Some interesting things have happened this last week and I’ve decided to blog about it and look for feedback rather than keep a private field journal. I think it’s more appropriate for the social kind of experience this media format allows and I’m very interested in any input I can get here from other folks that are experimenting with some of the new virtual +/- synchronous social media formats. I’m also, until and unless I get their approval, keeping everyone’s names private. I’m using a single initial for each so that I can keep everyone straight. I’m not going to change anyone’s sex though – way too confusing!
First session – 7/24/2011
Just participated in a Google+ hangout with what turned out to be six other folks from different parts of the U.S. We tried out singing together to see what issues would come up and to find out what some possibilities could be to solve them. L came up with this idea a day or two ago. I’m not even sure how I found her on G+ but am so glad I did. It looks like we’re not the only ones experimenting with chamber music in Hangouts.
Very interesting group. I like them all – everyone’s very focused on making this work. My fear was/is that it would be a group that let egos get it the way – not even a hint of that here which is simply lovely. M only made it in for a minute but I think her mic issues really got in the way – there was a lot of feedback coming in when she joined in but most of that went away when she cut her video feed. She wasn’t the only one – audio really works a lot better for now. We all shut off video feeds except R since he came to conduct as well as sing. Along those same lines, I tried recording into Audacity – it’s a no go. I need to find what kind of software can hook into the Google matrix so that I can record the whole rehearsal/performance for the next time. We wanted to see what it would sound like and if it would sound on a recording the way it does to us (read: NOT together, though close). It was good to have a conductor in the group just to beat us through it – as we went along we actually started to find what might turn out to be a groove though there were still sync issues. These might have been about USB mics vs. RCA inputs – we’ll hopefully be able to nail that down next time. We started off trying to sing Byrd (way too complicated, despite the half notes and quarter notes!) and dumbed ourselves down to the Doxology. I’m glad I wasn’t the only one to need a score for that!
J kept trying to join the group though it appears she was having headset/mic problems and didn’t get in until after we’d been singing for ½ hour or so which was a bummer because she’s had a great attitude about trying this out. L is fabulous. I’m so glad I found these folks. R’s the one who suggested the Doxology, big surprise. It really helped doing something that basic so we could really hear what was going on. What I’m most impressed by – and interested in – is that this is a group of musicians – and everyone there today was a trained musician – you could hear it – who are all really interested in seeing what kinds of possibilities this technology has for us as performers. The big issue seems to be to what extent can this function as “live” music-making. There were obvious comparisons to Eric Whitacre’s choral projects in YouTube but my feeling – which at least a few others seemed to share – was that this would defeat the purpose of doing something “live.” R suggested we work with local, live chamber groups as another possibility. Not sure I can visualize this one since it sounds kind of complicated to me but it’s worth pursuing at least to find out how options might work. One thought that just hit me, and I think this might have been R’s intention, is that this is kind of a neat idea for Festival production. Hmm.
The next step – for next week – is that F is going to post either a .wav or an .mp3 for me with audio (and hopefully the score?) of at least a couple of the tunes we’re working with. Probably Mozart as a new one. Not that I personally object! I’m researching creating a bouncing ball to give us a visual click track – did a little homework and it looks like I can do it in Photoshop and/or I might just be able to import an animated GIF into Final Cut and loop it if I can get the pacing right. Doesn’t look like too much work either way – I’m going to work on it on Tuesday. I’m thinking I’m going to first try to work with the animated GIF file (if the one I downloaded works right) and then just loop it, otherwise I’ll just make my own in Photoshop. I think we’ll be doing this again next week. Lots of possibilities.
Later: rethinking what I wrote earlier today. Again, am most impressed with the whole group; seven musicians all just exploring a new way of performing. One thing we’re going to try next time, if I understood how the whole thing evolved correctly – is incorporating accompaniment and the equivalent of a click track. I should have explained that better in the paragraph above anyhow. This is why I’m going into video edit mode but I don’t think this is going to take much to do. It’s basically just a sync job with a little tweaking in what I layer on the audio track. Sounds like fun. F sent me the recording between then and now and B has pre-emptively added my YouTube channel.