Disquiet Junto Project 0530: Minimally Viable Music

Recently I’ve established a tiny corner studio based around an Omnichord.

It came to mind for this Junto as I’m trying to connect the minimum number of devices via MIDI to see if it doesn’t sound naff.

This week I took a recent jam, edited bits to cover a bad performance and tried not to mangle it too much in Ableton Live.

However, it seems the Omnichord still required a couple of VST synths and delays on top of the trio you can see blinking their lights.

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I’m honored to be the muse for one of the world’s largest collections of haphazardly composed nearly-non-music. This is my #brand.

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Made with a field recording of snow landing on a cereal box and Norns script Bistro. Some FX in post. Unsure how well it meets ‘minimally viable’ but here it is anyway. Hope all are well.

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({
	Pan2.ar(
		Dust.ar(200) * 
		Pulse.ar(2, SinOsc.kr(0.5, 0, 0.2, 0.5)) * 
		Pulse.ar(SinOsc.kr(2, 0, 5, 5))
	);
}.play)

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Great task

My approach:
A note from my guitar
EBow used
Through Strymon Volante
Try to destroy Loop
William Basinski

On a dark day like this

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I started with a Charlie Parker solo to “Ornithology”. We had played this chart when I was in high school jazz band although I was never any good at improvisation. I found a MIDI transcription online. It didn’t include the chord changes, only the solo. So, already, a lot of information was missing. Then I deleted about half of the notes. Even so, it still sounded recognizably like Charlie Parker to me, which is not what I wanted for the final version. I was about to give up. Then I added a MIDI effect called “Note Off” in Ableton Live. This gave a very staccato effect that seemed to eliminate the last vestiges of Charlie Parker and bebop. I don’t think I could have cut out much more.


Credits

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This started as a live recording of me playing double bass during a rainstorm. I then mangled it until it reminded me of how it felt in the trailer (and later house) I grew up in while rain pelted the tin roof during rainstorms.

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A sine wave played through an AD envelope (shorter in higher octaves) in between 1 and 6 octaves at fixed pan positions. The tempo gradually increases and the reverb tail length gradually grows.

This was done in Bitwig (with reverb from the boss RV500) and sent on one channel through the mixer for some EQ, then through my typical compressor EQ and limiter mastering chain. The result was recorded on a zoom H6 then trimmed to length in audacity.

As for how it went: I feel like I struggled. In a sense I think I’d have been better off without the increasing pitch range and just gone with a gradual increase in intensity instead. I also feel like the growing reverb wasn’t necessary. Even the envelope feels a bit too much (a simpler slewed gate would have worked) and it would have worked without the pan. Moreover the increase in tempo and amplitude (maybe simply one or other) could have constituted enough to be musical, whereas I feel like I kept trying to make it more than it was, meaning it was no longer minimally viable.

In any case, this was a thought provoking prompt; thanks, as always!

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Guiding idea : We had to make what you think is the minimum viable music… i chose hip-hop music !

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Drowning in Ambience. I guess I’m not the one to make the most minimally viable music. For me the problem is to make something simple but yet engaging to work with and listen to. Anyway, here’s my first take, might go for another If time allows me. After first making a minimal drone/ambient piano piece I took a different approach, seeking to add the feeling of sensory overload where it’s almost impossible to hear what’s going on. So I maximised the C note -pulse, downsampled it to around 3000Hz and filtered it with Lowpass. It almost swallows/obscure the rest of the piano chords when filter is open, but a clearing appears halfway and lets the light in. Great fun, this challenge!

Equipment used: Spitfire LABS Philip Glass Piano (Free and great), Felt Instruments: Helenko (great guy based in Poland), Spitfire: Cinematic Soft Piano, Ableton Live. Baby Audio: Taip.

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I took this to mean: what is the simplest set of sounds that I could still identify as definitively musical in nature?

I’m working on trusting my first ideas on these prompts, and what sprung to my mind was the thought of music as “organized noise”. So I simply gave order to some noise - specifically, three iterations of the same vinyl crackle looping on my Digitakt. Two of these tracks are nearly identical, but the right track is slightly faster, so it creates a phasing effect over time, like in Steve Reich’s pieces. There are resonant filters that fade in and out over time on these two tracks, set to create a “perfect” fifth (did my best to tune by ear on my Digitakt, came fairly close). The final track is a bit more rhythmic, and sits ambiguously between a major and minor third.

Probably the simplest piece of music I’ve ever made, but entrancing nonetheless.

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It was one of those bad news fridays, when the Disquiet Junto Corporation called and ordered a completely new sound and music strategy – to be delivered preferably on the same day. I asked my team: What do we need, what could we leave out? They decided for two basic waveforms and a scale; I voted for an additional sample, because samples are cool – and this one (a ‘step’ noise) could be played in various pitches and re-used as some percussion. “Remember: We don’t need bells and whistles”, I said, “So please forget all these chord progression nonsense, the envelope stuff, the filter shit and fancy fx!” Then I went out for a coffee in the old town, and when I came back to the agency, this is what they produced on a mini keyboard.

Nice job, people!

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The phrase minimally viable music reminded me of listening to The Caretaker’s Everywhere At The End of Time. It’s a harrowing listen as over six and a half hours what starts as wistful, joyful melodies become stripped of timing, tuning and coherence. Towards the end you’re disoriented by a grey sonic plaque of scratches, pops and detritus.
I took a very abbreviated route and took a simple loop from my 2hpPluck and ran it on successive passes through more and more destructive fx until almost all pitch, timing and timbre information was removed. The end result plays at the beginning before the original loop fades in and starts to be messed with.

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Greetings all. This is my first post here. I started disquiet junto because I like the idea of an assignment and it did indeed really help me to create something without obsessing about it and to enjoy the process. I’m grateful for this because I’ve been finding it very difficult to start from scratch when it comes to experimental music. In addition, I hate the world for what it has become and I’m worried and sad about the developing war. I’m glad I could get my mind off of it for a while with this.

My Process:
I went from “minimally” in the title of the assignment to “minimalism” which I knew about to some extent but researching it further, I encountered a new name I hadn’t heard before: La Monte Young. I listened to “The Tortoise, His Dream and Journeys” (La Monte Young - The Tortoise, His Dream and Journeys (1964) - YouTube) which seemed to consist mostly of one note but sounded very musical.

I looked around for more of his work on YouTube and found this rendition which I also really enjoyed: La Monte Young - Composition 1960 No.7 - YouTube

Although I had done some ambient music before, I hadn’t done anything this minimal or anything like drone music. So, I wanted to try my version of it (not with the intention to imitate it, but also not caring if I ended up sounding very unoriginal).

Before anything, I decided loosely on using 3-4 sound sources to play the same note across at most 3 octaves. I decided that one element could be a bit like bass and give some subtle rhythm because rhythm is such a foundational element of music and should have its role in “minimally viable music.”

Because Spitfire Audio LABS recently added the Glass piano module and because of Philip Glass’s connection to minimalism, I decided to use at least one sound from that module and then just decided to stick with LABS for the rest.

I avoided the wonderful presets in LABS where the sounds were already processed by tape or already had some obvious modulation or fluctuation that made them already “baked.” Instead, I wanted to bake things myself to make them more my own and to learn and have more fun. I ended up using a piano, trumpet, and a bass-like sound.

To create some movement and texture, I decided to record the trumpet and piano to a microcassette recorder and a walkman, respectively, coming out of my studio monitors. I included the ambient noise in my home studio (mostly traffic from outside–because while traffic noise annoys me a lot, with recent improvements in my mental approach to this, I’ve been hearing it more like the soundtrack of my life), though these are not so audible. I ran the tapes back into my DAW with subtle variations of speed using the dials on the walkman. I kept the original sounds and aligned these tracks to be out of sync.

I chose the note E, which was the first thing I put my finger on (without thinking) when I started auditioning sounds. I wanted to keep it relatively short and I arbitrarily decided to stop around 63 bars and then let the reverb die.

I used some delay on the tape-recorded piano (Valhalla Freq Echo). I placed some saturation (softube one knob), compressor (TDR Kotelnikov), and a long reverb (Valhalla Supermassive) on the master bus.

I gave the track a title acknowledging the assignment and my main inspiration.

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I like the elements of my music to have some connection, so three notes to make a chord would have been nice, but only two notes to make a melody is even better. No edits, no fancy timbres (the sounds are sinewaves), no interesting rhythms, the clock even runs at the default speed of 120bpm. But still I recognise this as music. It even sounds like a good ending, because the notes play a cadence.

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The sound in this track is from a sine wave oscillator, sent through a self-oscillating low pass filter and then into a reverb. As the track progresses, the filter and oscillator are modulated by several LFOs, a CV joystick, and a CV sequencer. The minimalistic sine wave tones and rhythms at the beginning evolve toward the edge of chaos before settling back into minimalism.

Performed on a modular synth using Dixie II+, Ripples (og), Ochd, Batumi, Planar 2, SPO, Quadratt, Pamela’s New Workout, Mimetic Digitalis, and Desmodus Versio.

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unfolding | disquiet0530

i started with a chord ‘blur’, if it can be called that. then, i was taken in by everything unfolding around us. i realized in the end, that i had strayed far from what felt minimal initially. but, i’ve let it be.

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