Codifying bars

Disquiet Junto Project 0285: Live Barcoding

Make rhythms from your packaged goods.



Step 1: We’ll be making music from barcodes, those zebra-striped symbols that adorn packaged goods. Please find the three barcodes nearest you.

Step 2: Look at the barcodes and sort out how they suggest, for you, a rhythm, a beat — how do they function as notations of percussion?

Step 3: Create a short piece of music in which each of the three barcodes is independently interpreted for its rhythmic content. In other words, make a piece of music that layers the beats of the three barcodes you selected in Step 1 based on the notational concepts that arose in Step 2.


Picking three random objects (a packet of painkillers for my shoulder, a guitar effects pedal box and one of my own book publications), I started thinking about applying the barcode to a rhythmic structure. Since I am currently recovering from a shoulder injury, getting busy with graph paper and midi drum roll tracks was not a realistic task. Instead, I investigated the iOS store and found Baracodas ( This app nicely communicated with network midi to trigger Ableton Live. The slightly lop-sided rhythms created lent themselves to some more glitchy rhythms which were given some light processing (bit of dubby delay seemed to make things groove a little more smoothly. A bit of fun!


More on this 285th weekly Disquiet Junto project — Live Barcoding: Make rhythms from your packaged goods. — at:

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