Time to Dance!

It is now the beginning of February, and this week we were lucky to be joined by dance teacher and choreographer Elizabeth Foster. She took the group through some warm-up activities then looked at how dance can symbolise different feelings and how the body can interpret these. We have looked at the term ‘separation’ in previous sessions so we worked in pairs to represent this feeling through dance. In contrast, we symbolised loving feelings and togetherness through dance also. Liz took us through different styles of music and how we can represent both of these feelings through completely different musical styles. The activities helped us to understand how the dance group in Wutterpal might interpret our musical composition in different ways.

One member of the group commented that the dance was produced from her body without much thought about what she was doing; the moves came from the soul as a response to how the music made her feel.

In the second half of the session, we looked at the words ‘ella’ and ‘gloria’ from the previous session and, in groups, we experimented with the phrasing and melody of these. By the end of the session, we all came together and recorded the different parts moving around each other. Richard added some sections on keyboard and we were very lucky to have one member of the group bring in her bassoon. She listened and responded to the other musical sections in the group, and the result was incredible. We recorded this so that we can use the melodic and harmonic ideas in our composition.

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Week Three: Soundscapes and Xylophones

This week we picked up from where we left off the week before, with the soundscape of our favourite words from the themes/ movements. Listening to this soundscape was odd at first, but the more we listened to it, the more we could pick out the different sections and highlight our favourite bits. Once we’d picked out the key elements of the soundscape, we experimented with the shape of the words and thought about how these words could translate into music. For instance, the group felt that the word ‘ella’ could be quite chordal and arching, reaching up and down again. The music to represent this could be wistful but also mournful. In a different way, the word ‘shot’ (said ‘shhhhhhhhot’), could be a more urgent and threatening sound, pushing forwards with a crescendo.

The second half of the session was spent experimenting with different melodies on the xylophones. One person in the group started off with an ostinato pattern, and then a second person joined in, and then a third person. Gradually, each member of the group had a go and the overall sound took shape. We used all the enharmonic (black) notes of the scale to create some really nice harmonies. Some members of the group commented that the sound produced was very calming and even meditative.

We’ll pick up on these melodies and textures next week as they could easily be translated onto the Camerata musicians’ instruments.

Second day of Connections

My name is Jasmine and I work for Camerata in the Community. I attended the second session last week and thought it was fantastic!

From the first session, it was clear that there are some enthusiastic singers in the group so our composer, Richard, thought it would be good fun to explore different musical techniques through singing. We began with a couple of warm up songs and then moved on to an old folk song called ‘Old Abram Brown’. Once we had learnt it, we explored different ways in which the melody could be changed by singing it in a round and creating chant-like drones underneath, and splitting the melody into sections. We hope to use a lot of these different techniques in our composition.

Most of the rest of the session was spent thinking about our connections and words that we associate with connections. Each person in the group wrote down a few words that they personally associated with connections, for example ‘friends’, ‘emailing’ and ‘language’. These words formed our floor map, which we then arranged into larger groups of words. Each group of words will represent a movement of our new music piece. In smaller groups, we talked about different themes within these groups, and how we would want these to sound musically. Some fantastic ideas came out of the group and we even talked about what instruments we would like to make these sounds and how the group in Germany might interpret this through dance.

During the last part of the session, we chose three favourite words from the themes and experimented with the sound of these, finding the onomatopoeic qualities of the words. The group performances at the end of the session were really impressive and we would like to use these ideas in our composition.

Looking forward to the next session!

First day of our new project

My name is Lucy Geddes and I coordinate the Camerata in the Community projects at Manchester Camerata.

Yesterday, Thursday 14th January 2016, was the first day of our new project, ‘Connections’ at the Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester. This project came about after we met Barbara Cleff and the Wuppertal Tanztheater at the Long Live Arts conference in Germany. Both organisations thought it would be a great idea to create new music together for the Tanztheater older persons group to use for a new dance, which would then be performed at the European Arts Conference in Brussels in April 2016.

Thanks to the Long Live Arts Network and Baring Foundation, this idea has become a reality and we decided to form a new group of older musicians, artists, actors and arts enthusiasts in Manchester to help us compose the piece. Manchester Camerata musicians are going to record this piece at Blueprint studios in March 2016, for the Tanztheater to use.

Yesterday we met all of the Manchester group members for the first time, and everyone was quite unsure as to what to expect from the new ‘composition’ group.  Camerata principal flautist, Amina Cunningham, and composer Richard Taylor, who will be leading the group, were quick to reassure everyone that this is a fun opportunity to be creative together and develop ‘connections’ with another art form.

The session was spent learning about each other and listening to different types of music to find out which styles everyone is interested in. There were quite mixed opinions so we are keen to speak to the Wuppertal group to decide which direction to go in!

Next week we’ll be deciding what instrumentation to have in the piece and looking at its overall structure. We have decided to try singing and creating graphic scores in order to represent the melodies that the instruments might play, and some of the group are going to bring their instruments in too!