Creating with Constraints: Weekly communal sound-making
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.
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