Luckily there are so many ways to make music, and we have tried a lot of them at Heart n Soul!
We have tried using digital music technology to support:
- Improvised Performance
- Planned Performance
- Sound Creation
- Sound Capture
Here we just want to say a few things about what we have learned about the different ways to make music.
Creating opportunities for people to make their own music is really important to us. We believe that composing offers a chance to develop confidence and creativity in a safe environment. We are not really into composition processes where an expert takes over and makes everything sound perfect at the end. Composing is about listening to what you are making and deciding if you are happy with it, and what you would like to change. It shouldn’t be a kind of magic where everything works whatever choices you make. The journey of music making is its own learning experience and can be very enjoyable and satisfying.
Here are a couple of tracks that were made in one of our SoundLab composition sessions. We worked with around six artists to find out what music they wanted to make and then offered them four different ways to make that music. Try the composing workshop section for more detail on how those sessions worked.
Improvised Live Performance
Being able to just play and enjoy that moment is a fantastic way to make music. We have tried quite a few different approaches to improvised performance. We have explored solo performances, and working as an improvising band, developing a musical structure which acts as an anchor and allows free play. We have also experimented with a completely open version of improvised performance where any person can just walk up, join the band and get involved - we call that the pop-up band.
Planned Live Performance
What if you already have created a song and now you want to perform that live? We brought together a band of musicians that had already composed songs as part of our Do Your Own Thing programme. They worked on ways to perform those songs live using the various bits of music technology we were testing as part of SoundLab and after four rehearsals played them live at the Squidz club, a club for young people with learning disabilities that takes place at the Albany in Deptford. The clear sense of musical purpose and ensuring that the music making felt personal and fun was key to it’s success. The musicians were amazing and took to the completely new digital music instruments we put in front of them with ease.
It is not all about music. Sound making is a fantastic creative experience in itself. We created a session for our Allsorts programme that gave everyone the opportunity to play with different music and sound making technology to invent their own sound for a new multi-media installation they were creating over 6 weeks. Over the day twenty people tried different pieces of equipment, from iPad apps, to Thereminis, to small modular synthesisers to an instrument created out of fruit! From all of these they chose which one to make their sound with and what was amazing that day was the quality and variety of sounds, but also the stories each person created to go along with their sound. A sound creation workshop can turn out to be a great starting point for creating stories, deep listening and really open exploration not tied to any particular music restrictions.
It is important to capture the sounds and music people create for a number of reasons. The most obvious reason is that if the sound or music is captured it can be developed and built upon. You can save people’s work for another time or you can use it to work collaboratively with other people. Another reason, as strange as it sounds, is a way to help people associate what they are doing as ‘real’. For example, if the main way people listen to music is on CD, giving someone like a CD with their own songs on can make a huge positive impact on the way they view themselves, and the music they have made. Having something finished at the end of a project, like a CD or an album online, is also a great way to create a full-stop before you move on to the next exciting adventure in music-making!