What if we could use this community to compose/arrange new material for a cappella groups to sing?
Compared to the computer software development community, where some of the best (and most stable!!) work is now the result of inputs from experts around the world (not seeking for individual profit or glory), it would be fun to create an environment where we don't just talk about compositions or arrangements, but actually do it, in a shared space.
Here's how it might work:
Someone would offer a theme or musical motif (original, so as to avoid copyright issues, and by being offered it automatically becomes community property and not owned by any individual) for example in midi format. Then others could take it and add lines/melodies/harmonies/variants/counter themes/lyrics etc for the community to react to, adapt and use. They would then post their efforts in midi format on the relevant community page.
Certain individuals might offer comments or put things back on the right track, but the main thing would be to see where it went. We could anticipate a 'Darwinian evolution' of works, where fruitful suggestions became adopted and further developed, whereas less promising ones might not progress any more. Maybe after a few months there would be a few performable arrangements up there. At the very least it could be amusing and educational. At most, some amazing arrangements might emerge, and get performed/recorded and attributed to the community within a 'creative commons' environment. Groups could eventually post their mp3s of the songs for comparison.
As an example, I have created a midi of a simple bass line that could trigger some additional contributions. We need to find a way to be able to post midi files (I tried the photos and music apps, but neither will accept midi), and I think that midi format is a good common ground between all the different music notation applications that people use - most of these applications can save in midi. (Perhaps Joakim Skog can find a way for us to post/review/download midi files?)* The challenge may come when adding lyrics is involved. Other people may wish to offer melodies or motifs for communal development. Maybe even some people would post a partial arrangement for comment/modification.
There is of course the danger that 'an arrangement done by a committee' becomes bland and uninteresting, but I think that risk would be offset by the possibility that multiple tributary arrangements could emerge from a single theme, and the community could pick (and develop) which ones worked best.
Might even be fun to be at a concert where two groups sang different versions of the same initial theme!
Another aspect of this might be the emergence of a body of repertoire for a cappella groups to access, download and use, without worries of legal infringements etc. The 'Linux' of arranging! The 'Wikipedia' of composing!
Yet another dimension (thanks for the suggestion AndersE) might be that people could offer mp3s of a line that they sing, in time with the midi track, by which we could listen to the development of a 'cyber studio' perfomance involving participants around the world.
So what do you think? would anyone be interested to participate in a project like this?
*Pending a mechanism for posting midis, I could email my midi file to anyone who would like it, but a centralised/fully visible format would be better.
Paul Jay (Ottawa, Canada).