Suffice to say I didn’t make an absolute tit of myself.
I had practised (a lot) so was confident of not forgetting the words, or the structure of the song.
It helped my confidence enormously that I had two talented and experienced musicians either side of me, including Dan Whitehouse, (whose presence is reassuring: he has come to know me and my abilities and terrors well) and Chris Cleverley who had helped me wrangle a song out of the basic melody and the lyrics… you would be surprised how much more it takes! (Look Dan and Chris up on t’internet, they’re great)
So off I went… I sang it as I wanted to sing it. I didn’t chicken out of the louder, higher bit in the middle, or the slow bit at the end with the longer notes. At the end, I introduced the next performer and scuttled to my seat at the back of the room, to let that hot feeling subside, and my knees to stop trembling.
I can’t say that I am a natural performer. I work hard at it, and force myself to do it. I’m still not quite sure why. I believe it to be good for me I suppose. But going to the gym would be, and I don’t force myself to do that do I?
Maybe it is something to do with the instant response you get from an audience that you don’t get from a gallery… you don’t get a laugh or a round of applause.
There is definitely something about singing. Those of you that don’t, should. Even if it is out of tune and not for public consumption, take yourself off somewhere and let it rip!
Singing at all is a whole body experience. Singing words and melody you have written yourself can be a whole soul experience, whether you have an audience or not. I have no pretensions to effecting my audience in a deep and long lasting, meaningful way, but as an audience member, there have been moments when I have been moved to tears, even sobs. I have been moved to giggles, sympathy, anger… grief… whatever. Some songs stay with you for that reason. Songs that do this are very personal. My list wouldn’t be your list.
Also… you take music with you, in a different way to a visual image. The hook does its job, and crops up when you least expect it, and sometimes don’t know where it has come from.
During the process of doing the MA, I started work on this. My final exhibition included a song, and for the final assessment, I did sing, sat on the steps in the dim basement of the School of Art in Margaret St, Birmingham, accompanied only by a stout pair of dressmaking shears.
Since finishing the course, I haven’t really done much. I have recited poetry, and very occasionally sung that. But it isn’t the same.
A SONG can be a beautiful, magical thing. Modern songs have a recognisable structure and ingredients. These can be spotted across the genres. So you build it…. When it is finished, sometimes immediately, sometimes after a great deal of hard work and wrestling and wrangling…. Sometimes you find you have something perfect, beautiful, emotional.
To reiterate a phrase I have come to take as my motto, Aristotle’s “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts” A song has the ability to transcend, rejoice, protest, lament….
So, natural performer or not, I find I want to write more songs, work them and hone them, just in case, one day, it makes one person swallow a bit harder. I find the lyrics develop as I make things, the visual pieces I make prompt the making of story and character, and this is where they come from, so this is where I want them to sit, alongside the visual pieces. I want to sink the hook in, make an association between the audio and the visual, so that my work is taken away.
Got a lot of work to do.