Disquiet Junto Project 0479: Truck Radio Rain

I recorded and used three field recordings:

  1. Rain from inside a tent
  2. Driving in my car at around 45 MPH with steady rpms.
  3. Searching through radio stations on my car stereo using different bands. It’s digital and doesnt output search static between stations, so I mostly used snippets from different broadcasts.

I fed a couple of Granular samplers with the three recordings and created tones, drones, vox and glitch fx through extensive modulation. I binauralised the car drive recording with Sennheiser’s AMBEO plugin, so the mix is made for and best heard on headphones.


Fun assignment and fun to listen to the submitted tracks.

I put 3 samples into my new copy of Ableton Live.
The rain is from the free Cymatics LIFE Pt 1.
The truck is from a field recording I made a few days ago.
The radio signal was downloaded here. If you mouse over the waveform representation in the browser window, you can play it. I was surprised about the voices that later came out of it.

I had a great Friedrich Jürgenson-moment, when I could hear this dialog of two German voices:
“Do your hear everything?”
It is placed at about 0.32 in the track.

Inside Ableton Live, I listened to, split, warped and re-combined the samples, and I put a section of the radio signal into simpler to give the track a basic rhythm and harmony.

Thanks for listening and hints how to improve the sound quality.


A literal interpretation of John Cage’s proposition: “The sound of a truck at fifty miles per hour. Static between the stations. Rain. We want to capture and control these sounds, to use them, not as sound effects, but as musical instruments.”
It comprises a number of short recordings of the above-mentioned elements, randomly assembled into three longer sequences played simultaneously.


Quite a soundscape here, reminds me more of bodily fluids in the abdominal realm than car traffic and rain :wink:

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A note to myself. Read and re-read the instructions. I only read them once in a half sleep state and took the title to be examples of three sound sources. So I have ‘Radio’ but theres no sign of rain or truck unfortunately :scream: :flushed:

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As per instructions I took a recording of a car driving past, rain on cobblestones and me live scanning a FM radio band on my field kit. I screwed around with the playback speed of the samples and fed parts of the audio into Rings and Beads. I had a relaxing jam in the conservatory watching birds flit across the bird feeders and feeling the sub bass rumble of a bus speeding down the main road.


Great challenge again! I found time to do a simple experimentation with the sounds; I picked two from the “Record The World” project from Tim Nielsen, where I found Rain in France and a passing Tamale Truck from Mexico - and then I added a Radio sample from the default library in Ableton Live (I think).

No extra sounds added - but, of course, I did a lot of processing. Especially with the Sinevibes “Switch” plugin and then I played around with the BABY Audio “Spaced Out” plugin. Oh… and I got REALLY crazy with pitch automation!

Thank you (all) for yet another creative workout.


Mainly an opportunity to explore Spear.
I used two samples from freesound:

  1. It rains » The rain falls against the parasol : https://freesound.org/people/straget/sounds/531947

  2. Motorradlärm01.wav: Freesound - "Motorradlärm01.wav" by mark646
    ( a sound of a motorbike)
    Also a recording from Wide-band WebSDR : http://websdr.ewi.utwente.nl:8901/

The motorbike sample was processed through Spear, samples from the final result were selected. I also used a sampler (XfadelooperCM) for a very simple melody with a Spear sample.
A stem recorded from the Web radio was processed via Grain3Fi, a Cabbage granular player.
Samples were arranged in Reaper.
I used the rain recording untouched, with some reverb as a background.


The rain is from last year’s summer, the car and tram noises (no trucks today, sorry) from todays stroll in the sun (made available here) and the radio was recorded with an cheap (digital) old world receiver (via headphone output, which nearly drove me mad). A “melody” can be heared, which is me manually switching LW 279, 278, 277 … and back, which was kind of melodious (maybe more like a filter sweep). I wanted to add some websdr recordings from number stations but it did’nt work out,

Arrangement in a generative Live setup. The original was much longer, but (maybe after all that disturbing noise from the radios) I thought it’s better below 3 minutes, because I’m not convinced. I feel like I need some new age pads now…


Six minutes or so of motorway noise, recorded near work on Friday morning / shortwave radio recordings made in the early hours of Saturday morning / a number of recordings of rain in my backyard, in town, at work, made since Christmas…

i’ve tried to be Cageian, in that i’ve not really treated any of the sound sources, beyond fading them & placing them, a little bit of EQ * but * i’ve been particularly uncageian in that my choices were never really dispassionate - i rather vainly tried to arrange them * pleasingly *; chance was involved but wasn’t always adhered to… perhaps it’s self evident - but i kind of love all these sounds. even the traffic, as oppressive as it can feel sometimes , has a beutiful gauzy whoosh to it…

they’re all three flows, these types of sounds, it seems to me. Yeah, they’ve a * start * & an * end* but their defining characteristics are more about a certain fairly relentless streaming, no? even if they flicker and lurch at the edges…

& it’s this relentlessness that is my excuse for this piece going so long - i wanted the them to weave, intermingle. Pretty cheaply, i guess, i made a feature of the more percussive bursts of radio static (most, by no means all caused by my shifting between bands) but i was more interested in the way they keep going, flowing, all three somehow intense and meandering…


So for each of the three samples: Simpliciter + Simpler Tape Control + S&H
LFN + Chances trigger the playback, speed, and section of each sample. Then some reverb into a separate track in case it ended up sounding better with some space. Everything into a mixer and multitrack recorder.

Very lightly shaped the track levels in Ableton afterwards and added a bit of reverb to the rain track.


@pleurodesis That’s very helpful, thank you!! I look forward to giving it a shot over the weekend

Now this prompt suited me very well: not only am I a big fan of John Cage’s writing, thinking and music, I also record rain on my phone pretty frequently and enjoy messing with radios. And I mostly make music through collaging of one kind or another.

Although I had an idea of going for a drive in the rain with the window open, and two radios and a recorder on the passenger seat, that didn’t really fit with the shape of my weekend, plus it hasn’t rained at all. Fortunately, I had recordings on hand.

The radio is shortwave that I recorded on a trip to Islay last year. The rain is a phone recording of a heavy rain-shower that I made at work: I reversed it, because I wanted it to go from sparse to dense rather than the other way around. I didn’t think I had a ‘truck’ recording, but the other night I was checking through a micro-cassette that came with a dictaphone I bought on ebay, and the previous owner had apparently left his tape running while going for a drive, providing me with some very low-fidelity speeding vehicle sounds. All I did with these recordings was layer them up, adjust volumes, and choose fade in/out times.

I quite like the way that the three elements occupy a fairly limited frequency / textural range, so that they overlap and override each other. Traditionally, a composition / mix might seek to give each element room to breathe and be heard, but it feels suitably Cageian to just let them stand as they are… I like the density and the merging of the sounds into something ambiguous.


Hey all, I guess I took this fairly literally. It really made me think of the KLF’s chillout, with radio programs coming in and out and the railway bells. So that was influencing me. Side note: did you hear they re-released that album, but without Elvis?!

The other track I’m thinking of, is Safety by Scanner … such a great one.

I guess the theme here is “american truck driver listening to AM radio in a rain storm”.

So let’s see:

  • rain came from recording my fish tank next to my desk, bubbling
  • radio static came from a few bits found on freesound
  • radio ministry was from the internet archive
    KGFT 100.7 FM, 2018-02-02 13:11:37, not sure who’s speaking,
    but impressive how they can just talk forever.
  • to go with the ministry, some random C major organ-y chords!
    actually some very long cycle of chords, too long for me to pick up on the pattern.
  • truck sounds from freesound … I really wanted a rumble-ly sound / feeling.
  • then I’ve been playing “That’s how I got to memphis” on the guitar, and so to
    go with the truck driver scenario, there’s some radio tuning to guitar jam, and back.
  • last, I found the ‘spectral hold’ js plugin (in reaper) maybe works like granular sampler, and I
    was triggering a hold every 6 seconds.

So… yeah! Fun and I kind of like where it went.

Note to self: check the mix on other speakers! :slight_smile: vox was probably too low, organ too high.


Three recordings, two of my own: shortwave static and rainstorm and one from contributor rfhache on freesound.org (freesound.org/people/rfhache/sounds/51372/) of a Honda Civic Si accelerating, are the only sound sources.

Various Euclidean rhythms, via the HY-RPE2 rhythm generator, are used to trigger several instances of Cableguys’ ShaperBox 2 each with different patterns of filter, resonance and volume levels applied. There is a Valhalla DSP SuperMassive return track with a ShaperBox applying crush also triggered by the Euclidean rhythm. The shortwave recording is passed through three Ableton Live Spectral Resonators to create an Am chord with some Sinevibes Corrosion applied from time-to-time. This is blended with the original shortwave signal. The Civic Si recording is passed through a Devious Machines’ Duck. In fairness, with the ShaperBoxes, there’s quite a bit of ducking going on!


One thing I would like to mention is the wonder that John Cage said something some 80 years ago and now you have 30+ musicians doing it.

@bassling reminds me of the dark dance clubs of my youth (centuries ago)

@sevenism Good to go away from sounding like the sounds themself

@Glitcher very rich and diverse in my ears

@Bick_Brannigan @disquiet
rain-windshield wipers should definitively get their own junto

@Anatol very musical, and fun fact (if true): John Cage started composing on Mallorca

@hertzdame Sounds strangly like containing no noise at all

@gibbsdavidl very moody!


Thanks, yes glad you could hear that. I really like the clipped vocal snippets when searching through static. I wanted them barely liminal here.


@bassling Cool track and video!

@The20Watt Fun story and great track. I was in the van, smelling the deet and duct tape.


Although the characteristics of the sounds recorded are mainly percussive in nature.
I managed to find a hint of some brake noise in the mass that is called moving traffic.
With this little glimpse of notey note hidden there in the background, I could build the hunted drone/pad pattern.
Rain and radio static helped bring the loop closer to an atmosphere that fits well to the rainy gray day here west Germany.



I took the required sounds and fed them to a Panhamonium.