Metafilter Orchestra - Pandora's Music Box

June 1, 2009 9:19 PM

Metafilter Music Collaboration #2 is finished! This song involves 20 MeFites collaborating on an original song -- Exquisite Corpse style, which means that each contributor only got to hear one other contribution. Full credits and details inside.

This project started over a year ago with this post.

We ended up with 20 contributors (and about the same number of people who ended up dropping out -- not a bad percentage, I think, given, you know, musicians). You can see the flowchart here (and my working version here). Each participant heard only the contribution of the person before them -- not all contributions up to that point, but only their immediate predecessor's. For instance, if you refer to the flowchart, you can see that uncleozzy heard only jpdoane's contribution, but not wanderingmind's contribution (which, in turn, was the only thing that jpdoane heard).

In order of appearance (in the song, not in order that things were recorded):
Karlos (me!): Pling Plong (DIY Music Box)
snsranch: guitar
wanderingmind: synth
burnmp3s:drum program
univac: bass
uncleozzy: Edge-style guitar
umbú: easy-going guitar
chococat: strummed acoustic guitar
flapjax at midnight: jaw harp, vocalizations
TwoWordReview: jagged electric guitar
bunnytricks: bass
smartyboots: slide guitar
nanojath: percussion, boingy sounds
ORthey: banjo
equalpants: electric guitar
xorry: ocarina
InfidelZombie: quarter-note electric guitar on right side
god hates math: glockenspiel
naju: techno beats & synth
jpdoane: rock-star guitar on left side

It's very, let's say, "through-composed" as opposed to having a traditional song structure, in part due to wanting to get everyone in there.

Some people got nearly their whole submission used, and some people only got little parts in. My biggest regret is leaving out nanojath's entire vocal part (although if you listen closely, you can hear his intake of breath in preparation, looped over and over again), but perhaps someone will do another mix using that as a basis.

The toughest part was trying to figure out what to do with the key changes -- one branch ended up in D while everyone else was in C. I thought about pitch-shifting everyone into the same key but decided against it -- I like the modular aspect of everything being compatible, but decided it was more important to keep everyone's contribution "pure" for this version.

I'm going to try and set up something tomorrow to host all the parts so that anyone who wants to can put together ther own version.

Feel free to ask any questions you like about the process!

posted by Karlos the Jackal (47 comments total) 56 users marked this as a favorite

posted by flapjax at midnite at 9:27 PM on June 1, 2009

Excellent! Looking forward to the individual parts; I wanna see what happens when you match up people who are 2-3 steps apart...
posted by equalpants at 10:17 PM on June 1, 2009

I love this. I think it should be the soundtrack to a very strange, surreal, wordless short animation.
posted by ORthey at 10:40 PM on June 1, 2009

That is quite an achievement of mix... mixolo... mixiness. Sir, I salute you!
posted by smartyboots at 10:44 PM on June 1, 2009

posted by hellojed at 10:51 PM on June 1, 2009

Thanks to everyone who contributed to this. I liked it far better than I thought that I would. Things like this are what make Metafilter great.
posted by friendlyjuan at 12:22 AM on June 2, 2009

I am listening with a huge grin on my face. This is great.
posted by winna at 1:19 AM on June 2, 2009

Fantastic bit of work, both on the original submissions and the editing. Cracking.
posted by Happy Dave at 3:19 AM on June 2, 2009

Finally! Thanks for putting this together, Karlos. I like how it ends as the credits sequence to a 1980s road movie, with a car carrying a ragtag crew disappearing off into the sunset.
posted by umbú at 3:21 AM on June 2, 2009

Very cool. I thought the end result would be more chaotic but all of the submissions really go well with each other. Thanks for sticking with this project over the last year and putting together the mix, Karlos.
posted by burnmp3s at 4:50 AM on June 2, 2009

That was fantastic!
posted by iconomy at 5:35 AM on June 2, 2009

This came out great. Nice work, everybody, Karlos doubly so.
posted by cortex at 6:40 AM on June 2, 2009

Fish heads fish heads,
Roly poly fish heads,
Fish heads fish heads,
Eat them up yum

I took a fish head,
Out to see a movie,
Didn't have to pay
To get it in

-Dr.Demento - Fish Heads

You can kinda sorta make these lyrics work.
posted by cjorgensen at 6:43 AM on June 2, 2009

That was specifically a tune by the group Barnes & Barnes, half of which was none other than a between-scifi-alsostardoms Bill Mumy. And it is one of the greatest songs in the history of music.
posted by cortex at 6:53 AM on June 2, 2009

Well this is just awesome. Not just beacuse it's a cool idea (it is) but becase it's actually good to listen to. I've always loved music that starts off simple and grows into a complex, multi-layered monstrosity and your piece has all that and just enough of a thread to hang all the parts together. Admittedly a few of the transitions between sections feel quite jarring to me but, on balance, I'm sticking with "awesome".

ORthey - I love this. I think it should be the soundtrack to a very strange, surreal, wordless short animation.
Ooh, yes. Someone with more talent than me should definitely do this.
posted by metaBugs at 8:05 AM on June 2, 2009

Wow, I had completely forgotten about this. (I had forgotten which part I heard, actually... then the glockenspiel came in and I though, ohh, that's it.) Thanks for following through, Karlos. This is really cool.
posted by uncleozzy at 8:44 AM on June 2, 2009

WOW this is excellent, really fun and interesting to listen to. Everybody sounds really good!

Thanks Karlos! This rocks!
posted by snsranch at 9:04 AM on June 2, 2009

I'd just like to say that I've never heard an ocarina rock so hard.
posted by umbú at 9:10 AM on June 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

Has a wonderfully mellow, playful vibe. Great work.
posted by zennie at 9:26 AM on June 2, 2009

The chococat/flapjax/umbú trio is particularly delightful to me, and the mix sounds great. Way to go, everybody!
posted by nosila at 11:19 AM on June 2, 2009

Oh, this is just plain awesome - great job, Karlos. Glad I could I be part of it. And apparently when you put us all together you get early Mike Oldfield. Who knew?
posted by wanderingmind at 12:52 PM on June 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

Wow, great job on what must have been a Herculean editing task.
The temptation to pair consecutively-recorded tracks must have been huge...but it seems like you changed it up quite a bit. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't but that's the fun of listening, as everything changes into something else. I laughed out loud a few times.
Thanks for doing this!
posted by chococat at 12:57 PM on June 2, 2009

posted by Corduroy at 1:51 PM on June 2, 2009

Great job all, this is really cool and if it goes down again I defintely wants in.
posted by BrnP84 at 2:05 PM on June 2, 2009

Nice work! Your corpse is exquisite.
posted by not_on_display at 2:24 PM on June 2, 2009

See Roast Beef in the last frame of this Achewood strip? That is my reaction to this track.
posted by Stonestock Relentless at 4:47 PM on June 2, 2009

Haha, this is great! I'm glad you could do something with my track. It was a bit strange.
posted by xorry at 5:40 PM on June 2, 2009

Oh wow! It's absolutely amazing with headphones!
posted by xorry at 5:44 PM on June 2, 2009

[this is good]
posted by Alterscape at 5:45 PM on June 2, 2009

Sounds strangely like the Pee Wee's Playhouse theme at around 3:11 when the slide comes in.
Also I love the Rock Star guitar. Kind of ironically but kind of not. You know how it is.
posted by chococat at 7:26 PM on June 2, 2009


So here is what I did: I set up a "Metafilter Orchestra" page over at bandcamp. Here it is.

Click on the "severed parts" link on the right side of that page (or here). There's a list of everyone!

Click on someone's name to bring up downloading options for their track, including mp3s, AAC, Ogg, FLAC, and Apple lossless. Download what you want and have at it. Let me know if something is wonky. Unfortunately, there's no WAV format; if someone really wants this stuff in WAVs, let me know and I can send you a physical CD. (It's about 360MB.)

I uploaded everything under a Creative Commons "Attribution only" license. Individual tracks can have different licenses if the creator so desires.

I set it up so that new "complete song" versions can, if you want, be added to the "Exquisite Corpse (Entire Bodies)" "album." In addition, it will be easy in the future (assuming bandcamp remains stable and free) to add new "albums" with tracks from other stuff; for instance, a new "album" could be set up with all of the tracks from MMC#1 ("It's the End of the World...").

You need the username and password to upload stuff; memail me for that, or I can...just announce it here? I'm not sure why it shouldn't just be public knowledge, at least to MetaFilter members.

I have no intentions, here, of being a gatekeeper or in setting up anything that pretends to be official; this just seemed like the easiest way to do this right this very second. Let me know if there's a better way, or a more permanent way, or anything that you would find prefereable.
posted by Karlos the Jackal at 8:48 PM on June 2, 2009 [5 favorites]

This is surreal and wonderful and exactly what MeFi is about.
posted by bettafish at 10:06 PM on June 2, 2009

That was really great-- I love the way it goes off in the middle, then comes back together in the end to mirror the feel of the begining. Very nice work.
posted by InfidelZombie at 11:02 PM on June 2, 2009

Exquisite dead guy,
rotating in his display case,
exquisite dead guy,
swear I saw his mouth move.

posted by blenderfish at 11:38 PM on June 2, 2009

Fantastic! Stylistically, it reminds me a bit of Kutiman. (Did you consider using the mother of all funk chords?)
posted by Ian A.T. at 4:37 PM on June 3, 2009

Holy crap, this is good stuff. Fun, uplifting, surreal, wonderful and rockin', all at the same time. Everyone involved should be proud of the magnificent work they've created here.

Side thought: I could see it working well in a user created level of Little Big Planet, for some reason.
posted by Effigy2000 at 6:40 PM on June 4, 2009

Fun! I expected something more... er, experimental? I rarely come to the Music section but if this is the norm over here, I'm missing out on a lot!
posted by misozaki at 7:19 PM on June 4, 2009

Another thing; no matter how many times I listen to this, I love, love, love jpdoane's guitar near the end there. Fucking fantastic. Gives me chills, I kid you not. Perfect way to end the track.
posted by Effigy2000 at 4:28 AM on June 5, 2009 [1 favorite]

Another thing; no matter how many times I listen to this, I love, love, love jpdoane's guitar near the end there. Fucking fantastic. Gives me chills, I kid you not. Perfect way to end the track.

Yes! I knew I'd use is as the ending the first time I heard it. Somehow it reminded me of the coda of "Layla" although I'm not sure why.
posted by Karlos the Jackal at 4:45 PM on June 5, 2009

posted by hapax_legomenon at 4:12 PM on June 7, 2009

Finally! Good work, everyone, and thanks to KTJ for organizing it.
posted by univac at 12:47 AM on June 8, 2009

Karlos: Thanks for putting this all together!

Effigy2000: Thanks!!
posted by jpdoane at 12:39 PM on June 8, 2009

me likey! bualadh bos láidir (mighty applause)
posted by sequin at 8:24 PM on June 25, 2009

This is great! Any plans on doing another?
posted by usonian at 8:08 AM on June 26, 2009

This is great! Any plans on doing another?

Not from me, at least not for a very long time.

But as far as Massive Metafilter Collaborations, there's this.
posted by Karlos the Jackal at 4:37 PM on June 26, 2009

I don't know why it took me so long to listen to this, but I'm addicted now. As people have said, it sort of falls apart in the middle, but strangely, in a good way. Like the whole thing is so fragile that it's just barely holding itself together, and then InfidelZombie's guitar comes in, and everything from that point forward is absolutely triumphant. Great work to all. Kudos!
posted by Navelgazer at 4:46 PM on June 30, 2009

I'm pretty blown away. It's cohesive and there are some parts that are really fragile and sensitive, which I wouldn't really expect given the parameters. Thanks to everyone involved.
posted by edlundart at 10:47 PM on July 4, 2009

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