Complaints Choirs

Via Brain Pickings, an article about Complaints Choirs around the world. I'd never heard of these before, but the earliest iteration seems to have been in 2005. From the Complaints Choirs Worldwide site:

It all got started during a winter day walk of Tellervo Kalleinen and Oliver Kochta-Kalleinen in Helsinki. Perhaps it was due to the coldness of the day that they ended up discussing the possibility of transforming the huge energy people put into complaining into something else. Perhaps not directly into heat – but into something powerful anyway.

In the Finnish vocabulary there is an expression "Valituskuoro". It means "Complaints Choir" and it is used to describe situations where a lot of people are complaining simultaneously. Kalleinen and Kochta-Kalleinen thought: "Wouldn´t it be fantastic to take this expression literally and organise a real Complaints Choir!"

The Helsinki Complaints Choir:

From the Complaints Choirs of the World FAQ:


We just realized that people complain a lot, no matter what their life circumstances are. Whether they live under socialism or capitalism, whether they are rich or poor, young or old. We wanted to tap into this unending source of energy, we wanted to transform this complaints energy into something else, something surprising. The idea itself stems from the Finish word "Valituskuoro" - which means Complaints Choir. We wanted to see what happens if one takes this term literally. We tested the project in Birmingham (UK) in 2005. The song "I want my Money back" created during a complaints workshop at Springhill Institute became an instant hit on the net.


Complaints Choirs are not intended as protest choirs or an agit-prop revival. The political complaint is only representing a small margin of the wonderful world of complaints. Why should such important issues as broken underpants, boring dreams or spying neighbors be excluded? On the other hand the private, the personal, can be very political at the same time. If somebody complaints "I have too much time!" it can be seen just as a personal tragedy, but it also points to a major defect of the capitalistic society, which sidelines people because they are of no use in the production cycle.


All citizens of a particular city are invited to complain about anything they want and to join the choir. At the first meeting the freshly formed choir decides democratically on the content of the song. A local musician composes a tune for the text which is then rehearsed in 4 or 5 meetings. In the end the choir performs their collective grumbles at different locations in the city.

The Complaints Choir of Copenhagen:

You can see lots more complaints choirs' performances here. It doesn't appear that Minneapolis has one (yet).

1 comment:

Shahid said...

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Me check it out thanks for video..