Wo men zai yi qi
Since 2006 I have been writing this diary documenting the travels, adventures, investigations and musicmaking that have developed as a response to the 2004 tragedy in Morecambe Bay.
I have played music in many towns and cities and met extraordinary artists and 'visionaries' who are working with music and cultural development: from Mok Chiuyu in Hong Kong to Wailap Kwong in Shanghai and here in Dalang (Shenzen) I am working with Jang Tian (experimental theatre director) and Maryanne (social anthropologist and architectural animateur). 20 years of work in this enormous developing city has given them great insights into how it works and where there are seeds of possibility. Here they land on fertile soil with a local district government and cultural department who are interested in using culture to better the lives of the migrant workers who come in they hundreds of thousands.
This evening is the launch of a new development in a set of dormitory blocks where rooms are dedicated to cultural activity, social development and academic learning. I am working all day with young people (in their 20's) to make music to perform at an outdoor concert in the big courtyard of the block.
We start soon after ten, talking then drumming on chairs (there's a surprise!) before developing a rhythm piece inspired by the Chi Ling troupe from yesterday, using my Bombard (an oboe like raucous instrument given to me by my great mentor and friend Boris Howarth).
The energy rises and the music develops as I get members of a Sichuan band to play guitar and percussion and give us a groove to work from. Seamlessly we move into lyric writing, with help from Samson and Maryanne a song begins to emerge.
It uses chords that have grown out of the previous improvisation and a lovely soaring melody emerges and grows and grows. This is what I do, and I love doing. Through a hard morning of work we end up with verses that are about details of their lives and a chorus that is a celebration of youth and being together. Good stuff.Lunch break! Formal interview on camera and then back to playing again, rehearsing in seriousness ready for the evening. The choir leader and pianist from the previous night join us and the music grows with harmonies and more conviction. I work them hard. It is good.
At 5 we are joined by the vice president of the district who is responsible for culture and naturally head of for another meal ! Thankfully it is at a beautiful place which specialises in organic chicken so there is very little for me to eat and I can just talk and try to understand another level of the life here. They are very keen for a longer visit next year and have a vision for taking this community music to the factories! Hey ho!
Then the gig - great production values with lights, projections, full on PA and all.
We do well, the choir, the band, the hakka singer and my OMB. They feel celebrated, I feel celebrated, we make music and it feels so good.
There are lots of hugs, handshakes and promises of the future music making!