The final episodes of Carmina’s Cantata have now been published, marking the end of this project, though hopefully not the end of my journey with music, although the end of the funding. I still would love to work more on my poem-songs, collaborate with musicians and producers, and keep up with the ukulele. Meanwhile, please share this time capsule of poetry and music in 2021-2022 far and wide.
The penultimate episode features an interview with my maternal nan and grandad (I actually remember my grandad actually taught me the meaning of the word ‘penultimate’. The one with my nan came about naturally at first, then I asked if we could try to recapture what she had been talking about, with her dad having been a theatre musician. The part with my grandad was actually in response to my mum, who studied theatre at university.
The bonus episode is just me talking about music and emotions – another aspect of what drove me to pick this topic. So, if you fancy listening to me chatting about music and emotions, butchering names and technical terms from the research I’ve done, and summarising my findings and best bits, then set aside 50 minutes and enjoy!
The final poet interview is out in the world, and it ends on a bang with Brigitte Aphrodite! As a lover of a good chinwag, this is also the longest episode in the series. Still to come in a special episode where we hear from my maternal nan and grandad, as well as one of me discussing the research I’m doing over the next month or so!
I’m picking up the uke when I can, and have been having a go at Taylor Swift’s ‘Love Story’. I quite like it, though I’m still struggling with getting my fingers to and from the G-chord! I’m going to have a busy summer, and hope for more days where I can spend any rest time between the busyness in parks researching with my little pile of books.
So, having reached a bit of a breather with work, I’m still tutoring in the afternoons, but have more time to read. As I’m still doing my music project, I’m reading various books about music and emotions. I hope to complete my research phase by the end of July to then record and put out a bonus episode reflecting on this. I’ve finished with my Macbeth students, and after one complained other teachers would be boring, I felt very flattered!
I have tried every year to perform poetry at Glastonbury, and I am kicking myself at having missed the opportunity this year. That said, on Friday I’m seeing Green Day with Weezer, Fall Out Boy, and Amyl & The Sniffers, and then Red Hot Chili Peppers on the Sunday, so I will certainly get my music fix this weekend.
Now I’ll have this extra time next week, I may even have time to start back on a creative project… I’m not sure whether to turn my attention to my show until August, so I might see if I can work on my collection some more, which was “finished” in 2019, but I’ve written more poems for it, and want to really organise my poems better and see whether I can create multiple potential collections by organising them more thematically, in a way that will help manage submissions better too.
Another three episodes have been released of Carmina’s Cantata, featuring Caz Smiling, Jemima Foxtrot and Antosh Wojcik. I got to visit Brighton to record with Caz, and we even had a drink afterwards at The Poets Ale and Smokehouse… it had to be done really. I caught up with Jemima in SE London, during her trip back to the UK as she is currently living abroad, and returned to the area of Camden, where Antosh and I first met as part of the Roundhouse Poetry Collective.
Just one more interview to go, I’m currently reading some books about music, making a few notes and collecting my thoughts. I’m really interested in music and emotions, so this is the focus. I’ve just finished a book by Malcolm Budd, and I’m now onto Oliver Sacks. Watch this space for upcoming podcasts – there’s still one more interview to go before a special episode, and then this bonus one where I will share my thoughts on the research I’m currently doing.
It’s been a few weeks since I posted, so three more episodes of Carmina’s Cantata have been released – featuring Belinda Zhawi aka MA.MOYO, Tongue Fu’s Chris Redmond and the multi-faceted Joshua Idehen. It was great to catch up with Belinda, who I know from BARPo days, in Chris’ episode we are treated to a live ukulele track, and Joshua’s episode is the perfect blend of humour and vulnerability.
I’ll be having my last in-person ukulele lesson today. Perhaps I will continue in future, but for now I’ll make do with what I’ve learnt so far and dedicate the time to practice. I’m finding it hard to get to the G7 chord, and my little finger keeps sticking out, but I’ve found it really helps to play songs I know and love like Hallelujah. Ooh, I’ve also started reading my music books, so I can do a bonus episode at the end about my findings!
I can’t believe it’s now November! So, I’m about half way through recording the whole of the podcast series interviews! I’ve been to Leeds, Sheffield, and Bristol so far, with the last couple being in London (Dalston, and today in Greenwich). Pirate Studios is great as it has a lot of locations and it’s really affordable due to the way it’s staffed, but today I had to switch rooms in attempt to get away from a really noisy band, with sound bleeding through to the whole building!
We ended up in a rehearsal room, so at the end of the interview, I ended up playing on the drums. Sometimes I wish I went to the BRIT school or something as I would have loved to have been able to play more music. The arts are definitely my thing as I just love every art form and wish I could do more. When I retire – if artists every really retire – I hope I’d be able to just learn a bunch or random instruments I never got to!
Alas, I am sticking to the one instrument, which I picked up as it goes well with spoken word and I was told it was easy! As I enjoy learning the ukulele, it can be something I do in the evening when I don’t have time in the day. But then I have found, I’ve been so busy lately that I get tired, so carving out time in the day is the way forward. As is the repetition of the same things, which is a lot more fun when it’s songs that just doing different kinds of notes. I have trouble with focussing at times, so I can definitely dedicate more time if I don’t get distracted whilst doing it!
It’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve written update as I’ve been busy with the other aspects of the projects. I’m currently writing this in break between podcast recordings in Bristol. I’ve got one more to go, and despite some nerves at meeting certain poets, it’s a pretty cool way to spend the day. I’m looking forward to meeting a couple of other Bristol-based poets for dinner later too. Another poet friend has also recommended a gig, but I may be ready for bed by then!
The other week, I recorded the first two podcast episodes in Leeds and Sheffield, which means I’m almost half way through getting the interviews recorded, which is wild. The final interview is scheduled for February, so the rest are more spread out, but I’m hoping I can do one or two extra episodes as so many more poets spring to mind now, and so I think I will redistribute the funding that was meant to be for another music production course. Meanwhile, I have been doing a little ukulele practising, but would like to dedicate more time to it, valuing repetition more, rather than quickly going through the Fender programme, being on Level 2 already.
My next podcast interview recording is next week, and the first one in London, though this and another are with Berlin-based artists. It’s interesting that a lot aren’t taking place in London, though I wish I had more time to stay and explore… and part of me wished I did have an excuse to go back to Berlin for a weekend of recording! Though I am taking a much-needed holiday soon in sunny Spain.
I have officially started my exploration of music and spoken word, starting with my own journey learning to play the ukulele, thanks to Art Council funding as part of DYCP (Developing Your Creative Practice). I’ve decided to call this project ‘Carmina’s Cantata’. A Cantata is a medium-length narrative piece of music for voices with instrumental accompaniment (typically with solos, chorus, and orchestra). It is usually applied to classical music, but I thought I would borrow the term and turn it into this alliterative name. How poetic, I know…
This week, I began documenting me learning the basics of the ukulele using ‘Fender Play’ lessons, on Instagram. I might do some live feeds too, maybe as a kind of weekly progress, as it can’t be all that entertaining watching me practice for half an hour each day! Things are underway with arranging artists for a podcast I’m going to produce, interviewing artists who use music with their spoken word. In future, I’ll be having in-person lessons, and also will do a music production course. You can follow my exploration through this blog and my updates on social media.
A nice round number for this exciting news! I will be starting up a new blog series on here as I just found out that I have successfully gained funding through Arts Council England’s Developing Your Creating Practice scheme, which funds established artists to explore a new direction of art.
I found out the news whilst in Cornwall last Wednesday, when aside from my usual content writing, I only had ten students across the whole month, so it’s certainly kept me busy on my return! I had pictured myself in parks with books and beer a lot more this month, but it’s also nice to be able to pay the rent!
My funding is for me to explore music with spoken word poetry, which will involve me learning the ukulele, learning some basic music programming software, and interviewing some poets who have also worked with music. I’ll write more next time in the new blog series, which will be focussed on that.
I’ve been doing a lot of planning and reworking ideas so far, alongside content writing and my Stanza group. August seems to be slipping away, and with lots going on, I better get on with everything else on today’s agenda.