Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Life on the "Hi Cs" - Part 2

For me, singing together and making music together is a fundamental human experience, and I love the idea that technology can bring people together from all over the world and still participate in this transcending experience.
Eric Whitacre,
Quoted in "Collaborative Creation and Crowdsourcing in the Music Industry" by Nathaniel Whittemore

In previous articles the subject has been explored under the general heading of "The High 'Cs'"; Communication, Creation and Collaborating. It turns out that the alliteration was not original and is common practice in Web 2.0 writings, extending the list to Creating, Contributing, Communicating, Connecting, Collaborating and Curating.

You may notice an unfamiliar word in the title of the source of the quote - Crowdsourcing. The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary defines it as:
the practice of obtaining needed services, ideas, or content by soliciting contributions from a large group of people and especially from the online community rather than from traditional employees or suppliers
You perhaps know of Eric Whitacre's "virtual choir". In the words of Nathaniel Whittemore:
...Eric Whitacre—known for pushing the boundaries of classical and choral music—created a choir entirely online. Recording and posting a video of him silently conducting one of his choral pieces and sharing the sheet music for all the vocal parts, he put out the call for singers from around the world to perform the pieces solo and on video.
In other words, he took the steps of Creating the work, Communicating his wishes to "bring people together from all over the world" and Connecting them in Collaboration, through the video of his conducting, and finally Curating in the video on YouTube. Just as on a pop song, tracks are recorded and mixed in a variety of studios around the world. The players need not meet - their studio is virtual.

The singers sent in their virtual performance on video. That right, video. One chance for a "take". Whitacre had 185 voices. Scottie Haines mixed 243 tracks of individual "one part on a track" sound. The video was a success - here's Whitacre's reaction:
When I saw the finished video for the first time I actually teared up. The intimacy of all the faces, the sound of the singing, the obvious poetic symbolism about our shared humanity and our need to connect; all of it completely overwhelmed me. And it must be said that a lot of the credit for its beauty should go to Scottie Haines, who spent untold hours editing and polishing the video. (BTW, Scottie and I ... only met once in the ‘real world’, unlike 99% of the Virtual Choir, whom I’ve never ‘met’).

The Virtual Choir was a success. Virtual Choir 3 was released the second of April, 2012, and 4 is on the way.

Virtual stores, virtual music, samples, tracks, stems - where do I start? Read. Explore Soundcloud, a virtual studio-online community complete with the opportunity to form groups and work on projects. Explore - make mistakes and learn from them. Most of all, encourage your students to audition for AMIS Festivals. There, unlike Whitacre, you have the chance to meet the students and the teachers and make music with them - live and interactive. To have a common purpose of making the music live and breathe. The feeling of that experience is moving in its own right.

“The High ‘Cs’” have another member in the music world - Challenge. Strive to make the most musical audition that was ever recorded. Give it a try - record the audition. It was Wayne Gretzky that said, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”

Have a restful and challenging summer!