Analysis & Synthesis 2

Sorry for the delay, too many projects.

1) Thanks for all your kind responses to Analysis & Synthesis #1.  Do me a favor and suggest some videos; I’m not really the king of viral these days, but I’m 100% positive that everything that works, communicates, and builds an audience is going to have a clear structure, and at the end of the day, I’d like to see the whole world make better art– including goofy viral videos.

Today’s subject:

I hope you’ve all seen this.  But PS22 is not the only kids choir on Youtube, I promise.  They are a good choir, and they’re singing, not yelling or talking, so music educators around the globe should see that as a kind of success; but there are children’s choirs out there that would clean their clock. So why does PS22 have 1.5million views? Chalk it up as another win for the “Three Act Story Structure” and The Golden Ratio.

1- this video is 1:48 minutes, or 108 seconds.

0-:08 guitar introduction  (we also are intruduced to the fact we’re in a school, and these are young kids, we also like that the teacher is using a guitar instead of a lame piano, like we had in our general music class).

:08-26 First Verse (we learn that our kids use motions, and “own their character”.  They are also singing in unison.) Strangely, 26 seconds is DARN close to the first fifth… which would be :21. (and if you subtract the introduction, they hit it on the nose).

:26-44 Second Verse: (still unison, now the panning is making its way to the stage right side of the room) Interestingly this is the “2nd 5th.”

:44-66 Chorus. HOLY COW- The chorus starts ON the break.  (108 seconds divided by 5 is 21.6, 21.6 x2 = 43.2. close enough) We also change textures to 2 part harmony. Also, at :57 (about 2/3rd of the way into the chorus) we have the Surprise/Foreshadowing of Jared. (would we be watching this if he just stood up in his seat? NO. This is a music video, not a concert recording, and whoever’s idea this was needs an award)

:66 (1:06) Solo. HOLY COW #2!  This IS the golden ratio for the piece. (108 x .618= 66.7)  And for the first time we have EYE CONTACT. Jared sings a pretty heartfelt verse, and we go back to the chorus.

:82 Chorus again, in parts again.  We’re just a little shy of having hit the 4th 5th break. (86.4),

:96 (1:36) Jared interjects one last time.

:108 End.

It’s not that the math is causing the work to be good or excellent.  But there is something special about the two-thirds/three-fifths break.  I’m not exactly sure what, but I can tell you that half is too early, and three-quarters is too late.  To that end, i’d like to make one more nerdy observation. I’ve been looking at the piece in fifths (each 21.6 seconds long), with the climax (jared’s solo) happening at the end of the 3rd 5th, and comprising the 4th 5th.  He makes two interjections, in both chorus sections. How far into those chorus sections does he interject?  12-13 seconds.   What’s a 3/5ths of 21.6? 12.96.

There is a sense of balance to good temporal works (my term for art that takes place through time), and I really do think it’s about ratios.

My Summary:

One of the reasons this video is successful because it’s timings are eerily balanced.

It also has a good mix of musical textures. guitar, choir unison, choir parts, & solo.

It’s also recorded surprisingly well.  (I’d bet money that’s a recording mic, not the one on the camera, &  possibly with a channel for the guitar)

It’s got unique characters: we’re in an auditorium (not a classroom), our teacher plays guitar (not piano), is a man (not a woman), the choir is singing a song we like (not a song written for choir class), the kids are brown-skinned (not white), and our soloist is a boy (not a girl).

Don’t forget it’s Context: Don’t forget that the medium is YouTube, and this is unlike anything else out there- darn close to art, sweet, cute, shareable at work, not political, and BRIEF. If they had posted an opera, we wouldn’t have seen it.

SO that’s this week’s Analysis & Synthesis.  No really, what should we discuss next?

PS. I really think this video would be boring if it were even another minute longer.  We’d all get bored. What else could they do that would be new and interesting? Think about that, I think theres real wisdom in how they cut a 4minute rock anthem into a GREAT 2 minute kids choir song. Do what you do well, and leave them wanting more.