Disquiet Junto Project 0463: Making the Gradient

Disquiet Junto Project 0463: Making the Gradient
The Assignment: Make a piece of music inspired by the concept of a gradient.

Step 1: Think about how a gradient functions, as one thing transitions into another.

Step 2: Make a short piece of music that aims to explore the idea of a gradient in sound.

Seven More Important Steps When Your Track Is Done:

Step 1: Include “disquiet0463” (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 “disquiet0463” (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 the end of the day Monday, November 16, 2020, at 11:59pm (that is, just before midnight) wherever you are. It was posted on Thursday, November 12, 2020.

Length: The length is up to you. Transitions can take time.

Title/Tag: When posting your tracks, please include “disquiet0463” 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 463rd weekly Disquiet Junto project, Making the Gradient (The Assignment: Make a piece of music inspired by the concept of a gradient), 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.

For something that felt like the audible experience of gradients, i tried to work some FFT-based spectral magic in Max/MSP…
“12 voices of sine/triangle-modulation-madness sent through 12 layers of FFT processing, going through 12 layers of Valhalla Supermassive”:


I rode my bike along the Dumbarton Pier next to the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge. The 84 overpass towered overhead, casting complete shadows over the length. It was a weekday during the pandemic, and the pier was deserted. The stiff, unceasing bay wind carried the scent of sea life and a constant brown noise combined with the uncaring traffic passing by overhead. Once the sister pier to the Ravenswood Pier, the Dumbarton Pier rests in solitude, wearing down gently with time and the occasional fisher. I hope to age as gracefully as we all slide down together.


  • Ableton Live 10 Standard
  • Magix SOUND FORGE Audio Studio Pro 13 (mastering)
  • Native Instruments KOMPLETE KONTROL S61 (input)
  • Novation Launchpad MK2


  • Native Instruments Super 8 - Terror
    ** Arturia Rev PLATE-140 - Bright Small Room
    ** Native Instruments Driver - Detuned (custom automation)
    ** Native Instruments Vari Comp - Kick (custom automation)
  • Voltage Modular - Syncing Stutter
    ** Output Portal - Rhythm Choke
    ** Native Instruments Raum - Yellow Memories
  • Native Instruments Massive - Long Island PWM
    ** Native Instruments Guitar Rig 6 - Jittery Octave
  • “Slow HeartBeat”, sidechained to CH1
  • Native Instruments - Damage - PERC Dumpster
    ** Native Instruments Repika - Classic Ping Pong


  • “Slow HeartBeat”, Recorded by Mike Koenig, is licensed CC Attribution 3.0

I’ve chosen to let the gradient make the music on my theremin, which I’d recently unpacked to set-up my instant Indian orchestra with the tabla machine.




1st Section: Bb Major
synthesizers performed by DD

2nd Section: A major/minor.
Performed by
Flute (Bobby Rangell, Denver USA)
Percussion (Nico Arnicho, Montevideo Uruguay)
Fretless Bass, bowed basses drone (Daniel Diaz, Buenos Aires, Argentina)

Recorded circa 2007 in Paris, reowrked and remixed Friday Novemebr 13th 2020.

As mentioned on a previous junto, lately, when I have time, I’m recycling old masters I got back this summer from a publisher deal, I have dozens of 10 or 15 years old tracks to re-listen, re-work and release or use at will.
For this junto I decided to do a gradient between two old tracks: one completely electronic (synths and treatments) and one acoustic (live in the studio performance with actual musicians and instruments)
It starts with the electro-drone song , and instead of just crossfading volumes between tracks I decided to make my own interpretation of gradient: the second song’s tracks start unmuting one by one, starting with the flute and some percussion, then bass, etc, while the first song’s tracks start fading or muting one by one.
To make things interested, the first song is in the key of Bb major, while the second plays around A major and A minor, so the long middle section of this track, where the mutation happens, is in two superimposed keys, providing dissonance and instability instead of the original track’s clear mood.

Photo by Louis Maniquet


The stairs are very old and steep. The only way down is slowly and with respect. A gradient that’s hundreds of years old…

Made with a field recording of the old stairs, vst’s and puremagnetik’s past fabric and vanisher.
Subtle descending tones used to amplify the sense of going down.

Zoom H6 was fastened to the wooden hand rail at the half way point to better capture the sounds.

The main synth sound is from the Jupiter 8 vst with careful manual modulation of the filters cutoff and resonance.


A single increasing voltage, taking the length of this track to reach its maximum value, is sent around various destinations in my modular system, resulting in this drone. One chord voice, accompanied by ambience from old field recording made earlier today, and a direct feed from my Tascam set just outside the room. Headphones recommended.

Enjoyed working on this week’s Junto. Going to keep working on this patch and see what else comes out of it. The simplicity of giving up control to a single increasing voltage and just sitting back and really listening to the subtle variations it creates is a useful exercise and makes a difference from my usual process.


Gradients are all around us in the form of airflow. As we move about at different speeds, refractive variations caused by density gradients distort our sense of light and sound. Higher velocity means more distortion, or at least a more visualized shift among images that remain in focus.

(Refraction is also why many of us have trouble seeing as we get older. Next time you stub your toe squinting to locate your eyeglasses, blame the gradients. Shaking your fist in the air at fandom fluid densities is entirely optional).

In 1864, German physicist Augst Toepler invented Schlieren photography as a way to visualize airflow current. Putting it simply, rays of light change when patches of air at varying densities are forced to pass through each other. Placing a concave mirror with a long focal distance helps to illuminate these shifts, which can be photographed using a knife edge or razor blade in front of a camera lens.

For this strange piece, Suss Müsik attempted to recreate a Z-type Schlieren setup with a guitar, two looping pedals, and a pitch-shifting delay pad. The original concept was to cut off one set of loops (the “lamp”) while “refracting” another set of loops (the “mirror”) with various sawtooth/reverb effects. The results didn’t quite hit that mark, but there remains some auditory evidence of densities splitting in motion and later converging.

The piece is titled Schlieren and was recorded live to 8-track. The image is a Schlieren photograph of shock waves produced by an in-flight T-38 Talon, the world’s first supersonic jet trainer.

Image credit = NASA & US Air Force: J.T. Heineck / Ed Schairer / Maj. Jonathan Orso / Maj. Jeremy Vanderhal, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons


rising frequencies through a filtered beat
rising frequencies in iris2
increasing chorus /delay/ flanger feedback in nebula
rising feedback in ddly
goes a bit spherical at the end



this LeapMotion gizmo reads the height of my fingertips, feeds it into Processing and sends it into ChucK, which uses the height gradient to modify the pitch gradient of a 5-oscillator synth. I throw in some delay for a groovy Led Zep “Whole Lotta Love” vibe. Here’s the code:




The playlist is now rolling:


Old stairs, in a haunted house, in a ghost town… It’s not a soundtrack, it’s a news report nowadays.


That’s flat out bonkers and incredibly cool! I love the live editing combined with the motion controls.

And it’s way more accessible than I thought - https://www.adafruit.com/product/2106


Beautiful! It felt like a gradient that went deep, where traveling into infinite darkness becomes another way of heading towards the light: the only constant is change, the gradient in-between, and it leads life immortal. :pray: :raised_hands:



This is my first submission to Junto since 0138, 6yrs back. I use gradients a lot in my profession (designing/selling handknotted rugs, made in Nepal) and also my hobby of dyeing with indigo. Creating ombrés and yarn abrash (dye variations) are a constant go-to for me.

I tried to take my track’s trajectory down a linear path, with some accepted unknowns along the way, as is the case usually with results in textile dyeing. Two instruments were used, a lapsteel with delay and overdrive, and a MicroFreak synth.


I’ve been thinking of writing a “Space Invaders” clone as a programming exercise. I was thinking this could come in handy as a soundtrack. I started with the original “Space Invaders” theme. To this, I added an Insect Beat Repeat effect in Ableton Live. Over the course of the track, the Chance parameter of the Insect effect increases from 0% to 100%. That is the gradient part of the track.

Then I added a reggae beat and Conet Project recording like I always do.