Crowdsourced song lets the masses compose - one note at a time

Ready to vote for the song’s next note? (Image: TRACEY NEARMY/Corbis)

The next note is in your hands. A new website named CrowdSound is conducting a massive musical experiment – by asking strangers to come together to write a song.

The site is the brainchild of Brendon Ferris, a programmer living in the Dominican Republic. Ferris was inspired by the teamwork on Wikipedia, and on reddit, the news site where users decide which posts and comments belong on top.

If the masses could collaborate successfully there, he thought, then perhaps they could come together to do the same for music.

“My way of thinking was, if the crowd decides what the next note is, then there must be something there that appeals to the most people,” says Ferris. “The song should sound good to everybody.”

On CrowdSound, the song builds up one note at a time, guided by a chord structure predetermined by Ferris. Visitors listen to what’s been written so far, and then are offered a choice of what to add next: one of a handful of musical notes, or perhaps a rest. After 50 votes, the most popular selection is added to the song and the cycle starts again.

Crowdsourcing has already found some success in the music world, though usually with an expert overseeing the final product. In 2013, Swedish DJ Avicii invited people to submit and vote on sounds, with the top choices finding their way into the song X You. American composer Eric Whitacre has curated videos of disparate singers to create a “virtual choir”.

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