Disquiet Junto Project 0555: A Simple Timer

Disquiet Junto Project 0555: A Simple Timer
The Assignment: Simplify by a factor of 5.

This week’s assignment goes to the inner workings of electronics. It was developed by longtime Junto participant Anatol Locker (@Anatol). Before getting to the instructions, here’s some background information: In 1971, engineer Hans Camenzind designed a simple timer IC, the Signetics LM555. It packs 25 transistors, two diodes, and 15 resistors on a small, eight-legged silicon chip.


Due to its sheer simplicity, it populates most PCBs that need a clock. The 555 is used for a multitude of tasks: as a pulse generator, timer, delay, or waveform generator. When it comes to DIY music projects, you can find 555’s in the Atari Punk Console and other DIY synths.


You can get an impression of what the chip is capable on Wikipedia and Electronics Tutorials.



So far, it has sold a billion times, making it the most popular chip design on the planet. Which is to say: It’s iconic, it’s simple, it’s omnipresent, and it “makes things tick.” By comparison, an SID chip, engineered a decade later in 1981, would be the equivalent of a symphony orchestra.

There are two steps to this project.

Step 1: Think about what simplicity means to you.

Step 2: Produce a track taken to the extreme minimum. Use only pure waveforms (sine, sawtooth, triangle, pulse wave) and no effects. Restrict yourself to 5 voices.

Eight Important Steps When Your Track Is Done:

Step 1: Include “disquiet0555” (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 “disquiet0555” (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-0555-a-simple-timer/

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 22, 2022, at 11:59pm (that is, just before midnight) wherever you are. It was posted on Thursday, August 18, 2022.

Length: The length should be some multiple of 5 (seconds, minutes, etc.).

Title/Tag: When posting your tracks, please include “disquiet0555” 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 555th weekly Disquiet Junto project – A Simple Timer (The Assignment: Simplify by a factor of 5) – at: https://disquiet.com/0555/

Thanks to Anatol Locker for having proposed this project.

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-0555-a-simple-timer/

Image by Stefan506, used thanks to a Creative Commons license:



And the project is live. Important note: I’d left this out of the original email. It appears at the very end of the project:

Image by Stefan506, used thanks to a Creative Commons license:

File:Signetics NE555N.JPG - Wikimedia Commons
Creative Commons — Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported — CC BY-SA 3.0

Originally intended for disquiet0531, which directed members to listen for a mirage of music within white noise, I set out to experiment with simplistic wave forms such as sine and saw waves using the NoiseMaschine [sic] app on my phone. The audio was projected from a bluetooth speaker and captured with a P120 condenser microphone.


This is precisely what I did last week for the Cage Chord!


I recently started to explore Bitwig, which allows you to build your own synths. I took some time to build what I think resembles the horrible audio capabilities of a 555 chip: a monophonic pulse oscillator, an AD amp envelope, plenty of quantizing, and a very limited frequency band.

Of course, I wanted to challenge my new creation. So why not throw the most difficult piano piece at it? I downloaded a MIDI-File of Rimsky-Korsakow’s Flight of the Bumblebee from Bitmidi (Rimsky Korsakov ''Flight Of the Bumblebee''.mid — Free MIDI — BitMidi).

While the ensemble is monophonic, the MIDI file clearly isn’t. I had to laugh hard how it struggles to play chords and produces audible hiccups. But hey: 720 notes in 55 seconds. Not bad for a “chip”!


And the playlist is now rolling:


In this celebration of the 555 timer, this project represents Suss Müsik’s 105th contribution to the Disquiet Junto. It also represents a slight flipping of the usual Suss Müsik script.

Typically, Suss Müsik’s Junto contributions are accompanied by some sort of narrative explaining the technical or conceptual background behind the submitted piece. A number of you have remarked how much you enjoy reading these descriptions, and your kind words are sincerely appreciated. Thank you.

For this project, however, Suss Müsik elected to show rather than tell. Taking inspiration from @bassling’s excellent video series, this week’s contribution is an improvised demo captured during 2021 pandemic conditions. The audio is comprised solely of waveforms generated by four DIY devices utilizing 555 IC chips.

You’ll hear some square waves, some triangle waves, maybe even the semblance of a sine wave as the drones shake your teeth and cause a headache in your left eye. A bit of low-pass filtering is achieved from a haptic (touch) controlled interface.


Used POLYEND Tracker
Tempo: 555 Bpm
Pattern length: 55
choose the simplest waveforms from stock samples
length of the hole track: 55 sec + 5sec

recorded in BlueBox


A very simple track for this one, made on the modular: one oscillator tuned to a 5th above the others and static, four other oscillators each fed a pentatonic 5-note sequence, with each sequence having it’s own unique clock. And that’s it.


I tried different DAWs and Synths to get a nice sound and ended with Live, Stepic and Aalto (Beat Edition). The track consists of 5 tracks, all tracks are automated with 5/10/15 step sequences. Aalto does not offer triangle, but I used sine, square and saw. Some tracks change their wave form by modulation and/or automation. I allowed all 5 sequencers only to select from 5 notes (plus octaves), from which one note had to be random. The drums are very deep squarewaves with very short decays, which made noise (looking at the exported waveform this may have been a betrayal to the assignment). No filters or effects have been used but some EQ on the drums, modulated and automated panning in general and some mastering at the end. The lenght is 555 seconds (5m55s felt wrong). I think I failed on ‘minimalism’, on the other hand it’s 9+ minutes with only five sequences which do not bore me, so I think it passes as minimal ambient. As always, it was a fun challenge!


Ok, I gave it a go - not a big fan of what I’ve come up with, but interesting to try.



initially i was not going to do this project as i felt like i couldn’t accomplish anything interesting with such extreme simplicity. however the idea stuck in my head and i couldn’t shift it, so today i sat down and made an attempt.

i wasn’t sure if any synth i had was easily capable of such simple output, and although software like audacity lets you generate a sine/square/etc wave tone, it’s a single ‘note’ only which is musically uninteresting. as such i went to freesound (a regular port of call for the junto) and searched ‘sine wave’, ‘saw wave’, etc. until i found some interesting but still hopefully simple enough for the project sounds. i restricted myself to five samples as per the requirement to only have five ‘voices’; as i was using samples, not instruments, this made the most sense.

i brought the samples into acid (as much as i now like bitwig, acid does have a slight edge in sample-based compositions) and arranged and layered them in a somewhat haphazard fashion. apart from slight trimming and fading in/out, the sounds are completely unaltered by any kind of dsp. i haven’t even adjusted the stereo position of each track or added any mastering in an effort to keep it as simple as possible. this was difficult as my usual approach is to use a substantial amount of effects and have the original source more-or-less unrecognisable.

the track length ended up a multiple of 5 more or less by accident. 4 minutes = 240 seconds = 48x5.

looking for a title, i searched the number 555, and found a lot of results about ‘angel numbers’, so the title is ‘555 angel’. this version is (uncomplicated), of course a synonym for simple, but also gave me the excuse to go back to the piece, add a whole bunch of effects and processing, and call it the (complicated) version. i’ll not post that here seeing as it’s not technically part of the project, but it’s on my soundcloud if people would like to check it out.

as usual ai generation was used to create the accompanying image, which came out rather interesting this time.


5 different pulse waves from www.sampleform.com play 5 times each. The first time, the 5 original sounds all play in unison. After this, each pulse wave goes out of sync and are increased by varying semitones by multiples of 5 semitones upwards or downwards from the original note. The total times these 5 notes are played is 55.


Hi all. Began with an atari punk console which was the first sound device I soldered together from a kit quite a few years ago. The chip you see there is a dual 555 chip. This was sent complex CV via 3 channels of a function generator via patch cables, attenuators and test leads. Later with a baby 8 sequencer. Also used a freshly built Creep cluster from reverse landfill for two triangle oscs modulated by audio rate square wave. Recorded two takes of the creep cluster panned left and right and no effects whatsover.


Hey All, The big challenge for me was the no fx part of the prompt. I love me some delay, reverb and distortion. I used the ableton analog instruments. I will say my other plug ins drench the sounds in fx so this was a challenge. I tried to keep it simple but when that bass riff started I had to add some 808. The 808 had a chip in there somewhere. I added a solo with some pitch bends and cross faded between them. Hope all are well.

Peace, Hugh


Following the project guidelines, this is an all-sinewave piece with only envelopes and panning as additional manipulation of the waveforms. It consists of 4 voices, each of which alternates between 2 diatonic pitches. Each successive voice plays at 1/2 the rate of the previous - I thought of it like the flipping each higher bit as you continue to add 1 to a variable in a software program, hence the “binary” in the title.


Thinking about this project, I cannot help to consider how many simple things can bring complexity when put together. As I’m currently learning Shnth, this was my approach to the project.

I also like arbitrary restrictions, so I wanted all my numbers to go up in five. This was the result in Fish:

The heart of the patch is a slow triangle wave going into a toggle, representing a kick drum/slow square wave.
This drives gears of two sequences, being played back by two audio rate triangle waves.
To add some playability, I made a random pulse and two sawtooth waves that can be panned by touching the bars.
I screwed up the tuning a little bit as well.
Could probably have kept going, but left the time at 55 seconds

A bit on the limit of the concept, with a total of six “noisemakers”, but let’s pretend that the triangle waves are duophonic.

Edit: Replaced the file for another with a bit of a nicer tuning. Extended to 1:50 / 55 + 55 sek.



I really like this one. It was a difficult assignment, and I think you’ve cracked the case!


I was surprised nobody made a standard chiptune. “Chip” is literally in the name! The video contains explanations on what is happening and why things sound the way they sound.