Frivolous musical short for two voices and marimba, submitted as an online curiosity for a musical crowd-sourcing experiment:
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Detailed Description of A Snapshot of Modern Neurosis:
Lead vocalist Ryan Walsh, of the American indie rock band Hallelujah the Hills, triggered a musical crowd-sourcing experiment by asking fans, as well as the readership of the Surviving the World photocomic, to submit original recordings for a collaborative track. The resulting sound collage, “You Can Escape Your Fate (But It’s Not Considered Polite)“, gives the impression of “some hypnotic, off-brand meditation tape one might accidentally find at a thrift store.”
At the end of May 2012, I happened upon the original call to action, published on Dante Shepherd’s Surviving the World: Daily Lessons in Science, Literature, Love, and Life as Guest Lecture #25.
No-one is certain what evolutionary function music serves. One theory posits that it binds us into a group, and groups can be important to upping one’s survival chances. Let’s try an experiment. I want you to make up a melody for the following phrase: “You can escape your fate, but it’s not considered polite.”
Sing it a cappella, play guitar under it, or speak it on top of a 40-piece orchestra. Whatever works! RECORD IT! Sing your melody, record it, and send it to me. I’m going to sew all of our melodies into some kind of new song and see what binding all of us, via this experiment, yields. In the end we’re going to end up with something that didn’t exist before.
My excitement to be involved in a crowdsourced music project—or any musical project that didn’t require years to complete—coincided with the availability of my friend Matthew Lawless, some recording equipment, and access to Sean Kim’s marimba at the Church of St. John the Divine. Armed with an original score based on Ryan Walsh’s text, we were able to record a 30-second musical short: “A Snapshot of Modern Neurosis“. We both sang, I played the marimba, and Matt was kind enough to stitch together the track with his skills as a recording engineer.
Our recording was one of 100 reportedly “beautiful, funny, weird, and wildly varied” submissions that spoke to the variety of human experience. The resulting track was just over seven and a half minutes, with our submission appearing from 5:04-5:32. Amusingly, Ryan Walsh opted to use a one-second loop from our recording: a snippet which featured the marimba and a sharp intake of air in preperation to sing.