Disquiet Junto Project 0544: Feedback Loop

The instructions for this project first popped up at disquiet.com/0544 (thank you, powers of automation) shortly after 12:10am Pacific Time on June 2, and then at twitter.com/disquiet a little further along. (I was asleep at the time.) The email containing those instructions went out via tinyletter.com/disquiet-junto later in the morning (after I woke up), and I then posted them here.

. . .

Music-making is, certainly, a part of this latest project in the ongoing Disquiet Junto music community series — the 544th consecutive weekly project to date. However, as was with case last week, this week’s project is about discussing music as much as it is about making music.

To be clear, you needn’t have done last week’s project to participate. The two projects are only connected conceptually, and in broad terms.

Last week, people made music to exemplify a technique they wanted to share. To the extent participants discussed music, it was in order to explain the given technique. This week, we’re posting music for others to comment on — to get feedback, per the project title, “Feedback Loop.” Asking for feedback — as with providing and receiving it — is an important technique in its own right when it comes to making music, or doing anything creative and expressive.

Additional details appear in the instructions below. Please pay particular attention to the note included here about “consecutive replies” on the Lines (llllllll.co) message board.

Thanks, as always, for your generosity with your time and creativity.

. . .

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, June 6, 2022, at 11:59pm (that is, just before midnight) wherever you are. It was posted on Thursday, June 2, 2022.

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

Disquiet Junto Project 0544: Feedback Loop
The Assignment: Share music-in-progress for input from others.

Step 1: This project is about two things: (1) requesting feedback and (2) providing feedback. Keep that in mind.

Step 2: Upload a track you’re working on and would appreciate input on from fellow Junto members. When doing so, consider mentioning the sort of feedback you’re looking for: tone, production, development, instrumentation, etc.

Step 3: After uploading your track, and in the days following the conclusion of the project, provide feedback to other people’s tracks, either on the Lines discussion (link below) or on the website where they’ve posted their track.

Note: The Lines BBS runs on a discussion platform called Discourse, which has some built-in restrictions. Among these is that you can’t reply too many times to the same thread before someone else replies first. This is a “consecutive replies” matter. The best practice is to compile feedback to multiple tracks, and to tag reach recipient in one reply. If those instructions aren’t clear, just wait a little while after tracks begin to appear on the thread. Soon enough you’ll see examples of people doing exactly this.

Eight Important Steps When Your Track Is Done:

Step 1: Include “disquiet0544” (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 “disquiet0544” (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-0544-feedback-loop/

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, June 6, 2022, at 11:59pm (that is, just before midnight) wherever you are. It was posted on Thursday, June 2, 2022.

Length: The length is up to you. Consider it’s a lot to ask people to listen to something very long.

Title/Tag: When posting your tracks, please include “disquiet0544” 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 544th weekly Disquiet Junto project – Feedback Loop (The Assignment: Share music-in-progress for input from others) – at: https://disquiet.com/0544/

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-0544-feedback-loop/

2 Likes

Here’s my track.

This is the first track I’ve ever made/published myself (w/out being part of a band or jamming with friends or whatever). The goal was to create something and upload it — to get over the “mental block” of publishing something that isn’t perfect.

I’m looking for any advice or feedback. From “you should have kept this in the ‘drafts’ folder” to “this is listenable, but I’d suggest changing X, Y, or Z”.

Also, obviously, this is the first time I’m participating in the Disquiet Junto, so hello everyone!

10 Likes

I had this riff based on loops of varying lengths and quickly arranged it and ran it through the synths that were already plugged in.

Do the loops fall out of time noticeably?

Does it sustain interest?

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Great prompt!

Fortunately caught from a long delay buffer before fading into noise and nothingness, leftovers from modular improv through a backend looper and regenerating delay in series:

I’d like feedback on ways to continue working with this material, given the recording is baked as a rhubarb pie. More specifically, what are some approaches to developing it so the resulting piece has a more complex form that still fundamentally relates to the material on a macro level?

Thanks! (Read on for compositional and technique thoughts.)


Long ago, I was in a duo where each player had two identical 5 second sound-on-sound loop/delay pedals in series. Someone would start by recording snippets from a personal battery of musical objects. Ever-changing, these ranged from random shakers to thrifted keyboards.

Once a repeating passage was established, the other built up a new loop, trying to manually sync with the current one. When this achieved stability, the first would be faded out. The process continued…leapfrog for the ears.

Needless to say, this was really hard! And required careful listening. My partner got extremely good at tweaking delay times on regenerating buffers to sync with my loops. This introduced all sorts of delightful, tiny squiggles and pitchbends. Great care could avoid this if you timed the contraction/expansion to happen during a short silent section.


Those techniques, the feeling of catch-and-toss interplay and role reversal, and the technical configuration stuck. Blending, reducing, and shading elements within a delay buffer, while being able to capture them downstream in a looper (or switching that order), felt and sounded hypnotic.

Within this framework, phasing unsynced percussive loops leads to quick variation and interest. Manually juxtaposing loops of different duration that share a basic rhythmic unit–say 4/4 and 9/4–produces repeatable play between expectation and what actually happens.

If timing’s tight, the loops eventually come back around to starting in sync. If not, they smear past each other. In other words, I stumbled onto what Mr. Reich was on about.


Much less apparent here is my interest in odd or partial time signatures, slightly incongruent with expected beats (15/16, etc). When combined with slow-attacking voices and the right material, it confuses the ability to count beats and anticipate loop points.

I love the pleasantly disorienting headspace induced by swirling, atemporal material retaining a larger, unpredictable periodicity.

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Folks have already begun posting tracks, which is great. I just wanted to note that the instructions have now been posted in what had been a placeholder comment.

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Great, got it on Thursday’s after noon and I was just thinking about this track I’m going to share after a whole morning mixing down this project: I had to compose and record 5 tracks for an album (publisher’s call) on a repetitive-instrumental album. I submitted 6 and this one (for me one of the 2 best of the lot) has been rejected.
Why? I don’t know, of course it happens often but usually I do look back to the rejected tracks later , to give them a new life. And I end up finding something that’s not making it, reworking and eventually finding a home for that track. Some other times I think the track is great and it was just bad for the pitch. And wait for a better timing.

But this time I don’t think the track really works but still don’t know what to do.
Normally I just leave the track alone and I forget about it for a while, then take a fresh look a year later, but I could use some advice/feedback about this.

I played guitars (using last week’s rhythmic delays thing) and keyboards.
Composed and recorded may 2022 in Paris.

11 Likes

@ffsanton Nice! I like the gentle sense of pulse/tempo and space. Curious to know your conceptualization & process :slight_smile:


Realized I was only limited to 2 replies on a thread! Re-posting below.

@bassling - My ears wandered from one musical material to the other quite seamlessly - from the drums in the beginning to the bass line, the arpeggiated line going from slow to fast, and to the drone-like backdrop. So, no, I didn’t notice the loops falling out and I was happily captivated by the evolving elements throughout.

3 Likes

@bassling

Hey Jason,

Do the loops fall out of time noticeably?
not really. it sound alive because of that, I think.

Does it sustain interest?
Totally!

nice rack btw

@ffsanton

Nice, I’ll bring the background drone to the foreground, not constantly, perhaps like waves of volume in and out.
And considering the thin tiny beat box sound of the kick drum I could see a huge BOOOUUMM on an infra bass note or a very deep kick, just to open the soundstage and fill the room a bit more (I’m listening on a big room with top notch studio monitors and the thin sound, albeit charming for its fragility, gets a bit boring)

1 Like
Kei · Heron in moonlight (disquiet0544)

Something I worked on in the last couple of days. Looking for feedback on volume levels between instruments and my conceptualization.

For the conceptualization, I wanted to make a piece about different perspectives - how the “same story” can be told by different people and vary slightly or a lot.

There’s a tweak on the melody line “D E G E D C D E A” and this drop to the lower A can be A, A-flat, or G interchangeably. So, the accompanying bass line “C B A G” also changes from all natural to “C B natural or flat, A natural or flat, G” as well. The bass solo in the middle is, lol, I don’t know. I just felt like it. Does it work?

The title “Heron in moonlight” comes from the zen saying 銀椀盛雪、明月蔵鷺 (ぎんわんにゆきをもり めいげつにろをかくす) - Silver bowl full of snow, white heron in clear moonlight.

It’s the juxtaposition of things that look the same and seem to blend in but that are actually different. The snow may look like a part of the silver bowl, and the bowl may look like snow itself. A white heron in the bright moonlight may look like the moonlight itself, or is it the other way around?

The philosophized perspective of the saying might infer the natural vs. the manmade coming together, different groups of people coming together in harmony, etc.

11 Likes

I have been trying to make some album worthy music for a while, whatever that is. So far I only have 1 complete track and then there’s this. It’s ambient, textural and there’s no real hook or vibe.
I’m not sure though if this one feels lacking somewhere ?
Any advice on making an album, links etc or the track is welcome :slight_smile:

8 Likes

Hey All,
I did this ditty this afternoon right after testing positive for Covid.
Yesterday in a fever dream I watched the Sex Pistols series on Hulu. I did not know that Chrissy Hynde was so close to them, that Jonesy could’t read and Johnny Rotten was such a sweet guy. I did like how they became tight musically and created such powerful tracks. You can’t ignore this band.
So that coupled with having to watch the Queen’s jubille on the TV as I ate my chicken noodle soup inspired this track.
As far as feedback I usually do a track and move on so I am not really looking for feedback on this track but feel free to give any advice you may have. I guess feedback as what you think as an artist I might try would be interesting. Hope all are well. I am feeling better today.

Peace, Hugh

8 Likes

“Astral Weeks” by Vowel Samples

Recorded 31 May 2014, mixed & mastered June 02 2022 by Jim Lemanowicz at Blissville Electro-Magnetic Laboratories of Massapequa.

This is a cover version of a song by Van Morrison. ©1968 Van Morrison.

I am looking for input on my mixing and mastering here. Is the master too hot? Is there enough clarity between the parts? Do the vocals and lead guitar shine through in the mix? Is the cymbal too loud (I quite like it during the guitar solo and during the mellotron/loud parts)? Honestly, details other than “good” or “bad” for the mix or master will always be welcome. However, I am not soliciting any comments on my performances here instrumentally or vocally. I have enough critics of that kind living in my head, thank you. I also have no intention of adding or removing or re-recording any of the parts here.

What I am currently working on is a remix project whilst simultaneously learning some iZotope plugins. The material is a covers EP I completed/released first in 2014. This followed a serious hospital stay and in my mind represented a “stripped-down” approach similar to my cassette 4-track work in the 90s - guitar, bass, drum sounds, vocals, basic keys - and as opposed to my “kitchen sink” approach in the 00s with songs that had 50-100 tracks each at times.

This particular cover is Van Morrison’s “Astral Weeks” and is dedicated to Lester Bangs and his horrific experience related to this song and album by Van, as understood by my reading of the book “Let It Blurt” by Jim Derogatis. Lester had a sort of subconscious reach into my life as in high school I was an avid Creem reader of the period slightly before and after his death. His shadow was all over that magazine at that time.

Process notes -
On this track I played a Jay Turser Mustang-inspired guitar, an Epi EB-0 bass, an M-Audio Trigger Finger (triggering some jazz-type Ableton Live drum rack), a cheap cymbal (same one from the 90s) and two tracks of GForce M-Tron string and flute sounds. My arrangement in this 31 May 2014 version subs in a plunky angular lead guitar for the vocal ad-libs that Van originally gave us and what I tried to do with no success when I almost gave up on the project in Jan 2014. I also opted for a shorter track length than either Van’s version or much of the “kitchen sink” work I was doing in the 00s.

The plugins used were Nectar 3 Plus, Neutron 3 Advanced/Visual Mixer (and now 4), and Ozone 9 Advanced. In a limited way, these plugins AI “assisted” me in my mix levels, my mastering treatments and my instrument and vocal effects. I used a hybrid approach where I did not give the iZotope plugins my naked tracks but rather used most of the channel “racks” (strips) set up in 2014, originally in Ableton Live 9 32-bit and remixed here in Live 11 64-bit. Nor did I use the Visual Mixer for panning. Subjectively speaking, for the past year or so, my mastering has improved with the help of iZotope’s Elements plugins, so I recently went and upgraded. I then committed to learning some new tricks for these old ears. I also tweaked some things that I felt the AI missed, but did not dwell on almost anything here for more than a minute or two.

5 Likes

@kterauch The process was pretty simple :slight_smile: I picked a set of sounds I liked and made a progression. For choosing the tempo and playing percussion I played in midi inputs every time drops would fall from the roof during a small rainstorm (hence the rhythmic, but not regular pattern (although I quantised it after)).

@DeDe This is the first thing I’ve ever published (as mentioned) and I did not expect anyone to be listening to it on a good sound system. Feels nice! Ahah.

Thank you for the bass frequency tip! I felt like it was missing something, and I think this is exactly it! It needs to sound fuller. Thank you :slight_smile:


Feedback:
@DeDe Man that’s a perfect “Track Title - Sound” combo. It really does sound like a Timelapse. It sounds like it would find a place in a movie or a good YouTube video (one of those where the Timelapse actually contributes to the “story” and isn’t just something the creator put in because they’ve seen other people do it).
It pretty much sounds like a finished piece to me. :slight_smile:

@kterauch this is 100% my personal sensitivity to high(er)-frequency sounds, but I’d bring the volume down on the track intro a little bit + lower the volume on the the percussive “impact” at 2:58 (that startled me a bit :D).
It sounds so chill. I’d buy a game OST on bandcamp if that OST included more tunes like this. :slight_smile:

3 Likes

hello everyone,

a good friend of mine painted a series of images based on descartes’ “meditations on first philosophy.”

i took painting #6, sliced it into five strips, fed the images into photosounder, then converted the resulting .wav files to MIDI (quantized to 16ths). i used the MIDI clips separately to trigger various samples: kick; snare; low tom; floor tom; hi-hat. i added a steady hi-hat pedal to help navigate the slightly offbeat rhythms.

finally, i layered in a live guitar piece (played through VCV rack, which i first encountered through disquiet junto, many moons ago…)

some possible questions: how can we think about the relationship between something rhythmic (the “beat”) and something a-rhythmic (the “ambient” guitar)?
do they feel like two utterly separate streams, or do they somehow inform each other?
also, my track is only one minute long - can something so short be called ‘ambient’?
more generally, can such a brief composition claim to establish a mood or atmosphere?

(wittgensteinian thought: i can claim to have felt sad for one minute, but not to have been depressed for one minute. certain moods or states require longer stretches of time to operate.)

all the best, htnc

5 Likes

I have fun using ChucK (beginner level!) and generated lyrics. This time I use samples from my modular.
All sounds (but one) are played with ChucK. 2 sounds (chord and bass) just loops. Other sound have a 1/3 chance being played.
It’s fun to merge text and sound/music. I have used the speech/sound file unedited. To make the text more audible/clear I guess I should work with the sound. Add pauses and maybe some dynamics… I want to use free text-to-speech services. Advises?

lyrics/text generator: 6b.eleuther.ai (see SC)
voice: voicegenerator.io
Sampled modular (and digital recorder): Freesound - pack: My544sounds by gis_sweden
Samples are played by ChucK.

4 Likes

So this was a song I had forgotten about and liked the sound of when I rediscovered it. My question is, does it need anything else? One of the things I’ve learned doing these projects is I tend to cram too much stuff in my songs and I’ve found they work better the simpler they are. But, maybe this needs something else?

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The playlist is now rolling:

1 Like

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Kudos for your approach to the lyric "we mean it, man”…. Always loved that.

I like your arrangement - the stereo exclamations and a nice The Normal-adjacent vocals (luv em) and I respect your decision for no solo but maybe some Eno-Paw-Paw Synthi noise in there would’ve worked. Just my two pennies black.

Thank you for hipping me to the Hulu Pistols thing. I did actually know about Hynde via some photos of her posing next to Jubilee Jordan at the shop, but I would ask anyone to look more into Cleveland, Ohio - start with Ubu and at least touch on the Numbers Band a bit (Hynde’s brother) or just read the book From the Velvets to the Voidoids. 2 more cents for ya!

1 Like

@Glitcher for an ambient album the “no hook” aspect is quite inherent IMHO, you are good. I dig the glitches and sparks in drone based music but I learned that it can get annoying when listening to longer ambient albums/playlist, for my personal taste I’ll go, after this track for a silky, soothing one with no sparkly noises, and the try to keep some variation on the long run of ambient-similar tracks. At the same time, one thing I like about ambient, form a traditional composer’s POV, is the feeling that you can do whatever you want…
So my advice will be: disregard all advices. Including this one. :wink:

@howthenightcame I’m amazed that this came from a photosounder interpretation. You always make great choices of drum sounds, the ones you used here fit the drone perfectly, is like everything is played with muffled mallets and a huge felt on the kick. It really works with the guitar soft layers, it sounds like a whole really.
Could be longer.

@lazenbeeindustries I like this, is that an ebow? you playing?
Don’t think it “needs” anything else.

4 Likes