basically, Ink Brethren is a collaborative songwriting game. the main things are it's fun, you get to know people better, you create something that never existed before, and then share it with people. it is also a time and place where you can create stuff with out being critical of your creativity.
-recording device (tape recorder or laptop, etc-what ever is easy and picks up sound okay)
-pen and paper
-friends and new friends (4 or more is probably best)
-musical instruments (kazoos, slide whistles, guitar, kids keyboards, circuit bent toys, banjos to name a few -percussion is great but make sure it doesn't cancel out everything else... when you record it's good to do a test recording to see if you can hear everyone and if it's to loud)
the process of ink brethren can vary greatly but we've figured out a way that works pretty well:
first get your materials together.
sit in a circle and pick up the pen and paper... some one can be the scribe while everyone else yells out potential song titles. write everything down and it's best to go with ideas off the top of your head. so once you have 20-40 titles choose someone to go first. the first person will scan the list of titles and pick one and write a # 1 by it. they are known as the "director". the director can choose the style of the song, like opera or punk rock, or david bowie, and also give some direction about who sings first or who plays what or the emotion of the song.
with that in mind, someone pushes the "record" button and people with instruments start playing them (whether they know how to or not, a guitar can always become a drum, etc...). the first person to sing starts singing and later others join in till the song feels like it's kind of done. for the next song, the next person in the circle gets to be director and they pick a new title. after everyone has done a song, you rewind the tape and listen to them and laugh together. after doing 12 songs in about 45 mins you don't remember a lot of what happened, and that's why recording the songs is very important... (we take it an extra step and put the songs online at soundclick.com so we can share them with the world)
here's some general advice: when we played ink brethren every 3 weeks for over a year, there was about 8-15 of us and most of us didn't know how to play the instruments. this isn't a problem in ink brethren. one of the most important rules of ink brethren is that it is a game, and there are no wrong answers, everything anyone adds to the song becomes a part of the song. it is all important and valid and awesome. switch instruments around between songs or during songs, make sure the one person who knows how to play guitar doesn't have it the whole time.
it may be hard to feel comfortable singing in front of your friends and people you may not have met before. it took me several months to become more comfortable. with improv you sing off the top of your head, so you don't always know what the end of the sentance will be like when you start it. improv is amazing though for that reason, at any time someone could add something that changes the direction of the song completely. the weirdness of the songs are what makes them awesome because there's no way you could have planned it out and gotten something as fun.
if someone is singing a lyric it works well to try to finish their sentance or think of what could come next. if people sing over each other, it's not an accident and usually ends up really awesome and funny. taking turns is great, also echoing people's words. sometimes there are empty spaces and people are sort of trying to figure out what to do but just run with it, it doesn't have to be lyrics or anything specific, you can completely change the direction of the song. and what ends up making a chorus is usually when everyone sings together, so look for those parts and if there's a line that stands out, then feel free to keep singing it for a while or bring it back in later. i mean, each group will find their own way and each song will be different and each time you meet will be different. and that's why it's great!
ink brethren has allowed me to be able to come up with words and melodies off the top of my head and i am a better songwriter for it. i found that my friends and i would be walking down the sidewalk making up new songs, not caring that anyone could hear us.
i hope this has made some sense, and i invite any other ink brethrens and sisterens to add to this explanation, and i also welcome any questions...
“There is plenty of courage among us for the abstract but not for the concrete.” - Helen Keller
“Love, like truth and beauty, is concrete. Love is not fundamentally a sweet feeling; not, at heart, a matter of sentiment, attachment, or being "drawn toward." Love is active, effective, a matter of making reciprocal and mutually beneficial relation with one's friends and enemies. Love creates righteousness, or justice, here on earth. To make love is to make justice. As advocates and activists for justice know, loving involves struggle, resistance, risk.” - Carter Heyward