It’s said that music can cross borders.
A Massachusetts native and Emerson student put his own spin on the saying when he recorded a creative tribute to his home state, posted to YouTube on Monday.
Noah Wisch, who was born and raised in Stow, is currently a senior at Emerson College studying film production. He has a YouTube channel where he mostly posts ukulele covers.
This past summer, he decided to take on a different type of project.
“A couple years ago, my girlfriend and I had this idea to go to a bunch of the towns in Mass. that have unique names and make a video at the town signs acting out the names, like wearing orange in Orange and eating a sandwich in Sandwich,” Wisch told Boston.com. “That never happened, but earlier this year it came back to me, and I thought about what I could do to go to all the towns.”
He ended up taking the whole summer to record one note of a song’s melody in every one of the state’s 351 towns. Wisch had everything meticulously planned from the beginning, first writing his original song, named “Sidewalks,” and then making a spreadsheet detailing which note to play in each town.
“[My girlfriend and I] would try to do somewhere between 20 or 30 towns a day. We would stay in different places around the state with people that we knew to use those as base camps,” he said.
Though the towns are ordered alphabetically in the video, the note and town pairings were mostly coincidental.
“The only town I wrote to give it something special was Stow, my hometown, which is the climactic note at the end,” Wisch said.
Wisch and his girlfriend, Emmalie Keenan, encountered some challenges as they filmed on roadsides with cars whipping by and extra noise from the environment. They were also approached plenty of times along the way.
“There were a number of places — I wouldn’t say there was a crowd — but people would stop and watch,” he said. “It was a little awkward because they would expect a performance, but I would just play one note a few times.”
Part of the motivation to do this project stemmed from his desire to learn more about his home state. Wisch and his girlfriend had taken a road trip across the U.S. a few years ago, but he had never visited many places around Massachusetts.
“I was interested in seeing where other people lived and what other towns were like,” he said.
Wisch particularly enjoyed visiting the small community of Gosnold, which is made up of the Elizabeth Islands.
“[Gosnold] was this tiny community that I never heard about,” he said.
The town has the smallest population in Massachusetts, with 20 year-round residents, according to an NBC Boston profile earlier this year.
“One thing that’s really cool about [the state] is the range of types of areas there are, in terms of the really big cities and tiny little towns that have like 50 people living in them,” Wisch said. “Really there’s somewhere for anyone to feel like they’re at home.”