Music, I believe holds a unique place in our lives, hearts and minds. Music and other art forms, reflects all the myriad facets of what it is to be human. It is joy, sadness, cheekiness, fun, sexy, serious, reflective, romantic, silly, poetic, spiritual. It reflects time, place, culture, identity, the human journey and out struggles and strife as we weave our way, somewhat haphazardly through life. To hold all those elements is a precious tool and as a singer song writer it feels like an immense privilege to be able to explore any of those facets. Music can also have a profound effect on thought, culture and the collective consciousness…..so I feel it is something to work with, with care and consideration.
Many songs around the world focus on our deep and continual wish to be loved and love and the joys and sorrows that that can bring. I have a place for this too in some of my songs but I also am drawn to a wide range of topics: war and it’s stupidity and what we could do to prevent it, nature and its beauty, the human spirit seeking something more than itself, our human positive qualities of kindness, love, gratitude that set us apart from animals and how, if we evolve them , they create beauty , peace and harmony in the world. I believe that songs, alongside other art forms, can move the human spirit to lift itself out of the mud and mundanity of ordinary tasks and help us get the bigger picture and reflect on why we are here, and how our actions and ways of being effect each other, the world ,and how we could individually , maybe, even just do something, however small, with more beauty, compassion, consciousness and wisdom.
That is quite a hefty brief I have given myself…..but that is what I am drawn to. How to create a little more sunshine, space, light and beauty in this world which races loudly and greedily and haphazardly on a path of greed, consumerism and technology. I am not saying that I achieve my brief- that is for each heart and mind to do but that is what I wish to do and use words, melody, instrumentation and the choice of instrumentation to try and create a palette of space, reflection, thoughtfulness, positivity whilst sometimes touching on the shadow side of our humanity.
I also want to create a sense of globality and timelessness because these things are relevant through space and time and the song has a realness about it if that sense can be achieved. That is why I also choose to marry different instruments from time and place together- providing they fit the sound colour palette of the song – to achieve that feeling of connecting to humanity across the world and through the corridors of time. It also pleases my musical curiosity and pioneering spirit to keep learning and trying new combinations and ideas. I can not, practically, always actually put my instrument combinations together……but it would be great to, if I ever could! And, use electronic sound in the same way- with the guidance of someone who has more knowledge of this than me!
To off set all this seriousness I find that my work with children allows me to express the silliness and spontaneity that is also music. (I also do serious things with them too). Working with children allows improvisation to go any which way and the improvised songs that can come out of those sessions can be about anything from shovels to frogs and peek boo games! We- the children and I – have also devised body shapes to learn major and minor scales and this proves an incredibly accurate body form of learning to getting pitch correct and remembering the differences between harmonic and melodic minor scales! Great fun too……who could think learning about scales could create such enthusiasm, giggles and group fun! I also choose to explore some of the lighter aspects of humanity too in my songs, but I always approach it in an individual way- as I am sure each songwriter does.
Above all, my songs are written from the heart and then that is channelled into any of the topics I have mentioned above. I write from the place as an empath who feels all this journeying from the heart. This leads me on to the topic of music and the humanitarian agenda.
We live in a world that has a soaring population, climate change, incredible gaps between rich and poor- even in the post modern industrial countries- and mass migration caused by war and the issues above. Challenging stuff. Humans can be incredibly myopic and only see what matters to them and what is immediately in front of them. But, we have the capacity to go beyond the micro and look at the macro and see and feel the bigger picture. If we connect with our human heart- then some of those problems are lessened considerably. They do not go away but we are more likely then to work together to find resolutions that balance the bigger picture. Maybe this idealistic and naive of me ( as I tend towards those qualities!) but I do believe that would help.
Music can portray these struggles that humanity faces and it can also engage the heart- in a way that a political manifesto can’t- so music could be used as a powerful tool to connect, feel and marry the micro and the macro together. I think songwriters down the ages have felt this and explored this and it is great to see the work of @WorldCitizens Artists who are consciously harnessing this. They run competitions for artists and songwriters on various humanitarian topics- encouraging creativity to take on a humanitarian agenda. The proceeds of the competitions are then directly channeled to charitable partners working at grass roots level to help people and the world. My song ” When a Child Stands Alone” was placed 6th out of ten finalists. It was inspired by the plight of the Syrian refugee children- at the time of writing, 27 000 children were in Europe, abandoned and alone and out of that 27 000, 10 000 had simply vanished without trace. HORRIBLE. It’s on Soundcloud, if any one is interested.
There are other organisations I am sure doing great work in this area but it is heartening to see the arts being used in such a conscious and positive way. Perhaps the move to use arts to promote humanitarian agendas will grow and perhaps it won’t; but there is certainly a place and a need for this.
Next time I look at the challenges facing emerging artists in todays climate.