Make Music for a Solar Eclipse (Disquiet Junto 0292)


Disquiet Junto Project 0292: Eclipse Music
In coordination with St. Louis Art Hack Day, make some solar-inspired tunes.

Step 1: There’s a solar eclipse coming to the United States on August 21. This is the first full solar eclipse in the U.S. in a long time, since June 8, 1918. The next such eclipse in the U.S. won’t be until August 12, 2045. Ponder the eclipse, and that time frame. Take note that this project is being done in coordination with the upcoming Art Hack Day in St. Louis. If you’re in the area, consider joining in in person. If you’re not (true for the vast majority of Junto participants), your resulting Junto music from this project will be played as part of the St. Louis art showing on August 19. (And certainly you can opt out of that last bit, if you’d like.) Major thanks to Tyler Matthews and Jon Phillips for encouraging this project. Details here:

Step 2: Think about the constituent elements in (the various facets of) an eclipse, what it means in terms of sensory experience — in cultures ancient and contemporary.

Step 3: Record a piece of music that that is inspired by the sense of the eclipse that came out of Steps 1 and 2.

Five More Important Steps When Your Track Is Done:

Step 1: If your hosting platform allows for tags, be sure to include the project tag “disquiet0292” (no spaces) in the name of your track. If you’re posting on SoundCloud in particular, this is essential to my locating the tracks and creating a playlist of them.

Step 2: Upload your track. It is helpful but not essential that you use SoundCloud to host your track. (If you don’t want your music played at the Art Hack Day event, please note so in the public field associated with your track, or email me at to let me know.)

Step 3: In this discussion thread at please consider posting your track.

Step 4: Annotate your track with a brief explanation of your approach and process.

Step 5: Then listen to and comment on tracks uploaded by your fellow Disquiet Junto participants.

Deadline: This project’s deadline is 11:59pm wherever you are on Monday, August 7, 2017. This project was posted in morning, California time, on Thursday, August 3, 2017.

Length: The length is entirely up to the participant, though three to five minutes is suggested.

Title/Tag: When posting your track, please include “disquiet0292” in the title of the track, and where applicable (on SoundCloud, for example) as a tag.

Upload: When participating in this project, post one finished track with the project tag, and 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 preferable that your track is set as downloadable, and that it allows for attributed remixing (i.e., a Creative Commons license permitting non-commercial sharing with attribution).

Linking: When posting the track online, please be sure to include this information, along with details of your source audio, including links to it:

More on this 292nd weekly Disquiet Junto project — Eclipse Music: In coordination with St. Louis Art Hack Day, make some solar-inspired tunes — at:

Major thanks to Tyler Matthews and Jon Phillips for encouraging this project. Details on the related August events here:

More on the Disquiet Junto at:

Subscribe to project announcements here:

Project discussion takes place on

There’s also on a Junto Slack. Send your email address to for Slack inclusion.


The project is now live. And I don’t know how to make those event links not autofill with a summary of what’s at the link. Sorry!

In preparation for starting on my track, I was doing a bit of research and came across this is interesting article from NASA on the eclipse and music:

The Kronos Quartet project mentioned in the video sounds intriguing, if a little impractical for those of us without bespoke satellite linkages and NASA assistance!


When I read the brief for this week’s Disquiet Junto project, I immediately knew what I wanted to do. I wanted to keep it fairly minimalist and imagine just standing outside watching it get gradually darker and darker.
The birds are singing and then they are not. Then there’s the moment the there’s a single spark of light and slowly the daylight returns along with the birds.


I’m considering a structural approach. The eclipse sort of “inverts” the sun and the moon, so I’m considering making a patch that inverts only a region of a melodic line and that region shifts and grows to encompass the whole loop. I could also do this manually in Live, but that seems like less fun as I’m trying to get better at patching…

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A minimal approach this week - I used a ‘recording’ of the sun from Stanford University, transformed it into five different drones and then used a combination of filtering and reverb to mimic the eclipse (which occurs about 2 minutes into the track).


buona sera a tutti la mia traccia:


Update: Made a patch, it inverts a pattern in a coll by counting through it in different orders. Currently, I can’t figure out why my coll keeps deleting itself every time I save my M4L patch though…

once I figure that out… I’ll make a piece :-/

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Hey y’all! Marc’s narrative inspired me to think about cryptography—the idea of “light” (truth/knowledge) hidden right in front of you in encrypted form, the way the sun “hides in plain sight” during an eclipse, and then emerges as it is “decrypted.”

I put together the piece from three parts—text on the Kryptos sculpture on CIA grounds (, audio from the Lincolnshire Poacher numbers station (, and audio from the “Buzzer” numbers station (

The piece centers on the Kryptos text, which shifts from plaintext to encrypted and back to plaintext as the encryption “eclipses” the meaning of the text. The numbers stations are overlaid to provide some rhythm and texture. Pieced together in Ableton live. Not much in effects, just a little limiting, reverb and filtering to make the pieces fit together a little better.



The playlist is live:


This is an all but minimalist approach, quite a messy track. I wanted a steady pulse that disappears during the eclipse to become a more abstract track, then the sun is set free again and pulse resumes. The whole with this chaotic thing I felts when I was out in the nature during a full solar eclipse, birds and animals going weird, this silence around just before the blackout moment…
I made two “eclipse” moments in the track to choose and keep just one (I will eventually, still have to double think the whole mix)
First eclipse is from 1:00 to 1:15
Second eclipse goes from 1:45 to 2:15
What do you guys think? Which one to keep?
Anyway here’s the tech data:
Synths and pulses, stratocaster guitars, ebow guitar improv. Samples


I’ve never seen a solar eclipse but have photographed a couple of lunar ones.

After the Junto email arrived, I pondered a few approaches and this evening set about finding notes on my guitar.

I recorded my part just before dinner and initially thought I’d need to re-do it, then decided to work with the MIDI recording instead of the electric guitar.

Marimba caught my ear and then I edited the low notes to trigger double bass and tuba parts, before adding a bowed vibraphone part.

All sounds come from Ableton Live’s orchestral samples.

My track can be downloaded from here for inclusion in the Art Hack Day in St Louis.


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“There is no doubt that the human mind prefers order and simplicity,” wrote physicist Louise B. Young in her book The Unfinished Universe. The process of abstraction that drives Euclidean geometry was invented to help us better understand the natural world, distilling life’s complexities into simple shapes.

A solar eclipse is the most exquisite form of balance in our known universe. It is an intricate ballet of planetary alignment that doesn’t occur often and soon will never happen again. The last ever solar eclipse is scheduled to take place in 600 million years, so you still have time to buy tickets.

While plane geometry helps us understand the ‘how’ of existence, humans sometimes struggle with the ‘why.’ Suss Müsik wonders what early humans thought when they witnessed the first solar eclipse. As the sun disappeared behind the moon and the temperature dropped, did they interpret the darkening sky with a sense of foreboding?

(This might be what Klaus Nomi meant when he sang, “Blow up, everything gonna go up.” Then again, Nomi himself was something of an abstraction, a monochromatic kaleidoscope of cross-gender angularity).

Suss Müsik interpreted the first and last solar eclipses as a single event, the shared realization that we are spiritually eternal yet cosmically insignificant. The piece is performed using a combination of prepared piano, real/fake violins, a single saxophone and some electronic noise. The “eclipse” is the result of a single bass drum, itself a perfect circle, representing the end of one state and the anticipation of another.

Suss Müsik dedicates this piece to the memory of Bassel Khartabil and his family.



The timescale got me thinking about 2001, so I borrowed its signature transition from the earliest tools (fire) to the industrial present (construction pounding steel beams into the ground next door to me, which went on for weeks), and paired it with the extended opening and closing of a filter on a pad.

synth: waldorf microwave xt
field recordings: sound library and personal archive


I have seen two eclipses and hope to see another one soon, weather permitting. I imagined a time when eclipses were not understood and it was thought that they were a portent of the end of the world, as the sun disappeared into the moon. This piece is of the thoughts of those people as they began to see the sun emerge from behind the moon and realized that they would live another day.

This piece is scored for Trombone, Bass Trombone, Harp, Chorus, Violin, Viola, Cello, and String Bass.

As always the score is available on, this piece at


The birdsong is a great demonstration of sound during a solar eclipse. I also like the way the music descends, much like a descent into darkness, then rises again.


I like the mood here, a bit menacing while still kinda awed.