Friday, March 25, 2011

Coming Together and the End of the World

The start of my compo week again occurred at midnight on a Sunday. The 2DC theme that night dealt with being "alone in the house", and coincidentally I had company over at my place who left as the compo round began. I had expressed interest in writing guitar music for my entry; I have no skill in playing the instrument and usually avoid it when composing. Because of this, I wanted to take the opportunity to expand my palette beyond my usual keyboard-based instrumentation in the hopes of diversifying my creative output.

It was my wish to team up with a guitarist for a collaboration that night, but the ones participating in the 2DC at the moment were preoccupied with their own work: In an unusual and spectacular move, MickRip and bjkmenu joined forces to create a song, which was submitted to the compo page under the former's name. For my own entry I settled on synthesized acoustic guitar, though I eventually felt it to be weak and threw in piano to reinforce the chord pattern. mv served up an ambient entry while Obtuse went for pulsing dance, both showing how malleable the theme had been for interpretation.

Tuesday's JHC reminded me that such diverse communities have reached my own compo. People from various corners of the Internet have shown up to participate, including video game arrangers, nerdcore artists and module file enthusiasts. This particular week saw new entrants appear from the realm of mod_shrine, hot on the heels of semi-frequent JHC participant coda. The eclecticism of the artists that night was particularly arresting considering the theme I selected: "Alien Visitor". My entry was an homage to Gary Numan, featuring high synth strings and distorted organ.

The change to daylight savings time in the United States caught at least one entrant by surprise, which prompted me reopen the submission stage at SolidComposer for late entries. As it so happened, another compo had been planned at mod_shrine and started just as the JHC submission stage ended. Characteristically the mod regulars were able to generate entries very quickly and effectively, and reconvened at their IRC channel to get their own show going.

In the hours before Thursday's OHC I mulled over the status of two other, neglected compos. The People's Remixing Competition and Original Remix Competition were my old stomping grounds as far as being a regular entrant. It was therefore disappointing to see the general decline of participants in these two compos as the years passed by. I suppose I am guilty of abandoning PRC and ORC to a certain extent as well, though I do enter occasionally and make a point to mention them in relevant conversations.

What specifically caused this shrinking turnout? From my perspective, one reason may have to do with the small amount of socialization involved. Neither compo has it's own listening party, an aspect that drew me back to OHC and similar competitions. The promise of getting together with peers for a synchronized listen is an effective form of promotion and enhances the sense of community. Although all ThaSauce compos have a standard voting and feedback system in place, the real-time discussion of listening parties remains far more compelling to me.

As the OHC round began that night, I asked the gathered assemblage for keys to use in my entry. I settled on the key of F sharp minor, which fit the "meteor will hit the earth in 1 hour" theme quite well. In an effort to be emotionally stirring, I went with a minimal tune with strings and piano. To further set the mood I incorporated an actual recording of the earth's crust shifting. I had previously discovered the sound effect while working on a 2DC with a similar theme, "the end of the world". As it so happens, this previous 2DC theme was one I had suggested in the OHC thread at the ThaSauce forums. It's a small world... but hopefully not one that will get hit by a meteor any time soon.

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