Exquisite Corpse Fragment

An exquisite corpse is a work that is created by each participant adding to the work in succession, according to some predetermined rule or process. In this particular case, the last measure of music written by one composer has been passed along to the next composer in line who reacts to the music in their own unique way. 30 Philadelphia area composers are participating in this project to celebrate Network for New Music’s 30th anniversary—I'm honored to be one of them.

The technique was invented by Surrealists and is similar to an old parlour game called Consequences in which players write in turn on a sheet of paper, fold it to conceal part of the writing, and then pass it to the next player for a further contribution. The name “Exquisite Corpse” comes from a line of Surrealist poetry created using the technique: “The exquisite corpse will drink the young wine.” The game was also adapted to drawing, where one participant would draw the head of a figure, the next the torso, etc. The only hard and fast rule of Exquisite Corpse is that each participant is unaware of what the others have written, thus producing a result that is surprising, imaginative, sometimes absurd, and often beautiful.




30 seconds




Network for New Music
In honor of their 30th Anniversary


October 26, 2014
Queen Street Settlement Music School, Philadelphia, PA
Edward Schultz (fl.), Priscilla Lee (vlc.), Susan Nowicki (pno.)