Vinyl Community Collaborative Composing Project

Vinyl Community Collaborative Composing Project

Hey there lovelies! Here’s the page for us to share findings.


Task 1: Please introduce yourself and what you’d be interested in contributing to the project to the gang.

Task 2: Please share your top 5 tracks which must include orchestral arrangers (soul/jazz/RnB/pop of 60/70s). What do you love about the sound? What do you think are the signature elements of the music you’ve selected that we should take note of for our collaborative piece?

Deadline: 28th September.

Best wishes,


Alfonso, I’m listening to music by Thom Bell on your recommendation, he has an interesting story too! I wonder what he does now? Would love to see these scores, how do I access them, record labels?

Lord ha mercy this as well:
Didn’t I (Blow Your Mind This Time)” – The Delfonics – starts with french horn and glockenspiel! That brass!!

Read this interview about his collaboration with Johnny Mathis on the track ‘Coming Home” and this stood out:

“Musically, Bell fashioned an arrangement that further amplified the visual cues in Creed’s narrative. “I intended to meet the obligations of the lyrics of what he’s saying,” he explains. “It’s got to match. If the arrangement does not fit, I’m not ashamed to throw it in the trash. Just because I wrote it doesn’t mean it has to be in there.” Each musical component on “I’m Coming Home” painted a vivid scene: the interplay between the bass and drums summoned a train’s chugging rhythm on the tracks while the strings evoked rolling landscapes glimpsed from a passenger’s window. The soft horns simulated a distant train whistle heralding Mathis’ arrival.”

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…