Groove Q was invited by our client and creative partner, Glenn Urqhart (CD Lifestyle Networks) to collaborate as musical mentors for a group of girls from Liverpool Girls High School for a installation project entitled 'Transcendence' as part of the 2015 Vivid festival. We were excited and hopeful that we could provide meaningful experience for the students. However, we weren't prepared for the raw energy and unlimited talent of the students, and how deeply rewarding the project would be for us in return.
Our philosophy is to 'pay it forward' in any way we can. Partnering with I-Manifest and supporting the work that they are doing is a perfect fit for us. Aligning real world opportunities and industry experience in tandem with the national curriculum is important in developing self confidence beyond the classroom and helps students find their own pathway toward careers and further education.
The concept behind the installation was the student's exploration of the meaning of transcendence, in light of the recent tragedies at the Lindt Café, in Martin Place, December 15, 2014. From this concept, 4 key words emerged: Seen, Erase, Dare, and Ascend. We wanted to guide the girls towards creating a cohesive musical piece that would work with the pictures and narrative that the other students were creating with the film team, Heckler. Something that would work as a stand alone piece of scored film.
We were first introduced to the students via iPhone video recorded by their very switched-on music teacher, Jessica Young. Jess had documented a workshop of improvisation around the girl’s initial ideas of the Transcendence themes. Through editing, sampling and processing, Dave and I used these videos as a basis from which we composed more produced music to illustrate how the process of improvisation and re-editing can develop atmosphere and mood for a music score.
Along with Glenn, we then traveled to LGHS for an in-depth workshop session where we introduced ourselves, spoke about our work and then presented what we’d composed, inspired by the student’s initial improvisation. The girls were thrilled and energised, so we together began further improvising and recording (w/boom mic and digital recorder) a mixture of 'prepared' instrumental sounds (guitars, xylophones and electric bass, being plucked, knocked, tapped and scraped) and singing, beat boxing and Sprechstimme (a vocal style that combines elements of song and speech) around the 4 key words of the project - Seen, Erase, Dare, and Ascend.
Observing the girls interacting, supporting each other, negotiating creative interaction, and editing themselves effectively is testament to a wonderfully positive and creative classroom environment. Liverpool Girls High School is a school with a vibrant 89% culturally and linguistically diverse community, this was reflected in the range of creativity that we experienced. Coming away with too much fantastic material made the next step of developing our 4 pieces of music so much more enjoyable and fun.
The following week the students visited our studio to hear what we, under Glenn’s guidance, had produced from their performances. Again the reaction and inspiration was immediate and we began recording the girls improvising a new layer of vocals, instruments and beat boxing. With the same supportive and collaborative spirit, the students implemented began improvising and self-editing, developing signature melodies and harmonies. This elevated the music to a level beyond all our expectations. There are some standout vocalists and instrumentalists in the group and everyone had the opportunity to record and contribute further. This part of the the process was so much fun and seeing the girls hear themselves recorded and mixed for the first time was very exciting.
There was a heady mix of nerves and excitement on the night. The results were truly amazing and the installation designed by Joseph Crossley was a perfect representation of 'Transcendence' on so many levels. Mixing real world opportunities and industry experience with curriculum can be innovative, relevant and an unforgettable learning experience that students can take with them and shape their futures.