Earlier this year I stepped into a taxi in Brooklyn, and immediately noticed the absence of music. So I asked the driver why the radio was off. He told me that music drove him crazy. Not just the pop on the radio—ALL music.
Intrigued by this exception to our nearly-universal musicophilia, I asked him what about music was so off-putting. The repetition, he said. I’ve heard it once; why would I want to hear it again and again? Good question, I thought.
So this week, let’s get a little deeper into our mysterious love affair with repetition. In particular, let’s try to find a middle ground between music that is nothing but numbing repetition, and music that wanders and evolves without repeating at all.
This week, let’s make music that has a nice long loop length, one which might catch the ear of that music-resistant Brooklyn cabbie.
It’s good to have options. Here we offer ways that you can meet this prompt right where you are; or, alternatively, ways you can challenge yourself more deeply with it.
Option A: Use a looper. Firstly, get thee to a loopstation! Or to thy mobile device, which might have Loopy or something similar installed. If you have looped before, you probably know your habitual loop length. Triple that length (or, for a deeper stretch, 10x it!), and try to come up with longer loops that feel musical. Layer more on top of them. See how your sense of rhythm, harmony, melody adapt to this new expansive time frame.
Option B: Use your memory. Who needs machines? All you need is a microphone. Begin by singing freely for about 30 seconds (or however long you’d like). Make sure to listen to yourself. Once that first chunk is sung, try to recall it with your voice, and sing it again as faithfully as possible. Don’t worry if it doesn’t come out perfect; the point is just to try. Then continue, striving to sing that 30-second chunk a third time, and a fourth, and on until you reach a natural end. You may be surprised at how accurate your recall is! Or the exercise may turn into a game of sonic telephone that ends in a very different place than it began. No matter. The point is just to flex your musical memory, to expand your capacity for holding and singing longer chunks of music, and to feel a long loop from the inside out.
The steps are as follows:
- Step 0: Sign up for a free SoundCloud account here. Join the SSS group.
- Step 1: Record yourself singing for two minutes.
- 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, MONTH DD, YYYY.
Length: The length of your finished work should be about the time it takes a Brooklyn to arrive when the dispatcher says “five minutes”.
Description: It would be awesome to include a short description of where and when you sang your piece.
Title/Tag: When uploading to SoundCloud, put “[sss-longloop]” in the title of your track. Also include the term “sss-longloop” 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 28: Sing a long loop.”More on the Society for Spontaneous Singing at http://singthis.org .
Multiple Responses: If you find that this Prompt inspires you to make multiple recordings, great! More music in the world is good, and people should hear what you have to sing. At the same time, we don’t want anybody to feel like somebody else is being over-represented in the group. Here’s how we thread this needle: make a Playlist of all the sounds you record, pick the response you like most, add this favorite to the Group, and include a link to the Playlist in the description of that favorite.
Thank you, sweet singers!