Make Music That Sounds Like a Lantern (Junto 0291)


Synesthesia is a condition where one’s senses are simultaneously rewired in the brain, mingling how a person experiences colors, shapes, sounds and flavors. Although it sounds pretty weird, it’s not altogether uncommon; about 1 in 2000 are estimated to have synesthesia. Among those affected are such well-known individuals as Vasily Kandinsky, Franz Liszt, Richard Phillips Feynman and Mary J. Blige.

No two people experience synesthesia the same way. One person may see the color blue whenever the number three is mentioned; another imagines a city skyline when they taste blackberries, or they feel a tickle on their ankle at the sound of a harpsichord.

(Suss Müsik envisions the mischief one could have at the expense of a friend with synesthesia. Would they be forced to hear “Me and You and a Dog Named Boo” every time we hold up a yellow card? Would they taste cod oil whenever we yell the word “tablecloth!” You probably do not want to be Suss Müsik’s friend).

For this short piece, we took an approach somewhere between those used by GL Smyth and the bell mechanical. We considered the filtering of sound the way a paper lantern diffuses light: thinly veiled yet repetitious, fragile yet warmly inviting. We sampled the subtle “zzzt” of an electrical switch and ran it through a Scream tape emulator at two simultaneous frequencies.

This fuzzy, breathy loop became the bed for a percussive rhythm we tapped on paper with chopsticks. The final touches were added using heavily diffused piano, plucked/bowed electric guitar, real/fake violins, and an EWI device playing various notes of the E-flat triad from three sampled tones.

In related news: Disquiet Junto participants may be interested in reading about a synesthetic installation that took place in Krakow three years ago, where pieces of music were transformed into fragrance and visuals.

The image is a magnesium flash bulb used by photographers in the 1940’s, which would emit a pungent, metallic odor when activated.


quiet midnight reflection. improvisation for keys, modular synthesizer, effects, and field recording.

i also made a video for this project:

this week’s disquiet junto prompt suggested a certain hazy quality; flickering light filtered through a paper lantern. i improvised a gentle rhodes melody, run through just a touch of tape delay and reverb pedals. i then added a few more instrumental layers: lap harp swells via an ebow, through a modular synthesizer (mutable instruments clouds), and then through the same delay+reverb chain, with differing settings for each pass, to bring out the slight chorus effect on each monophonic line. also present are sparse single notes from mutable instruments rings, which, when run through the same effects, sounds remarkably like the rhodes melody. i had a hard time telling them apart; they blended nicely. this was probably the first time i obtained a usable “pleasant” sound from rings. next, i sent the recorded rings track back through the modular, this time through clouds and the delay+reverb pedals, and placed that sound very faintly in the background, to extend and thicken the “plucked” rings notes.

i constructed a paper lantern, a luminaria, and took it outside at midnight. i filmed it from several angles, as well as the modular playing its tracks. i pointed my zoom h5 at the luminaria to capture any sounds the flickering candle might make, as well as crickets chirping, leaves scraping, and the neighborhood in the small hours. once that field recording was added, the whole song was placed in this video, which was rendered with davinci resolve 14b6.

modular patch notes are on the song & video pages.


As with all of my content, this entire process was documented in a live stream at

A short repeating melody was created using nothing but a chime bar. This was then filtered in various ways using tap delays, ambiences, and pitch-shifting to give the impression that the melody was slowly being bled away, melting into a diffuse drone.


Some modular chords, recorded with an LS11 mic rendered in Reaper…


Beaut video. The ambient noise adds a lovely sense of context, saying ‘midnight’ to my ears.



It was the summer of '98 and Chad and Brad threw an epic party by the pool. Everyone who was anyone was there. As the sun set, lanterns lit the scene. Smooth house tunes were pulsing from the PA. Chad was mixing some killer frozen daiquiris while Brad was entertaining the ladies in the hot tub. Good Times!

For this weeks tune I did a live mix straight off the desk. Ableton live was used for midi sequences which were fed to a Kawai K5000, a Shruthi, a DSI Mopho and a Yamaha DX7. The synths were mixed down on a crusty old Studio Master desk with a Quadraverb and a Yamaha UD Stomp on the Aux busses. The line out of the mixer was fed to a zoom H2 recorder.


Notes, first:

A single live take, watching an imaginary lantern drift away.

Played live on a keyboard sending CV/Gate to synthesizer; manipulating controls and modulation sources as the lanterns drift away. Voice is an MI Rings treated as if it were a normal oscillator - fed into a low-pass filter and a VCA, VCA shaped by an envelope. An LFO jitters the Position of the Rings; a fast-running Turing Machine fed into a slew jitters the frequency of the filter. Between scales, I adjust the controls, primarily to increase jitter, reduce cutoff and Brightness.

Process notes: this was like blood from a stone. I sat down on Saturday at the synth, hoping to pull up some nice flickering sounds, and got dick all after a few hours. Felt very low. Today, I decided to return to it with a new tack: stop trying to solve everything as magic self-playing patches and break out the Microbrute, and just make an interesting patch that could be played. Some messing around with arpeggiators went nowhere; the scale across the two octave keyboard seemed interesting, and I started prodding some shaping into life. In particular, the fast-running Turing Machine as a kind of rapid sample-and-hold is a thing I like for modulation; it was a bit too jittery, but I remembered that I could use my Rampage as a slew, so did that, and we got somewhere.

It’s not nearly as shiny as I hoped, but it sounds something like I wanted it to. The war of art is rubbish sometimes.


Hey All, I have had several paper lantern type lights in my lifetime. I like the diffused quality of the light. The image that kept coming to me was going towards the light and and passing through the paper toward the bright heat of the bulb and retreating quickly. I started low with parts coming in and the increases are diffused by a 3 band EQ. I started with low then mid and then high from zero to almost full then increasing the volume on a slight bit after that. The real cause of the volume increase is the EQ. This is a new method for me. I don’t know if it diffuses but it makes for a cool fx build up. The master track itself has some fx on it ,which I also rarely do, to place everything in the same field. The track itself is some low pads distorted and 4 vocal tracks and drums staggered in odd times.

Peace, Hugh
I was not pleased with how loud that was. I thought something more subtle was more line with the lantern concept. So I remixed and slowed it down a bit.


Here is an older ambient track that I think fits. Done very quickly with softsynths and guitar synth.


For the paper lantern I decided to use paper blinds; there was an apartment I had a few years ago where the light would filter in through blinds and the trees outside, especially in the morning, and slowly expand and move across the opposite wall.

I wanted to convey a sense of how that looked and felt; specifically, on Monday mornings when its implication was clear.



Video fits so well, nice!


Back for my first Junto project in a few years. I started with a cassette recording of some improvised home organ playing (another section of this same recording is being used in another piece I’m working on). I took a list of words that came to mind - among them: diffuse, otherworldly, dreamy, soft - and translated them to processing. There’s some tape delay, some reverb, and some soft high and low pass filtering happening. The ticking sound is a recording I made recently of my bedside radio making a clicking sound when it’s powered down. I have no idea what’s causing the sound, but I was intrigued by it. That sound feels to me like the ribs of the lantern and the brightness of the light source coming through the paper.


Here’s mine:

Unfortunately, I put it together so chaotically that I don’t think I can speak coherently about the process. But I can say that it involved using this software: Aalto, Virta, SDRR2, ValhallaRoom, FilterShaper3, VolumeShaper4, Reaper, ReaEQ, ReaXcomp, and Audacity.


Really like the “foreign” or “other” feel to this. Really well done.


Thanks, I’m glad you like it. From making this entry, I learned to keep at it, since I was struggling to tame resonant frequencies and thought I might have to scrap the piece.


Nice ethereal flow, like light finding its way through the lantern.


I re-uploaded my track here with a subtle EQ edit as it was a bit hard on the ears:

Apologies for any issues this may cause.