This June, hundreds of singers and musicians got involved in participatory projects, including Auld Lang Syne, Lockdown Sound Challenge and Making Music’s Virtual Ensemble. In this blog, we hear from those involved, the challenges they faced under Covid-19 lockdown and the incredible results that came out of it.
AULD LANG SYNE
The Auld Lang Syne participatory project was developed in lockdown to replace a live flagship event scheduled to take place in Glasgow on 21 June. With funding from the National Lottery through Creative Scotland, this digital project was designed with the same purpose – to connect music makers in Scotland to the global festival and raise the profile of Make Music Day.
We started by commissioning folk musician, multi-instrumentalist and composer Hamish Napier and drummer Cat Myers to create a new arrangement of ‘Auld Lang Syne’, a world-renowned Scottish song about the importance of friendship. This arrangement became the core of a performance project. Music makers were invited to download the audio guide track, sheet music, lyrics and recording tips from the MMD UK website, and then filmed themselves playing or singing along. The submitted performances were then edited into a collaborative video.
Calls went out on MMD UK social media, in comms by partners, and via the Scottish press. In total over 300 people connected with the project. Participants performed in their homes, Edinburgh’s iconic Calton Hill, shared gardens and streets, and even on a hillside in the Campsie Fells, playing strings and brass, guitars, keyboards, and pots and pans. Submissions included performances on the angklung (Indonesian tuned percussion), gao-hu (Chinese fiddle) and the traditionally Scottish accordion and bagpipes. We received submissions from all over Scotland, from across England and even as far afield as Dubai. One contributor commented: “I love how current circumstances have brought musicians from all over together in ways we wouldn’t have previously thought of!”
There were so many submissions that it wasn’t possible to include every performance received, but the final collaborative video featured 54 musicians, with audio from each performer audible in the mix, creating a unique and very special version of this song. The youngest performer was aged 3, and the oldest 91 years old (who had only recently started to play the piano again having learned as a child) duetting with her granddaughter. The video was premiered on the official MMD UK broadcast and is archived on Facebook and YouTube to be widely shared; and has had over 5k views in the week following 21 June.
The Auld Lang Syne project has been an incredible collaborative lockdown achievement, enabling participants to connect through their love of music, at a time when it wasn’t possible to connect physically. We were delighted to hear that taking part brought pleasure to so many.
Make Music Day Scotland team
MAKING MUSIC’S VIRTUAL ENSEMBle
It’s April and rapidly becoming clear that for Make Music Day this year Making Music cannot instigate actual events in Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh and Birmingham, showcasing its music group members and the fantastic variety of music they make, as we usually do. So what instead?
By this time, the lockdown recording has taken off as a concept, and for Making Music, we engage two digital producers to produce learning resources for music groups and a fortnightly Virtual Concert series. Naturally, therefore, the idea popped up: we’ll do a lockdown recording of Make Music Day’s iconic anthem, Bring Me Sunshine.
Luckily experienced community music facilitators and arrangers Baz Chapman and Ula Weber agreed to do the arrangements and training videos and backing tracks and recording instructions and guidance and and and… in about a week. Phew!
Having put the message out there and the opportunity for everyone in a Making Music group to be part of a Virtual Choir and Ensemble, it was then nail-biting time as the deadline – which was never very far away! – drew rapidly closer. Will there be enough of all kinds of voices? All different instruments? Is someone going to ask for a part to be written for bagpipes at the last minute?
But submissions started steadily coming in, as people practised and recorded themselves, and at the deadline – less than two weeks from 21 June – we had 199 submissions and a really good spread of contributions, yippee!
Baz wrestled the sound recordings into a lovely soundtrack, but then Peter Baumann, our video editor, was given the mammoth task (in, ooh, about 4 days) to show the breadth of geographical locations of participants, and the variety of their daytime roles in only 3 minutes of film. He not only did that, but managed to get everyone in at least once – what a star!
Though of course the ultimate stars were all those performers in the video, and you can watch them again below (watch out for some special splendid sunshine star acting, including beach cocktail…)
Barbara Eifler, CEO, Making Music
PLUGGED AND THE LOCKDOWN SOUND CHALLENGE
It was a great to be involved in the year’s Make Music Day. Through the Lockdown Sound Challenge we sourced samples from across the country from which 13 music producers had one hour to create a piece of music. We received 30 different sample submissions which included people recording dust bin leads, guitarists, and birds through to someone submitting a whole song. It was brilliant to get some many people involved and being so creative in recording their samples.
The final outcomes were broadcast on the Make Music Day live stream which you can watch again below.
Before the broadcast we also had a half hour stream of live artists that have featured in our monthly streaming event Plugged IN. Plugged is about connecting music makers together. We hold regular meet-ups, jam session events and workshops (all online at the moment). You can find out more at www.plugged.org.uk.
Rob Parton, Co-Founder/Producer Plugged