Thursday 4 November 2010

Singing joy- what writers do in their spare time

I love my job. I used to dream of the hours at the desk writing things that people wanted to read and then other hours talking to people about their writing and giving advice. I have all of that now – and a good deal of isolation, bouts of self-doubt and a fatigue of self-promotion. Plus there’s the feed-back, and though often positive, usually contains a call to compulsory improvement. And you do get stuck in your own head.
An antidote to all of this, I find, is belonging to a choir. You may have read the article I posted on Triond yesterday. My choir activities have become a little routine and when I was offered an additional opportunity and I found that I was available for all of the meetings, I jumped at the chance.
This meant that I spent yesterday evening at the Lowry Theatre, Salford Quays, on one of four song-writing / singing workshops. The talented Gospel and Soul Diva Yvonne Shelton is our leader and she is aided by the Lowry’s own Dave Smith. There were just four singers – there will be a few more next time.
We had a fascinating time looking at the words that two Salford song-writers had put together based on their research and thinking about what Salford means to us. I personally see this north-west British town as a big spider of a place that turns up everywhere. You’re driving along anywhere in north-east Manchester and suddenly you see the bright pink sign that tells you you are in Salford. Salford is older than Manchester, and as I come form West Bromwich, which enjoys a similar relationship to Birmingham, I can relate to that. I used to think West Bromwich was the dirty old town in the song. Salford is now post-industrial, as is West Bromwich. Both towns have a history of poverty and mucky industry. This is all symbolised for me, in both cases, by watching and actually enjoying the sunset over the gasworks. And the big question for me now is: Has the development on the Quays, including the BBC coming to Media City, been fair to the real people of Salford?
The song-writing really turned out to be thinking of and trying out sounds that went with the words. Though I’m not a confident singer Yvonne managed to put us at our ease and convince us that we can do it. It reminded me a little of when our choir split into smaller groups for our concert at Ordsall Hall: you do perform well because you have to. It was good moving in a space as well.
I am so glad that I decided to join in this!

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