Chouchou: blending music and art in SL

Chouchou is a Japanese duo formed in Second Life “to search for new possibilities of music”. In-world they are musician Arabesque Choche and vocalist Juliet Herberle, who have been together since 2007.

Together they have three regions in Second Life, centred on Chouchou itself, where one can visit and hear their music or attend their concerts. The regions contain unique and fascinating builds open to the public, and which are well worth a visit by SL explorers and photographers alike.

Before you pay a visit, however – and I hope you will after reading this article – please make sure you have your viewer set to use the region Windlight defaults and that you have media enabled in order to hear Chouchou’s evocative music.

Chouchou

Chouchou region at ground level is a minimalist build – just a series of sand bars in the water, interspersed with a few seemingly random items: a piano sitting under a lone tree, a cage of some description and a ladder leading upwards to the sky. Feel free to wander and listen to the music; Juliet Herberle has a wonderful voice when singing in both English and Japanese, and it forms a melodic accompaniment to your wanderings – which will no doubt lead you to the strange, heaven-pointing ladder.

Cage, and ladder

The ladder is actually a teleport, and will whisk you  to one of three unique sky venues which are an essential part of any visit to Chouchou. Additionally, the teleport can take you to a store (on another region) where you can obtain an in-world radio which allows you to play Chouchou’s music on your own land as well as Juliet Herberle’s own radio show (presumably in Japanese – I confess to not having tuned-in).

Islamey

Islamey, one of the three skyborne venues, is a Japanese-themed garden and a venue for Chouchou’s monthly concerts. When not being used for these, it is a place of quiet contemplation where you can come when you want to give free passage to thoughts and ideas, or when you simply want to find peace and let Chouchou’s music soothe you gently. It would be nice to have a few more places to sit quietly around the garden, but this doesn’t detract too much from the serenity of the place.

Islamey

The Babel

This is a musical construct comprising boxes, elements and levels, which may at first glance appear completely random – but there is order. Each box is a sound – a note or chord – which is played when touched. Some will play once when touched, others work on a toggle – they will play until touched again.

Boxes themselves are arranged in musical elements, with the lowermost boxes in an element representing bass notes or chords, and the boxes above containing percussion or melody elements. By touching the boxes in an element you can create various harmonies – or, if you opt to stay with the lower boxes in an element, what amounts to a discordant noise.

A musical element (foreground) with others around it at The Babel

Elements come together in the levels of The Babel, with each level perhaps analogous to an album, and the elements the tracks of the album. It’s a fascinating idea and anyone with any interest in music will doubtless finding it enticing and spend time producing harmonies and melodies – I did.

Memento Mori

Literally “Remember your mortality”, this is a magnificent build styled after the great medieval cathedrals – hence, perhaps the name – sitting high in the sky. To stay this is a stunning build would be an understatement; it is magnificent. You arrive on stairs leading up to the cathedral proper – and it is worth not camming ahead to spoil the impact (Windlight allowing), as it is quite breathtaking to arrive at the top of the steps to see this magnificent build before you, arching high overhead, the wide nave drawing ones eye to the distant piano sitting on a raised dais.

Memento Mori

Here you can walk down the nave and past ornate pews awaiting an audience, or climb one of the many and spectacular stairways up into the high reaches of the cathedral and look down on those below. Several Windlight options are in use in the build, so don’t be surprised in the lighting levels charge as you explore.

Memento Mori lends itself to be photographed, whether using the default Windlight settings or those of your own. In fact, it is next to impossible not to take photos, and if I’m totally honest, there are times when the build is slightly spoiled by being too saturated by the local ambient lighting, so some experimentation on your part might be required to achieve the perfect result.

Memento Mori

Taken individually or as a while, Chouchou have provided a series of builds that represent one of the great strengths of Second Life: freedom of expression. Beautifully themed and executed, framed by Chouchou’s own fusion of traditional Japanese music with modern styles, this is a place one should visit – and savour.

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