Disquiet Junto Project 0423: Hold Noise

Disquiet Junto Project 0423: Hold Noise
The Assignment: Record music intended to sound just as garbled as the hold music on a phone call.

Step 1: Think of a time when you were put on hold by customer service or waiting for a conference call to begin. Think about such a situation when the hold music sounded like it had been run through a washing machine, or put through a bit crusher, or photocopied 100 times in sequence before it got to your ear.

Step 2: Record a short piece of music intended to sound just as garbled as the hold music on a modern phone call. Think of this as “hold noise.”

Seven More Important Steps When Your Track Is Done:

Step 1: Include “disquiet0423” (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 “disquiet0423” (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, February 10, 2020, at 11:59pm (that is, just before midnight) wherever you are. It was posted on Thursday, February 6, 2020.

Length: The length is up to you. Shorter is often better. Then again, you could end up stuck on hold for a long time.

Title/Tag: When posting your track, please include “disquiet0423” 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 423rd weekly Disquiet Junto project — Hold Noise / The Assignment: Record music intended to sound just as garbled as the hold music on a phone call — at:


More on the Disquiet Junto at:


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Project discussion takes place on llllllll.co:


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

The image associated with this track is by Milo Tobin, and is used (image cropped, text added) via Flickr thanks to a Creative Commons license:




The project is now live.

thanks marc for the beautiful task everyone knows
Made with my OP-Z.
Have fun!



Thanks, folks. This is off to a great start. And the playlist is now rolling:

This one is a quickie, I made it while the kids watched TV and we usually don´t give them more than an hour on a Friday afternoon.
The female voice is from Bláthin, an Irish singer that I just listened to before making this little thing here. So I just added her voice. Listen to her music at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCvyZNSCqQr6cLGS5To-CGAA
She worked with me in a call center a couple of years ago, so this kind of fits.
We had to do outbound calls, and as in most callcenters they were running reports on how many outbound calls we did. We quickly found out that no one actually checked on our calls, only the total number of calls that were longer than a minute or so. So each morning when we got in and the supervisors were still not there we just called a bunch of numbers where we were sure that there was answering machines. After running a dozen of these fake calls we went out for breakfast and cigarettes.
Me and another guy were the only Germans there, and no one else spoke German. We had so much fun talking nonsense to people on the phone. We basically did a lot of prank calls, I literally fell from my chair laughing so hard a couple of times because the other guy was so funny.


Luckily, here in modernity, our zooms, our hangouts, our skypes, and our facetimes have chosen to do away with the tradition of hold music. But providers of yore made a choice to foist music upon us, and in my experience seemed to pick either a (presumably low license cost) uninspired recording of some baroque music or a bit of music somewhere between smooth jazz and bad fusion. And in the spirit of the second, I approached this week’s prompt.

But also, this week we shipped Surge 1.6.5. If you are a Surge user you should totally upgrade. Loads of new stuff, all detailed in the changelog. One of the big changes is we now have a complete SCL/KBM tuning implementation. I spent quite a bit of time writing and testing this with the rest of the surge team, but I hadn’t used it to make music in anger. So I chose an 18 note even division of the octave scale and went for it. I picked this scale because it makes diminished arpeggios on a standard keyboard equivalent to a whole tone scale. And what is more smooth jazz/bad fusion than a whole tone scale? But all those other notes are hanging out there too… The bit uses the Logic Pro built in drum samples and three virtual instruments with a solid retuning implementation (Surge, dexed and Pianotec).

And of course, our intrepid hold-music musicians, getting more adventurous as the call goes on, moving further from their whole tone roots, meet the fate of all hold music. If you listen to the end, you’ll find out what that is, if you can make it that far. If you can, I hope you enjoy listening to “The 3:30 is Running a Few Minutes Late (disquiet0423)”


Recorded a simple hold music melody using the ‘toy celesta’ keyboard on GarageBand - recorded part of that onto a cassette tape loop on an old karaoke machine - played the loop back while messing around with the karaoke mic and built in echo effects to create some feedback - stuck a baby monitor near the whole operation - put the baby monitor receiver in another room with the original GarageBand equipped iPhone and hit record - messed around with overdubs and other effects in GarageBand - and there you go - your message will be answered in priority sequence…


For some reason I remembered Alvarius B mentioning white tea in one of his songs, so I imagined calling an import company only to become concerned - after hearing their hold music - about the real nature of their business. Perhaps the white tea is a front for something else. This music doesn’t sit right. I think they may be trading in endangered species. (Or maybe it was just the first tape they found at the bottom of a desk drawer in the abandoned warehouse from which they just started operating?)

Live acoustic guitar recorded into an android phone, loaded into Ableton, then passed through three tape VSTs with wow and flutter and noise all set to slightly different values.


a spam recording left on my answering machine offering to help me with my “unsecured credit debt” combined with a melody where I warp the pitch, then add some ring modulation. Then I ring-modulate the recording. Ring modulation for all my friends! all done in ChucK


Decided the project this week was more about the treatment than the composition, so I’ve mangled a piece I recorded recently.


We recorded this phone call hold by phoning at Gallÿxxa standard operator. All lines were busy. For those of you who don’t speak Gallÿxxan the robot says: 'hold on, we will take care of your call soon". In loops. For a century. But their notion of time is different from ours.


This topic is actually great! I always like to listen to that tunes especially if they are not popular songs but some unique cheesy melodies.

Made this one with loopy/AUM/SM1/Ruismaker/Poison + midi controller app I’ve made for myself to be able to play melodies with only 2 thumbs On my phone.

Really looking forward to check out other submissions


Very fun one.

My approach was straightforward, I used Live to create a few short music loops, then recorded them to the Makenoise Phonogene at the lowest possible quality. I recorded my voice with a 60’s era Concord Automatic 350 portable Reel to Reel. Zero additional effects were added to the voice, that’s pure old grimy electronics.

Video was pieced together from a call center promotional video. I removed people’s faces.


“I was calling an interdimensional conglomeration through a telephonic wormhole. I wanted to complain about an interloper in my dimension - but the operator hung up the phone while listening to an alien brass band warming up their kettles for an afternoon of acoustic soup.
Here’s what I caught on my old tape recorder…”

…this was fun :smiley:


This contains a recording of a stream: “Stream, Water, C.wav” by InspectorJ (www.jshaw.co.uk) of Freesound.org.

The stream is granularly distorted and played alongside a tune and percussion mangled through several chains of plugins including ring modulation, VocalSynth2, AudioThing Speaker and Valves, amongst others, plus bandpass filtered to allow only “telephone” frequencies and set to mono.

I had intended to base the on-hold music on pitch-to-MIDI of the babbling stream recording but that proved even more unmusical than the end result.

Of course if I was going for realism, the track would be well over 40 minutes long. You have been spared!

Amusingly, I probably spent more time modeling the cover art, for this one, than the composition/processing.


I just made an 808 loop, played a bit of annoying synth and guitar over that… looped it, increasingly bit crushed it over the length of the song. I always get more and more annoyed as I’m on hold.
As I was posting I noticed wasabicube was using the same title… great minds, etc.


While setting up some basic stuff for this Junto, I was listening again to Yonderboi, after about two decades not having heard the albums I loved to play in the 90s. Then I started to just play in Ableton, first making a drum track along with just random selections of drum samples, added a chord line with a Vox, getting a bit of the old-school vibe. Ran it all through reverb, an Oberheim filter with modulation and some smearing echo on top, slightly modulated as well.


Made with @Elisa-room237 - short and sweet (a bit too short actually because it doesn’t have a satisfying melodic ending :expressionless:)

But this was good fun to make. We both like vaporwave - so were happy to give making some muzak a go. Elisa played the keyboard, we both played the bass using Arturia Pigments (both because my timing was awful for the first couple of bars… so she took over). Pad sound and strings from OP-1

The words are inspired a terrible looking business book we found on the streets of Amsterdam called “Strategy of the Dolphin”.


I started by playing some hold music on the piano (which you might recognise). This is the core element but I went for a slightly different angle to just processing. In particular I made something that feels like you are on hold. All the elements are samples, some of me, some of items and some of synths.

The recording and arrangement was all done on the MPC. The only synth used was the bass station 2. The hold music recorded from my digital piano and was from one of my books of lead sheets. All the acoustic recording was done on an SM58. Overall my approach was quite simple but I found the end result quite fun. It also contains a reference which some may find amusing. Another enjoyable week!

EDIT: FYI I contemplated making it 20 minutes long but decided against it as it might drive everyone mad.