Cookbooking – a composition for Disquiet Junto Project 0320 – February 2018

This is my second composition for the Disquiet Junto. The assignment this week: Choose a favorite book, then compose a piece of music with as many segments to it as there are chapters to the book. Compose each individual segment with the idea that it is loopable as background music while someone is reading the given chapter. Consider making connections between chapters through melodic themes or instrument choice and so forth.

I’m not one to read a book multiple times, so I can’t go back to one of my favorites and recall the story or tone of each chapter without spending the weekend rereading it. Therefore, my music is inspired by one of the few books I have read multiple times: The Fannie Farmer Cookbook!

The Fannie Farmer Cookbook has a gazillion chapters. I couldn’t possibly create that many segments in one weekend. So, I selected several of the major chapters and grouped others together to come up with six sections. I then composed six segments suitable to listen to while perusing recipes:

  1. Appetizers and Soups
  2. Fish and Shellfish
  3. Meat
  4. Poultry
  5. Vegetables
  6. Desserts

I initially hesitated to try this week’s project. It’s way out of my comfort zone and really stretched my skills. But once I had a couple of ideas, I decided to go for it.

I really enjoyed the idea of making each segment loopable, as well as incorporating elements that tie the sections together. I tended to use the same instruments, the same tempo, the same key (although I varied between major and minor), with similar melodies and patterns and rhythms. I kept to a minimalist approach, using just a few instruments and avoiding chords that would fill the audio spectrum.

I incorporated some audio clips from, under CC BY 3.0 licensing: Beach Waves Close by greencouch, and Rooster Crowing A by InspectorJ. The cow is a public domain sound. The clattering silverware and knife sharpening and chopping sounds I recorded myself.

The melody in the Meats segment is derived from Edvard Grieg’s “Cow Call” from Nordic Melodies, Op. 63. And the melody in the Poultry segment is too obvious to mention.

I’m not sure all the segments in this piece really work as background music, but it was a fun challenge regardless.

You can read more about the Disquiet Junto at You can listen to other submissions for this week’s project at

2 thoughts on “Cookbooking

    1. Thanks Christina! It was fun to imagine as well as to create. I’m still learning the software so that slowed me down a bit. I think having an immediate deadline made me pull out all the stops to complete it on time. I need to figure out how to do that with my visual art projects too.

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