Exquisite Corpse: Aleatoric Music in the Age of Asynchrony

Instructions for players co-authoring the music to Epsiode 4 of "Waking Up".

For episode 4 of Waking Up, I wanted to play with co-authorship, to have as many people as I could contribute their ideas in a proportion where you couldn't attribute more credit to one performer or another. Questions of authorship are inevitable when discussing AI or synthetic consciousness, and deciding to relinquish full control over the content felt akin to asking a GPT. 

I shared this PDF and the current mixdown to a performer, and they had license to add whatever they wanted -- vocals, melodies, anything. I described how the motion and interaction of waves acted as motifs in the rest of the episodes and asked them to support that concept whenever they could. Oh, I didn't allow any MIDI or autotune -- I wanted, for sake of a larger season-long arc towards naturality, for the production of the score to be as little facilitated by technology as possible. 

Some performers worked in parallel, so there's an element of chance that fits the original "Exquisite Corpse" game idea, but most received the track after another completed their submission. I suppose that makes this not really a game of Exquisite Corpse, but the term is too delicious to not co-opt.

Below is what performers would read before playing the game:


If you're reading this, I invited you to play a game, happening October-November 2023. 

I like to describe this game as similar to the Exquisite Corpse game 1920s Surrealists would play -- a string of musicians takes turns authoring the music -- deciding what else needed to be added to the score. When satisfied, they hand it back to me, I then do some light mixing -- EQ, levels, etc --and hand it to the next person. 

If it happens to be your turn, then the rest of this page is for you:

To record the score to Episode 4, I'm experimenting with aleatoric co-creation by adapting the game Exquisite Corpse. Instructions for the game are simply:

1. You receive the track-in-progress, as well as a handy instructions sheet.

2. You record as much of whatever you want, but the game has one objective: maximize danceability.

Note: There are a few parameters, of course -- work in service of the story, and there's one big guiding principle: all musical material in the recording must in some way connect to the larger musical theme of Waking Up, namely the movement and interaction of waves.

Oh, and no MIDI. You can perform on whatever you want but we are layering audio microphone recordings. 

3. You've got a week to have fun. Submit back to me as separate lossless audio files encoded at 48kbps.

So far, participants include, in this order -

Reese Bowes - drums

Nick Jones - drums

Daniel Lynas - organ, bass

Derek Muro - horns, cello, mic feedback (I think?), biopercussion

Darren Solomon - vocals, electric guitars, analog synths, biopercussion

David Scott Russell -- acoustic guitars, piano, biopercussion

Emily Jeanne Brown -- Vocals


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