Major thanks to Colin Joyce, who wrote an article for hii-mag.com about music communities that are built around shared composition prompts. The piece is titled “Prescriptive Art Practice in Sound,” and it features two primary examples. One is Audio Playground (audioplayground.xyz), a project run monthly since last year by Sarah Geis, former artistic director of the excellent Third Coast International Audio Festival. The other is the Disquiet Junto. Joyce approaches the topic through the lens of the classic Oblique Strategies cards of Brian Eno and his late collaborator, the artist Peter Schmidt.
Here’s an excerpt:
Part of the long-running success of the project seems to come from the attention and care that Weidenbaum has applied to the prompts themselves. There are never too many in a row with the same style or bent. Some are more conceptual, like #392 “Compose the national anthem for a fictional country,” while others are more practical, like #336 “Share a piece of music you’re working on in the interest of getting feedback.” Changing up the approach no doubt helps the musicians stay engaged, but it also allows everyone involved to flex different creative muscles, to push themselves in different ways, to always be trying something new. But for Weidenbaum, what’s most important is that people are spurred to action. Whether a prompt deeply resonates with a person or not, the hope is that work gets made in response.
“I think inspiration is overrated,” he says. “I think work is what is important. You can only make music if you make music. You can only paint if you paint. You can only write if you write. In general, you won’t get better at it, or at anything else, unless you do it. And so you do it. I think being inspired really happens in the midst of work, not before the work.”
Weidenbaum’s years of shepherding the project have resulted in a robust and engaged community. The group stays in touch through a Slack channel and a message board, encouraging one another and explaining the processes behind their pieces. It’s heartwarming in a way that feels rare in the currently decentralized state of the internet. So often making music and art can be an isolated process, especially for people who work in forms that might be deemed experimental, but projects like this allow people to connect. They’re able to push themselves but also to get in touch with others who are interested in doing the same. “The single best part of it is the people,” Weidenbaum explains. “I have become aware of so many creative individuals, and had remarkable conversations with so many of them.”
Read (or listen to)the full piece at hii-mag.com.