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LA Complaint Choir

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From the Complain Choirs of the World website:

In the Finnish vocabulary there is an expression "Valituskuoro". It means "Complaints Choir" and it is used to describe situations where a lot of people are complaining simultaneously.  Kalleinen and Kochta-Kalleinen thought: "Wouldn´t it be fantastic to take this expression literally and organise a real Complaints Choir!"

As complaining is a universal phenomenon the project could be organised in any city around the world. Kalleinen and Kochta-Kalleinen offered the concept to different events where they were invited as artists – but it was only after Springhill Institute in Birmingham got excited about the idea that the First Complaints Choir became a reality.


Here are the directions from the same site:

STEP 1 – Invite People to Complain
Invite people from your city to join the complaints choir. Distribute flyers, spread posters and write a press release. Everybody can join, no singing skills required! The more diverse the participants the better. From pensioner to teenager, everybody has something to complain about. The people that sign up for the choir send in their complain before the first meeting.
STEP 2 – Find the Right Musician
The musician has a difficult task. He or she has to work very fast; the song has to be composed within a few days and can be changed all the time during the rehearsals. The musician is also the choir conductor and leads the rehearsals. He or she has to be good in working with amateurs and total non-singers to make them enthusiastic and sing out loud with proudness. It does not matter how you sing, if you sing loud – thats the right attitude.
STEP 3 – Group the Complaints
Group all the complaints that were submitted into apropriate categories, for example: complaints about the city, about neighbours, about technology, about life in general, about things that can't be changed etc. and print them on separate papers.
STEP 4 – The First Choir Meeting: Making the Lyrics
Start with a warm-up complaining session. Thats why people are here for. There might come up very good extra material for the song. Introduce the categories you have choosen and read the best complaints from each category to the choir. Ask the people to choose any of the categories they feel most excited about. The choir now divides into small "expert teams" that go through all the complaints within their favourite category and edit them, combine them, reformulate them. The results of each team are glued to cardboard. In the end of the meeting every team reads their suggestions to the other teams.
STEP 5 – Making the Song
The musician and a few volunteers from the choir combine the ideas of the expert teams and finalize the lyrics. The musician fits the song and the lyrics together.

STEP 6 – Rehearsing
Now it's time to start singing. During the rehearsals new ideas pop up that should be instantly integrated into the song. It's good to make everybody loose their shyness and sing out loud. About 3 to 5 rehearsals are sufficient to learn the song, this shouldn't be too hard work! In the end of each rehearsal food and drinks should be served.

STEP 7 – Preparing the Grand Performance
Together with the choir you should decide on the locations of your performances. For some locations you can make an announcement and invite your audience, but it is also fun to surprise people with an spontanous appearance at public places, for example at the railway station. You should also consider the audio recording of the song in a quiet place. Be sure that you have enough video cameras filming your performances for making the video later on.

STEP 8 – Go out and Sing your Complaints - Together
Now the hard work is done, you just can enjoy complaining. If you have many performances on the same day think about food – hungry complainers won't sing well.

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ssbothwell's picture

i heard a recording from a complaint choir on kxlu and then looked it up online. there have definitely been plenty of musicians in and out of public school classes. i think we could make this be fun. lets wait and see if more people are interested after the holidays.

awesome. solomon how'd you hear about this? I have plenty of experience conducting choirs and leading rehearsals, but I'd be hesitant to head up the actual music writing on my own... it seems like in our format, perhaps that would best be accomplished together anyway, no?

I'm interested in this class.


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