Wednesday, 23 June 2010

The Voice Project with Peter Gabriel

Using music as a tool for social change is one description of this brilliant video of Peter Gabriel covering Tom Waits song 'In the Neigbourhood' for The Voice Project, a strategic alliance with Oxfam America:
The Voice Project is a song-driven movement inspired by the women of Uganda who are using their voices as vehicles for change in the war-ravaged region of Northern Uganda, Southern Sudan, and Eastern Congo, an area that has been marred by violence for the last 24 years. The Voice Project is an attempt to support these incredible women and the peace movement in the region, and an effort to see how far a voice can carry.
It transpires, on reading more about this project on the Gabriel website, that one of the The Voice Project's founders is Peter's daughter Anna:
"Music has always been a part of my life and I believe it's one of the most powerful and effective tools to bring about change. My father has inspired me with his humanitarian work and has always been supportive of my work as a film maker so shooting this video bought together all aspects of my life in an amazing way."
P h/t @martinwroe

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Redemptive Rock and Spiritual Songs...

The announcement that this band, 30 Seconds To Mars, are going to be visiting these shores again this Autumn I thought I would post some thoughts I have been mulling over for a wee while. Part of this is a reaction to the support I've had when I've stuck my head above the parapet and slagged off the dreadful Worship Music scene and genre. I hope this post gives some supporting evidence to explain why my views are more about substance than just taste driven opinions...

I have a relatively broad taste in music ranging from not too high brow classical, through ethnic / indigenous music to pop and stadium rock. I like pieces which have spirit, integrity, passion and believability regardless of whether it is technically impressive or flawed. I love hearing a song that makes you want to learn more about it, glean what's behind the lyrics and the artist.

Now this song is not particularly original and could be criticised for being derivative of other bands' earlier work. However, there is a certain comfort in a bit of familiarity when hearing something for the first time. This song, combined with the video, is such a great piece of art that issues challenges and hope! If anything it is the optimism musically and lyrically that I find so enthralling... and the depth of what the storyline covers is not lost on the band's followers, check out some of the comments on Youtube:
Can we all get the message? Eternal inspiration (song). No stupid fashion or trends (clothing). No damn pollution (bikes). No hate (car accident). Continuous miracles (white horse and resurrection). The good and true path (all going in the same direction because they know thats The way). True life (no death and no impossibilities).
unfortunatelly i don´t know if will have learned our lesson either, with all these things hapenning a lot of people are still destroying the nature, only thinking about money.
This song would be best suited to the part where someone makes a massive life-changing decision or turning point in their life.
We are born into a world at war for our hearts, and we are desperate for God. He wants us to become the "Kings and Queens" we were mean't to be. This can only be done by not making ourselves the focus of everything, and becomeing the "lesser god" that the song says.
and prompted this joined-up response:
This really does make me think of the oil spill in the Gulf. If honestly makes me what to cry. How much more are we going to punish the earth? I ask myself when will it be enough, to satisfy us selfish humans. It makes me so angry, but also at myself because I can't really do anything about it.
Here's one that suggests corporate singing still moves peeps:
i love this entire song, but especially the chanting "oh oh ohhhh" part! there's something about chants that always makes me go wow. it just sounds so cool when there's hundreds of voices blending together. =)
I love the shots in the video of the basic band, the flight cases, backs of guitar amps, it depicts the tools of the trade of a rockin' band, that's what it really looks like! That moves into images of redemption, the shining cross in the cityscape, the white horse...

Some will also be cynical of this band's rise to fame as singer Jared Leto was already a successful actor. Yet they have cemented relationships with their fanbase by inviting them to be part of the video as above and to take part in the recordings. Wikipedia quotes the band:
'How great would it be to invite the world to come and be a part of the next 30 Seconds to Mars album? There were some things [we tried] that were left-field sound experiments — using the group, the collective, as a musical instrument. We did everything from percussive expression to whispering to things that were a little bit more familiar, like inviting the 1,000 people that were there to sing the chorus of a song. And those people who were a part of it all will be a part of the next 30 Seconds to Mars album. It was quite simply one of the best things we've done as a band.'
So the chants are already congregational and not simply multi-tracked backing vocals!

This aptly demonstrates Seth Godin's notion of Tribes, where there are leaders but collaboration and inspiration are key. Obviously this band has a totally commercial purpose but their passionate and committed approach is definitely working... real music, heartfelt lyrics that listeners relate too, wonderful!

For the connoisseurs of amazing recording detail, check out the vocals only version here (starts 30s).


Life's a game of football...

Taken from the After The Fire Forum, a timely piece written by author and diamond geezer Roderick Williamson whose cracking first novel 'England Expects Yet Again' was published last year:

Latest team news announced for potential ATF giantkillers drawn away to Manchester later this year.

Peter 'I remember Gordon' Banks (player/coach) - known for all the clever little jinks and shuffles out on the right wing, creating all the chances for the front man to score. Known for his vision on the pitch, although rumours that this is not as sharp as previous seasons. Can be sensitive if the crowd gets on his back if there is no early sign of a breakthrough. Like Russell considered veteran status and now operating in the lower leagues but he has plied his trade at the highest levels. Has got the silky skills to waltz round any disrespectful Mancunians. Question on supporters lips - does he still retain the nippy factor?

John Russell 'athletic' - controls the middle of the park, known for hitting in a few screamers from left field. Big enough and ugly enough to be pushed forward to cause damage at set pieces. Now like his long standing team mate Banks, he plays at semi-pro level, opinionated likes getting up on his soapbox. Contributions in the past have been the difference between winning and losing.

Robert 'Bobby' Halligan - Young ball of energy up front, prepared to chase seemingly lost balls. Thrives off the support of the two experienced players around him. Offers another dimension with his own special moves. Fast enough to set the house on fire if he receives the right level of service. Can he last the full 90 minutes at this pace has been aired among the ATF camp followers.

Ian 'the grey ghost' Niblo - the Franz Beckanbauer of the team. Stays deeps, rarely seen in the opposition half. Quietly and efficiently playing the sweeping role and making sure that the man between the sticks is not under too much pressure. The quiet man that makes the team tick.

Tim 'Tiny' Turner - By all accounts likes to belt out 'Nutbush City Limits' in the shower after the match. Like Bobby and Nibs another graduate of the ATF youth development programme. Shows command of the 18 yard box. Early days so far but looks to be a safe pair of hands, press critics worrried that he may be susceptible to the high ball.

Subs - Faith, Hope & Charity. First two expected on early if the pre-match tactics fail to deliver.

The vocal contributions of the travelling faithful could be the sixth man at this fixture.

Cheers Rod!

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Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Vuvuzela Virtually Yours...

Now you can use up more battery on your iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad with the brilliantly annoying virtual vuvuzela app... so if you don't agree with the sermon ;-)

h/t Newsfeed
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Monday, 14 June 2010

Bastions of Boredom

Was reminded of this Video recently from 'Work of the People' and so post it to respond to Lesley's post earlier today: 'What do you think of Jesus and the church'. Also, in some way, to give some background to another reason why people land up leaving church, when they just give up on attempting to contribute. This adds to Suem's post a little while ago on the 'Leaving Church' topic.

It seems the world of blogging which ordained folk have so taken to heart is populated by alarming entries wondering what the church can do to arrest the problem of declining numbers and also delusions that sermons are actually good because a survey revealed they were the least unpopular moments in a service!

Whilst it is always easier to suggest solutions rather than fully defining what the problems are, it is becoming increasingly obvious that letting go of traditions, rituals and preferences (and all the etcs.) that, in the main, are held onto by clergy, is actually both the problem and the solution.

So many of the issues with church come down to the 'what' and 'how' we do things rather than the real meaning contained in the 'Why'. A key lies in re-developing a sense of curiosity and imagination in all of us that longs to share Why?


Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Something Welsh this way comes...

The other day I was rabbiting on about the importance of looking for things we don't always see at first... this fence is right opposite the house and directly in my line of sight from my desk for the last 8 years...

However my main revelation over the last decade, as a musician, has been to comprehend the 'art' of lyric writing. I am very aware writing is not my gift despite my new found outlet of this blog, however, the joy of discovering subtlety and beauty in a well crafted song has become a deeper joy than simply savouring the musical elements.

I know nothing about golf. Yesterday I followed a link on Martyn Joseph's e-mailshot to a special song he has composed about the forthcoming Ryder Cup in Wales... Now as a hardened music business person (joke!) I would normally make between 15 to 30 seconds of a piece and move on (true!). However this is an all the way through listen and, in my opinionated view, is exceptionally brilliant on many levels.

I love the poetry, the 'not stating the bl***ing obvious' approach, the joining of iconic and descriptive 'images' in verse all set to a flowing chord structure and strong melody. Whilst this piece doesn't 'convert' me to a golf lover the music and the lyrical clarity using a language that I understand as a non-golfer means I can lean back, close my eyes and simply enjoy! Nice...

Give yourself a treat, free download/listen here: Martyn Joseph - On This Celtic Morning
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Saturday, 5 June 2010

The Beautiful Game - World Cup Planner

Loving this amazing, dynamic wall chart for the World Cup 2010. This is a brilliant combination of gorgeous web graphic design and clever programming, a work of art! It will be even more impressive if it is updated as the tournament progresses...
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Wednesday, 2 June 2010

A year in the Sphere...

I started this blog in June last year (2009) and included code to record statistics 6 months ago. It has been an interesting journey, have learnt a great deal and would have chosen my categories differently if I knew then what I know now! I have found it immensely cathartic to record my thoughts before recursive brain whirr destroys my grey matter, that has been a personal and tangible benefit. I have to confess writing does not come easy to me so the discipline has been good. It is clear that the posts where I have been as original as possible and made the effort to knuckle down and get on with writing without letting 'it' take over have yielded the most response.
So here goes, a double statistic celebration, my first year on Blogspot:

And some of my sub top 20 favourites:

Top referring blogs excluding Google, Facebook and Twitter

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