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Stay Home Musically: IU student challenges musicians to cover his song



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IU competition student Hippocrates Cheng performs on stage. Hippocrates created the Stay Home Musically project, where he invited musicians to submit videos of themselves covering his song in different languages and using different instruments. Courtesy Photo

A month ago, IU composition student Hippocrates Cheng thought of a way for musicians to feel connected even while in quarantine.

He started by writing a song on the piano called “We will shake each other’s hands again,” which he said is about spreading love through good hygiene. He then created the Stay Home Musically project, where he invited musicians to submit videos of themselves covering the song in different languages and using different instruments. He posts each video onto his Instagram page.

“Spread your love by washing your hands,” the lyrics read. “One day we will be able to put our masks aside and shake each other’s hands again.”

The lyrics are based on a funny play-on-words, Hippocrates said. He said he liked the idea of love spreading in the same way as disease, through hand-to-hand contact.

“This is a message to people to keep good hygiene and be positive,” Hippocrates said. “It encourages people to keep hope.”

After realizing that not everyone would be able to understand the English version of the song, Hippocrates said he decided to translate it into as many languages as possible. He worked with friends and IU language professors to create Spanish, German, Italian, Portuguese, Cantonese, Japanese, Malaysian and several more versions of the song, he said. 

Hippocrates said he made the melody adaptable to each language by adding extra notes to account for extra syllables. Taking extra measures to make the project as accessible as possible was important to him, he said.

“I created an open space for people to either participate or listen,” Hippocrates said. “My aim is to encourage them to explore that creativity.”

The project has received around 15 submissions so far, Hippocrates said.

Alain Barker, director of the IU Department of Music Entrepreneurship and Career Development, mentored him on the promotion of the Stay Home Musically project, Hippocrates said. Barker said he and his colleagues are excited to watch Jacobs musicians like Hippocrates use this time to make amazing projects.

“It’s a different time but also a time of incredible innovation,” Barker said. “He’s created a place for people to share, a sort of gathering spot for people to enjoy and learn from each other.”

Junior Amane Machida, who studies voice performance, submitted a version of the song where she sang the lyrics in Japanese. She was accompanied by other musicians playing the clarinet, harp and violin, she said.

The project came at the perfect time because it helped her feel less overwhelmed by the development of the virus, and she hopes that it can have the same effect on others, she said.

“Music really helps me living in this world right now,” Machida said. “Being part of this project, I hope we can give a little comfort to people.”

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