If you're the type who's nervous about clicking links let me tease you a bit. It is a documentary/instructional video for an Intergenerational improvisational orchestra where composition and performance are created based on altered ASL [American Sign Language] cues.
Want a little more?
What if you could compose live music with a few simple gestures?
What if all you needed to do was point, and you'd get a sound?
In the Semiconductor Orchestra, professional musicians and hobbyists, seasoned veterans and children, compose and perform musical pieces on the scale of a chamber orchestra.
Always different, always interesting, always impermanent. No performance ever matches another, no instrumentation in the ensemble is ever the same.
No working it out...
No notes on the page; you point...
And you have music.
(Go check out the Kickstarter http://kck.st/XnHfao for more details about the project, what the teeny tiny amount of funding is going to, and samples of the music.)
The ensemble has intrigued me for years since my dad joined it, at first my reaction is this is weird, but then as I had more exposure to it I became fascinated.
In previous degree attempts, I had pursued a music education degree, I wanted to teach kids how to play music and continue the joy I had for multidisciplinary/multigenre music in another generation the way I had grown up. I've played viola off and on for (christ I just realized how old I am) 20 years. I loved playing in orchestra, loved repetoire, and hated practicing. I grew to hate playing music myself for a while because it became a chore. Something I had to do rather than liked to do.
But I wore it proudly as a badge when people would say "OMG music is so hard, it's amazing you can do that!" or "Wow, I can imagine that one would get exhausted, I couldn't even stand playing guitar/bass/drums etc for a year and you did it for XX years?"
And then a few years ago, come to think of it around the time my dad joined Semiconductor, he brought home a ukulele. And while the majority of available learning music for uke is tinpan alley stuff, and it wears thin, the uke was a delightful instrument and easy to play.
And once you get past the tin pan alley stuff is very pretty, or funny, or serious.
A few years down the road, I picked up a ukelele, started playing, loving it was an instrument that I could be in really bad posture on a couch, on the floor, standing, and it didn't impact the sound, loving that pop tunes I'd always wanted to sing but had nasty chords for the guitar were now really simple. and I could play for a few minutes, set it down and play a few days later.
I discovered I had a voice, a singing voice that stunned people far more than my viola ever had, I also discovered that swan lake on the uke is pretty, but hall of the mountain king makes me giggle.
I started singing, Live, in front of people, Sometimes I'd freeze in the uke playing but I'd Sing through, and it was wonderful.
I started realizing we put all these strings on making music, we turn it into this priest[ess]hood thing that only the selected who collect the blue flower from the north face are able to do...
And then via Neil Gaiman I first noticeably encountered Amanda Palmer, and I loved her music. And then she and Neil did an interview with another person I admire, Kevin Smith, and they Discussed this idea that anybody can and SHOULD make art.
Amanda released her "Ukulele Anthem"
...See what happens when you muzzle
A person's creativity
And do not let them sing or scream
And nowadays it's worse 'cause kids have automatic handguns
It takes about an hour to teach someone to play the ukulele
About the same to teach someone to build a standard pipe bomb
You do the math
So play your favorite cover song, especially if the words are wrong
'Cause even if your grades are bad, it doesn't mean you're failing
Do your homework with a fork
And eat your fruit loops in the dark
And bring your flask of Jack to work
And play your ukulele...
Then Amanda said "stop pretending art is hard”
I had a meeting this weekend, with Aaron Kerr, the organizer for semiconductor, where we discussed that my goal is to convey how easy this is, that Art's Not Hard. and he agreed, the only requirement for joining the ensemble is that you have to be able to make a sound. That's it and you can be a part of music making.
My dad says it makes him think about how to use the instrument differently.
And I'm going the similar route with the filmmaking process. I don't need a huge panavision camera to shoot this, I don't need RED or Arri Alexa, I need a couple Nikon DSLRs, plus some small supplemental cameras [GoPro, flip, and possibly nikon point and shoot]. I have a planned set up that all I need are camera babysitters and I'll get my footage.
Art Is Not Hard.
And I aim to prove it.