Friday, 12 December 2014

'Help me Retrace my Name'

How to write a song with 8 music pupils, 2 songwriters and approximately 4 hours.
Ingredients:
Box of stimuli
Instruments
Large sheets of paper
Marker pens
Some get up and Go!

I know you think I'm joking but I'm actually not.  The session was planned with timings and the stimuli were designed to get people thinking, but the session also had to be organic. It followed the interests of the pupils and how they related to their own family background and history.  We made the mind map below of what themes inspired and how they linked together.  From there we did 'box' diagrams of how we wanted the song to progress - a bit like a storyboard.  It's not a method I've used, but Davey has used it with groups in the past and it helped us to track our direction and where we were up to in the song.

One of the pupils was a regular songwriter and had a chord structure waiting to be used that the group all liked - this was the verse chord structure and went well with the mood that we wanted.  There was somewhat of a pause from the group when it came to beginning the lyrics.  Nobody quite wanted to, or knew how to start us off.  So I proffered the following line - 'high up in the eaves of the house...'  This tied in with our beginning point of a person going through their grandparents loft and finding possessions that gave some insight into their life. 

From here the lyrics began to flow - I guess its similar to authors being given an opening line and then taking the story in any chosen direction.  We only needed to occasionally interject a line or a rhyming word and the song would continue to flow.  Lyrics are what I love - Davey was the music maestro and offered the chords to the chorus and was brilliant at arranging the song ready for performance.  Whilst you would never really break a song up into 'who did what' (that can break a good band!) I've done so below just to show how much of the song did indeed come from the pupils themselves.  The turquoise is theirs and the yellow and pink show where me and David stuck our noses in to keep things flowing. 

I think you'll agree that this was pretty amazing for 10 people working together on a project, most of whom had never written a song before.  I thoroughly enjoyed the day and have started to think about music workshops and community music as a possible way forward for me.  I hope you enjoy the song and a bit of the insight and well done to those amazing pupils!

Retrace my Name
Holly prompts:
David prompts:
Pupils

Verse 1
Bm A G G4
High up in the eaves of the House,
Are the shadows that once were yours,
Memories aching, breaking out,
Resonating through the doors,
An old familiar face, an old familiar place,
Time ticks by you stay the same,

Chorus
Em A Bm G A Bm
Help me retrace my name,
Time ticks by you stay the same,
Help me retrace my name,
Don’t you feel the, don’t you feel the change.

Verse 2
Eyes that are blind, but I’ve seen,
A million faces, a million streets,
Looking through the pane of glass,
Present now becomes the past,
Sympathetic hands, of an old decrepit man,
Time ticks by stuck in the past.

Chorus
Musical Break

Verse 3
Blowing off the dust of the past,
See the face behind the mask,
Start my pulse once more,
I have a purpose like before,
Sparkling silver chain, Ticking tocking frame,
Time ticks by and I remain.

Chorus x2 to fade.

Musical Arrangement


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