Disquiet Junto Project 0554: Cage Chord

This project went live disquiet.com/0554 (thanks, powers of automation) shortly after 12:10am Pacific Time on August 11, and then at twitter.com/disquiet a little further along. (I was asleep at the time.) The email containing the instructions went out via tinyletter.com/disquiet-junto later in the morning (after I woke up), and then I’ll posted them here.

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, August 15, 2022, at 11:59pm (that is, just before midnight) wherever you are. It was posted on Thursday, August 11, 2022.

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

Disquiet Junto Project 0554: Cage Chord
The Assignment: Riff on a chord by John Cage.

This project is the third of three that are being done in collaboration with the 2022 Musikfestival Bern, which will be held in Switzerland from September 7 through 11. The topic this year is “unvermittelt,” which is a little tricky to translate. Literally it’s “unmediated,” but it can also mean “sudden,” “abrupt,” or “immediate.”

We are working at the invitation of Tobias Reber (@TobiasReber), an early Junto participant, who is in charge of the educational activities of the festival. This is the fourth year in a row that the Junto has collaborated with Musikfestival Bern.

Select recordings resulting from these three Disquiet Junto projects will be played and displayed throughout the festival.

Step 1: Consider this chord:

E5
A#4
E4
D#4
Db3
C3

If MIDI is of use to you, here is a link to the chord in a MIDI file:

https://disquiet.com/0554-midi

Step 2: You might read up a bit about the source of the chord, the piece “Organ²/ASLSP” by John Cage. Cage desired the piece to be played “As Slow As Possible.” Currently it is being performed in Halberstadt, Germany, on a special organ that will play it for a total of 639 years. It’s been going for 21 years so far, and is at this moment playing the above chord. Read up here:

https://www.latimes.com/opinion/story/2022-02-04/john-cage-organ-slow-as-possible-halberstadt-germany

Step 3: Produce a loopable drone (duration between one and three minutes) of your own based on that chord.

Note: Submitted drones will be sequenced into one large drone piece to be played at the Cage Room, a pop-up workshop and exhibition space of the festival at Progr, Bern, Switzerland.

Eight Important Steps When Your Track Is Done:

Step 1: Include “disquiet0554” (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 “disquiet0554” (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-0554-cage-chord/

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, August 15, 2022, at 11:59pm (that is, just before midnight) wherever you are. It was posted on Thursday, August 11, 2022.

Length: The length should be between one and three minutes.

Title/Tag: When posting your tracks, please include “disquiet0554” 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 554th weekly Disquiet Junto project – Cage Chord (The Assignment: Riff on a chord by John Cage) – at: https://disquiet.com/0554/

Thanks to Tobias Reber and Musikfestival Bern for collaboration on this project. More on the festival at:

https://www.musikfestivalbern.ch/
https://www.instagram.com/musikfestival_bern
https://www.facebook.com/musikfestivalbern

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-0554-cage-chord/

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And the project is now live. Thanks, folks.

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I had an instant idea what to do: Set out the chord on several synths (some droning the bass dissonance of c/c#, some playing all the chord notes and some just playing the highest pitches) and process them the same effect chain. After that I ended up with a first track which wasn’t evolving enough for my taste, so I recorded another one; they both got panned to the left and right and I recorded a centered “bed” for them. I was missing some accents, so I added a few high pitched notes on the FM.

Maybe for a ‘drone’ there’s too much going on, but since it emphasizes exactly one rather dissonant chord and explores its pitches and their relations, I guess it counts :wink:

The track ends rather abruptly at the 2:55 mark, but if looped will work out well.

Made on my ‘new’ three volca drone lab (FM, Keys, Modular) with a MultiStomp MS70-CDR and a small makerhart mixer.

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Hi everone!

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Hmm, I don’t want to “offend” but in looking at the score it seems the chord doesn’t include the E4 - am I looking at the wrong sonority?

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Hi, @PaulBeaudoin. I believe this is the note in question, but @TobiasReber is far more musically literate than I am, so I defer to him.

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One nice thing about the projects going live (automatically) just after midnight (Pacific Time) is there are already three tracks before I’m done with breakfast. Which is to say, the playlist is now rolling:

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A project that speaks to my heart - Disquiet Junto asks for its participants to take a sonority from Cage’s 639 year Organ work ASLP, and create a loop for the 2022 Musikfestival Bern, which will be held in Switzerland from September 7 through 11. As the Gershwin song says - who could ask for anything more?
By the way, this may be drastically changed - given my interpretation of the score! Stay “tuned”

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This score is quite confusing … I just took a look at As Slow as Possible - Wikipedia and according to the “performance” section, at the moment in Halberstedt the following pitches should be audible:

C4(16"), Db4(16"), D#4, E4, A#4, E5
(Apparently, 16" means “an octave below”, so that’s where our C3 and Db3 come from. So I already learned something about notation for organ today!)

So Wikipedia approves this Junto’s assignment :smiley:

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Haven’t participated in awhile, struggling with inspiration and such. This project seemed like a good distraction, droney things being something I enjoy making without worrying too much about the end result.

I selected several different sampler instruments to play various parts of the given chord giving some variety to the sounds used. Added a bunch of reverb to all of them and automated the volume to bring voices in and out for some more variety. I think the end result is not too awful to listen to.

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@celaeno Celaeno - thanks for looking into this. 16" is an organ stop indication. If the register was 2 octaves below - Cage would have used 15va as the regularly acknowledged register change. One octave above and below is written 8va/8Vb (and 15 for two octaves - if you have to use your fingers … :slight_smile: )

I often use Wiki as a reference but always with a “verify your info” and for my clip, I posted the section from the score published by C. F. Peters. My unanswered question really has to do with E4 - I don’t think it should be in the stack - but I could be completely wrong too. My intensive musical training often prevents me from being invited to parties - now you know why.

@disquiet Hi marc - I’ve consulted the Peters score and there are no performance notes (or indications about changeable clefs). So, I think all notes are “at pitch” (i.e. where they are written is where they sound). The E4 that the green arrow points to would include G#3 - which isn’t what is sounding in Halberstadt at the moment. It is quite puzzling this - and a nice challenge for my inner composer/musicologist. And if all falls down, I didn’t follow the rules - wouldn’t be the first time. Thank you for always engaging prompts.

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Ok, I think that this loops properly.

I used a Vital Synth, than loaded all the notes of the chord into Stochas and hooked that up to two synths. Used a lot of Augustus Loops and Primal Tap.

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Hi there, Here’s my guitar-centric (via Ableton/Sampler) version of the drone:

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So exciting to hear all these drones as the day progresses. I love when the Junto project can go live so shortly after midnight (Pacific), and then the music starts flowing quickly. Thank you, all.

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Hey All,
If there is one thing the Junto can do well it is drones. I look forward to checking them out. It would be cool to hear them in a live venue.
I used the midi file and did a synth drone. I then pitched it way down but I think the chord still is audible. I added some owl sounds from freesound and some drums.
I think a drone should include dissonance so I pitched one track down a step from the other. Hope all are well.
EDIT THIS TRACK CHANGED TO NON-SUBMISSION
I had downloaded the incorrect midi file.

I did this one with the correct chord. It is more in the style of “massive army of orcs approaching’” type drone. It does feature the chord itself more. I like that it kinda sounds like an orchestra.

Peace, Hugh

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Hello, folks. Important note, and thanks to @33per for alerting me. The MIDI file originally produced for the project seems to have one error in it. The A4 is supposed to be an A#4. Graciously, @33per made a new MIDI file, which I’ve attached here.

Revised.mid (143 Bytes)

Also, the link in the instructions (disquiet.com/0554-midi) has been fixed to direct to this new version of the MIDI file. Thanks to @jasonw22 + @RPLKTR for support, too. Forward!

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Thanks for paying attention. Yeah, I checked the octaves with organist/composer Michael Pelzel to make sure. Hope I got everything right.

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Cage Chord

Hi all. Decided to keep this one simple…

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Hey all,
Thank you Marc, great prompt.
Serendipitous as I have been building an instrument in Pure Data based on the tutorials of Simon Hutchinson on YT which has six notes and was mucking about in it yesterday trying to make something.
So its 6 dual oscillators (sine and saw tooth) that I can randomly control note lengths, tunings, LFO and echo.
I added in my new note values and set it off, recorded ten minutes and layered the
result in Logic 6 times. I then shortened it down to three minutes and hacked bits out for dynamics. I offset each sequence, panned and gave each some space using EQ. I added Raum to a couple as well.
I really like the sound out of Pure Data there is a brittle freshness.
Eno meets Cage at the airport.

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hello.

i missed last week’s because i’m in the process of moving to a new daw and wasn’t really familar with how to make sections of a track have different time signatures or tempos. if anyone’s familiar with bitwig and knows how to do this, maybe i’ll go back to it, assuming i don’t figure it out myself.

this was an appealing project to me because i am currently working on a drone record of my own (currently titled, very creatively, ‘drone project’) and so the method for producing such sounds is fresh in my mind. it was also remarkably straightforward to do, which is always pleasing. i did think about adding more to it but i’ll explain my reasons for not doing so in due time.

i brought the (revised) midi file into bitwig and picked an instrument to play it. in this case i chose analog lab v by arturia, largely because this instrument lets you search by tag, so i was easily able to find various drone presets among the hundreds if not thousands of options. i picked one that i liked the sound of, fairly arbitrarily; i would have customised it myself but i’m not familiar with the instrument and i’m still learning how to do these things (would recommend syntorial to anyone else trying to learn). i also set the bpm in bitwig to the lowest value it would accept, which is 20 bpm.

once i had the chord playing i wanted to make it more of a drone/texture than a typical chord sound. i followed the same routine as i have been doing with my own project and added arturia’s granular effect, efx fragments, to that track. i wanted to give it a bit more spaceyness as well so also added karanyi’s poly space (a lovely ambient reverb). after a few listens i felt like it was still too speedy so i employed cableguys halftime to slow things down. i did consider using a timestretcher on the exported audio but i felt like i wanted to do everything inside of the daw.

the last step in bitwig was to add my master chain which i’ve been using for my own drone project. it starts with dj swivel’s spread to make the sound nice and wide, then follows up with audio damage’s eos 2 and other desert cities to establish the drone textures. finally there comes izotope’s ozone and neutron to clean things up.

i did consider adding additional sounds or having multiple instances of the chord playing at once, but i felt that, for me, it was not in the spirit of the project. the idea is based off a single instrument playing the chord, so i decided to have just a single instrument in mine as well. i thought about having some atmospheric/field recording type sounds as well, but i felt like those might muddle the piece, although of course ambient sounds are very appropriate to something inspired by john cage. pleasingly, over half of the duration of my piece has no notes actively being played; the sounds are purely reverb and echo.

the final step was to come up with a title and some artwork for the piece. as usual i went to the thesaurus. i didn’t find anything particularly inspiring for the project’s title, “cage chord”, but i did find some nice synonyms when i started searching for the title of the musical piece itself, “as slow as possible”. i came up with the title “drowsy hypothetical” which appealed to me greatly; a fair amount of my music seems to be associated with sleep and dreams so it seemed rather fitting.

again for the artwork the standard routine was to produce it via ai. i fed the system the track title and some appropriate keywords, and when selecting the random number seed for the image, i put in 639, the number of years it will take to play “as slow as possible” in its entirety.

i hope people enjoy this piece. i had a nice time making it, and it was a pleasant if slight diversion from working on my own drone project; the method here was different enough for it to be a change of pace.

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