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75 + 150 points

Portsmouth Sinfonia Revial by Lank, SNORLAX, Loki, anna one, Bjørn Teuleuse, crumbles

June 13th, 2008 5:45 PM / Location: 37.769930,-122.4684

INSTRUCTIONS: Form a band or orchestra for which the only membership requirement is that performers must never have played their chosen instrument before joining the group. Stage a public performance. Audio documentation is required.


We played a concert at the Music Concourse in Golden Gate Park on Sunday, May 11th. The featured performers included:

Loki on clarinet
anna one on flute
Bjorn Teuleuse on recorder
Lank on euphonium
lowteck on vocals
and Ian Tyner, guest musician from Chicago, on cowbell

Each of us played instruments which we had never before played. Some of us, though, being band geeks in high school, had passing familiarity with our instruments of choice. Our performance went fairly well, considering that we had only three hours of rehearsal earlier that day.

We performed the most consistently recognizable songs from our rehearsal: Low Rider, When the Saints go Marching In, and The Pink Panther, after which we marched from the bandstand to the tune of Low Rider.

We even garnered a round of applause from our illustrious six-person audience of random park-goers.

You need to a flashplayer enabled browser to view this YouTube video


Loki says, it's a bit gauche to throw an event for your own task, but this seemed like so much fun I couldn't resist. It proved to be a lot harder than I expected at the beginning, and a lot more successful than I expected at the end.

We originally assembled a list of around ten well known songs, including our final repertoire as well as Bolero, Girl from Ipanema, and the Star Wars theme. After a few attempts at playing each along with a recording, we decided to focus on just our two best songs. After much swapping and experimentation wound up choosing one principle instrument per person. I'm really glad we had two people on instruments tangentially similar to what they had played before. Without Lank's ever strong baseline and AnnaOne's uncanny ability to play that crazy artifact from a forty-fingered civilization, I doubt anything we played would have been recognizable.

It is probably not a coincidence that no real musicians chose to join us. (Where *real musician* refers to someone who regularly plays music that will be heard by other people.) This is definitely a task for band geeks, not band members, pitched at those of us who enjoy playing an instrument and have some experience with it, but who aren't at all upset by being thought of as crap musicians.

anna one says, it's been a long time since I stopped fantasizing about being a rock star. This is a good thing, since my strongest instrument was always the clarinet- not a lot of rock-star-clarinetists out there, and sadly, it's looking like I won't be the one to break that glass ceiling.

Thing is, I still expect to be just as good as I was a-way back in the long long ago, regardless of the fact that I haven't picked up an instrument of any kind in years. This task was totally liberating. Knowing that there were absolutely no expectations of genius, coupled with the fact that I would be specifically selecting an instrument which I had no previous experience playing allowed me to totally abandon my inner-critic.

I discovered quickly that the only sounds I can coax from a trumpet on short notice distinctly resemble flatulence... Instead, I settled on flailing around on the flute. I had a vague memory that flutes had basically the same fingering as a saxophone, so that helped, but I certainly didn't master the proper embouchure to illicit anything akin to normal flute noises. I get that pursing your lips one way as opposed to another is the key to both the flute and the trumpet, but seriously, trumpets only have three buttons? What's up with that?

And, Loki- I can accept that we're not 'real musicians'- I can accept the label of band geek. But nowhere do you, specifically, get off calling yourself a crap musician. You once, as I understand it, played the trumpet. How is it that you were able to pick up the clarinet in three short hours, and with that kind of prowess? That's just crazy. Most people spend the first few weeks making sounds that attract horny peacocks. You're not supposed to be able to make notes, and in all in a row, especially not in time to a recognizable tune! We may have sounded awful, but I think that sprinkling of mystified applause was for you.

Bjorn Teuleuse I can say without a doubt that i contributed about the equivalent of a pre-pubescent teenager's squeaky voice to this fantastic ensemble. For someone who has never so much as touched an instrument, i focused most of my efforts on learning a single portion of each song we played. Except for mary Had a Little Lamb, that might be one of the most intuitive songs to play. Anyhow, this was a hilarious experience from practicing in Lowteck's Lair to offending people's polyphonic palettes at the band shell at the park. I'm willing to do this again and again, hey maybe even try booking a show with Extra Action Marching Band.

Lank says, I felt at first like I might be the ringer in this group, in spite of not having touched a wind instrument in about 12 years. I thought my 10+ years of experience as a young tuba player would allow me to coast through this task. WRONG.

I started our rehearsal with the flute. It might as well have been an empty jug for all of the "music" I could get out of it. And with all those buttons - where do you put your fingers?!

So I tried the euphonium, which was at least from a family with which I was familiar. Getting back on the horse was difficult, especially when that horse was not a horse, but a small burro. I had played tuba, yes, and trombone for a while, and even had a brief affair with a French horn. But euphonium? No. It was so small! And whatever chops I used to have were completely gone. I swear that mouthpiece was not the right mouthpiece for the horn. I had no clue to which key the damn thing was supposed to be tuned.

And Loki totally schooled me. He wrastled that clarinet like a wild black bronco and tamed it, made it into a beast of melody. I just made silly farty sounds.

That being said, we totally ROCKED Mary Had a Little Lamb.

P.S. - Sorry my instrument turned out to be so loud. I cringe when I hear the audio proofs!

pikachu: i totally messed up the vocals, but i guess that was the point. and i made a weird video.

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14 comment(s)

You people are crazy
posted by Tøm on June 13th, 2008 6:07 PM

I love it!

(no subject)
posted by teucer on June 14th, 2008 2:24 AM


This task is a lot of fun, and I'd love to see even more localzeroes doing it.

(no subject)
posted by GYØ Vicki on June 14th, 2008 8:49 AM

And with all those buttons - where do you put your fingers?!

It's just miss one, play one, miss one, play two... then little finger on the Eb key and the three keys up from that!

But then again, I have been playing for over six years... =P

(no subject)
posted by Non Players on June 14th, 2008 8:55 AM

Excellent. Your antics greatly amused us.

We are delighted to appear of the back of your first album.

(no subject) +1
posted by GYØ Ben on June 14th, 2008 10:05 AM

Watmuff Records will be rolling in it with this album.

(no subject)
posted by ENØ Bli33ard on June 14th, 2008 10:16 AM

I LOVE it! Being a musician myself, I really enjoyed this wondrous flurry of musical confusion.

(no subject)
posted by Jellybean of Thark on June 14th, 2008 2:44 PM

Otra! Otra! Otra!

wow guys, that was terrible. Beautiful work.
posted by Bex. on June 14th, 2008 3:25 PM

Bonus! The flatulence value alone on this was enough for five tasks worth!

And nice ending to the video, lowteck.

(no subject)
posted by Adam on June 15th, 2008 5:09 AM

Wow. Absolutly horrendous.

I applaud you with almost as much zeal as the audience.

(no subject)
posted by Blue on June 15th, 2008 12:48 PM

Wow that was amazingly awful and amazingly good!

(no subject)
posted by GYØ Ben on June 15th, 2008 2:29 PM


(no subject) +1
posted by Dela Dejavoo on June 15th, 2008 4:15 PM

watching that video brought me a tremendous amount of joy

(no subject)
posted by meredithian on June 16th, 2008 7:49 AM

also, horny peacocks made me snort a little coffee out of my nose.

(no subject)
posted by Shazbot [TKC] on February 12th, 2010 2:53 AM

Oh god that made me laugh. That was down right amazing. btw Needs moar cowbell.