I Tried Frankie Cosmos’ INDUCED ALBUM, and Here’s What I Learned
On Frankie Cosmos’ “Outside with the Cuties,” Greta Kline sings, “I haven’t finished this song yet / Will you help me fix it?” It is precisely this sentiment that fuels INDUCED ALBUM, an interactive, collaborative project in which you are the one to help her finish the songs. An exercise in “letting go,” Kline encourages both musicians and non-musicians alike to pick up an instrument (or a computer keyboard) to have a go at it. The result? Infinite versions of each song that will potentially be compiled by Kline on the band’s website.
Whether you’re looking for a fresh creative outlet, a summer boredom-killer, or if you just want bragging rights that you’ve technically collabed with Frankie Cosmos, you’re in luck. Greta Kline has something special prepared just for you. This project drew me in instantly because I am a fan of A) writing music, B) puzzles and secret codes, and C) Frankie Cosmos. I wrote all of the songs on electric guitar except for the last track. Here, I’ve briefly recapped my experience.
This is where I started. Out of all the songs, Track One provides the most lyrical structure. You’re only asked to write a four line chorus that fits within the themes given to you in the verses. The tricky part is that you comprise the melody by humming a random tune for 30 seconds and using the 10th note as the start of your verse. I realized that randomness is hard for humans to achieve—in the same way we cannot truly surprise ourselves, coming up with a tune that was both spontaneous and made melodic sense took some effort. Full disclosure: I went with my third or fourth “random” melody to compose my song. The good news is, once you’ve figured out that part, the song comes together fairly easily.
Make sure you’re sitting in one place when writing the lyrics to this one. The instructions are mainly to provide lyrical inspiration, which helps to alleviate some of that writer’s block that inevitably hits when writing a song. As someone who struggles to translate life experience into lyrics, this writing prompt was fun and honestly really helpful. I wrote mine on a bench at a small, local zoo. It made me look at my surroundings poetically rather than literally. I was a more active observer, trying to find patterns and meaning within the interaction of capuchin monkeys. It’s fun.
Track three is the most straightforward out of all the tracks. Basically, Kline has written half the chords and half the lyrics. This was my favorite song to write because it was so natural; resolving the chords was simple enough, and the words seemed to fall into place. There’s something really neat about combining your words with someone else’s— it’s a form of connection and relation, a common ground. This is the song I could imagine most as a duet.
For any Mad-Libs fans, this is the track that will be most fun for you. You get to choose verbs and adjectives to insert into the song, giving you to the choice to be practical, whimsical, or a little bit of both. I found myself on the more literal path—I wonder what that says about me as a person? This was my chance to put “dab” and “vape” into a song and yet I settled on “walk” and “see.” RE: Don’t edit yourself.
This one feels a bit like a cipher. As Kline sings on “Fool:” “Your name is a triangle / your heart is a square.” In this case, your notes are smiley faces, stars, and hearts. It seems like a pretty unconventional tool to write music but at this point, it’s entirely welcome. This was the hardest track for me to complete because of all the moving parts; a lot of specific instructions are given, but making them all work together seamlessly was tricky. It felt rewarding to complete it, and the end result was actually one of my favorites.
This song is for those who are good with numbers. Lyrics are optional, so it’s really about finding that core melody and running with it. You can add as little or as much to it as you like. It required more focus than other tracks, with less opportunities to let the imagination run wild. But it felt nice just to be able to fiddle around with different notes and create a song in the purest form. Not influenced by pre-existing lyrics or chord structure—just a standalone tune to get stuck in your head on your morning walk to the farmer’s market. I wrote this one on piano, because I’m a sucker for piano outros.
Of course, the best way to fully experience this project is to partake in it yourself, even if just for one song. I would share what I wrote here, but as Kline details in her instructions, it’s best to finish yours first so as not to “limit your vision.” And she’s damn right. One of the reasons I loved this project was that it allowed for organic song-crafting on my own terms. Kline gives you the recipe and a few key ingredients, but encourages you to bake the cake yourself. Because of that, no two versions of these songs will sound alike. So what are you waiting for? Get writing, record yourself, and hashtag #aninducedalbum. And when that time comes, well, I’ll show you mine if you show me yours.
Check out people’s interpretations on the album here!