Something we've been exploring over at Google + is using the group video conferencing ability ("Hangouts") to try to make music together. Yesterday was our first, trial run.
As one might imagine, it was not without its difficulties. Lag can turn the simplest four part hymn into a Ligeti-esque work of sound painting. Still, the process was not without its own sort of satisfaction.
What the experience reminded me of, however, is how important the shared music making experience can be. Even if the musical product created isn't the highest quality - maybe it's a bit ragged, maybe it is laggy - there is still something fulfilling about coming together to sing or play.
As a professional musician, that sense of music-making-for-the-sake-of-music sometimes seems to get lost in the demands of the career, itself. It's understandable, but also a bit sad. As may be obvious by now, I'm a firm believer in the joy of music-making. If that isn't there, the product, however fine it may be technically, is incomplete.
This chance to come together with musicians I might not otherwise have ever met or collaborated with was a nice reminder that (thanks to technology), we have more ways than ever to connect, to experience the joy of music together.
It was nicely symbolic, too, that what ended up working the best for our first online music-making venture was a 16th century tune from the Genevan Psalter -- a hymn book originally written (at the directive of John Calvin) to allow the congregants the opportunity to participate in group music-making as a part of the liturgy. Fitting, then, that Old 100th should be a successful inaugural run for a new tradition of group music making