The idea for Chinese Whispers was adapted from a writing game played by authors. One author would write exactly 200 words and then pass it on the next, who would write another 200 word until they decided to finish the story. When I first heard about this, I knew instantly that it would make an interesting musical game so I set about designing a musical adaptation.
The idea is to have a group of composers to compose a number of bars each, one after another. The number of bars are to be completed (within a 48 hour period) and then passed on to the next composer who will then pass on only their bars to the next composer. Each composer will only see the previous number of bars - never the whole piece. Why? – to make it interesting.
Restrictions and rules are chosen which each composer must adhear to. For example a selection of pitches, tempo etc. This is so the final composition had some sort of clarity and unity.
Once the collaborative piece is completed, each composer is then given a copy of the finished score and asked to compose a new piece of music which is inspired by the collaboration is some way, with no restrictions on pitches or tempo, etc. This inspiration can be melodic, rhythmic, harmonic, emotional, conceptual - anything.
The final result is a full program of new music which is performed by MFO and recorded. The plan is to do a similar project every year and get composers involved from around the world.
You can keep up to date with what is happening with the new Chinese Whispers project by visiting www.myspace.com/allaboutchinesewhispers
“an inspiring performance… show-casing the extremely diverse creative approaches of each of the composers to this challenging compositional task… it made for an absorbing, exciting and very entertaining evening.” Alan Corbet JazzWA.