Carmina’s Cantata #11

I’ve recorded my penultimate podcast episode! Soon all that will need doing is the editing, and then working out Spotify and putting it out there! This has been my favourite part of this project as I’ve got to have some really interesting conversations and also caught up with poet friends that I haven’t seen in a while!

I’ve been dedicating more focussed time to playing the uke, and doing some tricky stuff in terms of both chord transitions and trying to play along to a metronome. On days where I have been able to have balance and do this, I have been feeling much more fulfilled and happier in what has felt like and up-and-down time. And apparently, only now mercury’s in retrograde.

Carmina’s Cantata #10

I did take my ukulele with my on my travels to see family, but alas, I still have not perfected ‘Jingle Bells’. I’m looking forward to starting my routines again, as I ease into the New Year. I’ll be booking a monthly in-person lesson to add to my Fender Play practice. With my goals being about rest, balance, healing and joy, I hope to dedicate more focussed time to playing, which will give me fulfilment as I learn more and more.

I’m also going to record the penultimate podcast episode and begin to edit all the episodes to start putting them out by the end of the month, on a fortnightly basis. I’ll also need to figure out how to get them on Spotify. After listening to lots of podcasts on dating and sex, and grief and mental health, I’ve now been enjoying more poetry podcasts, including those from Apples & Snakes, Faber, and Dead Darlings.

Carmina’s Cantata #9

So, the ukulele has become more of a New Year’s Resolution, but I did my first online lesson in my local area and it went so quickly! It turns out when you focus, time flies! We looked at Jingle Bells, so I’m going to get my boyfriend to have a go with me, taking turns to do the chords and the “melody” (just learnt this term). I hope to do hourly lessons in-person and then keep up 30-minutes a day as part of my more balanced schedule come January!

Meanwhile, I have completed my City Lit Logic Pro course, and have a pretty decent first podcast episode. I also really wanted to steal these pink, orange and green headphones. One of the group knew that I’d like them as another said they looked like they were for kids… I do often find myself being attracted to the bright colours of the kid’s section! So, next year will bring more editing and more strumming!

Carmina’s Cantata #8

I have another podcast interview this Friday, so I’m going to try to actually use the Scarlett interface to amplify the sound being recorded. I had a nightmare last night, which, amongst other things, involved me forgetting the microphone. The last City Lit Logic Pro class was online, and sadly the next will be as well. I have one more key thing I need to learn and enough time to try to edit an episode independently before the end of the course.

The ukulele has been on the back-burner a bit, and I want more balance in my life to make time for these important activities that feed my creative practice. Meanwhile, I went to see Grant Hutchison of Frightened Rabbit at Rough Trade, leaving with a copy of ‘The Work: The lyrics of Scott Hutchison’. I went with the friend who introduced me to the band, but I think I will save my copy for after the holidays. I’m going to be away from my partner, and really struggled after the first week last time, so I might take it out during January, when life inevitably becomes a little blue.

Excited to have a little ukulele play.

Carmina’s Cantata #7

Things are really full on at the moment, so I’ve been struggling to put the time into my ukulele practice. I’d rather do it in the day time, as I can feel really tired by the evening, so it doesn’t feel as productive. However, something that has changed is that I’ve now been focussed on one song, and whilst previously I kept on moving on quickly after a few times, I’m now having the opposite problem: I want to perfect it and as I keep making mistakes, I’ve not been able to move on. How long should I spend on one lesson or song?

I’ve been learning a lot and playing around on my Logic Pro course at City Lit. It’s my third lesson so far, and it’s great as it’s specialised to the students on it and the different things we want to do. Today we’ll be doing more about editing, and how I can make the volume more consistent, and put different files together on one episode. In some ways, it would have been good to do the course prior recording interviews, but on the other hand, the whole point of this year is to learn as I go along. It would be good to know how to attach the Scarlett amplifier whilst recording. Things are intense right now, but hopefully he hard work I’m putting into various thing right now will pay off next year.

I last recorded in Brighton, and it was nice to take a trip down memory lane, as my gran used to live there. It was so nice that I have managed to convince my mum for us to go there for our annual Christmas shopping trip (which is really just an excuse to spend time together and eat nice food). I’m glad I managed to go away as I feel like I would be a lot more stressed and overwhelmed if I hadn’t. Like language learning, learning music is actually really good for managing stress as you are forced to be present… of course, it’s possible to get distracted, but when you get into the zone, you brain has to concentrate so much that there isn’t room for other things.

Carmina’s Cantata #6

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!

Carmina’s Cantata #5

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.

Carmina’s Cantata #4

So, this week I have got my lovely ukulele a new sturdy case for when I have to go to my in-person lessons in Brockley at the end of next month. I’ve also taken it with me away in Hastings, where I am currently writing this, so I can make sure to practise whilst I’m away, even if it’s just for half an hour today. Like Yayoi Kusama, I love polka dots, and this case even matches the dress I’m currently wearing!

My gran lives in Hastings, and it was over five years ago that she got me the ukulele… and over those years stopped asking me if I would join in a group here. I may be nowhere near able to do that, but at least I’ve finally started learning. At the ripe age of 32, it’s never too late to pick something up, and learn something new!

Carmina’s Cantata #2

So, I realised last weekend that I had been playing holding the ukulele the wrong way round, and so when I switched over and went to retune it, I got confused and ended up snapping a string. I was so upset that I cried… which is very typical of me. My boyfriend was there, so he documented the moment.

This meant that the next day I paid £17 for it to be re-stringed at Duke of Uke, and had a chat with the lovely staff there. I found out that it was actually over 5 years ago that I was gifted the instrument, so it’s well overdue that I actually learnt it! Although I had hoped for a lazy Sunday, it was nice to be out in the sun with friends and my boyfriend, looking around the markets in Shoreditch and getting bubble waffles and beer.

Carmina’s Cantata #1

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.