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, 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 a close friend of SA, Alex Mincek, as the inaugural composer of 2019’s exquisite corpse. Alex gave us a tiny and polished musical gem scored for violin, cello, and harp. His score is reprinted on the following pages. This is where his control of the piece will end, as the next composer takes up the information he has so thoughtfully put forth and forces it through the sieve of their own musical language for a version to be printed in SA22.
Many thanks to Alex for his time and attention to this project ! If you happen to have a violin, cello, and harp handy, we suggest you get together in your own parlor and play through what is a perfectly formed musical statement, just before beginning your own round of exquisite corpse.