#HASHTAGPOEMS: celebrating National Poetry Day 2019
Hi everyone, Gareth here.
My recent strategy has been to have adventures in sound. I've written albums; written and recorded poems for kids; I'm co-producing and co-hosting a podcast with Dan Watts; I'm developing a pre-school+ property with Richard Smith.
Today I'd like to tell you about my wonderful experience with poetry in 2019. In January Moose Allain responded to a claim that there's no poetry on Twitter. What if I could find poets on social media who would be willing to have their poems set to music and sound design?
I replied to the tweet and contacted Moose to figure out what to do. Moose was, as you can imagine, very supportive. Pretty much all of the poets I contacted said yes straight away.
By the way, I have discovered that the poetry community - very much alive and well on social media by the way - is open and warm and love their craft as much as I love mine. I am so grateful to them for their permission and participation.
The poets on this little sound adventure were Ian McMillan, Timi Amusan, Brian Bilston, Mukahang Limbu and Marie-Louise Eyres. I was humbled to have a chance to take their precious work and make it into recorded sound. I would also like to thank Kate Clanchy for encouraging her amazing students Timi and Mukahang to take part. You are all wonderful people.
What followed was the series #HashtagPoems, an audio series of five poems previously published on social media, and recorded for the same platform. You can listen to them here. I hope you enjoy them, and that it perhaps encourages you to explore these poets more. And as always: if you like them, share them.
If I can be so bold as to offer a truth: you don't need permission to be creative. Creativity is about finding your own voice, not waiting for the validation of others. So create with abandon, whether it is commissioned or just for you. Have a wonderful day, and enjoy all the amazing poetry you see popping up in your social media feeds today.
Real World Sounds: World Spaces (Volume 1) by Neil Spencer Bruce
The latest Real World Sounds sound pack is special. On his travels, Neil Spencer Bruce has recorded endless hours of environments in interesting places all over the world. This is his first sound pack for Real World Sounds, and there are plans for more.
Neil is a guitarist, composer, sound designer, producer, engineer, educator, and founder of Spencer Bruce Music. Over to Neil...
How did you find yourself in these amazing locations around the world?
Travelling is part of who I am, and I have been very (very!) fortunate to travel to some amazing places around the world. Once bitten by the bug I continue to have itchy feet to get back out there and experience the amazing planet that we inhabit. A big part of that is also not just wanting to take in the visual beauty but also the aural world that surrounds us. I feel that photos tell half the story and captured soundscapes can transport you straight back to a time and place, and fully immerse you in the experience.
A large part of the recordings were made whilst travelling around trying to pinpoint unique soundscapes. For example, although not a million miles away, Berwick Street Market is one of the last remaining street markets in London (and the UK), but it has a unique soundscape which could be lost to future generations. I feel like the role I am playing is as an ethnographic sound gatherer, storing these memories for future generations.
What was your strategy for recording?
Keep it simple. Recording in these locations can be tricky (especially now in the UK where there is a sense of recording device paranoia), and also - as in photography - there is the need to move quickly at times and be up and recording very quickly. I have a tendency to allow the tape (showing my age) to roll for long periods of time, ensuring I capture not only what I need, but also any variation in the soundscape. I find that it takes at least five minutes for the soundscape to start to settle down into its rhythm. It also enables me to have much more material to choose from at a later stage.
The hard part can be being still for long periods of time! Ideally I try to record either binaurally, or in stereo, again to give me options at a later stage. If I am recording sound marks then I will switch to a mono microphone.
Were you able to record fairly quickly? Did you have any roadblocks or delays?
Using the system that I have means I can be up and running very quickly, particularly using the Soundman OkM binaural headphones. I can pretty much leave them in all the time and hit record when I need to. I was fortunate enough to be working on a large soundscape project, which gave me access to a wide range of portable recorders, so I was able to put them through their paces. I found that the smaller devices with an external Sound Devices MixPre produced the best results, was incredibly compact and could be up and running in seconds.
Now, with the advent of USB bus power, the issues of having lots of batteries is a fading memory and has made longer period recording much much easier.
World Spaces (Volume 1) will be available this coming Friday (26th April), exclusively via this website. It will be royalty free, which means you can use the content for your personal or commercial projects with no further charge.
screenless Kids, Comedy, Culture and Lifestyle
I started screenless with Wibbly Rhymes (Volume 1) in October last year, and since then have been working to expand the brand to include a variety of content for all ages. The marvellous eatsleepthink designed the screenless logo with four distinct colours, and each colour represents a category.
There's content on the way. It takes a while for one person to create, write, record, release and promote an audio series, and I am helping this in two ways.
Firstly, I am collaborating on content. I am working with talented individuals who have unique ideas and want to see (and hear) them made a reality. I'm lucky to know such people and it's been fun to continue to collaborate with them.
Secondly, as the budget for these podcast productions is zero, I have decided to open individual series for donations. If you hear an audio series for free via podcast and like it, please consider donating something to that series to help more get made. You'll find donation options on each series page on this website and in the podcast episode notes.
Thanks for reading this far. Next up is a screenless Comedy series, and if you follow in the usual places on social media you'll see details of that appear soon. In the meantime if you search for 'screenless Comedy' in your podcast app and hit the subscribe button, content will magically appear for you.
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All the best
2018: the year of the open mind
It's around this time of year that it's natural to reflect on the months gone by, and especially if you run a small business. My year has been, well, unexpected. I started out by doing a couple of voice over jobs, launched Real World Sounds and recorded eight broadcast-ready sound packs, proceeded to make six music library albums, launched an audio brand for kids, did some more voice over and soundtrack work, created a sound environment with foley and voice over for a Ted Talk art installation and more.
It has been very fulfilling. For many creative people it helps to concentrate on one area and develop their skills and networks. For me the wide variety of work this year has been so rewarding, that I know it's the way forward. It's so easy to put yourself into a category: composer, painter, sculptor etc. If 2018 has taught me one thing it's this: it's not for you to put yourself into a category, others will do that for you. My voice over clients don't care that I'm a composer. It doesn't matter to my composing clients what else I can do. I'm known to them for that thing.
My new year's resolution is to keep developing creatively. There are things I have planned that will feed into this, and for everything else my mind is wide open.
Have a very happy New Year and a creative 2019.
Simply Uplifting, by screenless
Here's a story of weird coincidence and what transpired.
Earlier this year I wrote an album called 'Strange Emotions' for a new library. When I was close to finishing it I met with Ethan at the library to say hello and discuss potential follow up writing. Later that day I met up with 50 or so other composers for dinner (yes, it happens!), and I randomly sat next to a guy called Mike Holt who, it transpired, had been at the same library half an hour later, having much the same meeting. How weird is that? Wait, it gets weirder, it turns out we had both told Ethan exactly the same thing, that the tracks that seem to perform best are happy clappy, ukulele-filled whistle fests. So we decided to make an album together, and now it's been published.
Now available for licensing (just click on the album cover), this album was 'simply uplifting' to make, and hopefully I'll get to collaborate more with Mike in the future.
I'm very aware I haven't posted much in a while. Since the Scream Street series started the process has been so slick there hasn't been much that I'm allowed to report ahead of episodes being aired. Needless to say the production team comprising Coolabi, Factory and the BBC is one lovely bunch of people, and I feel really lucky and privileged to be a part of such an amazing project. My Christmas wish is that this time next year I'm still working with them!
2015 has been a musically rewarding year for me. As well as Scream Street, I released the Band of One debut album 'Being Ghosts' in May. I've recently been working on a new song for Band of One which I'm hoping will turn into an EP by the Spring. I've also done bits and pieces with the wonderful creative agency eatsleepthink including composing a superhero theme for the Friends of Alec Syphas, a super heroic little man battling DMD.
On the fun side, I've helped out songwriter and old pal Rhod Williams by playing on his recordings for years now, and this year saw a couple of gigs with his band King & Queen of Sorry, one in a record shop in Birmingham in January and the other at the Birmingham Institute supporting Eric Martin (lead singer of Mr Big). Both were great fun, with the band made up of old friends. That community feeling of playing music together is always a real buzz.
Finally, in September my wife Dani and I moved into our house in Shepperton, which meant I could finally have a creative space that I could treat acoustically and hang some pictures (no such luck in rented property). It's exciting to consider just how much music will be produced in that room over the next few years and I can't wait to get started. I'm always up for conversations about possible collaborations...I'd really like to score a short film in 2016 if time allows, so get in touch if you know of any being planned.
So all that remains is to wish you a very Happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year. This afternoon Christmas kicks off for us with the annual viewing of 'National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation' and tomorrow we're going to see the film that everyone's talking about at the moment (no spoilers please!).
Bye for now, and see you on the other side.
Will Pound Collaboration
Last September I received a tweet from a harmonica player called Will that said simply 'hey Gareth...be great to compose a harmonica track sometime'. I was aware of Will's standing in the folk world and his pure talent on the harmonica, so it was flattering that he reached out. Within a couple of weeks we'd come up with a bunch of tracks that we thought might suit a production music library.
Fast forward a few months (Will has been touring, I have been busy on a new series), and those tracks have now been assigned to Synctracks in London. We have more unfinished tracks and plans to do more from scratch, but for now here's a snippets reel for you to enjoy. Fingers crossed for some interesting placements!
It's coffee time here at I-Can't-Believe-I-Do-This-For-A-Living Towers...I'm working on a huge but currently secret project (ssh), and hopefully I'll be able to share details soon.
In other news, 'Project Motown' has just started. I tend to have something else on the go when I'm working on TV stuff, variety helps the brain to switch off from one thing and onto another, and Motown couldn't be any further away. The idea is to write and record brand new songs but in the classic Motown style. I'm open to collaborations, and will definitely need vocalists at some point. It's all for fun, so let's see where it takes us!
I'll be posting updates to the Facebook page periodically so head over there if you want to stay up to date.
Right, back to the grindstone - Happy Friday one and all!
King & Queen Of Sorry
Tomorrow will see a gathering of old friends. Back in school the South Wales area was alive with the sound of rock, and one band that was very popular back then was Mr Big. So when old pals Rhod & Kath, aka The King & Queen of Sorry, invited Paul (cajon), me (piano) and my brother Andy (bass) to play with them supporting the lead singer's solo gig in Birmingham in December, it was a no brainer. It was also pointed out to me yesterday that the one time I saw Mr Big was actually in Birmingham, although I can't remember the venue as it was around 100 years ago.
Anyway, we're rehearsing a set of Rhod's fantastic songs tomorrow. If you'd like to come along on December 13th, you can get tickets by clicking on the flyer below:
Will Pound Collaboration
So after Monday's 'bostin' session (Will's words, not mine), the next step for this 'Cinematic Harmonica' production music album is to shape the ideas we came up with and for me to record around Will's amazing melodies and rhythms. It's a time-consuming process, but so far it's sounding fantastic and we already have some library and label interest.
As soon as we are able I'll let you in on a couple of samples. Have a fine Thursday!
Posts by Gareth Davies.