YouTube Symphony

Thanks to Neil Winton for alerting me to the YouTube Symphony project. Tan Dun, whose music you may already have heard in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon has composed a piece entitled Internet Symphony No. 1 “Eroica” – or should that be e-roica? (perhaps not). He explains the origin of the piece (which has not escaped criticism) here.

There appear to be two strands to this project:

  1. a final collaborative video in which you can apply to participate by uploading a video of you playing a part (deadline Jan 28 2009)

  2. a live performance in Carnegie Hall – possible invitation to which requires the uploading of a second Talent Video (piece to be chosen from a set list).

As indicated in the FAQ it is possible to participate in the collaborative video even if your chosen instrument is not a traditional member of the symphony orchestra. As a guitarist, I would choose the cello part and more exotic suggestions are included. Somehow, I imagine that the final Carnegie Hall orchestra will not include theremins, decks, banjos, bagpipes and iPhone ocarinas – but no-one would be delighted to be proved wrong about this than I would.

So, how do you prepare for this? When you browse entries already submitted it becomes clear that the musicians are following a silent video of Tan Dun conducting – the only way the piece could stay together. You’ll only be able to access this video when you choose an instrument (having clicked the Prepare tab). There is also a video of the LSO playing the piece so that you can become familiar with it and practise along with it but the compilation of the collaborative video would be very difficult if every entry were cluttered with the sound of that video. Those who have never played with a conductor or without audio cues may need some practice.

So if you New Year’s resolution was to become more musically active, here’s your chance.