Hopeful Harmonies

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If you're in the mood for musical harmonies, there's no place better than YouTube to find them. A few days ago I searched YouTube for the word “duet” and then refined the search by clicking on the drop-down menu Uploaded and selecting Today. A few seconds later this jewel of a video was playing on my screen.

The guitar playing in this video is so clean--so crisp. The vocal harmonies in this video are chilling in beauty. And then I learned how this video was made. Paul Larson lives in Michigan, Kappa Danielson in Maryland. Paul was on the lookout for a female vocalist on YouTube to create duets with. Their early experiment with a duet of the song "How's the World Treating You" was very well received.

Emboldened, these musical explorers on the YouTube frontier sought to go further. Paul videotaped himself singing his part and used a Web file transfer service to send his video to Kappa. Kappa downloaded the video and sang her part while listening to Paul's video using the earbud from her daughter's iPod. Kappa recorded her audio through a condenser mic and a USB mixer feeding straight into the Magix Movie Pro video editing software.

Paul and Kappa have never met each other in person. They happen to live in the same country, but they could just as well be living in different countries. When people from different countries start singing in harmony with each other--and make a regular practice of doing so--then the world will have formed a single singing circle.

And now Kappa and Paul are emboldened still further. They may try composing a new song together. If they do, anyone who subscribes to their videos on YouTube will find out about it plenty fast.

Paul Larson has been compared to John Denver. Yes, his singing is in that genre, but Paul brings his own unique musical gifts that in several ways exceed the gifts of John Denver. Kappa's guitar talent is as strong as her singing talent, and her singing talent – well, you just can't get much better than that.

Without spending a single cent, you can support Kappa and Paul's musical journey. Subscribe to them on YouTube. You don't need to be a video producer to create a YouTube account. Anyone can create a YouTube account. If one of their videos resonates with you, rate the video with a mouse click and then click on Favorites to save it to your favorites. Copy and paste the Web addresses of your favorite videos to share with your Facebook friends, your Twitter followers, your neighbors and confidants. We members of the audience have responsibilities to performers in this digital age. If we take our responsibilities seriously, we embolden musical talent. You've seen what happens when musical talent is emboldened, right?

Here's to an emboldened future. Raise a glass to it, won't you? And if you happen to be a fan of folk music in general, sign up for the SingOut YahooGroups e-mail list (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/singout). This list is moderated by the same folks who produce the excellent SingOut magazine (http://www.singout.org). I find this list to be not that busy and to have a high signal-to-noise ratio. It's worth my time to be on that list. You can also follow the list via its RSS feed in your RSS reader, if that works better for you.

It may sound like a cliché to say so, but when you work on creating musical harmonies, you're creating a more harmonious world. And that's what each of us has been called to do, whether we use music or other tools to do so.

Phil Shapiro

(The blogger works as the public geek at the Takoma Park Maryland Library and is an adjunct professor of education at American University. Aside from playing guitar, he loves playing his Grand Strumstick. He can be reached at philshapiroblogger@gmail.com and at http://www.twitter.com/philshapiro)

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This story, "Hopeful Harmonies" was originally published by PCWorld.

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