Author Archives: Jane

Jane Creating with Constraints: Weekly communal sound-making

SoundCloud Creator: Marc Weidenbaum

The Disquiet Junto started in January 2012 by organizer Marc Weidenbaum and is an open group for anyone to participate in. The Junto is unique in that its weekly projects come with a deadline and defined constraints, like utilizing a certain sound or sticking to a specific BPM.

As it reaches over 80 weekly projects, the Junto has had more than 350 contributors from around the world so far. Back in late 2011, Marc’s Insta/gr/ambient was one of the projects that would be the foundation for the group. Musicians used Instagram photos as inspiration to create “sonic postcards” of ambient music. “It was wildly more listened to than anything I had done before, and I felt that had something to do with the energy of the musicians sensing a camaraderie unique to this larger-scale effort,” Marc says.

As more members joined, Marc began to let go of the anxiety of whether people would participate every week. “It has encouraged me to do more things that might lead to failure. On a creative level, since the Junto began, I have done fewer and fewer things that felt inherently certain or safe. The result is a weird mix: both thrilling and comforting,” he said.

Naoyuki Sasanami regularly participates in the Disquiet Junto group’s challenges every week and compares them to “experimental trials” that are opportunities for sound design. “I feel like I’m playing a weekly chess game using sound.”

In the past year, Disquiet Junto has led to several collaborative opportunities, including four live concerts in Chicago, Denver, Manhattan and San Francisco. They have also provided sound installation for Apex Art Gallery in Manhattan and scored the trailer for a documentary film about competitive blind sailing. In last month’s project “Faulty Notation,” participants were invited to interpret the San Andreas Fault as a musical score in collaboration with BLDG BLOG. A free iOS app of the map and the group’s submission may also be developed in which users can touch the map to trigger an associated recording from the group. With focused themes and constraints, the Junto has enjoyed opportunities like these that have expanded beyond the SoundCloud platform.

If you’re interested in making music as part of a communal group, Marc shares some advice: “First, I would not model whatever it is you want to do too closely on what other groups have done. Instead, I would identify the loose knit community that you find of interest, and think long and hard about that community’s motivations, about the way its constituents both produce and consume sound. I would try to develop a group approach with those unique characteristics in mind. Second, I would be prepared to alter your approach as time proceeds, in response to what the participants contribute, both in terms of the ideas they share with you but also, and equally importantly, the behavior, the predilections, the habits, they display.”

Hear the results from the Disquiet Junto’s latest weekly project focused on generative music.

Let us know what you thought about this feature on creating with constraints. We’ll be sharing more stories from the community in the coming weeks, so stay tuned. If you’ve got a story to share, leave a comment.

Jane Creating with Constraints: 52 weeks

SoundCloud

Madeleine Cocolas is currently writing a piece of music every week for 52 weeks.

Previously working as a TV music supervisor in Melbourne, Australia, Madeleine set the goal of writing a piece of music every week for 52 weeks once she moved to Seattle, WA where she is currently based.

Although every week is a separate piece of work, Madeleine values each one in its own way, illustrating how creating short compositions or works of progress are just as valuable as perfecting a single sound over a longer period of time: “What I find the most enjoyable about my project is having a sense of purpose behind writing my music. I really feel like each piece is part of the bigger project I’ve set myself, so in that respect they’re all as important as each other.”

Her classical, ambient works are reflective, calming and emotional. Week 18 of her project is one example.

Jumping into creating music every day can feel daunting, but having SoundCloud as an outlet to post sounds and meet people along the way has motivated Madeleine to continue creating. “Writing the sort of music I do by myself can sometimes feel a bit isolating, but having an online community to share it with makes me feel connected with other people,” Madeleine says.

“When I was a music supervisor, I used SoundCloud as a resource for discovering new music, and I find now that as a creator, SoundCloud has been absolutely invaluable in allowing me to share my music, and connect with other people.”

Hear Madeleine share more about the inspiration behind her ongoing 52 Weeks project. She also imparts great advice for anyone looking to do something similar.

To wrap up this series next week, learn more about disciplined sound-making through a SoundCloud group that uses constraints as a launchpad for creativity and productivity every week. Stay tuned on the blog, Twitter and Tumblr.

Jane Creating with Constraints: Recomposed

SoundCloud

2013 :: Recomposed is the work of Gilles Helsen, a musicologist and sound artist from Geel, Belgium. With a lo-fi voice recorder, Gilles records the sounds of his daily surroundings. “Every single sound is taken from real life and recorded the very same day as I recompose them. In a way, I rewrite a part of my life in music,” he says.

Similar to writing thoughts in a diary every day, Gilles attempts to compose in a quick, spontaneous way. “My collages are the result of a daily, unpretentious and superficial creativity without having the ambition of constructing autonomous and well-organized compositions.”

Gilles finds organizing the recordings into sets on SoundCloud an easy way to revisit previous recordings. “Sets are a good feature to sort my collages by month. The automatic waveform of the SoundCloud player is a simple but welcome graphical representation of my music (which often plays with dynamic contrasts).”

Hear June’s compositions reorganized into new meanings without the use of additional equipment, software or sound clips. Listening with headphones are recommended.

We’re continuing to profile more creators involved in creating sounds with constraints. Stay tuned on the blog, Tumblr and Twitter this week.