Disquiet Junto Project 0456: Line Up

Disquiet Junto Project 0456: Line Up
The Assignment: Interpret a painting by Agnes Martin as if it were a graphic score.

Step 1: Look at the work of painter Agnes Martin, best known for her parallel lines.

Step 2: Select an individual work that suggests itself to you as a musical score.

Step 3: Record a short piece of music that interprets the painting selected in Step 2 as if it were a musical score.

Seven More Important Steps When Your Track Is Done:

Step 1: Include “disquiet0456” (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 “disquiet0456” (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, September 28, 2020, at 11:59pm (that is, just before midnight) wherever you are. It was posted on Thursday, September 24, 2020.

Length: The length is up to you.

Title/Tag: When posting your tracks, please include “disquiet0456” 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 456th weekly Disquiet Junto project, Line Up (The Assignment: Interpret a painting by Agnes Martin as if it were a graphic score), 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.


And I finished mine before Marc had posted. This was a very inspiring prompt.

Production notes: this is just two tracks in Live, one of the Arturia Arp 2600 through Squishy Beat Repeat, and the Arturia Buchla Easel through BrainDance Beat Repeat and the FilterPhaser effect. I gradually opened the filter on the ARP and tweaked its resonance, and faded in the Buchla and tweaked controls.


I chose Martin’s Untitled #5 (1998) after reading a Guardian article about her.

My idea was to interpret the bars of colour as chords, but the sequence changed as I riffed through them.


I went with Happy Holiday 1999 by Agnes Martin. Looking at the image gave me the idea to play two triads close together to represent the sandy colored bars. The notes were played individually at first then held to create a drone. This was then modulated by back and forth movements on the control surface, this felt like the left to right , right to left stripes of the image in a tactile way. The piece looks like a windbreaker which people use on the beach on holiday. So the voice used has some kind of air elemental attached :slight_smile:
The number two seems significant to this piece of Art so two takes were combined and slighty offset. This was repeated to better capture the repetition of the Artwork.


Solo upright bass
Synthesizers and Fx.

Image: Friendship by Agnes Martin.

My imagination is not flamboyant today, I just went for some linear playing, both an upright bass linear impro and an harmonica and synth simple straight drone.

DD 25th Sep 2020


Reading about Agnes Martin, my main impressions were: reduction and minimalism with a love for grids and subtile colours. So I started with a session with a Folktek Mescaline, lent by a friend, as the unpredictable obscurity of this sound device seemed to fit.

I recorded a repetitive pattern (Mental+Motion) of two minutes lenght as track 1. An addional track contained a FX chain of Izotope de-click with “clicks only” on track 1 plus compressors, to emphasise the grid character of the pattern.

Some more tracks use FX VST like Michael Norris, Valhalla Supermassive and other stuff on track 1 to remove the grid from the Mescaline Sample in order to get subtile colour into the sound image.

Not all tracks start at the same time, like some images are painted layer by layer.

So its all a single Mescaline recording (repeated in recut slices) in different tracks/lines. Creating it I had “Island No. 1” in mind, and for me the imperfection of the loop echoes that of the images grid.

After reading about Miss Martin, I think she would have refused my concept as too intellectual :face_with_monocle:


I chose the painting “Faraway Love” I used the title as the sort of emotional guidepost, and I used the visual aspects of the painting (four thick rectangular blocks of overpainted light blue acrylic) as my voice/element count.

1 Atmosphere
2 Voice
3 Rhodes
4 Percussion

I just got my Norns, so I had fun learning with the Barcode script by @infinitedigits and my octatrack.

Loved the challenge this week, and in general. It exposes me to things I would never discover otherwise.


Forgot my production notes. Added.


I really don’t like this kind of art. I guess in a sort of protest I made a song I also don’t like.

The artwork I chose is “Aspiration”. I interpreted the lines as staves even though there were too many lines. I then imagined the two ink blots were notes to play. I was going to leave it at just that but decided to also include some percussive element for each vertical bar in the work. It was still too boring so I added some noisy droning to capture the texture of the paper.

In the end I don’t really like the song, but I guess it captures my feelings about the drawing (and the artist) well.


I also chose Aspiration for the sake of simplicity. Going off the lines, there are four chords played by five instruments over a syncopated rhythm. Like the horizontal lines, the chords are skewed by having the notes begin and end in slightly different places. The slant of the grid also gave me impression of ascension and I tried to convey that in rhythm and harmony, though perhaps it didn’t come across ultimately. Again, my scratch tracks had a raw sound that was lost in the final mix… Oh well, fun cue – I’m satisfied!


Lines on Tenori-On


Fun to hear the variety of approaches people have taken this week:


Nice Boards Of Canada vibe


Expansive reverb and use of stereo field


I like the gritty texture and am going to try Izotope’s clicks


The aesthetic seems to capture something of the era Martin lived within


Kinda chill for a protest song


I could hear more of this


This grew on me as it developed, like it revealed itself the more I looked at it.


The Sea

I found this photo of the painting at https://twitter.com/Current_LA/status/724465278113865728/photo/1. I straightened it up and turned into a black and white mask, looking like this:

Note that what you’re looking at is a detail fragment because such image doesn’t scale down well. To see the entire thing in full resolution, click here: the-sea.gif

The reason I did this transformation is because I wanted to make this image into a literal music score. That’s right, no wishy washy “inspirations”, no “interpretation by free association”. We want a music score that’s deterministic, reproducible, almost… scientific.

In effect, the transformed photo is a kind of a “piano roll” notation where time goes right. But how do we make it sing?

The Serpent

First, I wrote a Python script to translate the lines into lists of numbers: https://gist.github.com/ambv/97974001f1f01f85693254c3be106b23

Having those, I could now proceed to the real deal: sequencing MIDI with an Agnes Martin painting. I chose to follow those rules:

  • the painting clearly groups the horizontal lines in threes, so the tune will be three voices;
  • the three voices will play the Tetratonic scale which was popular among the First Nations in Canada where Agnes Martin was from; as well as in Oceania which fits the maritime theme of the painting’s title;
  • every time a voice gets silent due to a break in the line, another note from the scale is chosen (always in order, making the piece reproducible);
  • the sequence of notes follows the Reed Phase by Steve Reich, in F.

I programmed this in a separate Python script based on my aiotone/mothergen.

The Result

The three instruments playing are two Mother-32 synthesizers and a Subharmonicon. In a sequence of three horizontal lines, the outside ones are the Mother-32s, and the oscillating middle one is the Subharmonicon.

I recorded this in Ableton Live at 168 BPM, performing some modulation manually. All sequencing is as described above, there are no manual edits.

It sounds a little bit like this:


i dont like her art but i like this photo (an installation of her work from the 70s). the imperfection, greyness and blurriness and the increased symmetry as you zoom in and in

nine sections to represent each painting
counted no. of cells in the grids used for arp rate
brighter paintings higher freq reverb / lower arp gate
darker paintings more supermassive

general blur and greyness represented in the tone (iris2 patch)


I gotta say, the images that are byproducts of Junto projects are often among my favorite parts. Thanks so much.


The painting I chose was “This Rain”. The structure seemed to lend itself to a fairly direct interpretation. In particular three distinct regions were present. I decided to grid the painting into 12 x 12 with the vertical position corresponding to 12 notes (F1 to C6 taken in 4ths) the lowest being at the top. Similarly the left to right progression was time. I decided that each division would be a fixed length, so 12 notes, 12 intervals each of 12 seconds. The three paints were translated to three different sounds each played in their own way (with their own notes based on their vertical position). When recording I decided that capture silence at either end (as though you were scanning the painting, including emptiness either side). This seemed interesting, so the piece is book ended with 12 seconds of silence per side.

In terms of equipment, the first part to be heard was played on the Peak using the arpeggiator on my keyboard in random mode. The arp doesn’t support the sustain pedal, so I had to get my wife to hold down some notes so we could get all 12. The two other sounds were a deeper pad like sound on the Skulpt and a significantly effected bell/pluck sound played on a volca FM. My standard Boss 500 pedals add delay and reverb.

Overall I think the shape and timing of my track fit the painting quite well. What doesn’t fit so well is the tone which comes out a little too dark. I was originally planning on choosing notes in 5ths to give a brighter feel, but the pitch range got a bit too large (7 octaves Vs 5 for 4ths). In any case I am reasonably happy with the result and the concept. Thanks for another fun project!


That’s the fanciest way anybody’s ever said “I don’t like your music” to me! :joy: In all seriousness, I like the binary-colored version of the painting, too. It’s got this “Unknown Pleasures” feel to it.


Here’s my track - I used “With My Back To The World” as my score. Playing the stripes as notes, first individually then as two note intervals. Full description in the Soundcloud link.
Recorded in a sngle take with a Yamaha Reface CS with Vallhalla Supermassive and Ableton Echo:


based on “Untitled, 1977” :

I used ppooll, the “sinus” and “oscbank@” acts with some modulation and delay.
I tried to make a track that had some subtle modulations and changes, that reflect a sense of calmness.