Originally based on the parlor game Consequences, in which texts were assembled by guests without seeing (due to creative folding) what was previously written, exquisite corpse became an important source of collaboration and creative experimentation for surrealist writers and artists such as André Breton, Joan Miró, Tristan Tzara, and Marcel Duchamp. These artists used a form of the game as a way of assembling visual and textual ideas into a form that they could not have foreseen and, therefore, had very little control over. Some of the results were astounding, others less so. Every result, however, was something new.
Sound American’s version of exquisite corpse adds a few twists in keeping with our milieu and mission. Each year, three composers will collaborate on a short work specifically for SA, to be published in that year’s journals and recorded at the end of the year for streaming online. One composer will go first, as Alex Mincek did in SA21, passing on a set of information to the next who, in turn, will add, subtract, and change that information to create a new version of the piece before passing it on to the third, who will create a “final” take on the composition. The readers of Sound American will get to watch the whole process as it occurs as each version will be reproduced in subsequent issues.
We’re very pleased to have the guest editor for SA22, Shawn Jaeger, as the second composer of 2019’s exquisite corpse. He used Alex’s original 4-note chord sequences strictly to make lament melodies in viola and cello, in a quasi-Hyla style, with a new sequence of accompanying 4-note chords in the harp expanding from a closed cluster to more open (a whole tone sonority Alex used for punctuation).
As a tribute to this issue’s subject, Shawn also worked in a few quotes from the opening of Lee Hyla’s 4th quartet, which reprise in varied form the strange moment of sustained/repeated E from Alex’s piece, now on microtonal F, echoing his 7th partial blur from the beginning.
Many thanks to Shawn for taking the time, on top of his guest editor duties, to continue the Exquisite Corpse !