Vinyl Community Collaborative Composing Project: Task 2


Thanks everyone for your wonderful contributions to the first task!

Second task: what do you think are the components of the sound world for RnB/Pop/Soul60s/70s ? What instruments and musical stamps do we need to include so that a piece feels like it sends a nod to that world?

If you want to send in sketches or develop material I’ll send you a link to dropox where you can hear/read ideas and develop in anyway you wish.

Deadline: 26th October 2018.

Any questions drop me an email.

All best wishes,


ron transcribed

“I’m Ronnie. I run the record shop and I’ve run records shops since 1990 and I‘ve had my own shop since 1993. So I’ve been doing it some of my adult life.

How do I find this, this, the most amazing happen chance and for 2 weeks after finding it, I couldn’t speak, id meet friends and they’ say, I hear you’ve got a new shop and I’d be like…

There were so many amazing things happened to me in those 2 weeks, that I couldn’t begin to catalogue them but it was literally I wasn’t thinking of coming back into retail cos I’d been away for 12 years and I’d been selling records at festivals, and it was quite good for me but I didn’t thinkI’d get back into retail because of all of the pitfalls, the rates, it just goes on and on and on and looking after rotas, getting stock, and do on and do forth, selling at festival was much more easy going, you’ve got all winter to work on it and in the summer you’d obviously sell and have fun in the sunshine. But um it was just a happening, it was on the Net for only 3 hours and I just happened to be chatting with jenny my partner, my wife er that you know, she said, what do you wanna do?

And I said er, I dunno, she goes, ‘well what about another shop?’ I said, ‘well, I said the best place, the most best place with a nice vibe was around the new cross area’ which I used to drive through cos I live outside London my son lives in north london, so I drive through and I drive through new cross, Deptford and think that’s how london used to be and I though yeah, Deptford, you know, somewhere like that.

And literally within minutes of going on the net I came across this property and when the lady, my landlady Ayo, she’s a fantastic Nigerian woman, she showed me round the shop, I said ‘what’s down there?’ she goes ‘this is the basement’, I was like ‘oh the basement! that’s good for a record shop’ and I came downstairs and found this amazing space which has been host to um clubs and what have you through time and the Deptford society came in one time and said that this was formerly the socialist bookshop in Deptford in the 1930s, so I think this, its got its own vibe and I think it draws people, likeminded people to it.

It was formerly a delicatessen and formerly a café, I think both cafes, I think because its off the beaten track found it hard to keep, keep up the trade but we had the record space we were formerly, we are a record shop and this café came secondary it was only when I found it had been a café and there was, I thought, so many people came, have used it, formerly, it was a good move to keep it as a café as well, umm it hasn’t been good returning money but um, ive had my time at making money, these times its sort of, do ,er, more altruistic business you know er formerly it was in the west end and it was about the business and this is more about community, and it gives opportunities to up and coming bands which I think opportunities are few and we need to create more, more spaces an we need to create a vibe where people don’t do, aren’t doing business solely for profit you know, they’re doing it to turnover, and just to keep, keep communicating ideas, the great thing about cafes is ideas can be shared and people can be who they want to be away from their flat, their parents, their next door neighbours, that’s the thing that festivals show, when you go to a festival, no one knows who you are, you can be who you like and you can tell people about your idea and your interests without people going, ah that’s the dude that wears the baseball cap that listen to drum n bass, you know they just think of you like an individuals and cafes create that space.

Well, we searched some maps for a background for a graphic and there’s a map the other side of the road, and again from the Deptford historical society – this side wasn’t in existence but the other side was, that pre-fire, that whole side, that was Georgian shops or whatever they call that era of shops and the last 2 buildings have got some architectural pieces of interest about them, umm architects often, not often sometimes you see some students with their tutor pointing out some points of interest on that, I think it’s something to do with pre and post fire regulations. The buildings were joined and that’s why the fire took off because they were sharing certain architectural features, got 1640 on the other side of the street, on this side I don’t know, of course I know the history of Deptford it was formerly said to be the oxford circus of its days, the shops were really grand, yeah theres a musical hall halfway up the street, ‘darge??’ a former musical hall. The shops go back enormously, er they were big shops they were major, this was a major spot.

Yeah, I’ve always been drawn to music, ive always been drawn to collecting records and when I first came to London in the mid 70s, late, yeah mid 70s, 74, 75, ummm, I lived, we lived in some or different places, er and did art projects and I was in an arts band for a bit around the era of punk. I was living in west London in those days down in kings road way and er just picked up on that energy and it was really more arts based person, but I never got to ummm explore that that much because this a- that and whenever acid house music came along id been such a record collector and lover of music that I just fell into playing records and from that fell into working in a record shop n from that fell into having a record shop and having 2 record shops and then ummmm about 2000 I closed down the shops, downloading, just hit downloading hit, it made retail unstable, you don’t get a lot of help you know, businesses about, about climbing and getting more profit, which it actually isn’t er, retail’s a service a commodity you can’t increase the price of you know…

The decorations due to jenny, she did the colours she’s fung shui, consultant, and comes in and goes right, that’s got to move, that’s in the wrong placem she keeps us in line on that level.

Going back to the giving musicians a break, during the punk era and post punk era, the squats sort of enabled a lot of people to play for free, you just had to get yourself there, and that’s the ethos, should be promoted more, and I think it is. Recently the amount of small venues that have emerged and people playing to 12 people which I think is great, it could be your pals, or it could be strangers, it creates an instant atmosphere being intimate.

Fondest memories so far is, to come I hope, but I think finding it was, still have to pinch myself, those weeks when it happened and when all the things there the fact that we’re in a pedestrianised area, people can sit outside, it’s quiet.

When I came here, it was outside, cycle racks outside, the people who were here before had really put a lot of love in it, it was almost ready to go, you can feel it when you walked into the building, most of it was building, most of it was building the counter.

Yeah, Ted Middleton playing, Bert was great here some bands are blowing this space away, we had to put the breaks on having notorious band because it’s a residential street, you know, we wanna keep the numbers down, we’d come here a Saturday, turned round the corner and it was just PACKED with people, so we had to put the breaks on and slow it down, and then have only up and coming or established bands – who’ve been established for a long time and erm, I used to say only bands that area coming up or getting used to performing live or they have been together for many years and just their pals come, which is a group of 20 people, those formula work here. We’d still have raucous up and coming bands so on, the electronic music is always great…

Having a café you see that Deptford has got masses of layers, the 60s people who came here, the university in the 60s are musician who decamped here. Cos of the cheap housing, the you have the 70s and the punks they came here for similar reasons and then you have the 80s people and all these people coexist but they don’t know each other and often they don’t know each other and many of ‘em come in here and that’s good, it’s a bit like sea captain’s rest as well. There are many sorts of musicians or ex musicians or musicians or former musicians who’ve lapsed who come in and it’s a bit like they, they come, and just have a cup of tea, like I said the captain’s rest or something like that, because of the nautical, social as we got older.

All sorts of people come in, transgender, people with… all sorts of people.”

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Now to filter out the right sections for lyrical content.

Royal Marines ‘beat Retreat’ (1950)

So I’ve been thinking about my Deptford vinyl piece… last project for SaM composer residency too. Owner Ronnie Marrow said the river was a huge part of London’s developments, arguing that if the River wasn’t there Deptford wouldn’t be the place it is today, so ideas about docks, river, sea shanties, multi culturalism are spinning around my head, as well as how this connects with the notion of hyperlocality and its journalistic roots.

Journalist > observer > reporter > shares news> . Observer > Stories > Sharing back to an audience. Vocalist shares stories via lyrical content from owner of the record store. Who accompanies him?

How about a little military band? A micro one as the shop is tiny? A modern day, experimental military marine band? What does that consist of?

Perhaps the band could travel en route to the space? Who knows? Do the musicians have to be from the area for the music to qualify as hyperlocal?

vinyl deptford

I’m collaborating with Heart n Soul artist Robyn Steward to create a hyperlocal piece of music inspired by this little gem/oasis in the heart of Deptford.

The sea makes up a large part of Deptford’s history, informs owner of Vinyl, Ronnie Morrow.

So I’m currently listening and researching music associated with the Royal Navy docks… and what sort of instruments we can incorporate into a piece which connects to Deptford’s rich nautical past.

So far:


And this was useful….

The Bands of the Royal Marines are distinctive in always being led on parade by their immaculate Corps of Drums, as well as doubling in an orchestral role. Music has long played a part in daily life aboard ship, with the singing of sea shanties and the ship’s fiddler relieving the tedium of a long voyage. As long ago as the days of Drake and Hawkins, the drummer’s rhythm would advise the changing watches or be used to “beat to action”. Ships’ bands came to develop from this. 

International Military Music Society.


I’m going to use my website more to serve as a brain dump for my PhD musings on ‘composing in a hyperlocal environment’.

I’ve entered my second year of research and I’m currently thinking about the first year of fieldwork that has taken place. My project for-Wards is the main body of work, where 10 Brummie composers work in 10 Birmingham constituencies to co-create new music inspired by the locality. You can learn more here.

I will examine 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.

I will examine the following sub-questions:

– How does a composer develop co-compositional methods via an examination and inclusion of socially engaged art methodologies to create hyperlocal art music?
– How does a composer of hyperlocal art music formulate suitable evaluation criteria to assess the efficacy of works of art created in this context?

Major keys

Damn, i struggle real hard to write major key, happy sounding pieces! composing with my year 5 collaborators has been tricky, because their ideas are so cute, and what I like to compose is darker, i like the tension of major/minor, suspending, and then finally, maybe a  resolution…

Anyway, after a uphill struggle, i’ve been able to connect to this place: one of childlike innocence. it took time.

next up is brandwood ward. i have far more creative licence to compose about nature and use stories to guide me.

cracking on

March time. Spring is here!

I have literally 2 months to compose 4 pieces of music that make up the Selly Oak District Commission.

I reckon I’ll be able to do it! I’m clearer about two pieces I need to write.
I have nearly completed the Bournville ward piece, I had lots of amazing instruction from my collaborators over at P-Cafe (crunch writer’s group).

My supervisor Michael Wolters gave me great advice, which is to not get caught up in thinking too hard about the end result but enjoying the process. What I love about collaborating with others is that it’s difficult to get dead-locked as you keep returning to one another and help each other out of an impasse.

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…