Do you ever find yourself singing along with others’ recorded improvisations? I do. I know that the original musician didn’t intentionally leave space for me, but I find it… above, below, snuck in-between phrases, or just utterly contrasting in character so that it fits without obscuring the first singer’s song. I’m betting you’ve done this too.
Well let’s get a little wild, shall we? Bit of an experiment. Your prompt: improvise the first half of a duet this week with the intention that someone else—you know not who—will sing the other half next week.
That’s intentionally pretty open-ended, as it’s phrased. The Options will describe a couple of more-specific approaches. But at its core, the prompt is this: sing something, and leave space; your mystery-partner will add their voice next week. Make anything you like that fits this description.
It’s good to have options. Usually we make Option A a way to make the prompt a bit easier, and Option B a way to go a bit further with it. This week, I’m not sure which of these is easier, but here’s two specific ways that you might wish to meet this prompt:
Option A: Naked and Freely-Structured: A little bit like our open-ended “sing for X minutes” prompts, just your voice solo, no layers, no tracks… except, instead of just singing, leave space somehow for what the other may sing later. As I imagine it, this would feel like “sing a little, pause a little, sing a little, pause a little, Beat Beat Beat! pause a lot, sing a little more.” But your imagination may find a more creative approach than that. Be free! Be loose!
Option B: Backed-Up and Orderly: I’m calling this one Option B because I think it will call upon a little more planning and structure from you this week, in the creation of something that might be simpler for your partner to respond to next week. For this option, you may wish to improvi-compose accompaniment parts that you sing over (or perhaps use another’s recordings that have been made for the purpose, with appropriate permission), or not. But consider the practice, common in Jazz, of “trading fours” or “trading solos”: sing for X measures, then wait for X measures, sing for X, wait for X, et cetera. In this way you will give your mystery-partner ideas to respond to and develop for predictable chunks of time, and what a gift that is.
The steps are as follows:
- Step 0: Sign up for a free SoundCloud account here. Join the SSS group.
- Step 1: Record yourself singing your Asynchronous Duets, Part 1 recording.
- Step 2: Upload to SoundCloud and post the track to the SSS group.
- Step 3: Listen to and comment on tracks uploaded by your fellow singers. (Play nice!)
Deadline: Your tracks should be uploaded by midnight wherever you are on Monday, April 20, 2015.
Length: The length of your finished work should be about two-and-a-half to five-and-a-half minutes, more or less. Long enough to develop an idea and leave space for the other, short enough to get home in time for dinner.
Description: It would be awesome to include a short description of where and when you sang your piece—and how it felt.
Title/Tag: When uploading to SoundCloud, put “[sss-async1]” in the title of your track. Also include the term “sss-async1” as a tag. This will help us find it.
Group: Once the track is uploaded, click on the “Add to group” button below the waveform and make sure to select the Society for Spontaneous Singing group. (This option will only appear if you have already joined the group! So do that now.)
Linking: You are welcome to include this info in your description:
This track is a reply to “SSS Prompt 12: Asynchronous Duets, Part 1.” More on the Society for Spontaneous Singing at http://singthis.org. You can join the SSS at https://soundcloud.com/groups/society-for-spontaneous-singing
Thank you, sweet singers!