Disquiet Junto Project 0404: Seven (St)ages

Disquiet Junto Project 0404: Seven (St)ages
The Assignment: Record a piece of music that follows the arc of Jacques’ “All the world’s a stage” speech from Shakespeare’s play As You Like It.

Step 1: This project is inspired by a famous speech from William Shakespeare’s play As You Like It. The speech is the one that begins “All the world’s a stage,” and is spoken by the melancholy character Jacques.

Step 2: Familiarize yourself with the speech, in which Jacques lists the “seven ages” that people move through over the course of their lives, should they lead full and long ones: the infant, the student (“schoolboy” in the play), the lover, the soldier, the justice, old age, and the final decline (likened to a “second childishness and mere oblivion”).

Step 3: Consider how those seven ages might be explored in musical terms. Consider concepts in the original text, such as how in old age “his big manly voice, / Turning again towards childish treble, pipes / And whistles in his sound.”

Step 4: Record a piece of music that occurs in seven stages, following the seven ages of Jacques’ speech. One possibility is to have seven related pieces of music, as i na suite, that represent the ages. Another is to have one consistent source audio throughout, but to treat/filter/process it in accordance with each successive (st)age.

Seven More Important Steps When Your Track Is Done:

Step 1: Include “disquiet0404” (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 “disquiet0404” (no spaces or quotation marks). If you’re posting on SoundCloud in particular, this is essential to subsequent location of tracks for the creation of 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, September 30, 2019, at 11:59pm (that is, just before midnight) wherever you are. It was posted on Thursday, September 26, 2019.

Length: The length is up to you.

Title/Tag: When posting your track, please include “disquiet0404” 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 404th weekly Disquiet Junto project — Seven (St)ages / The Assignment: Record a piece of music that follows the arc of Jacques’ “All the world’s a stage” speech from Shakespeare’s play As You Like It — at:


More on the Disquiet Junto at:


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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 used (cropped, text added) via the Internet Archive:


The project is now live.

Hey All, Cool assignment Marc, that said, I’ve had jobs where if I was late and my excuse was it was hot I would have been hit on the head with a hammer. I wanted baby sounds and decided I could use that for all the stages by transposing it down but it still needed a setting to put them in, so I grabbed some other sounds.

Peace, Hugh


Since I’m currently on vacation at the moment, I felt like throwing a bit more into this week’s challenge - such as the proverbial kitchen sink. I worked out a few little sections based on an acoustic guitar tuned to Modal G tuning (CGDGBE), then once that was in place , I fired up Logic and went for broke channelling a bit of Richard Thompson, Jim’O Rourke, Andrew Tuttle and a general indulgent racket.

Where the source material is concerned, I was intent on channelling a feeling of innocence, whimsy and foreboding in equal measure, with seven sections in total. The whimsical section is reprised before things get a bit dark and then eventually subsume into the cold, muted embrace of oblivion.

Thanks for the challenge! I had a blast putting this together over a few hours in the studio. Now I’m in need of a lie down and maybe a drink. :slight_smile:


This was a great challenge!

I tried to divide this piece is in 7 distinct parts - each one (except the last) layering upon each other - inspired by the passing of a life… Starting with a beat - but in the end, everything falls apart and turns to silence…

Everything is created “in the box” with heavy use of the new Reason 11 Plugin functionality, sequenced by Live.


Thank you Marc for another wonderful prompt.

We are doubly blessed. Not only is Shakespeare a musical force of nature, but we have many recordings of his words being delivered by incredible voices. Some who immediately spring to mind are Ian McKellen and Judy Dench as the Macbeths, Richard Burton as Hamlet, Simon Russell Beale, also as Hamlet, and - perhaps my favourite - the incredible Alan Howard as Coriolanus.
But if we want mellifluous musicality, we turn to Sir John Gielgud.
Here is his reading of Jacques’ speech, sampled from a Linguaphone vinyl from the 1930s.
In the left channel, I used Ableton’s “Convert Harmony to new MIDI track” on Gielgud’s voice and fed it through Spitfire Audio’s free Resonator Music Box instrument.
In the right channel, I played Spitfire Audio’s free Soft Piano instrument as a live accompaniment to the reading. The final piece I used was take #5.
On top of the reverb, there is a delay plugin whose feedback slowly increases from 24% to 72% as the track progresses.

After completing the project, I envisaged the full stop at the end of Jacques’ speech not as a self-enclosed dot, but as a tiny arrow, pointing us forward in time to the song from Shakespeare’s later play Cymbeline:

Fear no more the heat o’ the sun,
Nor the furious winter’s rages;
Thou thy worldly task hast done,
Home art gone, and ta’en thy wages:
Golden lads and girls all must,
As chimney-sweepers, come to dust…


A nice challange this. Decided to create a single melody and repeat 7 times. Adding differences each time, different sounds or instrumentation to reflect the different stages… More description in my SC listing…


The playlist is now rolling:

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Pretty much raw Elektron Digitakt here, some sprinkles in the DAW. Each addition of a new loop layer is, I suppose, representative of an age of humanity. I build them up then strip them down. Probably not hard to hear some sort of a conceptual, generative relationship between the sample and the synth – not precisely sure what it might depict if anything and I prefer to keep it that way.


I started by taking Robert Smirke’s seven paintings, inspired by Jacques’ Seven Ages speech from Shakespeare’s As You Like It , and converting them into sound using PhotoSounder. I shortened the audio files to try to keep the length manageable.

Then the seven were variously filtered, gated and modulated. In three cases I added resonators.

A curiously Celtic feel came over the project.


Tried to do a prismatic approach, each stage observing and interacting with the others, but the premise is open to a sense of linearity that prevails.


Seven (St)ages project comprises seven stages of life, birth, the student, love, the soldier, the scholar, the aged, and death. Each phase is separated by organ, all processed through Supercollider and mixed in Ableton Live 10. Notably, the birth is signified by sound recordings of bouncing balls (heard previously in Rebound)and the scholar is a short excerpt from a speech by B. Obama licensed form Soundsnap. Thanks Marc for another interesting challenge.


I only loosely followed the assignment, as Shakespeare’s seven stages have distilled themselves to four in my mind even since a kid wore a ‘birth school Metallica death’ shirt to high school back in the early 1990s. I still think of that phrase on a routine basis, even now firmly in my metallica stage of life.
This was made with ‘enter sandman’ samples, paulstretch, and other audacity tweaking - mixed with a field recording of some kids at a playground - because what’s life if not a playground?
(If anyone out there knows what the kids are saying, I’d love to hear - as it’s not in a language I understand)


Really intriguing assignment this week!

For this, I went for something relatively simple - adding filters and delay to the sound of a sombre chime. The chime reminds me of the march of time - a constant, steady, unstopping beat.


@samarobryn Really great track, gains so much power through it’s time-bound simplicity. It made me think of another line from Shakespeare, also about the aging process: “We have heard the chimes at midnight” (Henry IV, Part 2).


recorded my voice in podfarm
had some fx fading in and out for the stages: pitch shifted 5st, paulstretch


Up. . . Mewling etc.


Gave this a go on the Eurostar between the UK and Paris. So I’ve kept it very minimal in terms of tracks, complexity and duration.

Since scales in Western music are usually comprised of 7 notes, my idea was to represent each of the 7 ages by a single note. I chose the A minor scale - for no particular reason. The track is made up of 7 8 bar segments and after every 8th bar a new note is introduced. Each note remains present until the end with gradually decreasing velocity because I figured that as we go through each phase of life we are still the sum total of all our past experiences, but diminishingly so individually as we’re adding layer upon layer to our person. For example the solider I imagine to have very little childishness still in them.

As time goes by and the decline begins some of these earlier aspects of our self come back to prominence as we regress into a childlike state once again.

I’ve added some very harsh overdrive later (so be careful with the ears / speakers because I deliberately pushed it quite far) and some occasional random frequency shifting to emphasise the decline. And sharply cut these off because I imagine a sudden moment of clarity just before the very end.

I’ve gone quite verbosely into the process here because I found my approach to be conceptually quite interesting, but the end result quite underwhelming and muddled, so I wanted to give a hint at what I was at least trying to get at. Musically it doesn’t really reflect any of the stages in terms of characteristics described in the speech, which is perhaps another failing.

Really nice prompt though and some great interpretations posted!