research – hang on in there

Whilst at uni I remember hearing a wonderful string sample on Ugly duckling’s ‘I did it Like this’ track. I’ve been dusting off some vinyl and was transported down memory lane…

It’s taken from Mike James Kirland’s super funky, socially charged LP and track of the same name ‘Hang On In There’.

This track seems so relevant to the BS happening at the moment. Unharnessed greed, a lack of respect for the dignity of life, the environment is for some seen as separate and something that can be conquered, rather than looked after.

There is hope and I am confident things will get better. I believe we are going through natural life cycles, ebbs and flows of negative and positive forces, so all I can do is monitor my behaviour and work hard to look at the causes I am making in my life. I will strive to support as many people to be happy… (Get’s off soap box).

Anyway, I digress…
Over time, I began to realise that the reason for my love of Hip Hop was mostly due to the RnB samples, which led me to having a deeper appreciation for the classic soul and RnB of my parents’ record collection. And then began a love affair with collecting funk 45s and Djing.

Mama's B-Boy Jam

 

Anyway, I’m starting to think long and hard about my research as I’m 6 months into a research degree.

2 and a half years to go!

It’s a bit weird.
No modules, no schedule, no tutors,  rather lots of trust for me to get the job done.

I have my supervisors and peers but i’m left to my own devices. It’s a real treat to be granted this time to compose so intensively and regularly. The mind is a tricky, slippery thing and it’s taken me 6 months to be able to feel the confidence to compose again.

I realised I hadn’t written anything since October. Imposter syndrome; who am I to compose? What have I got to say? Who am I as a composer? Where do I belong?
Yeah, a compositional/existential crisis; a mini, short lived one.

Break, (no I don’t smoke), but love the piano chromatics, dizzying:

Anyway, my for-Wards commission deadline is fast approaching, I found myself awake in the middle of the night, and then an epiphany: this wasn’t a joke, I needed to start composing and not get so caught up in all the admin surrounding the citywide project I’m running. Time to come away from the social media, stop replying to emails that aren’t urgent, sit in front of a piano and buss out some manuscript paper.

Oh my Buddha it was tough to start with! The procrastination was strong but I’m now starting to find my stride with it all…. slowly.

I’ve decided that my social media consumption is to be reduced but I can blog if it’s about research, as all these words will come in useful for my end report, yup, all 12 thousand words of them!

So why start this post with Hip Hop? The connection between Hip Hop, RnB and research is that once my for-Wards commission is done I need a new project, one that really excites me (again). My research examines how a composer can create music that is ‘hyperlocal’ – a journalistic term relating to work that is specific to the matters concerning a small community or geographical area, through practice-led research.

For my masters I explored elements of Afrofuturism in a piece called RPM. I workshopped some of it with Birmingham Contemporary Music Group. I started with a quote from JDilla’s production, Reunion by Slum Village.

And had a live turntablist weaving in and out found sounds from my record collection. Like Erykah Badu, Sun Ra and The BBC Radiophonic Workshop:

What certainly didn’t work was trying to get classical players trying to groove in this kind of way, in my view, my translation of hip hop programmed beats failed to translate well to a contemporary classical arena. However, I think for my next project I wish to focus in on Hip Hop/RnB in some way, find a hyperlocal environment and collaborators to co-create music that draws from my love of 60s RnB/Soul/Hip Hop. I’ll keep thinking and exploring how this can manifest…



Alice Coltrane

“At the heart of her music and life was a deep spirituality and a generosity of spirit, rather than an overbearing ego.”

Listen in to a great portrait of her life on BBC radio 3. 

 

 



Carillon

As part of the for-Wards Selly Oak district commission I am collaborating with creative writers in Bournville ward to compose a short piece for carillon.

I’ve never written music for bells/organ before so a new and exciting challenge (well crotales once). We had a fab workshop with Trevor Workman end of Jan.Here he is performing “Adagio in G minor” by Tomaso Albinoni. The percussive sounds were unexpected but the group and I quite like them!



Timeless

Digging out some vinyl I haven’t listened to in a good while.



Stir – Me – Nots

Crank it up!

 



Lili Boulanger

Have had a weird week. Feel drained, so was a pleasure to study a
Lili Boulanger score, Vieille Prière Bouddhique which sets a buddhist prayer. Just what I needed. Very calming! I like the dove tailing and how the choir blends well with the orchestra. Hypnotic!

 

Nam Myo Ho Ren Ge Kyo!



Feeney Fellowship

IMG_3990 IMG_3989

Since receiving the Feeney Fellowship late last year, I have made contact with some very exciting and experienced sound artists who work with field recordings. I’d describe my compositional practice as being primarily concerned with instrumental music, but I do dabble with music production and samples. I wish to learn more about this realm to support for-Wards project, which invites communities to capture field recordings in their neighbourhoods.

I used field recordings with communities for the first time in a THSH music education project called Pipe Up in 2008 based around the organ in Coventry cathedral. We used freeware and captured found sounds from the organ as a soundtrack for animations young people created.

Working with field recordings is a growing interest, and it is a real honour to have this opportunity to learn from such inspirational figures. At the beginning of January 2016, I met up with sound artist Duncan Chapman. We spent a rather relaxed morning exploring and recording sounds round Northfield district, starting out in Longbridge, and then used the afternoon to talk and listen to the various ways found sounds have been used by composers.

It was great to learn and see how Duncan engaged with the environment. We both admitted how as field recordists there is an inner conflict about how you capture certain sounds, for example, the sound of tiles being removed from a semi-detached house in Longbridge coupled with bird song sounded ace, but we both admitted to wanting the sound of the man doing the tiling work’s radio to stop playing. We spoke about the awareness of our very human tendency, to want to control our sonic environment and filter out sounds we didn’t find interesting

This week I meet with Janek Schaefer. More news to follow! Here’s his latest radio interview.



Skip to ‘Carry Me’

Skip to 1.50. On repeat. “Mama can you carry me!”



Public art as social engagement | Ed Woodham



Bored in the USA

Great lyrics. I don’t normally notice them in songs, but I couldn’t not connect with them. Really striking!



Mission//Misplaced

Mission to the Land of Misplaced Words: “Shebeen Sounds”
Shebeen Sounds research period will collect, via audio and photographs, folk songs, music and the associated memories that accompany them. The audio will form the basis of a soundscape that is played throughout the public residency and the images will form part of the visual projections culminating in May 2016.

For Birmingham Heritage Week, as a Data Thief, I curated the launch of Shebeen Sounds, an experimental research project exploring the memories which reside in self-proclaimed cultural spaces, or “shebeens”, around Birmingham. We are going to work with Afro-Caribbean, Polish, Bangladeshi and Congolese communities to research and learn about their shebeen spaces. In May next year we will turn our findings into a piece of immersive sound and art.

At the launch event,  Shebeen Kings and Queens Caroline, Ken and Ian, told our guests about the project over Congolese tea, curry goat and rice and Polish cake.  I created pink noise for the memory collection room which was interspersed with cosmic themed DJ sets played by Gary and I. The aim was to immerse our guests into a chilled vibe to ease their memories being collected by Mission//Misplaced captain Gaylene Gould.

Here are some pictures from our launch event at Vivid Projects, taken by Marcin Szymczak.



This is How a Garden Grows

Yes ESKA!
Nice chords, on repeat.