Disquiet Junto Project 0536: Metaphor Play

These Junto project instructions popped up at disquiet.com/0536 (thank you, powers of automation!) shortly after 12:10am Pacific Time on April 7, and then at twitter.com/disquiet a few minutes later. (I was asleep at the time — though only barely, due to a bad cold.) The email containing those instructions went out via tinyletter.com/disquiet-junto later in the morning.

Each Thursday in the Disquiet Junto group, a new compositional challenge is set before the group’s members, who then have just over four days to upload a track in response to the assignment. Membership in the Junto is open: just join and participate. (A SoundCloud account is helpful but not required.) There’s no pressure to do every project. It’s weekly so that you know it’s there, every Thursday through Monday, when you have the time.

Deadline: This project’s deadline is the end of the day Monday, April 11, 2022, at 11:59pm (that is, just before midnight) wherever you are. It was posted on Thursday, April 7, 2022.

These are the instructions that went out to the group’s email list (at tinyletter.com/disquiet-junto):

Disquiet Junto Project 0536: Metaphor Play

The Assignment: Take a favorite figure of speech as a creative prompt.

Step 1: Think of a metaphor you frequently use or that you particularly love.

Step 2: Think about how that metaphor could be applied to making music or otherwise working with sound.

Step 3: Make a piece of music in which that metaphor plays a role in how you plan and execute the work.

Eight Important Steps When Your Track Is Done:

Step 1: Include “disquiet0536” (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 “disquiet0536” (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 track in the following discussion thread at llllllll.co:

Project discussion takes place on llllllll.co: https://llllllll.co/t/disquiet-junto-project-0536-metaphor-play/

Step 5: Annotate your track 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.

Step 8: Also join in the discussion on the Disquiet Junto Slack. Send your email address to marc@disquiet.com for Slack inclusion.

Note: Please post one track for this weekly Junto project. If you choose to post more than one, and do so on SoundCloud, please let me know which you’d like added to the playlist. Thanks.

Additional Details:

Deadline: This project’s deadline is the end of the day Monday, April 11, 2022, at 11:59pm (that is, just before midnight) wherever you are. It was posted on Thursday, April 7, 2022.

Length: The length is up to you.

Title/Tag: When posting your tracks, please include “disquiet0536” 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 536th weekly Disquiet Junto project – Metaphor Play (The Assignment: Take a favorite figure of speech as a creative prompt) – at: https://disquiet.com/0536/

More on the Disquiet Junto at: https://disquiet.com/junto/

Subscribe to project announcements here: https://tinyletter.com/disquiet-junto/

Project discussion takes place on llllllll.co: https://llllllll.co/t/disquiet-junto-project-0536-metaphor-play/

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The project is now live.

Shedding Skin by Slant 7

Choosing fewer musical elements can be like shedding skin.

Recorded & mixed Apr 07 2022 by Jim Lemanowicz at Blissville Electro-Magnetic Laboratories of Massapequa.

©2022 Jim Lemanowicz

This original version of “Shedding Skin” was submitted as part of ​Disquiet Junto Project 0536: Metaphor Play. Take a favorite figure of speech as a creative prompt.

Process notes
Random generation of two MIDI parts, Ableton Live Suite 11

  • string instrument pluck (single notes, arped)
  • organ sound (two notes, using chord midi effect)
  • Use only delay on string pluck sound - and env follower from organ to affect delay speed
  • Use only corpus on organ and env follower from pluck to impact corpus decay
  • Adjust gain/attenuator of env follower as the piece goes on.
  • Automate reverb, Buffer Shuffler & distortion as piece goes on.

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“I know I’m a broken record, but…”

That metaphor made my job a whole lot easier.

I started with the theme from a Clara Schumann fugue. That was about 4 measures long. Then I cut out segments of unequal duration and arranged them basically at random until I had 12 bars. And the ending was obvious.


Credits

  • Clara Schumann
    • Subject from Fugue III from Three Preludes and Fugues, Op. 16
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“Blinka lilla stjärna”, “Twinkle little star” or from the beginning “Ah, vous dirai-je, Maman”. Mozart made 12 variations. I’m on 2 now. I reuse the synth sound from the last junto (a little stretched). 8 first bars of the song… Then I use SP-404 to record guitar, bass, shaker, harmonica, piano and song. I use the internal mic. I record without listening to the other recordings.
Then I start the loops (every loop has different length) as a canon… kind of…
Why?!?! Well, I use to say, “You don’t choose your team!”. In real life, at work for example, you usually don’t have the “A-team”. You have to take that into account. This is me not being the “A-team”.

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Yup - I went there. Disquiet projects let me push and explore boundaries in a supportive environment. While I love listening to all kinds of music, my training sometimes gets in the way of my making of art. This is not one of those times. If you can’t beat them, join them.

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When I read the Junto last night, my partner and I considered our favourite figures of speech:

  • “Uglier than a hat full of arseholes” is one I heard from my mother-in-law
  • “Feeling a bit ordinary” is Australian for being “under the weather”

But I couldn’t go past “going off like a frog in a sock.”

My idea was to structure a couple loops through the Boutique sound modules, then use the arpeggiator and effects to give a “going off” flavour.

At first I thought it’d be a banger, but then my partner observed that it wasn’t clear how off the frog might’ve gone.

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Thanks, folks. And the playlist is now rolling:

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Hi.
Sad to learn about Tom Moody’s passing. My condolences to his family and friends.

I was a bit lukewarm about participating on this one as I don’t have a"favourite metaphor" really, but after listening and reading other fella’s posts here I guess there was something lost in translation/

I do have some favourite sayings or popular proverbs.
As I am in a middle of a huge back log catalogue recycling process, remixing old unused tracks, etc the saying “if ain’t broke don’t fix it” keep coming to me.

This one is a 15 years old one, that I had to load (master session) and as all plugins are form the ancient 32bit days, I had to mix it again, but I decided not to add or edit anything. It was a simple groove cue for a film that was never finished.
As a groovy cue is ok. So I won’t fix it.

guitar (wahwah)
bass
drums program
and clavinet.

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In Sylvia Plath’s “Stillborn,” metaphor operates almost as a counterfactual. The poem is a satirical critique of her creative process, conveyed in a self-mocking tone to imply an uncomfortable concept: if these poems/children had a better creator/mother, they would be alive today. Plath delivers a harrowing, ironic message loaded with self-deprecating gallows humor:

These poems do not live: it’s a sad diagnosis.
They grew their toes and fingers well enough,
Their little foreheads bulged with concentration.
If they missed out on walking about like people
It wasn’t for any lack of mother-love.

O I cannot explain what happened to them!
They are proper in shape and number and every part.
They sit so nicely in the pickling fluid!
They smile and smile and smile at me.
And still the lungs won’t fill and the heart won’t start.

They are not pigs, they are not even fish,
Though they have a piggy and a fishy air –
It would be better if they were alive, and that’s what they were.
But they are dead, and their mother near dead with distraction,
And they stupidly stare and do not speak of her.

For this creative brief, Suss Müsik envisioned something beautiful and pristine contained in dusty glass jars of formaldehyde. A simple melody for fake woodwinds was slowly distressed using glitch technologies to accompany a VCVRack patch playing a Lydian chord progression. (The Schillinger System was used to define harmonic variations, for composition geeks out there, nearly undetectable under all the fuzz).

Although the final output doesn’t necessarily evoke images of rotten, grimy bodies left to decay, there remains a sense of something having “missed out on walking about” like a fully realized piece. To paraphrase Plath, Suss Müsik cannot explain what happened to it.

The piece is titled Plath and was recorded quickly to 8-track in three takes.

Postscript: admittedly, Suss Müsik’s contribution this week skews more towards the concept of “metaphor.” than working with a commonly known figure of speech. Apologies. The only example that came to mind was “raining cats and dogs,” recalling a piece titled “Dog Puppet Born Out of a Sock” that Fred Frith and Henry Kaiser did in the 1980’s using a rudimentary sampler. (It shows up on the Friends & Enemies compilation, if you’re interested).

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Ciononostante Mi Sono Svegliato Al Settimo Cielo

Metaphor used: essere al settimo cielo (être au septième ciel, im siebten Himmel sein)

Made with Synthstrom Deluge and ASM Hydrasynth Explorer.

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I had the metaphor “like a peach”, which my partner said is my most used(!), in mind when making this track.

I used a combination of OP-1, field recording of wind blowing through a woven wooden structure, Plaits processed through Beads and Mimeophon, and a homemade reed brush on the body of an acoustic guitar.

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Great challenge, thank you Marc!

The metaphor is “you cannot force a flower to blossom; you can only create the necessary conditions for it.” I start the track with destructive conditions–some relatively unpleasant one-shot samples and a dark synth. As these make way, the force of life begins to appear, but it doesn’t yet have the conditions necessary for manifestation. This is represented by generative notes on top of a pad, playing D# Harmonic Minor. Then suitable conditions begin to arise, represented more literally by samples of thunder, rain, bugs, and birds (pooping the seeds, pollinating, etc.). Life can now manifest in concrete form–the flower begins to blossom; represented by a change of scale to Major and more active and bright generative notes. Humans join to facilitate the process (gardening), but they are now using milder, nondestructive forces, represented by relatively pleasant one-shot samples. There is joy and we can enjoy the beauty of a blossom.

I used the generative method because the force of life is spontaneous, random, and surprising. In the right conditions (e.g., backed up by a pleasant chord that fits and a bass line) these notes will sound pleasing. Indeed, that’s what really happened. I did not modify anything after recording one take of the generative process. I only automated a filter and delay to give this synth an increasingly vibrant color as the track proceeds.

The dark synth at the beginning is a patch I made with the free SyncSawSynth. Synth lead and pad is other people’s patches in Surge XT. Bass is a 4OSC (part of Waveform) patch. Generative notes come from CodeFN42’s Transition and I used RandArp (also from CodeFN42) to make them more vibrant in the latter part. Most of the one-shot samples are from Brick Hill Machine Shop sample pack (released without any license as far as I can see). I wanted to study polyrhythms and euclidean sequencing for this junto so I found a nice free stand-alone app and I generated polyrhythmic MIDI with which these samples were triggered (because polyrhythm nicely mimic multiple people working in a factory or garden). It’s called Music Pattern Generator and I hooked it up to my DAW with a free app called loopbe1. The longer samples are from freesound and only one of them requires attribution, which is included in the soundcloud description.

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The short story: Good Things Take Time, and so did this.

Beware of the long story: This was planned to be “My Memory Seems To Be Clouded” and it mainly consist of Bastl SoftPop2 recordings (sometimes via MI Clouds) plus some Drum VST, but I somehow did something wrong with the recording. In Reaper it was 4 Minutes and normal, after exporting it was 4 Minutes and way too fast. Just scaling down the tempo to the half didn’t work, as the stretching algorithms destroyed the sound in a way I didn’t like. I was sure that the problem was just some setting anywhere, but I was no able to locate it. I started things new, reinstalled things, re-arranged the crazy Mac aggregate device and so on, and after some time even old tracks had a wrong tempo and I checked my coffee for psychedelic mushrooms. At the end it was something with “96khz versus 48khz” after I had used another recorder for line recording this week. Learnings: Reaper has a general setting for the sample rate of recordings and a project based setting for only this project. Wave editors like ocenaudio can change the sampling rate without changing the lenght, editors like Audacity can change the sampling rate so that by reducing it to the half the track is double the lenght – and no stretching is needed, all samples are saved. By some unknown quantum karma this turned out to be the conversion I needed, although it is now 8 minutes. Fun fact: So at some stage Reaper definitely showed a wrong lenght, and I remember that I already thought “this somehow sounds longer than 4 minutes … is it ambient or just boring?”. Anyway, it took some time to get this result as wanted, because Good Things Take Time (which may more be more of a proverb that a metaphor, but I did’n want to emphasize the Valley Of Dispair subtext …).

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The bootstrap concept fascinated me when I was younger, probably triggered after seeing Terry Gilliam’s film on the famous baron. It is of course something we were seeing (and hearing !) regularly when starting up our PCs. I started this track with a fictional boot sound of an older generation of computers. Following from that I let the rhythm and harmony (the boot sound seemed similar to something in F major) take over.

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I don’t use a figure of speech regularly - I also asked my wife. But I have developed a preference for the english word “fancy” that I use regularly, mostly ironical for describing something that is meant to be hip and ingenious. I thought of doing a synth-track with fancy elements.

Then I had the idea to search for “fancy” on freesound, and the results determined what happened next. I found the following (references on SoundCloud):

  • everyday sounds described as “not fancy” that I used for building a drum kit (steps, pencil sharpener, flipping a book-page, opening a chocolate, shot)
  • a drum-loop I cut into pieces and rearranged, and then doubled it with the not fancy drum kit
  • a long recording from a fancy pub from which I extracted only a short female voice section. I “corrected” the timing with time warp to fit the beat, and adapted the pitch with Varaudio
  • the same goes for a long blackbird recording
  • a thunder used as sound-effect
  • and most important: A sentence containing the word “fancy”. This word is used for the refrain, pitched with Varaudio.

Everything was executed inside Cubase, mostly with stock plugins.

After scrolling the Media Bay for “nice” sounds I begun building the track. This time I often employed the new Cubase 12 FX modulator effect for trying it out…

I am rather happy with the result, but of course the track needs much more EQing and arranging…

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I’ve been away for a while… Consulting job got out of control.
Is everything but the kitchen sink a metaphor for something?

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This simply required a mixture of cooking and storm noises to get the job done.

Equipment: Pot with wooden spoon, knives, thunder tube, rainstick, electronic drums (DTX 500 & Wavedrum), microwave

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