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Participatory Music Info

Arisia’s Music Track can be thought of as a small music festival embedded in a large science fiction convention; it is mainly comprised of sessions and concerts, and the materials is an eclectic mix of filk, transitional song, and even show tunes!

The sessions are of varying formats (described below). Similar to other Arisia programming sessions, they also have both “moderator” and “panelist” program participants, although their responsibilities diverge somewhat from other programming tracks.

Part of what makes Music Track different (and special) is its extremely participatory nature. Most Music Track sessions are group sings intended to encourage audience participation that is guided by the program participants, but not (we hope) dominated by them. This makes Music Track panelists more like moderators on other programming tracks, and attendees more like panelists.

Virtual Song Sessions at Arisia 2021: Sing Together, Apart.

Most Arisia 2021 sessions are song circles over Zoom. There are also sing-alongs, panels, and workshops. The information here focuses on what attendees need to know to participate in Arisa 2021 virtual events. A more detailed discussion focused on moderators and panelists is available in the document Virtual Song Sessions at Arisia 2021: Sing Together, Apart.

Song Circles

Within the Music track, song circles are, by far, the most common session format; the Arisia 2021 virtual convention is no exception.

The general idea of a song circle is that anyone who wishes to lead a song gets to do so (time permitting). Some attendees may get to lead more than one song, depending on the number of people attending.

Those leading songs in the song circle typically do so live, with or without instruments. Sharing pre-recorded media is discouraged during a song circle, and virtual song circles will not be set up for it.

Leading a Song, Virtually

Even though participants can’t truly sing “together” (that is, they won’t hear the voices of others around them), we’re still encouraging attendees to select songs on which everyone joins in, whether for the entire song or just a chorus. Because lag is an issue with virtual tools like Zoom, all participants except for the song leader will be muted.

Song leaders are also welcome -- and even encouraged -- to put links to lyrics for the songs they are singing or the text lyrics for the chorus in the Zoom chat. We do request you don’t put the lyrics for the full song into Zoom chat, as that chat is used for some more technical aspects of panel moderation and troubleshooting, and it can mean critical messages aren’t seen.

Who Sings Next? Setting an Order

To simplify who sings next in a virtual song circle, the order is determined by order of entry.

  1. When a new attendee enters the room, the moderator or one of the panel participants privately messages the attendee, asking if they want to lead a song.
  2. If the attendee intends to lead a song, the moderator or panelist will change their Zoom user name, prepending it with the next number. If they do not intend to sing, their name is prepended with 99 (which sorts them to the bottom of the participant list).

    At any time, an attendee who has said they do not wish to lead can message the moderator and say they do wish to lead, and their number will be changed to the next available number.

  3. Song leaders are called upon in order; they are then unmuted to lead a song or they opt out of leading a song if they have changed their mind.

Example: Who Sings Next?

When Leia enters the Zoom room, there are already 11 participants in the song circle. When asked, Leia indicates she wants to lead a song, and the moderator changes her screen name from “Leia (she/her)” to “12-Leia”.

When Luke enters the Zoom room, there are 12 participants. When asked, he says he does not wish to lead a song. His name is changed from “Luke” to “99-Luke”.

When “11-Chewbacca” is done with their song, the moderator mutes them and asks Leia if she wants to lead. “12-Leia” is unmuted and shares her song.


In a sing-along, the emphasis is on participation by the entire audience for the entirety of the song, not just for the chorus. With a virtual sing-along, the attendees get to sing along with the music, but will be muted, so no one will hear them sing.

Sing-alongs sometimes use pre-recorded audio (like a cast recording) and sometimes have the panelists and moderator leading the sing-along with their own voices and an instrument (like a guitar). A list of available songs and lyrics are usually provided to attendees, so that attendees can request -- and sing along with -- the set of songs the panelists either have available as recorded media or know how to sing and play.

Audience Participation: Requesting Songs

Audience members are invited to request songs during the sing-along session. Unless otherwise stated, these songs need to be selected off the list of songs provided by the panelists and moderator.

To request a song, attendees can type the song title into Zoom chat at any time. The moderator and panelists are responsible for selecting which requests will be honored and the order in which they will be sung.

As with other panels, all discussion beyond song requests and technical issues should be shared in Discord.

Music Panel

This format runs like panels in other tracks, with a moderator leading a discussion among the panelists and taking questions from the attendees.

Last modified
01/11/2021 - 19:00