Musical Shares

Ethan Hein, writing on New Music Box:

A few weeks ago, my research group at NYU hosted an event with called Musical Shares. Everybody starts a session in some digital audio workstation. (We used GarageBand.) You spend ten minutes creating a track. Then you share it with the person to your left, and you receive a track in progress from the person on your right. You work on your neighbor’s track for ten minutes, and then you pass left again. You repeat until you run out of time. Finally, you listen to your original track and experience the requisite surprise, delight, or horror. Musical Shares is a combination of Exquisite Corpse and Telephone, and it’s a lot of fun. I subsequently tried it with my students, and it was an instant success. If you’re a music teacher, I recommend you try it, too.

A colleague of mine, Dafna Naphtali, happened to pass through the conference area where we were doing the event. Dafna is an experimental electronic musician and vocalist who runs the NYU laptop orchestra. She thought the Musical Shares concept was cool and wondered if we could dream up something similar for her ensemble. (Many interesting opportunities have come my way just from loitering around that NYU conference area.) We couldn’t think of any obvious way to adapt Musical Shares for a live performance situation, but Dafna asked me if I would try to think up something else. I’ve never written anything for a laptop orchestra, so I figured, why not.

I’m putting that game in my teaching repertoire.

Hein describes the process of writing the piece, eventually called Divergence/Convergence. Well worth a read.