Disquiet Junto Project 0427: Music 4 Airplanes

I originally took the prompt to include a bunch of white noise, then I just decided to pick some Ableton instruments that included white noise and figured they could blend with airplane white noise. I then wanted to add some punchy drums to get through the noise (tried to add more white noise to the snare and failed) and then a friend sent me a harmonica, so that had to go in.

Ableton Live
Hohner Special 20 Harmonica > SM57 > Presonus FireStudio Tube

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I did the majority of my international (longhaul from Australia) travel in the first decade of this millennia. During that time my favourite music to listen/sleep to on planes was the Future Sounds of London’s Lifeforms album, just enough melodies and rhythms to carry me away from my economy seat and enough found-sound to let any cabin noise blend in without waking me. This is a lot simpler, yet with the same intent.

Created with a now recording of the rain sounds in my music room with some synth from my new Microfreak, mixed in Logic with some extra reverb and compression.

Thank you.


I’ve been wanting to do something like an MFA-inspired piece with free-running loops for a while and what better time than this task? I downloaded a sample of airplane ambience from freesound, and I built the piece on top of it and then removed the ambience later. There are just the two virtual instruments (which are just built from tweaked presets in Reaktor’s SubHarmonic and Iris), and the loops are just sending MIDI to one of the two.


Another cross country commute in coach.
Airline ambience processed to add frightening subliminal sounds of metal fatigue, failing engines, and other scary stuff. Happy landings!


For this one I grabbed five harmonics, by eye, from a field recording I made on a trans-Pacific flight from SFO to AKL. The frequencies were: 45Hz (F#0), 158Hz (D#2), 341Hz (F3), 562Hz (C#4) and 2170Hz (C#6).

Five Ableton Corpus devices, set to either tube or pipe, were allowed to harmonise at those frequencies (or octaves thereof). They were then gated, in various ways, based the field recording. These were then sent to a group track that split the signal 50/50 wet and dry, the wet signal passing through a XILS 3.2 LE in FX mode for a ring mod and filter.

I then recorded 25 seconds of the resulting sounds and split them into four channels using the Regroover Pro software. These, depending on their pitch I considered to be bass, mids, treble and highs. The bass was Paulstretched by 8 times, the mids stretched by 4 times and the treble stretched by two. The four tracks where then arranged with a shimmer reverb and a touch of blackhole reverb and mixed with the original field recording.

Might not be particularly musical but it is somewhat evocative of being stuck in an aluminium tube at 35,000 feet.

[Edited because I completely forgot to mention the gating on each of the Corpus tracks.]


Title is pretty self-explanatory. Based on a real-life experience.

Technical things.
Several atmospheric drones layered to set the mood of flying in an airplane. The rest is just me improvising with sampled loops, trying to create something that sounds like an anxiety attack.


lately (as in last week) i was working with recordings made by placing a portable recorder inside a polystyrene fish box found on the streets of hong kong, then checking in the polystyrene box as luggage on my flight back from hong kong. i’ve done this a few times (the flight with the fish box). though it seemed too easy to use these recordings as a source for this week’s disquiet, so instead, since the project was announced while i was on a twelve hour bus ride, i used recordings of the bus ride itself. on my first flight back from hong kong, there was a camera beneath the nose of the plane that you could access via the headrest monitor. it was very beautiful watching the clouds.

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Made with a Volca Keys, tape delay app in iOS.

I decided the airplane noise was the background drone so I didn’t need to make it. These bleeps and bloops go on top of it.

Image is from my “Drawnwhile: Bindle” project where I live-drew a transcontinental trip, including five airplane rides. See more at: drawnwhilebindle.tumblr.com


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@DetritusTabuIII - As soon as I heard the piano I realised that several people probably tried to mix acoustic instruments to offer a more organic foil to the aircraft drone. The minimal piano line worked nicely in that capacity: great work.

@nullconfluence - I liked the mixed textures and horror vibe you achieved. I could imagine the bassline (sounds like a stretched out distorted timpani) blending into the plane noise. I couldn’t imagine an airline playing it on board through, as the passengers would be terrified.

@mdh - I really enjoyed your approach here; I could picture the Paul stretched pad style sound turning the engine noise into something more comforting. I also think the mix was very successful: it all seemed to sit so nicely. The vocal snippet was a nice touch too.

@GLSmyth - I love the use of orchestral instruments here. In a way it felt “too obvious” to stick with synthetic drone type sounds but getting something similar from the orchestra was a nice take.

@bookmil - Listening to this initially it felt a little sparse. I then tried to imagine it alongside the drone of an aircraft and I could understand where you were going. You turned the drone into a texture supported by the harmonic elements and punctuated them with percussion: nice work.


used a recording i made on a plane
stretched a bit for a more tonal feel, then reversed and repeated
audacity said the plane was singing in D2
used the harmonic table java and played along
adjusted the volume so the low notes are sometimes indistinguishable

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thanks @chalkwalk i probably should have included my blurb (from soundcloud, just added it), but you got it just right. I had the same type of thought process on whether to include the white noise drone or not, and decided to go without it, and let the track stand on it’s own with an “imagined” drone and then get some punchy drums to cut through that.

I was going for a soaring care-free vibe with the simplicity of the track.

I do quite appreciate your composition work as it has darker more complex feel and I feel like the drones build emotional weight. I may lean that direction more on the next one.

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I haven’t been on a plane in a while. I think they sound something like this? Title is meant to suggest planes singing to one another at cruising altitude. L’amour de loin. One hopes.

An infrasonic sine wave (A-1, 13.75 Hz), fed in parallel through four different types of distortion, each with drive & output volume modulated in opposite directions by pATCHES’ Survey device. Filter delay and octave-down grain delay in parallel. Nimbus reverb. A little feedback amongst the sends. Envelope follower on Master modulating Survey’s rate and also randomizing if it gets too loud. More minutiae too minute to mention.

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@bassling the solarization and dreaminess, very nice!

@mdh the paul stretch worked well, it can create some pretty obvious artifacts and you avoided that quite nicely!

@junklight this is my overnight international flight song, when I’m struggling to sleep and gaze around the cabin and everybody is is dozing except me.

@bentglasstube digging the chugging and the interleaving!

@chalkwalk thanks for the kind words! I can have that effect on people, and I have flown Allegiant Air and I can attest, that was horrifying :smiley:

@bookmil digging the harmonica, nice to get some analog sounds in there! A little bit of dreamverb on that tone could give it an otherworldly presence…

@candlesayshi a fascinating, grain-like effect (removing the ambience was inspired)!

@pineyb I’m in good company!

@wasabicube that gets intense, very cool, I love the story of how you made it too, definitely going to be trying some of those techniques out myself!


I wanted to use percussive sounds for this one. Found a Mbira-Instrument in my Ableton. Belongs to the Midivolve pack by Coldcut. I actually had a freesound thing with the sound from within a cockpit on when I made a first improvisation. But instead of using this one I connected a cricklecrackle monotron and went for it. All improvised, first take. Late entry for teh challenge, but it´s Tuesday morning in Berlin and I enjoy life. Have a great day!

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