Disquiet Junto Project 0451: Ursula's Silences

Disquiet Junto Project 0451: Ursula’s Silences
The Assignment: Make music inspired by a line from A Wizard of Earthsea .

Step 1: In the classic fantasy novel A Wizard of Earthsea , its author, Ursula K. Le Guin, writes the following: “For a word to be spoken, there must be silence. Before, and after.” While the words are her own, of course, they are spoken not by the narrator, but by the book’s main character. The statement occurs toward the end of the book. For emphasis, Le Guin informs the reader that the character, whose name is Ged, speaks the words “slowly.”

Step 2: Consider how the statement can be applied to music, to sound, to the linear unfolding of a composition.

Step 3: Record a piece of music inspired by the Le Guin text: one sonic object at a time, with attention paid to the spaces, the silences, between those objects as they are introduced.

Seven More Important Steps When Your Track Is Done:

Step 1: Include “disquiet0451” (no spaces or quotation marks) in the name of your tracks.

Step 2: If your audio-hosting platform allows for tags, be sure to also include the project tag “disquiet0451” (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 tracks. It is helpful but not essential that you use SoundCloud to host your tracks.

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


Step 5: Annotate your tracks 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, August 24, 2020, at 11:59pm (that is, just before midnight) wherever you are. It was posted on Thursday, August 20, 2020.

Length: The length is up to you. Remember: it’s a sentence, not a novel.

Title/Tag: When posting your tracks, please include “disquiet0451” in the title of the tracks, and where applicable (on SoundCloud, for example) as a tag.

Upload: When participating in this project, 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 always best to set 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 451st weekly Disquiet Junto project, Ursula’s Silences (The Assignment: Make music inspired by a line from A Wizard of Earthsea ), at:


More on the Disquiet Junto at:


Subscribe to project announcements here:


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 project is now live.


Nice one :)…

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The first thought that struck me bout this weeks project was the connection between silence and time. Specifically the silent time between events, waiting for a doctors appointment, moments in history, waiting for a bus. The quiet interludes between significant events. The way a pause after a spoken sentence gives it emphasis. Often the perceived duration of these moments become distorted. A kind of time dilation occurs, where a short period can seemingly take forever. I wanted to use this idea in a literal sense, to extend time gradually between events. I did this by using Logics tempo track to gradually slow the playback speed from 60BPM to 0BPM.

I started with two simple chords and a few notes in between played using the default piano patch in Logic Pros Sampler. Each note was recorded to its own track. Each MIDI region was extended an arbitrary amount to give each region a unique, but similar, length and were repeated 12 times. You only hear the initial chords correctly once as everything drifts slowly out of time and slows down.

There are no absolute silences. Even in the quietest moments there’s the white noise you hear inside your head (other people hear that too, right?..). I wanted to use the noise to exaggerate the emptiness. I used McDSP’s Futzbox plugin to generate white noise and XLNAudio’s RC-20 Retro Color to give things a tape like feel.

Theres a few nods to old baldy here. :wink:


An Improvised piece with a new DIY instrument inspired by reading about Hugh Davies and featuring silence and piano.

Three stainless steel ‘whiskers’ were soldered to a contact mic and wired to a mono jack. I tried three different gauges of wire. 22 AWG, 24 AWG and 28 AWG. The only one I could get to stick in place was the 28 AWG. All are vaping wires for coil building. I also made a large spring from 20 AWG to toss onto the wires.

This assembly was played with some ceramic tweezers which imparted it’s own sound and a piece of insulated wire which was less intereresting.

If the wires were struck on top it did have a slight kalimba sound to it.

Inspired by reading this document



Solo violin
Solo cello
Field recordings (treated)
delays and reverbs

Music inspired by this sentence by Ursula K. Le Guin:

“For a word to be spoken, there must be silence. Before, and after.”

Created by DD in Greece on Friday 21st August 2020

Photo by DD, Kamari, Greece, Aug 2020.


simple call and response using piano genie
when the notes are missing i wanted to get a sense of expectation
hopefully you can hear the missing notes in your head


Our understanding of the environment is informed through the limitations of our senses, and so it is with Science/Fiction that it describes and enlightens us to another world described afresh (giving us new informed senses). As it was a breezy morning, I have for this weeks submission used natural, muffled and half silences, naturally generated by a stereo pair of Contact Mics and the wind to generate an alternative listening experience. Attached to nylon strings of my sundblinds on my balcony the generative, eery, and alien hidden sounds become audible. Headphones recommended. I look forward to hearing this weeks submissions.
Photo of setup:


As I read the junto mail this week I, instantly thougt oh Goethe “Wanderer’s Nightsong”
Thanks to my colleague Arne Lenk, he’s an actor and read the poem. Added some Vocoder, that’s it.

Über allen Gipfeln
Ist Ruh,
In allen Wipfeln
Spürest du
Kaum einen Hauch;
Die Vögelein schweigen im Walde.
Warte nur, balde
Ruhest du auch.

O’er all the hilltops
Is quiet now,
In all the treetops
Hearest thou
Hardly a breath;
The birds are asleep in the trees:
Wait, soon like these
Thou too shalt rest


As it turns out I was working on a similar project so my mindset was already in the right place. For the music I looked toward the end of the book to draw out the intention.

All Creatures Have A Name was written for string quartet.

The score is available at https://bit.ly/3aLACZ1


I recorded the phrase “Before and After” in the H4 > Morphagene > Mimeophon
I tried to play with space and silence using tempo changes. I recorded using varispeed to accentuate space and to some small degree silence between notes.

Lead - Rings > Ripples > Clouds
Pad/Layer - Tides > Quad VCA (envelope from Stages) > Qpas
Layer - Plaits
PNW - Various tempo modulation throughout
Sequencing from Octatrack, Yarns, and Marbles


This was an really interesting challenges!
My thoughts went straight to having a large wall of sound as ‘the word’ surrounded by silence. But what was supposed to surround the silence? Before the word: Chaos and anticipation. And after some sort of echo of thoughts and resolve.
Warning: “High dynamic range” or in plain english “Sudden loud sounds”

For the anticipation part I layered multiple drones from my Rucci Maximal Drone. The ‘word’ is multiple synths and samples stacked to play a constant and slightly dissonant chord. The ‘Resolve’ is a sample of the same synths playing a similar but more pleasing chord, which has been drenched in reverb.


This is based on the theme of Bach’s Aria: Enlightening Thoughts of a Tobacco Smoker (BWV 515), which, in turn, was probably a popular song of its day.

I turned each quarter note of the theme into a measure with each note played on the first beat of the measure. Hence, there are two beats of silence between each note. I then created second and third voices playing the same theme but staggered by 4 measures and 1 beat. Thus, the second and third voices play on the 2nd and 3rd beat of each measure (it’s in 3/4), respectively. These third and second voices each end early leaving only the original voice with its 2 beats of silence each measure.

Finally, I inverted, reversed, and inverted/reversed the first voice. I didn’t do this with the second and third voices so as to leave some stability.


I recorded the words “spoken slowly”, manipulated them - and quickly added effects, mashed them out, added rythm and other “exploitations” … and then tried to cut out some silence, leaving only the decay of effects like reverb etc in the empty spaces.

This is the result.

I think I should have made more space…


Hey, gang. This is my first submission to the junto, though I’ve been following along for a while.

I recorded some simple phrases on a cheap clarinet I bought recently, thinking it was probably the most lyrical instrument currently at my disposal. I left the air conditioning on to let the granular effects exploit the silence. This wasn’t the best take with the controller, but I ran out of time to fiddle with it. There’s a bit of waterphone on top.


My contriburtion persists of single flageolet stroke on guitar that is equal to one word as in the quote. However, with processing this word or sound grows during time with feedback on delays until it finally fades out.
Delays on guitar with manual know processing are first DroloFX’s Molecular Disruptor and then addtionally EHX’s Canyon. The amp was miked and recorded to Ableton Live, with Echo effects added to get some stereo width.


As always, very inspiring track!

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This is incredibly beautiful.


This is the first time I’ve participated. I haven’t finished anything for a long while, so when I saw this thread this evening I decided to give it a go. It was a bit serendipitous, as the Earthsea books are next on the list to read with my daughter after we finish the Wrinkle in Time series. She also snuck out of bed to sit in while I was working on this for a bit.

I found the concept to be an inspiring jump off. I created 28 individual samples using various VSTs and regarded those as individual, distinct (specific, to me) words, with silence between them. My initial intention was to follow through in utilizing silence within the composition, but in the end I decided to be less rigid. The concept felt fulfilled.

Every sample was a single articulation of an Am7 9 chord. I processed them together 7 times in groups of 4. From the 7 final samples, I wound up using 3 to create the song, apart from the outro, which is one of the samples I didn’t use in making the other parts of the song.

I played a wrong note but left in because I wanted to get the performance of each track in a single take. Most of the tracks were left as played, apart from 3. One of them was reversed, one of them was duplicated and detuned/hard panned, and one of them was resampled and layered with different effects.

Regardless of how it turned out, I’m just happy to have finished something. And quickly.


‘It is not inspiration; it is expiration.’ (Jean Cocteau)