From September 2021 I’ll be joining around 30 other artists, poets, filmmakers and musicians from around the world to take part in ‘Revolve:R edition four’, a year long collaborative project.
Revolve:R began in 2011 when Sam Treadaway and Ricarda Vidal initiated a multidisciplinary and international collaboration. The project explores a transmission of ideas through collaborative forms of communication, from the physical and tactile to the digital and intangible.
The complete works of each Revolve:R edition are published as a limited-edition bookwork, most recently Revolve:R, edition three (Arrow Bookworks & Intellect Books Bristol, UK / Chicago, USA, 2018).
I’m excited to be writing a song for this years Fifty Bees: The Interconnectedness of all things.
Each year, textile artist Lydia Needle creates fifty small individual bee art pieces. She then invites another fifty artists, makers, writers, musicians to produce one new companion work in response to the ecology of one of those bees.
The FIFTY BEES presentation creates a unique narrative between works and artists and makes explicit how pollinators are completely interlinked with our ecosystem.
‘We are Beautiful’ is a song written to celebrate older women. I wanted to write a song which was about an older woman valuing and celebrating herself just as she is, not trying to be more youthful, more optimised, more successful or striving to fulfill the expectations of society.
The harmonies are written and sung by Maggie Braley. This is another home-made production during lockdown without the use of studio facilities.
This song was written in response to the threat to the veteran oaks and thousands of other trees by the expansion of the A38 in Derby. The list of trees at the end includes all the different kinds of tree on the tree survey which are threatened by the road works in Markeaton Park, Kingsway, Little Eaton and Mackworth Park. In the survey it says 326 trees but it’s unknown how many are actually threatened as groups of young trees are counted as a single tree in the survey. The veteran oak called ‘middle oak’ on Markeaton park is around 300 years old and was objectified in the survey as T358.
Due to the pandemic the song was recorded at home and passed between us to edit without the use of studio technology. Lyrics, vocals and guitar by Sarah Hinds, harmonies written and sung by Maggie Braley and percussion written and played by Jo May. Sound mix by Dave Sturt. This is work in progress and other musicians will join us along the way.
This is the updated version on Soundcloud with low whistle by Brian Boothby
On Feb 2nd, all round the world, people sang to and with the water for 24hrs.
At 8pm in the evening in the dark and mist I sang these words, from the song ‘Water long may you thrive’ written by Holly Ebony, to the Coppice brook on Bullsmoor as she burst her banks.
As I remember, you remember, we remember. Ever echoing, ripples widening, Looping back and flowing on, Water, long may you flow. Water, long may we hear the stories that you hold. Water, long may you teem with life. Water, long may you thrive, Long may you thrive.
I wrote this song in response to an increasing feeling of sadness or loss which arose in me when communicating with others over video-calling during the pandemic, for this reason the song became a lament. The sadness I felt seemed to be more than ‘Zoom fatigue’ and I felt that is was about the incremental loss of connection, and something of our humanity, which is taking place through losing opportunities to meet in person. The loss not only of the presence of the other but of the process of going on a journey to meet another, the small daily rituals such as making tea for someone or the shared experience of a place or space. It concerns me that we are gradually learning to override what our bodies tell us about the need to be in each other’s presence. I put the song to a video which hardly changes to try in some way to communicate the feeling of disconnect.
An extract from the song was displayed on a magnet in the ‘Being Human’ Festival 2020′ . An exhibition of magnets displaying art relating to Covid 19 which was placed outside the Queen Mary University of London Mile End Campus on Nov 14th 2020. www.beinghumanfestival.org
The song was also played on Derby Sound Community Radio.
On Feb 2nd I invited a group of people to gather in Derbyshire to sing to the Ash trees as part of the International 24hr Perpetual Choir for the Ash tree. I sang a new song written for the occasion ‘Fraxinus Excelsior’
Music Declares Emergency is a group of artists, music industry professionals and organisations that stand together to declare a climate and ecological emergency and call for an immediate governmental response to protect all life on Earth. We believe in the power of music to promote the cultural change needed to create a better future.
We call on governments and media institutions to tell the truth about the climate and ecological emergency.
We call on governments to act now to reverse biodiversity loss and reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by no later than 2030.
We recognise that the emergency has arisen from global injustices and will work towards systemic change to protect life on Earth.
We acknowledge the environmental impact of music industry practices and commit to taking urgent action.
Jointly support one another, sharing expertise as a collective industry and community.
Speak up and out about the climate and ecological emergency.
Work towards making our businesses ecologically sustainable and regenerative.
As part of the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site Great Places Scheme I wrote three new songs in response to the Strutt’s North Mill Museum for the Belper Arts Festival afternoon showcase at Strutt House.
The song ‘1873’ is about the decline of the nail industry in Belper and how the Nailers were affected by the Industrial revolution. I wrote this after looking at the ‘Laws and Regulations passed at a general meeting of the Horse Nail Makers, held at Belper, May 17th 1873’
A Bold Young Nailer
‘A Bold Young Nailer’ is an unaccompanied folk song based on the traditional song ‘Died for Love’. I wrote this in response to seeing few stories about women’s experiences and I wanted a woman’s voice in my set. The lyrics are a story based on how I imagined a woman may have been impacted by the decline of the home-based ‘nailing trade. Some of the ideas were based on newspaper stories found in the North Mill Museum.
‘Jedediah Strutt’ is a song about Jedediah Strutt. He has a reputation locally of being a kind a philanthropic man who contributed to many of the local public buildings. I went to see his portrait, by Arkwright, in the Derby museum and he looked much more troubled and thoughtful than the other wealthy men of the time. I wanted to write a song which looked at both his kindness and the darker side of making money out of child labour. My original inspiration for the song was a list of ‘forfeits’ given to workers at Strutt’s Mill Belper between 1805 and 1813. The ‘bad behaviour’ struck me as things which children would do who were being asked to undertake monotonous jobs for long hours. I wrote the second half of the song based on skipping songs. The first half of the song is more solemn and formal and based on music by Matteo Carcassi, and contrasts with the street tune of the skipping song. I also added a spoken part in the middle which is part of the speech which Jedediah Strutt wrote for his own funeral. I used the repetition of ‘Jedediah Strutt’ at the start of the song to relate to the repetition of the mill machinery and also to sound slightly sinister.
Other artists who performed on the day were Umbilica and Grawl!x, Seiko Kinoshita, Toni Buckby, Spindrift, Debjani Chatterjee and Charu Asthana.
This event was funded by National Lottery Heritage Fund & Arts Council England.
‘Milford Monthly Music‘ had it’s final session on Dec 20th 2019. It was an evening of unplugged folk, acoustic or classical music in the lovely acoustics of Holy Trinity Church in Milford. Thanks to all the musicians who donated their time for free and all the people who came along to support them, made donations and brought along songs and poetry.
Performers in 2019 were:
March-Sarah Hinds April-Sue MacFarlane May-Kevin Hewick June-Space McQuirk September-SHEARglass October-Classical Jazz November-Leo Swarvett and Maggie Braley December- Grawl!x!