About the project
- Can I do more?
Yes—we would love that! In order to keep get the main site content off to a healthy start, though, we’d like to start with six mixes with one track per performer per mix. After that, you’re more than welcome to add more tracks. If you’d like to try adding a new mix, perhaps one with more specific constraints, we’re glad to support it if we’re able.
- Can others participate?
Yes, we certainly hope so, but we only have funding to compensate the first six signature artists. After these six signature mixes are populated, we plan to invite others to participate at will, including dancers and visual artists (conductors?), but there won’t be honoraria at that point. Ideas are welcome.
- What are your plans for the future?
We plan to publicize the site, add some backend features to make it easier to post, and publish a paper on this experience. We have several notes for a second phase of Weblogmusic, which we’ll propose to bigger funding sources as opportunities arise.
- When are we doing this?
Aim to have all tracks submitted by the end of October 2012 so we can get you paid by the end of November 2012. You can record the first track in your signature mix at any time. You won’t have anything to listen/respond to except the future performers you imagine. You’re laying the “foundation” for your signature mix. To add your other tracks, you’ll need to wait until other contributors’ first tracks are posted. Then, you’re free to add your track to theirs (one per mix at first, please) any time through October.
- When do I need to start?
It would strain the other contributors if you didn’t have your first track up by the end of September. Earlier is always better, of course, especially if others are also getting a late start. It would be ideal to can get your first track up in the second week of September, then you’d have enough time to do one track per week with one week to spare.
- Why does the URL say “sandbox?”
That’s a term for a scratch space to develop new things. We’re developing the structure of the site here, and when it’s ready to publicize, we’ll move everything to weblogmusic.org. As of August 2012, we still have a little CSS tweaking to do and content to add, but it’s working well enough for performers to contribute. When the real site is ready, their performances will be moved too.
- Acoustic? Electronics?
Whatever you’re moved to contribute!
- But we’ll never be in sync…?
Yep! So, you might want to avoid implying a meter for a long time, unless you’re laying down a minimalist “grid” to lay across the other performers. If you do, and others play along with your “grid,” they will likely be shifted forward/backward in time with each listen, but you actually will appear to be “in sync”—you’ll just be heard playing slightly different patterns each time.
- The mixes already sound pretty full. What should I play?
Play along with all other tracks that appear in a mix. Viewers will only ever see randomly chosen “quartets” of tracks. Feel free to be sparse and supporting/accenting as you see fit; that will ebb and flow as more tracks are added and recombined. Also, in a future phase of the project, we’ll be inviting non-musicians (e.g., dancers, visual artists) to contribute tracks, so the resulting sound will be thinner than four voices in some performances.
- What about glitches?
Embrace them as part of the performance, unless they’re so bad that they keep you from doing your job. In our tests, we sometimes experienced many skips/dropouts while recording, but our recordings actually came out fine. It wouldn’t hurt to do a brief test run to see if that’s true for you, too.
- What length?
Ten to fifteen minutes. If you’re recording the first track of your signature mix, feel free to break the time into smaller movements if you like, but keep them all in one video.
- What style?
These are free improvisations. We invited our signature artists because we know and trust their musical judgement. We hope for variety in approaches, but we’re very interested to see what comes naturally to our contributors in this environment.
- How can I check my sound quality and levels?
In short, record a little bit and listen to it! When setting levels, be sure to avoid clipping (also called saturation, overdriving, overloading, etc.)—that’s when your input level is so loud that your computer can’t express how loud it is (i.e., it’s “off the chart”), resulting in a harsh fuzzy sound. To avoid clipping, do a test: play your loudest, set the input volume to that it never tops out when you play that loud, then lower it a bit more just to be safe. For other quality issues, make you’re you’re using the highest quality settings in your recording software, and listen carefully to your test recording. There should be no obvious “MP3″-like artifacts, such as warbling, bubbling, chirping, etc.
- How do I start my signature mix?
In this case, you’re laying down the first track, the foundation that will shape all other tracks in your mix. You won’t have anything to listen/respond to (except future performers you may imagine), so just record a video on your own. Keep the performance between ten and fifteen minutes. We can try different durations as separate experiments if you like.
- How should I look?
In general, try to set up a clean, reasonably professional looking shot with a clear view of you. You don’t need to go to extraordinary lengths to establish uniformity or an illusion of being on the same stage. We’re embracing the spatial disparity among the virtual ensembles. Just minimize “sloppy” factors…unless that’s crucial to your aesthetic content.
- I’ve never uploaded to YouTube before…
Don’t worry, it’s free, easy, and well-documented (see the How to Contribute page on this site). If you have a Google account for anything (GMail or just gDocs, gCal, etc.), then you’re already set up to upload videos to YouTube, too.
- Should I trim the beginning and ending off my video?
Well, those things affect stage presence, and we’re very interested to see what impact may lie in different ways of handling the starting/stopping of recordings. We’ll leave that up to you. There’s no need to worry about starting or ending the music together.
- What audio/video settings should I use when recording?
Shoot in landscape orientation unless you have an aesthetic reason to use portrait orientation instead. YouTube transcodes videos when you upload them, so just follow their advice for Mac and for Windows for the most part. Except: Aim for medium video quality and best audio quality (e.g., 320kbps AAC). No need to record in HD.
- What equipment?
An external camera with a direct feed or mic close to your instrument would be best, but a webcam and video recording software is just fine. Do take care to ensure good audio quality.