, Horn, Trombone, Vibraphone, Violin, Viola, Cello and String Bass.

The score is available at http://bit.ly/2ONt8JT


here’s a sketch that i made a while ago trying to catch some aspects of so called “buchla sound” with my eurorack system. i still plan on finishing it, but it might be a while because i tend to prioritize making new things over finishing old sketches (that happily accumulate in the dreaded growing folder).
This thing is more about searching for sound than composing or anything.
i took Furthrrr Generator as main sound source, threw in some random sources, function generators, LPGs and a spring reverb.

i’d be happy to hear any feedback. thanks




A great idea for a project, and I have a piece that I could really use some input on!

A recent part of my process has been to load some of my older guitar improvisations into samplers and play around with them to generate new ideas. The other day I was doing this and stumbled upon a small loop that straight away had me mesmerised, I just sat and listened to it loop over and over for many minutes. However, I quickly found myself failing to be able to develop it into much else. I experimented with adding other layers, fading them in and out, but I was totally unsatisfied with anything I was adding. Eventually I ended up with two extra, very subtle synth layers that fade in extremely slowly, and a gradual increase in feeding all the layers to an overdriven delay type effects line.

I still don’t know how I feel about the track as it stands at the moment. It feels like a situation where I personally would quite happily listen to the loop unchanged for a long time, but the part of the composer in me that thinks about a possible audience has a problem with allowing it to just be that. Certainly there is some musical reason that I am so attached to it, but surely to make it a worthwhile listen for other people I need to do something else, because they may very well not feel the same way that I do about the material!

Although a lot of the music I make uses repetition, loops, soundscapes and slow development as techniques, I haven’t ever quite encountered this problem before. I am very curious as to whether other participants have had similar challenges with regards to conflicting compositional impulses.




(Hallam | Sharbaugh)
Adrian Hallam [ https://soundcloud.com/blue-room-green ]: synthesizers, drum machines, and found sounds
Michael Ash Sharbaugh [ https://soundcloud.com/michael-ash-sharbaugh ]: synthesizers, drum machines, and found sounds
Composed and Recorded ca. February 2014 to October 14, 2018.
sm121 [for dj] [16AIF].


”Smoke Signals (intro)" [part I] -± ”Smoke Signals (‘Boy Toy’)" [part II]

… << !!!SHEESH!!! >>> - ( … where to begin … ? … )

I suppose, first, it’s best to thank Marc for this week’s creative prompt: ”thank You, Marc.”

Next, I guess I can begin by saying that this ‘tune’ (these tunes, perhaps? — i.e. , one instrumental + one song) began in February of 2014 on the DAW of My Good Friend and Collaborator, Adrian Hallam, who formerly went by the SoundCloud moniker, ‘Blue Room Green.’

He and I have composed nearly 20 songs and instrumentals together since 2013, and we’re still going strong (we’ve plans to release a lengthy album of Our electronica instrumentals later this year).

Anyway, He composed a simple sketch with three basic tracks of percussion, synth, and more synth in 2014, and He — as per Our usual M. O. — sent Me the tracks from ‘Down-Under’-Australia soon after in order for Me to orchestrate, and ‘flesh them out.’.

Well … they sat on My hard drive for several years, gathering oxide, until — in 2018 — I ‘brushed them off’ and gave them a look-see; then, I added the umpteen amount of tracks You see in the SoundCloud tune image (and that’s not all of them pictured).

He had named the three-part sketch ”Smoke Signals” when He wrote it in 2014; I felt the name stuck, and We both decided to call it that.

But His initial sketch (the composition’s first two minutes and twenty-three seconds) sparked something: it begged for Me to place a strumming guitar comp directly after the instrumental’s cadence at 02:24; I did, and then added and added, and added. Wrote lyrics, and sang an entirely new song prompted by Our original collab.

I’m working on it now — the vocals are in the midst of being mixed; hence, My questions for You, My Friends:

”Smoke Signals” is already etched in stone as the title for the introductory, ‘part one’ instrumental We wrote together; however, My addition-of-a-song has nothing to do with the idea of ‘smoke signals,’ but does outline a very painful relationship I am in. Thus, with the phrase, ”Boy Toy,” prominent throughout, do I call the second part ”Boy Toy,” or ”Smoke Signals [part II]?”

Now onto aesthetic criticisms: I’m attempting to match the volume levels of the verse vocals and the chorus vocals. How am I doing? Do either need more of something? More reverb to blend?

I’m mostly concerned with the chorus vocals: what kind of soundstage should they be featured in? A distant, reverbey one? Or a close-up and in-yer-face stereo spread?

I consider the entireity of all of the non-vocal instrumentation mixing completed, but, if Any of You have any suggestions or criticisms concerning the ‘completed’ instrumentation, please [!!!] … throw them at Me. I’m eager and game for them.

I appreciate You time, and do plan on finishing this project up within the next three weeks.

Bless You All! … eager to hear YOUR works-in-progress! Thanks!

~ Michael

April 4th, 2019



Wow. Don’t Ya adore that feeling? I do. I dig into old tracks – mainly ambient ones I’ve done as a teen – all the time.

Your piece is extremely placid … extremely beautiful.

Keep the long, undeveloped loop as it is, and forget the listeners in the future. Know why? 'Cos there’s tons of listeners out there like You and Me, with Our tastes, Our desires. If We are ‘mesmerized’ by this, why shouldn’t they be, too?! The track is gorgeous. I would buy it as is. There are tons of little nuances in it as it grows that afford it sonic interest. Keep it, and …


~ Michael


What luck!! I’ve been working feverishly on a new track all week.

This is a rough mixdown of an Industrial/Dark Techno piece I’ve been working on. Would love to get any critique, suggestions, or input on it.

Bassline was created with the Enzyme softsynth.
Drums were generated from a classic Korg Electribe ER-1 and my Eurorack, along with some samples.
Risers, drops, and FX were taken from my Eurorack, found sounds recorded on my phone, and mutilated samples.


Hey! How are Ya?

Sweet-soundin’ bass drum. The cabasa is piercing My eardrums, but sounds good as it fades into the song. The synth riff should have more of a doubled stereo spread and more sub-harmonics added. Fun recording!

The mix is good: all of the inst.s are in the foreground and clear. Great use of the stereo spectrum. But there are those piercing cabasas again. Lower them in volume or lessen the exciter effect.

~ Michael


I agree with this completely. This track would fit beautifully on a playlist with Steve Roach’s “Structures from Silence” or Thom Brennan’s “Mist”. Don’t fret about that imagined audience. They are out there and they will appreciate this track. :clap:


Thank you for the advice! I turned the cabasa down orginally, then back up, then couldn’t make up my mind. I need to listen to the track on a few different speakers/earbuds and get the level right.

I’ll take a look at the synth too. I’ve cut the lower frequencies quite a bit because my studio monitors often fool me on the low end. I haven’t listened on my car stereo yet–that’s where I usually catch that.

Much appreciated!


Good idea about the studio pics.
Your track could be the soundtrack to a seventies horror movie, something like “Massacre at the disco”, strong one.

I think I know what you mean with

I am all for critiques and advice and others thoughts and reactions but at the end of the day it has to come from me

I did a talk about composition and ended up coming to something like that eventually. As a performer is the other way around tho.
But in a particular context like this one,I’m convinced critics are very useful.


The “George Michael meet Talk Talk” feel or even Tim Bowness’ experimental feel could use any weird treatment in the vocals, like the distant soudnstage you mention.
I like the balance bet chorus/verse volume.



@Tunnelwater First of all, I think - and I know I’m not alone - that this is a very, very beautiful piece of music.

I wonder if the word you’re worried about, but not saying, is “boring”. Nobody wants to be boring.

I’m not saying that your track is boring - I’m on my sixth or seventh listen now - but even if it were boring… what follows? Boredom isn’t a sin or a crime. Perhaps it should be thought of as a call to action, an invitation to do or contribute or change something. (I work as a preschool teacher in a very busy and stimulating environment. On those rare occasions when my students say “I’m bored” I usually reply, “That’s OK… So, what’s next?” and let them figure it out. Believe me, they always do.) Not sure exactly how this cashes out in terms of music. Boring track? Why don’t you tap out a beat, hum along, or sing a melody on top? A nice opportunity for improvised collaboration, unique and never to be repeated!!

Worries about boredom might come along with repetition. But repetition is a fascinating topic. To even notice or feel repetition, all kinds of memory processes must be in place. “I’m hearing this again” or “The loop just came back in”. This musical sense of ‘again’ and ‘coming back’ are impossible without memory. (Could a creature without memory notice such melodic or rhythmic patterns, or go on to become bored with them?) But what kind of memory is this? Are we consciously THINKING about the previously heard passages of music? That doesn’t sound right. It’s more like the previously heard passages or past loops haven’t disappeared but are somehow still phenomenologically or experientially present. Perhaps boredom and our sensitivity to repetition are two of the ways in which we ‘feel’ that the past is still with us or inside us. (There are all kinds of ideas in Hume, Kant, Sartre and T. S. Eliot that could be connected with this.)

There’s a staggering line somewhere in Merleau-Ponty: something like “Music changes the shape of space.” How does repetitive music make you feel about space? Is it encroaching on you, or endlessly opening up before you, or spinning around you, or following you, or…?

Man this post is boring.

I’m going to sign off now.


I seldom keep track on the side, cause I kind of like them but don’t feel they are going anywhere. Still don’t want to definitely shelf them and has no use to it. So I keep coming back to those unfinished masters from time to time, till I get bored, I feel that I arrived to a finished version and still the track is “going nowhere”.

I wish I didn’t post a track I shared on SC last week that was exactly that case: a killing bass groove that made me build a whole track over it, but eventually the whole was useless and felt unfinished. Ideal for today’s junto.

This one’s another track like that, started as a bass groove (its sort of a nick, the title suggests from who I nicked it…)

I was surprised to listen to this again now and found the mix quite polished, I even added a melody over it sometime, still it’s kind of ”going nowhere”, is it?

How does it feel when listening to it whit fresh ears?

Does it feel like a polished version of a raw jam?

I listened to this on and off for 5 years now, have a love hate relationship…

Performed by DD, 2014-2015

Electric bass guitar, percussion (talking drums and cymbals), electric guitar, ebow gutar, wurlitzer, synths.


Everything I have is basically an abandoned work in progress…

A very well timed project for me because I’m travelling to France over the weekend and am currently on a train, so don’t really have access to all my hardware to come up with anything new :slight_smile: And it also means I can’t go back and tweak anything properly before uploading it here.

I just picked a random project of mine from a list of projects that I couldn’t remember by name. Opened it up, rendered it, listened to it and then uploaded.
Listening back to it it sounds like I didn’t really know where to take it from the basic elements I had or how to properly weave the voice samples into it.

The track is called Bugsnag (after some software I’d been using in my workplace :sweat_smile:). It was created on: 06/02/2019 at 22:49 and last modified on: 11/02/2019 at 21:48

After listening I remembered working on this project because the samples reminded me that I’d been watching this interview with Laurie Spiegel and thinking that her reflections on music and life were so beautiful.

If anyone has suggestions on anything the track is missing that would be great.


Quasi-generative piece.


Hello everyone,

Here’s my rough demo for a track based on Ovid’s myth about Sibyl: she asks for eternal life but forgets to also ask for eternal youth, and eventually withers away to become a mere voice.

I’m on a tight budget, and I’m currently using Ableton Live 9 Lite. I’m using the stock Grand Piano, and here are the settings for the above demo:

To my ears, the piano sounds flat and there’s a quiet rattling sound in there that is driving me mad. Are there any ways to make the piano sound better?

Is ‘Grand Piano’ not a very good instrument?
Or is it my settings that are making things worse?
Is it a question of compression or EQ?
Too much reverb?

There are so many variables that I don’t know what I should be doing to get a cleaner, brighter sound. Any suggestions that can help me improve things while sticking to my non-existent budget would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!!