What is parallel peaks?

Link to participate in the latest album exchange: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/10wW1FwHe-1PzdSH4bwiUgg7IK1Gp1Wt-Nf6wCusb_0Y/edit

Link to sign up as a matching volunteer: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1j9AM9eKHD9__vHYIWGCT4_R3yae5EOXdhVpW750TCEE/edit

Link to sign up as a computer science volunteer: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1ZvC_IOUiemrVkPkr0BprKWUAAnMHdOHN_EWwi5tpN5s/edit

Updates: @parallel_peaks on Twitter and Instagram.

Inquiries: parallelpeakspp@gmail.com.

What is it?

Parallel peaks is the name of an album exchange, taking place through the internet every few months. Anyone from around the world can recommend an album and ask for an album recommendation in return. Then, every entry is matched with another by volunteers. Each person participating in the exchange writes to who they’ve been matched with about their chosen album. They then listen to the album that they’ve been recommended for a week, before getting back to their match with their thoughts.

How did it come about?

My name is Joe Skaria, and I’m a student in the UK. I came up with the first album exchange as something to do during lockdown. It took place in April and had 70 people take part, mostly from Durham University. The response to the second one, which took place in June, was a lot bigger, and over 700 people from around the world participated, which was frankly mind-blowing. If you’d like to read a write-up of what happened “behind the scenes” of the second album exchange, you can find that here. If you’d rather just have a peek at the matches (which are really interesting!!) the complete list can also be found on this blog.

How is it going to keep going? Also why do you care??

A single person listening to and matching hundreds of albums a month is not very sustainable in the long run. Therefore, I’m making an open call for volunteers to help out with the matching process for the next album exchange, the big #3. I’m also looking for volunteers who have knowledge of computer science to help out with making the exchange more efficient. All volunteers would also be able to take part in the exchange.

In order to keep the quality of matches high, I would ideally like to limit the number of albums each volunteer would have to match to no more than ten. I might also decide, at my own discretion, not to put on another exchange at all if it gets too much, or to have a cut-off point around 1000 entries, as ultimately I am still a student and I will probably be super busy come October haha.

However, I’m really passionate about the exchange and I’d love to make it a regular event. When I created this website three years ago, I had the intention of it becoming a music blog. Even though I only ever wrote one post, that post, on why my favourite music means so much to me, expresses the same ideals that this exchange is motivated by:

  • that music’s value is in its personal appeal, and that it gains instead of loses power when we acknowledge that subjectivity
  • that the Internet should be a place where people around the globe can find shared communion in their favourite songs, though they might only meet in YouTube comments sections (or, in the case of this album exchange, in email inboxes)
  • that albums can not only function as pieces of entertainment, but as the sacred texts with which we navigate our own lives, and that paying focused attention to music in a world of fragmented attention spans is always worthwhile
  • that sharing what touches us makes us better, more empathetic people
  • and that people and art are just really cool
  • that music can be a solution to loneliness.

I’d like to think my 16-year old self would like the idea of this album exchange. If other people feel the same, and would like a way to connect with like-minded people, discover new music that’s been selected for humans by humans, and give others the joy of discovering your favourite albums for the first time, please join in by using the links at the top of this page!!

What’s the name about?

The name “parallel peaks” comes from three things: the shape that musical sine waves make; the lyric from Frank Ocean’s “Rushes” that goes “twin peaking, highs and lows”; and the idea that listening to the same album can cause two people to have parallel “peaks” in emotion, even though they may never meet.

Who are you???????

My name is Joe.

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