Performer’s FAQ

About the project

  • How can I add my track to an existing mix?
    Follow the instructions on the How to Perform With Us page and submit the YouTube link to your performance. It will be reviewed by the Weblogmusic board and if accepted, it will be added to the mix!
  • How can I start my own mix?
    We want to make sure existing mixes get healthy amounts of contributions before creating new mixes, so play on three existing mixes first, then you can record the first track of a new mix you’d like to propose, and recruit one new performer to record a track on your mix, too (to help make sure your new mix gets off to a healthy start, too!).

Aesthtics

  • 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 load. Viewers will only see four (or fewer) tracks at a time, so when you play along with four other people, it will likely be more dense than when audiences hear you. Feel free to play sparsely and quietly and support/accent other performers as you see fit. Non-musicians (e.g., dancers, visual artists) are also welcome to contribute tracks, so the resulting sound may often be thinner than four voices in some performances.
  • What about glitches?
    Embrace them as part of the performance—the network itself is somewhat of a conductor in this ensemble. It wouldn’t hurt to do a brief test run before recording to see if your connection is so slow that you find yourself playing solo a lot.
  • What length?
    Ten to fifteen minutes. If you’re recording the first track of a 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 artistic judgement; use them as a reference. We want variety among approaches, and we’re very interested to see what comes naturally to our contributors in this environment.
  • I’m a dancer/visual artist/poet/etc., not a musician—can I join in, too?
    Yes! Any realtime art form that can be expressed through audio and video is welcome! The sonic artifacts of your performance might be interesting contributions, too, so try to capture a good audiovisual recording of your performance (avoid background noise). E-mail morris at tamu.edu to discuss ideas on how you might participate!

Recording specifics

  • How do I record a track?
    In short, you just record yourself playing along with the website. You’ll want to keep your sound separated from the other performers, so you’ll probably need to listen on headphones.
  • How can I check my sound quality and levels?
    In short, record a little bit and listen to it, compared to other good quality recordings! When setting levels, be sure to avoid clipping (also called saturation, distortion, overdriving, overloading, fuzz, 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 the input volume a bit more to add a safe margin. For other quality issues, make you’re you’re using the highest quality settings in your recorder, 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 a new 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. You may notice that each mix has established its own tradition in visual aesthetics.
  • 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, 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 having everyone start and ending at the same instant.
  • 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.
  • What equipment?
    An external camera and a mic close to your instrument would be best. A computer webcam with built in mic and video recording software could be just fine: do take care to ensure good audio quality (see above) and avoid excessive background noise and unpleasant room reverberation (get the mic closer to you).
  • How can dancers, visual artists, etc. record?
    If sound isn’t part of what you do, then you could simply play sound from the website out loud and remove the sound from your video when you upload it. Place the screen where you can see the other performers if possible; it’s not critical. The inimitable vocalist and dancer Susanna Hood listened through bluetooth sport headphones and recorded with a mic and camera.
  • How can writers, graphic artists, and other non-realtime artists contribute?
    Surely there’s some part of your working process that can be seen or heard in real time, in response to the images or sounds of others. Watch this video for some ideas.

a web-based ensemble of improvising performers