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Symphony of Construction
Most of us have played "telephone": that elementary school game where you're supposed to correctly transmit a goofy phrase of some sort down a line of line of giggling third-grader peers who think the goal of the game is to transmit the phrase incorrectly. I always loved the game telephone, so I devised a way to kick it up a notch and blend it with two of my favorite things: cinematic symphonic music and Lego. Back at Brickworld in June, I gathered together Max Pointner, Ian Spacek, Sean and Steph Mayo, Simon Liu, Tyler Clites, and Christopher Baldacci to embark on this adventure. The idea is a seven turn inter-media game of telephone where a Lego creation would inspire a piece of music, which in turn would inspire a Lego creation, which would then inspire another piece of music, and so on. The project lasted four months, and you can settle in to view the finished progression, complete with artist commentary, below.
About this creation


Without further ado, take a look! By clicking on the Lego creations, you will be taken to the builds on Flickr.

1. "Floodwaters" by Paul Vermeesch

Floodwaters

"In this beginning build, I wanted to leave a bit of ambiguity in the scene for Max to interpret. The diorama leaves several questions unanswered: Was the event anticipated? What time period is this? Where is this happening? Where are the signs of life? Max Pointner, in his brilliant piece "Skeleton," continues this sense of ambiguity."

 

2. "Skeleton" by Max Pointner



Listen to the piece here.

"When I saw Paul's build "Floodwaters," I saw immediately the theme of transformation: change from dilapidated to pure. I tried to emulate this in Skeleton by introducing the first motif with solo viola. It is far from pleasant sounding, as the progression sinks lower and lower, through tritones and accidentals. After this introduction, the full string section opens to harmonize with bells and celesta playing the second "purifying" theme.

When the first motif is re-introduced, I tried to make it as piercing and frenetic as possible with tremolo woodwinds, bells, bongos and col legno strings. At the hight of this madness, a wave can be heard "washing away" the chaos. I have wanted to experiment with sound effects in music for some time now, and this was the perfect opportunity. The purifying theme is heard over the lapping floodwaters and slowly, it subdues the churning waves to nothing and peters out itself when it's cleansing powers are exhausted."

 

3. "Am I Alive?" by Sean and Steph Mayo

Am I Alive?

"We felt a necromantic vibe in Max's music. But instead of simply "the dead rising" he also included a xylophone, carnival-esque bit mixed with some natural thunderstorm tracks. So we wanted to try to portray a living yet lonely doll in a room filled with abandoned and forgotten toys. It has been many years since any love was present, and dust has settled in an dull layer over everything. She wonders if her thoughts and feelings are any different than others while she presses her tiny hands against the window pane between her and the pouring rain."
 


4. "When the Lights Turn Off" by Christopher Baldacci



Listen to Part 1 here.
Listen to Part 2 here.

"I had three thoughts when I first saw the Mayo's fantastic build. First was a feeling of ominous mystery, a feeling of enchantment, and finally a feeling of life. Three themes developed: the mystery theme is played in the opening bars by the piano, while violins and contrabasses play sul tasto (over the fingerboard). The theme is repeated again half way through, (at the beginning of the second part) as the room changes. The theme of enchantment is repeated often, and is woven through the whole piece even as the mood and key changes. It is first heard when there is 1:39 left in this video. Finally the theme of the toy coming to life is heard at the end (in the second video), where the piano drums a monotonous rhythm to simulate the toy's first steps.

In the first half of the song (part 1 here on Flickr), the song describes the room musically, first with the familiar melody from "Hedwig's Theme" by John Williams to represent the Harry Potter poster marking the wall. It seemed fitting since the same magical mystery accompanies the Mayo's build. Then a xylophone beats out notes, a snare drum denotes the small toy soldier, and a full set of metallic timbres sing "Round and Round the Mulberry Bush" in a minor key to signify the broken Jack-in-the-Box.

Throughout it all I tried to keep the sense of tension by keeping the strings playing high, sustained chords, and using the "pinched souding" double reed family of woodwinds - Bassoon, Contrabassoon, Cor Anglais, and the unique and tensely sweet "Oboe d'Amore." I also tried to feature the Piano, Celesta, Harp, Xylophone, Triangle, and Flute to convey that 'toy like' sound. Especially in the final seconds, glissandos and sharp differences in range lead up to a unfulfilled climax...always suggesting...what really happened?"

 

5. "Protego Maxima" by Simon Liu

Protego Maxima

 

6. "Ophidian Fiend" by Ian Spacek



Listen to the piece here.

"I wanted my music to tell a story, thus I attempted to use orchestration to interpret the different elements of Simon’s build. The opening brass is intended to represent the fortress. I tried to give the brass a majestic yet slightly sorrowful tone to portray the uncertain fate of the castle. As the central character of the MOC is a snake, my score utilizes a brass instrument called a serpent (predecessor to the trombone). I also included a hint of glass harmonica to represent the glass-like cylinder surrounding the fortress. The squeaky/scratchy sound in the second half of the piece is a musical technique called col legno. Col legno, meaning with wood, instructs the string players to use the wooden side of their bows. I image the col legno as serpent scales scrapping against the glass-like wall. Once the brass at the beginning is over, the entire composition is an ominous build-up to nothingness! The music doesn’t have resolve, because Simon’s build represents an unpredictable moment. Will the serpent destroy the castle or just sit there stupidly smiling? The creation doesn’t provide an answer so neither does my composition."

 

7. "Wings of Hope by Tyler Clites

Wings of Hope - 01

"This piece was entirely inspired from Ian's piece, Orphidian Fiend. Ian's musical piece sounded very mysterious and enigmatic. It made me think of some sort of puzzle reminiscent of Indiana Jones or a video game. I imagine this statue could be found deep in the heart of an ancient temple where you are tasked with finding an artifact to activate the statue's wings."



Comments

 I like it 
  October 28, 2013
This idea was amazing, and also very inspiring. Fantastic builds and music pieces, everyone! The themes that flowed through each contribution were so poignant and powerful.
 I like it 
  October 27, 2013
Absolutely fantastic.
 I like it 
  October 25, 2013
That is awesome!
 I like it 
  October 25, 2013
Awesome collab and concept, top-notch builders and composers. Enjoyed listening to/viewing all the parts. :D
 I like it 
  October 21, 2013
Totally agree with Leda. Superb idea and all of the creations are brilliantly well made. --Blast--
 I like it 
  October 20, 2013
Wow, what a wonderful idea. Remarkable collection. I love it when a group of people come together to pull off amazing and isnpiring art.
 I like it 
  October 20, 2013
This was a great idea! And no better builders could be found to pull it off. Great work on everything.
 I like it 
  October 20, 2013
amazing!:D
 I like it 
  October 19, 2013
Amazing!!! I love music, and Legos, and so this is really very enjoyable for me. Is there still more coming, though, or is it already over?
 I like it 
  October 19, 2013
Incredible work everyone! I really hope you do more, because I really enjoyed it! Fantastic work once again!
 I like it 
  October 19, 2013
Awesome idea fantastic creations to music.
 I like it 
  October 19, 2013
Incredible! Do you have the music anywhere else, as my computer won't let me update the java, and I need it to use FlickR. :(. Great MOCs, though! Any idea how the dust effect was created on Sean and Steph's build?
 I like it 
  October 19, 2013
Fabulous production to all of you! Awesome work!
 I made it 
  October 19, 2013
Quoting Ian Spacek Lovely post Paul, though might I suggest that you embed the Flickr videos of the music? I think it would be a little more viewer friendly. Anyhow, it was a pleasure being a part of this! Thanks for including me.
Quoting Thatch Gears I'd love to see more of this... even continue it!
Well, the poster says Round 1. You might be in luck. :)
MOCpages has a bone to pick with the Flickr embed code. It calls it an "applet" and spits it out. Hence, no videos.
 I like it 
  October 19, 2013
The sound on my cranky Acer Notebook isn't that great. So I appreciated the visuals. Lego building elevated to the level of art.
 I like it 
  October 19, 2013
Absolutely fantastic work Paul, Ian, Max, Sean, Steph, Chris, Tyler, and Simon! I haven't played my instrument in a long time, but this fantastic reimagining of a classic game has inspired me to look for the opportunity again. Congratulations on a job very well done!
 I like it 
  October 19, 2013
Lovely post Paul, though might I suggest that you embed the Flickr videos of the music? I think it would be a little more viewer friendly. Anyhow, it was a pleasure being a part of this! Thanks for including me.
Quoting Thatch Gears I'd love to see more of this... even continue it!
Well, the poster says Round 1. You might be in luck. :)
 I like it 
  October 19, 2013
Fantastic job guys! Such fantastic creations and songs, I love it! Well done!
 I like it 
  October 19, 2013
Marvelous Idea! I'd love to see more of this... even continue it!
  October 19, 2013
Whaou! It's beautiful!
 I like it 
  October 19, 2013
What a great idea! These are some great pieces, both in Legos and in music! Neat symbol as well.
 I like it 
  October 19, 2013
Lovely builds! You really recruited talent for this project.
 I like it 
  October 19, 2013
Amazing! Great job!
 I like it 
  October 19, 2013
I remember playing telephone as a youngster and to combine it with music and legos is sheer brilliance as are all of the music an creations. I love the way the builds are all different yet share the same kind of idea and feel throughout! Would love to see another round!
 I like it 
  October 19, 2013
It was beautiful to watch!
 
By Paul Vermeesch
Add to my favorite builders

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Added October 19, 2013
 


LEGO models my own creation MOCpages toys shop Symphony of ConstructionShows


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