I have been working on ‘A Perfect World’ as composer since September 2018. I proposed the idea to Bill and Annie that I use local children’s voices from the South West of England to add to the music score of a utopian vision. They both said that sounds like a good idea and so today, I came into rehearsals for the first time, with collected audio put together with some adventurous, cinematic drum beats and melodies, to see how it feels with the actors performing it. I felt nervous. What if I had gotten the wrong end of the stick? What if the style of performance was not related to the music at all.
I pushed play on my computer tentatively whilst the actors performed a montage of climbing over rocks, crossing ravines and abseiling down a cliff face. I am happy to say it worked a treat and the actors were really appreciative of what they heard.
I enclose here – tiny sample of audio –an eleven year old boy collared me to record. He belted out this amazing vocal and I am definitely going to use it. Thanks mate.
I love my job.
Recently he set off on a mission to create ‘a virtual choir & orchestra’ by travelling around the South West collecting a soundscape of over a 100 voices – here is his diary:
Monday 25th March
What an adventure! It’s such a lovely thing to say and do. What is an adventure? I would say it is something you’ve planned a little maybe but don’t quite know what the outcome will be. You have to live by your wits and improvise and be creative. You will have experiences you didn’t plan and make friends who were once strangers. Adventure is nerves mixed with the unknown, hope tinged with panic.
This week, I am about to go on a musical adventure across Cornwall and the South West of England. I will be hosting six workshops, sourcing audio from participants to create a virtual choir and orchestra. Using my loop station and Mac computer, I am going out into the forest to collect berries of sound. I will then use these ingredients to make something delicious. I hope. It is really exciting to collect the sounds before the show has started rehearsals. This show will be an adventure story. I am on my own adventure story now. Let’s start!
Tuesday 26th April
Martin and I drove to Sterts near Liskeard. and that was adventure like. Driving across epic terrain with the sun to our left. We got to the workshop. Our first one.
I was excited and felt confident in the soundscape collecting elements of the show. With the virtual choir side, recording different parts from different groups around the South West, I was slightly apprehensive as it was new ground for me. The group though of 14-16 year olds were so lovely and up for it. They were the best group to have for this first outing of this idea. They have given me confidence to carry on into the week. We drove back to Falmouth in the dark along the most circuitous, creepiest, mysterious route I have ever been on. Sleep tight.
Wednesday 27th April
“A journey into sound”
Four workshops today. Epic! The first one was in Penzance and was fantastic. I’ve got some great sounds from Penwith Academy and I can’t wait to put them into the show soundtrack. We stopped for lunch at Sainsbury’s cafe which used to be the Penzance helipad. I could sense the spirit of adventure from all the helicopters taking off over the years. And then my lunch arrived.
The last three workshops were in Falmouth with Keri’s drama group. Three age groups ranging from five to sixty five and it was brilliant. The groups really got behind the song and hopefully it will stick in the audiences heads long after they have watched it.
One child said this project was “a journey into sound”. Thanks mate.
Thursday 28th March
Water – Check
Vegan Sausage Roll – Check
Kendal Mint Cake – Check
So, Martin and I set off from Falmouth to beyond Cornwall for the furthest reaches of our journey: Gillingham in Dorset.
I live in Margate, which is near the Gillingham in Kent and only today did I find out there was a correct way to say both. I am not going to tell you, if you don’t know. You must find that yourself. The hard way. Through going there.
We came. We saw. We recorded.
Thirty students, all (or more than half) wanting to know more about sound and the different ways it can be manipulated and created. It was a two hour epic workshop and for the last half hour, I just put on a projector and got the students to make sounds to the videos I’d found on YouTube. My favourite was the inside of a stomach. Thirty children all going UUUUUURRRRRRGGGGGGGGHHHHHH!!! was great fun.
Friday 29th March
Yesterday, I think I peaked adventure wise by having a vegan sausage roll. And today was such an easy group at Roseland Academy. So talented and up for trying different games and ideas. I like to have a little structure in a workshop but then go off piste if the students are up for it. Martin and I were given a fantastic treat right at the beginning of the workshop as the school samba band played for us. We got a brilliant recording and there might now need to be a samba section in the show. Look out for it come the Summer.
In fact, look out for all of the sounds come the Summer. Know that 99% of them came from children and adults all across the South West. Being able to run this project has been so exciting for my development too. For the record, vegan sausage rolls are lovely. Just go for it.